Finally, the man himself returns to the big screen. It is not much of a loss, nor is it a monumental gain. In the intervening, brief time of Michael Myers’ absence, pumpkins and masks had taken a grip on the surrounding areas. The slasher genre had entered a markedly sinister time in the late 1980s. Only a year on from the high of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and it was high time someone slipped their way back into the highs of the slasher genre. Nobody would quite manage that, none of the predictable series, anyway. Don’t think about it, for it doesn’t matter too much. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is, indeed, the return of the eponymous villain of haunting stance and imitable party costume.
Myers is not the only man to return, with Donald Pleasance cropping up as Dr. Loomis. He does not offer the stunning supporting work he did in Halloween, nor the unpleasant tones of looming fear found in his intermittent speeches from Halloween II. He is just a sight for sore eyes here. A face for the audience to latch onto, because Myers and his lack of verbal communication make it hard to care for the sinister being. Still, four films in and Myers has lost his dignity. His dumb mask and simplified slasher antics are worlds away from the slow-burning, Giallo-inspired horrors of the first. A passing of the baton from Carpenter to Rosenthal to Wallace and now to Dwight H. Little sees a charted downturn in quality.
That is not to say Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is not without its benefits. There are satisfying pockets of mood found within. Those sinister notes on the soundtrack, an opening set with extreme close-ups of farmhand amenities, they are all justified rather well. But beyond the moody tones, the crashes of thunder and the hidden dangers shrouded by the pouring rain, the film has little to offer. Awful dialogue and a deluge of new characters who can never be grounded in that much interest are at the forefront of this one. Little has no way of conducting these characters as anything more than filler spots for where Jamie Lee Curtis and the original cast should be. But they are not present, the only man to return is Myers, and audiences would be better off had he not returned at all.
“You never get used to the faces, never.” says one guard. Too right you don’t. Never shall audiences get used to the awful mask found in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. His return is a simplified one, and one that does not do much with the eponymous villain nor the characters that try and stop him in his tracks. A shame too, since Wallace matches the mood to the villain at the heart of the first feature in the series. Something about this character is so mystifying, and no director since Rosenthal has gotten to grips with that in a way that encounters much love or interest in the character. Little is interested in the weird moods he can make, the new characters he can create, and the horrible kills that can come from transporting and losing a terrifying killer. Some of those slasher moments are affected and drag the Myers entity down more than a few pegs.