The Culture Review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers



A person dressed as serial killer Michael Myers from the Halloween series.

Erik Bishop, Guest Writer

This October 15th, Halloween Kills, the long-awaited sequel to Halloween (2018) will be playing in theatres. Halloween (2018) was not the first or second but the third attempt to reboot the Halloween franchise and is now considered the canon timeline for the slasher icon Michael Myers. In this so-called “canon” timeline, none of the events in any prior sequels to Halloween (1978) ever happened, not even those of the box-office success Halloween II (1981). Today, I want to back-track to my favorite film of the Halloween series, the fourth film of the Halloween series. I should warn readers that this essay will contain spoilers about the Halloween franchise, especially in calling back to the first two films in hindsight. 

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, released in 1988, is set ten years after the gruesome murder spree of Michael Myers in the events of Halloween and Halloween II. Myers has since been in a coma at a federal mental hospital, but in 1988, the federal sanitarium decided to send him back to Smith’s Grove, where he was originally locked up. After hearing about his niece, Jamie Lloyd, daughter of Laurie Strode, he kills his way out of the ambulance and makes his way back to Haddonfield, Illinois. Just as he had murdered his sister Judith when he was a child and Laurie a decade ago, Myers goes after his last living relative, forcing Doctor Loomis to have to return to stop him once again. 

As a Halloween fan, there are a couple of things I can say I love about this movie that are not in the most recent Halloween films. First, the fact is that Halloween and Halloween II have been considered by fans two parts of the same movie because they take place on the same night. Furthermore, by axing Halloween II, the modern filmmakers are axing part of the reason why Michael pursues Laurie. Although this was on purpose, it gave us a little more explanation as to why Michael does not go after someone else. Instead, for some reason, he seems to want to end his bloodline entirely. 

Besides being inclusive of Halloween II in its timeline, Halloween 4 gives us more of Loomis. Played by Donald Pleasance, Loomis is the doctor who continues to do whatever it takes to stop Michael from bringing death wherever he goes. Pleasance faithfully kept his role as Doctor Loomis in every Halloween movie involving Michael Myers up until he passed away in 1995. Though probably for the best since he played Loomis in an unmatchable way, the audacious doctor will not be found in the modern films. For those who have seen any of the first six films, his absence in the films that follow is painfully felt. 

The second reason to love Halloween 4 is the work highlights the young Danielle Harris in playing Jamie Lloyd. She auditioned among several other child-actresses for this role, and she made the best of it. Jamie Lloyd reminds fans so much of her mother Laurie Strode, with her struggles to fit in with her classmates and her ability to be brave and actionable in the face of danger. Throughout the film, we all want Jamie to win, which should be the goal for any protagonist, to get viewers on their side. 

Finally, this movie deserves more love than it gets now for its atmosphere. The introduction to Halloween 4 has been credited as the best one yet. Seeing a field in Haddonfield with fallen leaves, an eerie fog, Halloween decorations hung up, a barn and pitchfork, all to the sound of a subtle playing of the chords for the iconic Halloween theme made by John Carpenter, works up an appetite for a Myers film. 

I am not trying to discourage anyone from watching the new film in theatres. I proceeded to overlook the whitewashing of older timelines for my favorite slasher franchise when I went to see Halloween (2018) at my local cinema. I will likely do the same for Halloween Kills. However, I am discouraging the discarding of prior Halloween films into the dustbin of history. So, as I iterated before, get a large hot cider at C-Shop, something to eat, get comfortable, log in to your streaming service, and have a Halloween marathon.