Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (UK - BD RB)
Michael Myers returns for his annual trick or treating but with no treats...
Michael Myers, who survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II and has been in a coma since, escapes while being transferred via ambulance between sanitariums. Prior to escaping, Michael learns that Laurie died in a car accident and that she has a daughter, Jamie Lloyd. He returns to Haddonfield to try and kill her. Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael's old psychiatrist, who also survived the explosion 10 years earlier, learns of Michael's escape and resumes his pursuit to try to stop his murderous patient.
Opening like a Back to the Future sequel, with the simple white text on the black background telling us this is October 30th 1988, this is a Halloween sequel that plays to its audience. There’s very little explanation of what has come before this instalment and instead Halloween 4 opts for Myers being up and running almost immediately, despite being in a bad way in the back of an ambulance. There's a strong early scare that comes via little Jamie’s nightmares about Myers but really this is a killer on the loose movie with Loomis hot on the Myers trail in an almost Van Helsing after Dracula kind of way.
Everything is kept fairly simple in this underwhelming “horror”, with gore kept to a minimum (Myers usually just squeezes people’s faces to kill them) and there’s very little in the way of actual blood. We of course get kids in jeopardy while trick or treating as well (it is set at Halloween after all, we have to keep the theme going). Michael Myers himself has very little screen time and doesn't really get his hands dirty with the main cast until the last act, usually opting to stand in shadowed doorways staring at future victims rather than actually doing anything all that scary. That’s really the biggest problem here. The plot doesn't really know what it wants to be. A slasher movie, a monster movie, an origin story for a future killer? It’s a bit of everything but not really very good at any of it, making for a boring fourth instalment to a series and a chapter that feels like it’s just going through the motions.
This is what I'd consider a soft image all in all but it’s still a pretty good HD upgrade. There are obvious improvements but this is not a transfer that really shines. Grain is subtle and filmic and colours hit a nice balance between boosted for this 1080p presentation and remaining in tune with how the film looked originally. There's the odd bit of dirt in the frame, the natural light feels a little like a cloudy day and blacks, while deep are not always used to full effect. Additionally, details are a mixture of great for elements like clothing textures and bland for things like set dressing and skin. This isn't a bad presentation, (well, considering it’s the fourth Halloween movie anyway) but it just doesn’t hold up against the higher end of Blu-ray catalogue releases.
The Dolby TrueHD track feels hollow here, but offers a slightly wider feel with downpours of rain, crickets chirping at night or general ambience. The largely electronic score sits well in the front speakers but has that dated, non-effective ring to it that never really managed to work outside of the 80s or indeed out of the front speakers. Of course the franchise’s theme still manages to work but its electronic spin only just about gets by in some places. Dialogue is okay but the overdubbed recording of a lot of it gives a disconnected feel to the image and the many screams that come out of character’s mouths can often feel a little shrill and empty.
The first commentary track is with Director Dwight H. little and author Justin Beahm. It spends a lot of time covering their approach to coming into a third sequel and their intentions. The second track features actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris. It’s quite a light track and the pair feel like a couple of old school friends reminiscing about their time together for the most part.
The 'Halloween 4/5 Panel Discussion'(18:28 SD) is a pretty raw recording of a Q&A in front of fan but offers up a fair bit of insight into the movie and lastly there’s the trailer.
It’s the fourth Halloween film and it feels like it’s come straight off of a conveyor belt churning out 80s slasher sequels. There’s not really much to say about the film beyond that as it's so generic those that haven't seen it could guess most of the events outside of the fairly brave twist ending. As for the disc, it’s an acceptable presentation but not one that will impress anyone really. Both video and audio do the bare minimum to achieve their high definition upgrade and while the features are good for fans (who else would be buying the fourth Halloween film?) there might not be much in them for passers-by to the franchise.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 15th October 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: English Doldy TrueHD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Commentaries, Q&A, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dwight H. Little
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Beau Starr, Ellie Cornell
Length: 88 minutes
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