Halloween 5

Halloween 5 (1989)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Donald Pleasance, Danielle Harris, Wendy Kaplan
Extras: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

As we all know, Hollywood is motivated by trends. One trend that has seemed to die out in the last decade (outside of the home video market) are film series. The eighties saw the market get "sequelitis", especially when it came to horror films. The "Halloween" series began in 1978 with John Carpenter’s classic original film. Since that time, there have been six sequels of varying quality, which have attempted to take the original story of a homicidal psychopath into new directions. Anchor Bay Entertainment is now bringing you "Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers" on DVD. This 1989 entry continues the story of Michael Myers and gives us a good example of the bad and good, which come from "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. Then, the police shoot Myers until he falls down a mineshaft, which is promptly dynamited. After this, 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 stream and passes out in the cabin of a hermit.

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 step-mother was stabbed due to Jamie’s psychic link to Michael Myers, who happens to be her uncle. Anyway, 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 and begins stalking the teenagers of Haddonfield anew. But, after enduring three prior massacres, the policemen of Haddonfield are 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.

Judging by some of the reviews that I read over the years, 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. Also, there’s a scene at the barn party, which is pretty gripping. Director Dominique Othenin-Girard mixes things up a bit and tries to give the film 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 and it 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, and that trademark dark look is one of them.

The Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD of "Halloween 5" brings us many treats and only one trick. "Halloween 5" is presented in an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and is <$PS,letterboxed> to create a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film looks very good, showing no signs of age or any damage to the source print. This digital transfer of the film gives it a clarity and crispness that must be seen to be appreciated. While I may have complained about the lighting of the film earlier, the DVD does a great job of presenting the night scenes, in which the blacks are very true black and give an incredible depth to the image. Aside from the blacks, the other colors in the film are presented very well, especially the brightly colored Halloween decorations at the Children’s Clinic. The image shows some subtle grain at times, but otherwise is virtually flawless. The "Halloween 5" DVD shows no complications with compression or artifacting.

The audio on the "Halloween 5" DVD is an engrossing <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 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.

There are two extras on the "Halloween 5" DVD. The first is a 15-minute featurette entitled "Inside Halloween 5". This segment offers on the set interviews from the original production of the film and present-day interviews with Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, and Moustapha Akkad. It mixes behind the scenes footage with clips from the film and production stills. The interviews give the viewer a great deal of background information on the film and you can even find footage of a scene that was deleted from the final film. The other bonus feature on the DVD is the "trick" which I mentioned earlier. The box lists this as a theatrical trailer, but as this preview, which is <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1 runs at only thirty seconds, it has to be a TV spot. With Anchor Bay’s usual knack for digging up goodies for their DVDs, one has to wonder why a full trailer wasn’t used.

Thorough fans of the "Halloween" series will definitely want to invest in the DVD 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?!