Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 slasher film and the fourth installment of the Halloween film series, directed by Dwight H. Little (Freddy’s Nightmares; The Phantom of the Opera; Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid) from a screenplay by Alan B. McElroy.
The central plot focuses on Michael Myers returning home to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the daughter of Laurie Strode, with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) once more pursuing him. Exploitation veteran Michael Pataki (Grave of the Vampire; Mansion of the Doomed; Graduation Day) plays Dr. Hoffman.
Initially, John Carpenter and co-producer Debra Hill retired the Myers plot outline after the second instalment of the series, intending to feature a new Halloween-season related plot every sequel, of which Halloween III would be the first. However, due to the disappointing financial performance of the third film, Halloween 4 reintroduced a Myers-related plot.
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Having survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II and been in a coma since, Michael Myers escapes while being transferred via ambulance between sanitariums, killing the driver and paramedics.
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, 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. He follows Michael to a small gas station and eatery, where Loomis learns Michael has killed a mechanic for his clothes, along with a clerk. Michael then escapes in a tow truck and causes a small explosion, destroying Loomis’s car in the process. Loomis is then forced to hitchhike.
Meanwhile, in the town of Haddonfield, 8-year old Jamie Lloyd is living with her foster family, the Carruthers, who happened to be close friends of Laurie’s. It is Halloween and Jamie’s foster parents, Richard and Darlene, are heading out for the night and foster sister Rachel is forced to babysit – causing her to miss her date with her boyfriend Brady. Jamie knows about her uncle, Michael Myers, but is unaware he is the strange man she has been having nightmares about…
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“The movie makes the mistake of staging a potentially awesome police station massacre off-screen, and has ridiculous scenes of local rednecks forming an incompetent lynch-mob, but Little vividly captures a sense of a haunted town and stages some ballsy, scary set pieces, including a great rooftop chase and a jolting twist ending bringing the series full circle to the prologue of the 1978 film. In truth, this would have been a great way for the series to permanently end.” Steven West, Horror Screams Video Vault
“Halloween 4 may be operating in the shadow of the original, but it’s a lot of fun in its own right. Screenwriter Alan B. McElroy and director Dwight Little go against the grain when it comes to several horror movie cliches, in very appreciated ways.” IGN
“For those who like to count, there are 16 bodies (plus a dog) strewn through H4‘s 80 minutes, their dispatch often off-screen (cutbacks in the special effects budget, one supposes) […] The script seems to have been written by telegraph.” Richard Harrington, Washington Post
“The resulting piece had no right to be as good as it was, but the culmination of their efforts was a tense, well-played slasher which boasted Pleasence close enough to the top of his game, a spirited turn from Cornell and, of course, presented the overture for the career of young Harris.” A Keeper of the Crimson Quill
” …this 4th movie sticks to what it does best, doesn’t try to over complicate things or create some over detailed back story it works. It also works because of the character of Jamie and what a fabulous job Danielle Harris did in her first movie as the seven year-old girl making her likeable with out ever being a brat.” Andy Webb, The Movie Scene
” …it wasn’t called Halloween IV because the producers thought that the target audience wouldn’t understand Roman numerals, which should give you some idea of the somewhat banal nature of what’s on offer here. Not particularly gory, nothing very imaginative, it resembles some kind of place holder where it was only made because the rights were there and there was money to be gathered from those attracted by the brand. Until the very end, there’s nothing remarkable about this at all.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image
“When director Dwight H. Little tries to get intense here, he ends in blowing up everything in sight. Someone like John Carpenter could have made something out of a plot involving Dr. Loomis raising an army of rednecks to hunt Michael and a town filled with people wearing lookalike Halloween masks identical to the killer. Carpenter’s eerie ‘da-dink-dink’ score from the original is reused at every opportunity and rapidly loses its effect. Donald Pleasence is back but completely overacts in the Loomis part.” Richard Scheib, Moria
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” …changes its narrative mid-way from a stalk and slash to a suspenseful mission involving Rachel’s efforts to keep Jamie alive. While it’s definitely not the best of the series, it’s an entertaining slasher film with a very good final scene that stands out among the other titles in the series.” Felix Vasquez, Cinema Crazed
“A fair portion of its odd nature can be attributed to the time it was made, and trends that were popular then. When viewed as a chapter in a larger arc that has much deeper dips of disappointment, Halloween 4 practically shines like a polished jewel. From that same perspective, it also sticks out as featuring some outrageously contrived bits nearly as wild as where the storyline goes next.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt