Review: Halloween: The Thorn Trilogy

Michael Myers was dead. Audiences reacted poorly to the franchise going in a new direction. And while Halloween III was far from a flop commercially, it was detested by pretty much everybody. Moustapha Akkad was not going to try this anthology thing again. Just 4 short years later, in 1986, John Carpenter was approached to write H4 along with novelist Dennis Etchison. He turned in an atmospheric, psychological ghost story speculating the effects of such an attack on American suburbia. It was rejected outright, and Carpenter was booted off the project. A writer’s strike was on the way, and Alan B. McElroy, writer of such masterpieces as Wrong Turn 2: Dead End was forced to develop, script, and finalize a fourth Halloween film in less than eleven days. And what did we get?

Image result for halloween 4

Mike Myers is back, baby!

It’s obvious just from the title, “The Return of Michael Myers” that Akkad was desperate to win back audiences after Season of the Witch. Small-time director Dwight H. Little was brought in to direct, and put together a solidly entertaining slasher sequel that is easily the best in the franchise to have absolutely no John Carpenter involvement. It’s a fun little slasher film with fairly tense sequences including a rooftop chase and some ridiculous Myers kills.

absurdnoise tv horror horror movies 80s horror
Here’s Michael Myers, who just woke up from a 10 year coma, pushing his thumb through this man’s skull. Wow.

The premise is that getting burned alive put Myers in a coma and gave Loomis some burn scars and a cane. Jamie Lee Curtis was done with slashers and, in 1988, she was probably too busy with the phenomenal comedy A Fish Called Wanda to bother showing up. Instead we get a handwave explanation—Laurie Strode died in a car crash about a year prior, and her daughter, Jamie (excellently played by Danielle Harris), has been adopted by the Carruthers, two parents who are never developed as characters because this is a slasher film that’s not A Nightmare on Elm Street, and an older sister Rachel. Rachel and Jamie act jointly as our protagonists, with Rachel playing the part of Laurie, and Jamie playing the part of like a Tommy Doyle from the first film if he was central to the plot. They’re a good couple of heroines, both well-played, Jamie to a point not seen in most horror kid actors. Are they simplistic, perhaps one-note characters from a scripting perspective? Yes. Are they well-played by good actors with solid screen charisma and good chemistry? They most certainly are.

The plot is also simplistic, yet elegant. As stated, Myers wakes from his coma, gets his mask and jumpsuit and starts his reign of terror. The Myers bloodline was supposed to end, and if he couldn’t kill Laurie personally, then he’s going to have to get to Jamie. Of course Myers escapes in an auto accident that could make it appear as though he’s dead, so Loomis is again the only one who believes him still at large. For the third time. You think they’d listen to this guy every once in a while.

Myers kills a few power plant workmen, a couple of horny teens, and the ENTIRE HADDONFIELD POLICE FORCE before getting to Rachel and Jamie. And then he fails to kill them. He’s much better at killing people he doesn’t need to, it seems. Maybe he just got tired.

Loomis is great as always—Pleasence never fails to entertain. He goes really camp in this one, going a bit overboard with the yelling and the screaming, but it’s nothing short of excellent. His interplay with Michael is great as always, even though it’s contrived that they’d show up in the same location on at least one occasion. Like when they’re randomly at the same gas station on the road to Haddonfield for quite literally NO reason. But a gas station blows up, so I guess the action quota for that 20 minutes was fulfilled, or something.

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It’s quite easy to pick apart this movie scene by scene, but it’s unnecessary. Is it heavily flawed? Yes. Is it generic? Yes. Is it pretty much a bastardization of Carpenter’s work, turning Myers into some kind of action villain? Yes. Is it entertaining? YES. Yes it is.

A solidly entertaining if unintelligent slasher film with solid setpieces and charismatic lead performances, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers keeps the horror franchise at least somewhat on track and earns a B-.

b-minus-school-letter-grade (1)

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After the smash hit success of Part 4, Part 5 was rushed into and through production, released only 1 year later. To helm the project, Akkad obtained the Swiss-French director Dominique Othenin-Girard, who would later make Omen IV: The Awakening.

This film stalled the franchise, and it would be 6 years until the next installment. But does Halloween 5 deserve its bad reputation. Kind of, yeah.

Myers is back, again. He was shot up in the last one, and floats down the river to recover at some hermit’s shack. Jamie was possessed by evil in the denoument of the last film, promising a change in pace for the franchise. A promise that was never followed up on. Here she’s only mute and gets visions of Michael’s murders. We kind of gloss her implied murder of her stepmom. Apparently, she’s fine. Whatever.

Harris has improved as an actress here. Her somewhat awkward line readings from the beginning of H4 are gone here. She does well without her voice in the beginning, and well with her voice in the end. Rachel’s gone early on, unfortunately, and in her place we have the irritating Tina, perhaps the worst horror protagonist of the 80’s. She’s fine early on, when she appears to be a one-note, partying side character, but when she takes on a more center role, it’s just dumb.

Pleasence goes way, way over the top here, but he’s good, even if some of his line readings are downright hilarious. His relationship with Michael is easily the best element of the film. Their interplay is the only part of the franchise that consistently entertains.

The plot, unfortunately, is just a series of murders psychically witnessed by Jamie, until Loomis uses Jamie as bait, then Michael comes to kill Jamie, then we have an entertaining chase involving a laundry shoot, then Michael is captured by the police, then a mysterious Man in Black breaks him out, then the film’s over. The end.

The film reeks of a rushed production. The storyline is thoroughly inept, and nothing accomplishes what it’s meant to. None of it is scary, the comic relief is downright embarrassing, and the additions to the Myers lore (including the Mark of Thorn and the aforementioned Man in Black) are poorly thought out and unexplained.

An excessively incompetent slasher film that provides mild entertainment, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers earns a D.

d grade

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The 90’s killed all the slasher villains, and Myers is far from an exception. What do I have to say about The Curse of Michael Myers? UGH!!!!

The production troubles on this film were widespread and infamous. This resulted in 2 different cuts: the theatrical cut and the long-touted bootleg “Producer’s Cut,” finally released on HD a few years back. The end result for both of these cuts is the same: they’re trash. Total trash. There’s very little of value in Halloween 6. Michael Myers’s mask is much better than in 5. That’s the only positive I have.

The film is never scary, the performers are never convincing, the tying together of lore from the previous films is slapdash at best, and the characters are all either unlikable or blank slates.

The story goes thusly: after H5, Jamie was kidnapped by the cult that controls Myers, and she grew up into J.C. Brandy, because the studio wouldn’t pay her an appropriate fee. She escapes with her baby, and Michael is sent after her. She’s killed at some point, depending which version you watch, and her baby is abandoned for his safety and found by Paul Rudd.

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Rudd plays a grown-up version of Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie babysat in the first film. He’s hilariously poor, and maintains one tone throughout the entire film, a monotone, ridiculous, creepy voice. I don’t know why he was so bad here, I blame the director, as he displayed talent in the same year in Clueless.

Blah, blah, blah, Myers kills some people, it’s revealed that the baby is Michael’s incest baby (only in the Producer’s Cut), Donald Pleasence is in some scenes, the cult leader is revealed to be a character that you won’t remember from the first film, and we end with one of two endings. In one, Loomis is transferred control of Myers. In the other, he heads towards one last showdown with Myers, and we don’t know who won. Both endings are dumb. Both cuts are dumb. Neither is entertaining in the slightest. However, due to the depths the franchise would eventually sink to, this film gets a boost in my eyes, and earns a D-.


There’s my review of The Thorn Trilogy, a series of Halloween films that crashed the franchise so hard, that the next time we saw the next maniac, he was trying to convince us the last film hadn’t happened. But we’ll never forget. Next time, Halloween goes full post-Scream in Jamie Lee Curtis’s (triumphant?) return to the franchise, Halloween: H20. (also Halloween: Resurrection)

But before then, a review of the 2001 Francis Ford Coppola-produced horror film, Jeepers Creepers.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay says:

    Ups and downs here! I like your observation about Myers’ ease of killing certain kinds of people, and not so much the ones he means to. I think we could make an interesting mockumentary about that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Michael Myers mockumentary would be great! Something like Man Bites Dog meets What We Do in the Shadows.


  2. emmakwall says:

    Ha, the Austin Powers clip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to do it at least once.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. emmakwall says:

        I too like to live dangerously.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Allow myself to introduce…myself.

        Liked by 1 person

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