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Drunk from the success of the previous film, series producer Moustapha Akkad wasted no time in getting the next Halloween film off the ground. Perhaps he should've wasted a little more time working out little things called plot holes in something called a script. He then hired a Freedom director, I mean.... French director by the name of Dominique Othenin-Girard and part five was out just in time to compete with part four, which had just arrived on VHS. I'll have to warn you, I reveal the shocking ending to Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and quite a bit of this film in my review. If you've got a problem with this, stop reading now because I'd hate to ruin it for someone.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Feature


Supposedly because Hell would not have him, Michael Myers survived the police firing squad, the fall into the mine-shaft and subsequent explosion by crawling into a nearby river and floating down until he stops off at a hermit's shack and passes out. Cut to a year later where Michael's still living with the hermit and for some reason decides to kill him come Halloween. We find little Jamie extremely traumatized from the previous film's events, now a mute living in a children's hospital. As Dr. Loomis braces for another night of unholy terror, Jamie realizes she has a psychic bond with her uncle and there's a mysterious stranger in town; a man wearing all back. What role, I wonder, does he play in all this?

From the same ground breaking French visionary who would later ruin a good trilogy with Omen IV: The Awakening comes Halloween 5, the ultimate experience in confusion and boredom. Part four laid the groundwork for a magnificent sequel which was ignored... presumably because it was too original, not nearly as marketable as a Friday the 13th rip-off. It saddens me to watch the franchise responsible for inspiring Friday the 13th reduced to imitating it with unnecessary gore, one-dimensional teenagers who drink and have sex, and not enough plot to fill a thimble. I wish I had the time and patience to write a serious essay for the film just on technical criticism alone, because it's at times laughable. If you've already got a copy of part five, watch the climax (pay attention to light sources) in the Myers house and try to guess if the film's lighting technicians were legally blind.

Halloween 5 seems to think it's suddenly a part of the Phantasm series and that it doesn't have to explain itself to its audience. To what other rationale do we owe such questions as: where's Rachel's father in all this? How did Michael survive the year living with the hermit? Why did Michael cry? Why didn't the police remove his mask when they arrested him or treat his multiple gunshot wounds? Why wasn't Rachel the least bit upset at her step-sister for murdering her mother? Who's the man in black? What was the point of the whole 'psychic connection' thing and had they ever planned to do something with it story-wise? Biggest question of all: why was the modest two-story Myers house of the first two films replaced with a three-story Victorian mini-mansion? Did they really believe it would go over well with fans?

In spite of its faults, I can't find it in myself to entirely hate Halloween 5. It actually has a few splotches of greatness, but they pass by quickly and then we're back to little Jamie in mid-seizure saying something about a cookie woman. Performers Danielle Harris and Donald Pleasence are what keep the film viewable; trying their best in the worst script of the franchise. Even so, the climax of the film makes it all worth it; a showdown between the near-insane Dr. Loomis and a weathered Michael Myers in the holiest of holies, his house. It's too bad what follows that plays like a Looney Tunes episode, with the good doctor catching Michael with a chain net suspended from the ceiling, shooting him with tranquilizer gun, and then bashing him unconscious with a 2x4. I half expected to see a crate marked Acme laying around somewhere.... sheesh.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
I'm by no means commending the film's efforts, but Halloween 5 pulls an interesting switch in it's choice of female lead. All films in this franchise have their 'good girl' to carry them; the one who doesn't smoke, drink or have promiscuous sex. Our lovable 'good girl' from part four, Rachel, is robbed from us rather cheaply less than twenty minutes into the film leaving us with a girl named Tina as our adult female lead. Tina drinks, smokes, and had her boyfriend not gotten a metal claw to the temple, probably would've had sex during the course of the film. She does die, but how often do you see a horror film with a 'bad girl' as the lead? Not very often, making me wonder how intentional this was. The stereotypical 'sinners die' mould wasn't entirely broken, but shaken up a little in that sinners are usually background characters.

Frankly, I'll take the Myers-less Halloween III: Season of the Witch over this insult to the series any day of the week. Followers of these films need to see this one because it sets the stage for part six, but casual movie-goers can skip it altogether; there are much better films out there to give two precious hours of your life to.

Video


It's been nearly six years since Anchor Bay first unleashed Michael's Revenge onto consumers; originally dished out in standard and limited tin editions. Apart from a few new supplements, the main draw of this release is that it's been re-mastered in high definition, a new buzz word in today's market. Anchor Bay has re-mastered the film using their high-definition transfer process known as Divimax, resulting in an impressive 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Revenge looks great for a film seventeen years old, with little grain and very few scratches. This transfer does an excellent job at displaying the vivid colour palette of Halloween 5, one of the more colourful instalments. Since most of these films were shot in the spring and summer to make their October release dates, the trees are still leafy green with life and Divimax only makes this glaring error more apparent than usual.

I dug out my 2000 edition of Halloween 5 to see how it holds up against this newfangled Divimax transfer. The difference is fairly subtle, save for a few special instances. The biggest draw of the new transfer is sharpness and clarity; just look at the screenshot of Jamie and Billy running through the field (yes, I know I didn't synchronize them exactly, but it's close enough). To scientists, fog is merely water vapor, minute droplets suspended in air. To a film, fog is often a nasty host to grain and digital noise, the kind that detracts from what our attention should be focused on. The shot looks much better in Divimax, but still not perfect. This disc is unquestionably an improvement over the previous one, but is it worth the upgrade based on video alone? Check out the fifth screenshot below of Michael swinging the scythe and decide for yourself. The darker, arguably more detailed portion cut out in the middle is the Divimax transfer cut into the 2000 release. When mixed, the difference between the two transfers is as drastic as night and day. The film itself may be total crap, but it's very well-polished total crap. I'd say if technical presentation is your thing, this is the disc to own.

2000 Original Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
2006 Divimax Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
2000 Original Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
2006 Divimax Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Mixed Shot


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
2000 Original Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
2006 Divimax Transfer


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Audio


Halloween 5 isn't the most ideal film to be given a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but it makes decent use of available channels. The star of the track is composer Alan Howarth's unusual score, which punctuates the film's scare attempts nicely. Howarth experimented quite a bit with the music of part five by introducing a strange array of native-sounding percussion instruments to accompany the themes we already know. The result is a musically original combination of new and old themes and this mix showcases it well. I think it's safe to assume that this is as good as Halloween 5 is going to sound.

Extras


This is a plea to anyone considering listening to the audio commentary: don't. It's one of the few new features produced for this disc and features performers Danielle Harris, Jeffrey Landman and director Dominique Othenin-Girard. I ordinarily wouldn't be this out-right mean, but Othenin-Girard is one of the biggest idiots I've ever come across in the film industry. Frenchie not only thinks he's a great director, but that he's made a great film. He dominates the track with Danielle Harris sounding as agreeable as she can for what she's being paid, and actor Jeffrey Landman floats completely into the background. Othenin-Girard is actually proud of his new ‘interpretation’ of the Myers house and explains he put the man in black in the film as Michael's brother. The track will only make you angry that this moron was let anywhere near the franchise.

The other new supplement is a seven minute clip of on-set footage, a very enjoyable treat. It's mostly b-roll material with a few talking heads scattered throughout. Pleasence looks unhappy in his interview, I can't imagine why. This feature was also included as a supplement on Anchor Bay's Halloween: 25 Years of Terror set.

All other bonus materials have been carried over from the previous release. They include a pointless introduction to the movie from actresses Daniel Harris and Ellie Cornell, a featurette, and the theatrical trailer. The featurette, ‘Inside Halloween 5’ is mildly entertaining but much like the one included on the Halloween 4 DVD, and not very substantial, easily forgettable. It clocks in at sixteen minutes and features interviews with the cast and producer Moustapha Akkad.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Overall


So is this new Divimax Special Edition worth the upgrade? Well first you have to ask yourself if you consider the film worth owning at all and only then will this upgrade be worthwhile if you take delight in a fantastic technical presentation. One of the two new bonus materials is mind-numbingly idiotic commentary with Frenchie and the other new feature of on-set footage can be found on Anchor Bay's Halloween: 25 Years of Terror documentary so it's not likely that supplements will weigh heavy on your decision. My opinion? This is one of the least necessary special editions I've seen in recent years.


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