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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
200px-Halloween4poster-1-
Directed by Dwight H. Little
Produced by

Moustapha Akkad

Paul Freeman

Written by

Screenplay:
Alan B. McElroy
Story:
Alan B. McElroy
Danny Lipsius
Larry Rattner

Benjamin Ruffner

Starring

Donald Pleasence
Ellie Cornell
Danielle Harris
Michael Pataki
Beau Starr
Kathleen Kinmont

Sasha Jenson

Music by Alan Howarth
Halloween Theme:
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Editing by Curtiss Clayton
Studio Compass International Pictures
Distributed by Galaxy International Releasing
Release October 21, 1988
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000
Gross revenue $17,768,757
Preceded by Halloween II (1981)
Followed by Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 horror film and the third sequel of the Halloween film series, directed by Dwight H. Little and written by Alan B. McElroy. The central plot focuses on Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) awakening from a coma, 10 years after his 1978 killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois, and returning home to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the daughter of Laurie Strode, with Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) once more pursuing him.

As the title suggests, the fourth installment marks the return of Michael Myers, the central villain of Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981), due to his absence in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Initially, John Carpenter and co-producer Debra Hill retired the Myers plot outline after the second installment of the series, intending to feature a new Halloween-related film every sequel, of which Halloween III would be the first. However, due to the lack of success of the third film, Halloween 4 reintroduced a Myers-related plot, and he has remained in the series ever since.

The film was a moderate box office success—grossing $17 million domestically—on its $5 million budget. It received a mixed reaction by critics, however was generally well received by fans of the Halloween series. It was, however, somewhat criticized for not introducing anything "original" or "innovative" to the series

PlotEdit

Michael Myers has been in a coma for ten years, when his massacre was stopped by Dr. Samuel Loomis and Laurie Strode. On October 30, 1988, Myers is being transferred from Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium to Smith's Grove Sanitarium. He awakens, when he hears, that Laurie Strode, his sister, is deceased, but her daughter, Jamie Lloyd, is alive and well in Haddonfield. He kills the ambulance crew and escapes. Discovering what has happened, Loomis, despite the objections of Ridgemont's manager, Dr. Hoffman, and the state troopers, races to Haddonfield to stop Michael again. On the way, he arrives at a filling station, where Michael has killed a mechanic and waitress and swapped clothes with the former. Briefly confronting Michael, Loomis attempts to reason with him, offering himself to Michael as his next murder victim, if Michael leaves the Haddonfield citizens alone, but Loomis quickly realizes, that Michael will not listen to reason and opens fire on him. Michael escapes, however, and sets the filling station ablaze, destroying Loomis' car in the process.

Meanwhile, in Haddonfield, Michael's niece, Jamie, has been adopted by the Carruthers family. She suffers frequent nightmares and hallucinations about Michael, though she does not know who he is, and is constantly tormented at school for her relation to Haddonfield's notorious "boogeyman". On Halloween night, Jamie goes out to trick-or-treat with her teenage foster sister, Rachel, and wearing a clown costume. As Jamie goes about trying to enjoy Halloween, her uncle pursues her. Meanwhile, Loomis hitchhikes to Haddonfield and contacts the police department to inform them of Michael's escape. Though Haddonfield's new sheriff, Ben Meeker, is at first skeptical of Loomis' claims, he comes around after they discover that Michael has also knocked out the long-distance phone lines, and they quickly go out to find Jamie before Michael does. Upon their departure, Michael arrives at the power plant and causes a city-wide blackout by throwing a technician into an electrical box. While Loomis and Sheriff Meeker track down Rachel and Jamie, Michael also single-handedly slaughters the entire police force. When a group of men arrive at the police station demanding answers, Loomis informs them of Michael's homecoming against Sheriff Meeker's wishes; determined not to let history repeat itself, the men form a lynch mob to hunt Michael down. Sheriff Meeker takes Jamie and Rachel to his house to await the arrival of the state police, and they, along with Meeker's daughter, Kelly, and Rachel's boyfriend, Brady, barricade themselves in. In the meantime, Loomis departs to search the town for Michael.

Despite their numerous precautions, Michael successfully enters Sheriff Meeker's home undetected and kills everyone but Jamie and Rachel. After Brady struggles with Michael and is killed, Rachel and Jamie run into the attic where the climb through a window onto the roof, with Michael in pursuit. Though Jamie is safely lowered to the ground, Rachel is attacked by Michael and knocked off the roof. Jamie, however, has little time to mourn before Michael comes for her again. Running away and screaming for help, Jamie encounters Loomis. The two break into Jamie's school in an attempt to hide, but Michael follows them and attacks Loomis by surprise, throwing him through a glass door. Running in a blind panic, Jamie falls down the stairs and injures herself. Just as Michael moves in to kill his helpless niece, Rachel, having survived the fall off the roof, appears and sprays Michael in the face with a fire extinguisher, temporarily blinding him. In their escape, Jamie and Rachel encounter the lynch mob who had been hunting Michael, who decide to leave Michael to the state police and get the girls to safety. Unfortunately, Michael hides in the truck bed and kills the men. Forced to take the wheel, Rachel manages to throw Michael off and then hits Michael head on, seemingly killing him. Jamie exits the car and holds her uncle's hand, and Michael revives, attacking Jamie just as the state police catch up to them. Getting shot relentlessly, Michael falls down an abandoned mine shaft, which collapses on him.

The nightmare seemingly over, Sheriff Meeker and Loomis take Rachel and Jamie home, and Mrs. Carruthers takes Jamie upstairs. Suddenly, Jamie puts on her clown mask and stabs her foster mother. Hearing screams, Loomis, Sheriff Meeker, Rachel, and Mr. Carruthers are greeted with the horrifying sight of a masked Jamie, covered in blood, holding a pair of bloody scissors. Loomis raises his gun to shoot her, but Sheriff Meeker stops him. The film ends with a close-up of Jamie wearing the clown mask.

List of DeathsEdit

Name Cause of Death Killer On-Screen Notes
Attendant J.Black Head bashed 8 times in ambulance, thumb driven in forehead Michael Myers Yes
Attendant L.Evans Killed Michael Myers Yes
2 Paramedics Killed Michael Myers Yes
Mechanic Impaled with metal rod Michael Myers Yes
Shelly Matthews Killed Michael Myers Yes
Sundae Dog Killed Michael Myers Yes
Bucky Thrown on transformer/electrocuted Michael Myers Yes
Deputy Pierce Ripped apart Michael Myers Yes
2 Police Officers Ripped apart Michael Myers Yes
Ted Hollister Shot repeatedly with 4 shotguns Earl Ford, Al, Orrin, Unger Yes Accident
Deputy Logan Mangled Michael Myers Yes
Kelly Meeker Pinned to wall with shotgun through stomach Michael Myers Yes
Brady Thumb pushed into face, neck snapped Michael Myers Yes
Orrin Gateway Knifed in back, pushed off moving pickup truck Michael Myers Yes
Big Al Gateway Knifed in stomach, pushed off moving pickup truck Michael Myers Yes
Unger Thrown off moving pickup truck Michael Myers Yes
Earl Ford Neck ripped open while driving pickup truck Michael Myers Yes

ProductionEdit

After Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Moustapha Akkad wanted to move further with the franchise and bring back Michael Myers. According to producer Paul Freeman, a friend of Akkad with a long list of credits to his name, explained to Fangoria magazine in 1988, everybody came out of Halloween III saying, "Where's Michael?" John Carpenter was approached by Cannon Films, who had just finished 1986's release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, to write and direct Halloween 4. Debra Hill planned to produce the film, while Carpenter teamed up with Dennis Etchison who, under the pseudonym Jack Martin, had written novelizations of both Halloween II (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) to write a script to Halloween 4.

"Halloween was banned in Haddonfield and I think, that the basic idea was, that if you tried to suppress something, it would only rear its head more strongly. By the very[attempt of trying to erase the memory of Michael Myers, the teenagers were going to ironically bring him back into existence." Dennis Etchison on his idea for Halloween 4 .

However, Akkad rejected the Etchison script, calling it "too cerebral" and insisting, that any new Halloween sequel must feature Myers as a flesh and blood killer. In an interview, Etchison explained how he received the phone call informing him of the rejection of his script. Etchison said, "I received a call from Debra Hill and she said, 'Dennis, I just wanted you to know that John and I have sold our interest in the title 'Halloween' and unfortunately, your script was not part of the deal."

Carpenter and Hill had signed all of their rights away to Akkad, who gained ownership. Akkad says, "I just went back to the basics of Halloween on Halloween 4 and it was the most successful."

WritingEdit

On February 25, 1988, a writer was chosen—Alan B. McElroy, a native from Cleveland, Ohio—was brought in to the write the script for Halloween 4. The writer's strike was to begin on March 7, 1988. This forced McElroy to develop a concept, pitch the story, and send in the final draft in under eleven days. McElroy came up with the idea of Brittany "Britti" Lloyd, Laurie Strode's daughter, to be chased by her uncle, who has escaped from Ridgemont after being in a coma for ten years. Dr. Samuel Loomis, who has also survived the fiery explosion at the end of Halloween II, goes looking for Michael with Sheriff Meeker. The setting of the place was once again Haddonfield, Illinois. The character of Laurie Strode was revealed to have died in a car accident, leaving Britti with the Carruthers Family, which included Rachel, the family's seventeen year old daughter. Britti's name was later changed to Jamie as a homage to Laurie Strode actress, Jamie Lee Curtis.

McElroy told Fangoria: ""When I first saw the original, I was dating a girl and took her to a theater in Boston to see it. We were the only ones in the place, but she was climbing all over me. When Halloween II came out, a group of friends and I got completely blitzed and saw it, and we had the best time. So when the firector, Dwight Little, asked me to write the script, I jumped at the chance. Here I was going to bring the Shape - Michael Myers - back to life. It's a piece of film history. He's truly an icon."

In the original draft, titled Halloween IV, Sheriff Ben Meeker was to be killed during the Shape's attack on the Meeker house. A fire would have started in the basement and burnt down the entire house. The scene on top of the roof with the Shape, Rachel, and Jamie was supposed to be engulfed in flames. This was cut due to budget issues. A more "soap opera" feel was added to the film, which included the triangle of the teenagers and their relationship situations. Rachel is dating Brady, who is also having sex with the buxom blonde Kelly Meeker. In addition, in the finale, Jamie was originally intended to have murdered her step-mother, Darlene Carruthers while drawing the bath, and become evil. This idea was rejected for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989).

CastingEdit

The cast of Halloween 4 only included one veteran actor from the original film and its sequal; Donald Pleasence, who reprised his role as Samuel Loomis, Michael Myers' psychiatrist. Before McElroy's script was chosen, the producers asked Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role as Laurie Strode, the original's heroine. Curtis had become a success in the film industry and had established a career with her roles in films like Trading Places (1983) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Curtis declined and did not want to continue her participation in the film, although she did retun for Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1999). As a result, her character was written out and supposedly died in a car accident, which is briefly explained in the film.

The script introduced Laurie Strode's seven year-old daughter, Jamie Lloyd. Melissa Joan Hart had auditioned for the role, among various other girls. Up against her was Danielle Harris, who had previously starred in One Life to Live as Samantha Garretson. Rebecca Shaeffer had auditioned for the role of Rachel Carruthers, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Twenty-four year old Ellie Cornell had also auditioned. Cornell had chosen to audition for Halloween 4 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1987) as the role of Kristen Parker, after Patricia Arquette had declined to return as Kristen. Cornell chose Halloween 4 and had successfully landed the role of Rachel. Beau Starr was cast as the new Sheriff in town, Ben Meeker, replacing Charles Cyphers, who had played Sheriff Leigh Brackett. George P. Wilbur was cast to play the infamous Michael Myers. Wilbur had to wear hockey pads under his jumpsuit to appear bigger and stronger

DirectingEdit

Since John Carpenter had refused to continue his involvement with the series, a new director was sought out. Dwight H. Little, a native from Ohio, replaced Carpenter. Little had previously directed episodes for Freddy's Nightmares and the film Bloodstone.

Principal photography began on April 11, 1988. Instead of filming in Pasadena, California (the original filming location and stand in for Haddonfield) due to high-rising costs, filming took place in Salt Lake City, Utah. As filming was taking place in March, during Springtime, the producers were forced to import leaves and big squash, which they would use to create pumpkins by painting them orange, which was also done during the filming of the original Halloween. "One of the obvious challenges in making a part four of anything is to interest a contemporary audience in old characters and themes" said director Dwight H. Little. "What I'm trying to do is capture the mood of the original Halloween and yet take a lot of new chances. What we're attempting to do is walk a fine line between horror and mystery. Halloween 4 will not be an ax-in-the-forehead kind of movie." Paul Freeman agreed. "This film does contain some humorous moments, but it's not of the spoof or send-up variety. It's humor that rises out of the film's situations and quickly turns back into terror."

George P. Wilbur, who was cast as Michael Myers for this film, wore hockey pads under the costume to make himself look more physically imposing. During filming, the cast and crew made it a point to take it easy on Danielle Harris, as she was only a young child at the time, and made sure that she was not scared too badly and knew that none of it was real; to this end, George Wilbur regularly removed his mask in front of her in order to remind her that it was just a movie and he was not going to hurt her .

The late night scenes caused issues with the cast. Garlan Wilde, a gaffer for the film, was injured during the scene between Brady and The Shape when he dropped a light and accidentally slit his wrists. He was rushed to the hospital. In addition, Ellie Cornell accidentally stabbed her foot with a loose nail on the set of the rooftop scene, and also cut her abdomen open on a nail while sliding down the roof in that same scene. During most of the night scenes, Donald Pleasence became so cold that he had wore a hat for most of the scenes, unbeknownst to the crew. This caused over six hours of footage to be re-shot. The shoot lasted about 41 days and Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris were required to be on set for 36 of those days.

During filming it was considered that the customized 1975 Captain Kirk mask be reused for this film. However, the mask was long gone and a new one was purchased from a local costume shop. The producers wanted to test and see what it would look like without the edits. The school scene was filmed and when reviewing the producers did not like how the mask turned out. It was allegedly customized again but did not live up to the original and the producers felt it was too old and went for a new mask. Some scenes had to be re-shot with the new mask. The only scene left in is when Loomis is thrown through a glass door; as Michael comes up behind him, the unaltered face and blonde hair is visible.

After viewing the film's initial cut, director Dwight H. Little and producer Moustapha Akkad decided that the film's violence was too soft, and so an extra day of "blood filming" commenced. Special effects makeup artist John Carl Buechler was brought in to create the thumb in the forehead kill and neck-twisting of the redneck seen in the film's final cut.

MusicEdit

The film's soundtrack was performed by Alan Howarth, who had assisted John Carpenter on the previous two film's soundtrack. Howarth had recently finished working for Carpenter on his film, Prince of Darkness (which also starred Donald Pleasence as a priest named Loomis). Howarth gained approval from Dwight H. Little before he could accept the offer, creating a new score that referenced the original's but with a synthesizer twist. Howarth also included new tracks such as "Jamie's Nightmare", "Return of the Shape", and "Police Station."

ReleaseEdit

ReceptionEdit

Halloween 4 opened in 1,679 theaters on October 21, 1988, and grossed $6,831,250 in its opening weekend achieving a total domestic gross of $17,768,757 in the United States, becoming the fifth best performing film in the Halloween series. The film has received a moderate critical reception, with most reviews either mixed or positive. It was criticized for not having anything "striking, interesting, or exceptionally memorable" besides the ending. It currently has a score of 43 on Metacritic, which indicates mixed or average reviews, placing it higher than Halloween II; on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "rotten" score with only 22%. Halloween 4 was nominated for two Saturn Awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Horror Film and Best Writing in 1990.

Home videoEdit

The film was first released on VHS in May 1989 as a rental title. It became for "SALE" in October 1989 to coincide with the release of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. In 1999, Anchor Bay's company, Divimax, released transferred, better-quality editions of this film and its sequel for DVD. Supplements include the Halloween 4/5 Panel at the Return to Haddonfield convention, theatrical trailer, Halloween 4 Final Cut – a "behind-the-scenes" documentary, a commentary with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell, and another commentary by Alan B. McElroy and Anthony Masi. Halloween 4, along with Halloween 5, and Halloween, was released with the documentary, Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, and The Shape's mask in 2008.



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