During the heydays of horror film sequelitis that permeated Hollywood during the 80s, the "Halloween" franchise, along with others, was continuously tampered with and received one sequel after the next, sadly of wildly varying quality. Anchor Bay Entertainment is now bringing "Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers" to Blu-Ray Disc, and this 1989 entry continues the story of Michael Myers and gives us a good example of the bad and good, which come from such sequelitis.
"Halloween 5" opens with a recap of the finale of "Halloween 4". We see how Rachel (Ellie Cornell) mowed down Michael Myers with a truck, followed by the police shooting at Myers until he stumbles and falls down a mineshaft, which is promptly blown up with dynamite. Once this recap is complete, the new footage begins. Myers (played by stuntman Don Shanks) tumbles from the bottom of the mineshaft into a stream. He pulls himself from the water and passes out in a hermit's cabin.
The film then jumps ahead one year to October 30th. Jamie (Danielle Harris), the young girl from "Halloween 4", is a patient at the Haddonfield Children's Clinic. You may remember that at the end of "Halloween 4", Jamie stabbed her step-mother (apparently to death). We learn that the step-mother lived and that the attack was a direct result of a psychic link between Jamie and Michael Myers, who happens to be her uncle. Following the incident, Jamie is now plagued by severe nightmares, and she has lost her ability to speak. She is being cared for by Dr. Sam Loomis, played by series veteran Donald Pleasance, who is determined to use Jamie's psychic link to find and finally destroy Michael Myers.
"Halloween 5" shifts the focus of the story from Rachel and onto Rachel's friend Tina (Wendy Kaplan). Tina and all of her teenage friends are preparing for the annual barn party. Sure enough, Michael Myers recovers from his injuries just in time and begins stalking the teenagers of Haddonfield once again. But, after enduring three prior massacres, the policemen of Haddonfield are finally prepared to listen to Dr. Loomis' warnings and arm themselves to battle Michael Myers. Following Myers' killing spree, he faces off once again with Loomis in a battle of wills. Meanwhile, a mysterious man in black has come to town, and he appears to have some strange connection to Michael Myers.
If you would judge it by some of the reviews that you can find across the Internet, many people consider "Halloween 5" to be the low-point of the series. In my opinion, that dubious distinction is reserved for the incomprehensible "Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers". (At least the person who edited "Halloween 5" seems to have had a copy of the script handy, which didn't appear to be the case with "Halloween 6".) In retrospect, "Halloween 5" isn't as bad as its reputation may suggest. The film does have some suspenseful scenes, especially in the last reel when the police are awaiting Myers' arrival.
There is also a gripping scene playing out during the barn party, giving evidence to how director Dominique Othenin-Girard tried to mix things up a bit to keep the film and the material interesting, giving it a style of its own. He uses some "point-of-view" shots, but keeps most of the film in a third-person perspective.
While "Halloween 5" may have some strong points when viewed as an individual film, it loses some of that luster when compared to the entire series. For starters, Michael Myers' mask is just plain wrong. The neck is too big and it looks as if Michael Myers is wearing a scarf! Also, at times, this doesn't look like a "Halloween" movie. Director of photography, Robert Draper, admits in the featurette that he'd never seen a "Halloween" film before, and it clearly shows. The film isn't lit like either "Halloween" or "Halloween II". And while it's not a sin for "Halloween 5" to have its own look, the audience has come to expect certain things from the series. Sadly, that trademark dark look is one of them and it has been lost in this film.
On this Blu-Ray version of "Halloween 5", Anchor Bay Entertainment presents the film in a 1080p high definition transfer that restores the movie's 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Without signs of age, and without blemishes or defects, the transfer is solid throughout, giving the image clarity and a crispness you might not have expected. While the entire lighting of the film maybe different from the rest of the "Halloween" staple, the transfer makes sure to bring the daylight scenes to life with amazing detail and wonderful vibrancy, but also faithfully restores the nighttime scenes with deep and solid blacks, adding incredible visual depth to the image.
The audio on this Blu-Ray Disc is an engrossing Dolby Digital 5.1 TrueHD mix. This audio mix does a great job of bringing John Carpenter's original "Halloween" theme to life, which has been re-orchestrated by long-time Carpenter associate Alan Howarth in this sequel. The surround sound speakers are active throughout the film, giving excellent response during the finale. The sound is always balanced, without fluctuations in volume or distortion of the dialogue.
As supplements, the release contains two separate commentary tracks. The first features actorsDanielle Harries and Jeffrey Landman along with director Dominique Othenin-Girard as they discuss their memories of making the film in quite some detail. The second commentary, a new one, features Michael Myers-actor Don Shanks and author Justin Beahm. It is an interesting track that is propelled forward mostly by Beahm's knowledge of the franchise and his insistent questioning of Shanks on a variety of subjects.
Also included is the featurette "Halloween 5: The Set," offering up various behind-the-scenes clips, though sadly it is not nearly as insightful as the featurette "Inside Halloween 5" that was part of a previous DVD release.
Thorough fans of the "Halloween" series will definitely want to invest in the Blu-Ray version of "Halloween 5". Anchor Bay has brought us another superb transfer, giving the film a great look and impressive sound. While this disc may be a bit short in the extra features department, completists will appreciate the disc all the same. But, I must ask one final question: Why don't the police remove Michael Myers mask when they arrest him?!