DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers - DiviMax Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Jul 10, 2006.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    HALLOWEEN 4
    THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS
    DIVIMAX SPECIAL EDITION


    [​IMG]

    Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Film Year: 1988
    Length: 88 minutes
    Genre: Horror/Thriller

    [​IMG]
    Aspect Ratio:
    1.85:1

    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:
    English [​IMG] [​IMG] 5.1 Surround

    English [​IMG] [​IMG] 2.0 Surround

    Subtitles: none
    Film Rating: [​IMG]

    U.S. SRP: $19.98

    [​IMG] [​IMG]






    Release Date: July 25, 2006.



    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Scare Factor: [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Ellie Cornell (Rachel Carruthers), Donald Pleasence (Dr. Sam Loomis), Danielle Harris (Jamie Lloyd), Beau Starr (Sheriff Ben Meeker)

    Screenplay by: Alan B. McElroy
    Directed by: Dwight H. Little


    Ten Years Ago HE Changed the Face of Halloween. Tonight HE'S BACK!



    In 1988, it was 10 years since the first Halloween film shocked audiences with John Carpenter’s simple but very effective stalker/slasher flick. Audiences saw The Shape, Michael Myers, continue to kill in a 1981 sequel and then were given a third Halloween film in 1983 that had nothing to do with the other two. It was a trick-or-treat for fans but sure enough Michael Myers would return to Haddonfield, Illinois again.

    Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers brings the film back to its original storyline. After being both shot and incinerated, it’s become clear that Myers is “evil on two legs” as Dr. Loomis, Myers’s past doctor describes. After waking out of his coma, it is learned that Michael is returning to Haddonfield to murder his innocent niece, Jamie. He butchers people along his way to get to her and Dr. Loomis is still pursuing him because he believes he’s the only one who knows how to stop him. He’s suffered trauma from his pursuit and is physically burned from the events in Halloween II and comes off as a tired, worrisome old man who lacks the energy to carry on. His role is to mainly aid the police (or what’s left of the force) to prevent more Haddonfield murders.

    In this film we learn that Jamie is the daughter of Laurie Strode from the first two films. She has been adopted by the family of her “sister” Rachel and together they soon learn that Halloween night isn’t safe alone! The film full of chase scenes that is ok but lack danger and fright. They come across as average and the whole film feels low-budget from bad acting to the look of the “obvious” sets. The ending was supposed to be a shocker but I didn’t find it shocking at all. It could have been if it were written better, but there was no lead to it – it just “happened” and that made it unconvincing without more explanation. For a film that was probably hyped back in the day, I left with a feeling of disappointment especially after the visuals in the title sequence caught my attention. It’s a basic slasher film that isn’t very violent either.


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This new DiviMax Edition (Anchor Bay’s terminology for transferring film to high-definition before down-rezing it to DVD) is mediocre in appearance. The source has serious grain in many scenes. Since I know nothing about what source was used, my first impression is that this DVD came from a theatrical print of some sort rather than one closer to the original. It makes the film look unclean and not impressive for a title that is supposed to be the best given that it’s advertised as a DiviMax Edition. I do not have Anchor Bay’s 2001 release of the film for comparison so I’m not sure if there is any dramatic difference between the two.

    On the other hand, the film does have nice colour balance; flesh tones, scenery, the sky, etc. always looked fresh and colourful but not so much so that it looks overwhelming. It’s a comfortable balance seen on many films in the late 1980s. Contrast is excellent too; outdoor scenes were nice and bright and never looked artificially pumped for contrast. Black levels were deep enough to satisfy horror fans who demand accurate deep black levels.

    I wasn’t bothered by edge enhancement because the film delivered good resolution. There are various but not obvious compression artefacts that I seen on my 8-foot wide screen. It is likely that those of you with small screens won’t notice them, but like many Anchor Bay discs, this title’s compression isn’t as refined as the titles I watch from 20th Century Fox.

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For those viewing with 0% overscan, most of the unused black area is at the top of the screen.

    As a side note, the green colour that highlights your selection in the main menu is offset from the words/letters. It reminds me of a serious Y/C delay and it’s not present in the sub menus.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The original soundtrack was Ultra Stereo (remember Ultra Stereo?!) but this title has been given the 5.1 treatment. The Dolby Digital decoding reveals a repurposing effort that is mediocre. It gets the job done but that’s it. It’s mostly mono from the centre speaker and there are a few effects (as well as the music) that expand to the left and right channels. To my surprise, surround use is limited as well as the LFE. The mix doesn’t attempt to hide the serious ADR sound. It would have been nice to integrate the voices in the environment more but instead it is forward, heavy and closely mic’d. I noticed at several instances the dialogue not matching the lips of the person at all – not because it wasn’t in sync but because the lines looked replaced with others.


    TACTILE FUN!! [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    TRANSDUCER ON
    /OFF?: OFF

    Since there is very little LFE I wouldn’t recommend using the transducer, not even for the brief moments it is used. The level of LFE is recorded so low it makes it virtually undetectable. Don’t expect shaker fun in this film!


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This special edition delivers some new features that weren’t included in the previous edition. Is it worth the upgrade? If I were a huge fan I would think so! New to this disc is two audio commentaries; one is with actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris and the second is with writer Alan B. McElroy. A nervous sounding Anthony Massey from Halloweenmovies.com starts the questioning with McElroy as they talk about many aspects of this film. I enjoyed the first commentary a little more than the second but both are a pleasure to have on this disc.

    Also new to this disc is the 18-minute Halloween 4&5 Cast Panel at the H25 Convention and guests included are Danielle Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson (all from Halloween 4) and Jeffrey Landman from Halloween 5. Danielle Harris is the star of this panel; most of the questions were directed to this beautiful actress and she was the most responsive to the audience. The other three were quieter…and Jenson and Kinmont were just plain awkward people…they seemed like somewhat strange individuals… The discussion begins with the best question ever:
    To Danielle Harris: “How did you and Ellie do that ruff scene?”
    Harris’s reply: “Ohh, the roof scene…!
    …gotta love American accents…
    The video for this feature is presented in 4:3 and in Anchor Bay tradition, it is properly framed in that area (inside the player) if your DVD player is set to 16:9 enhanced widescreen mode. Nice job guys!

    Lastly, ported over from the previous release is the 17-minute featurette titled Halloween 4: Final Cut and features interviews from producer Akkad, writer McElroy, director Little and composer Howarth among others.

    The theatrical trailer is also included as well as trailers for Halloween, Halloween 5 and the Masters of Horror Collection. You also get a chapter stop insert.


    IN THE END…

    I was disappointed that The Return of Michael Myers felt like a cheap film. The script was written like a typical slasher flick with empty characters and typical death scenes. This film is contrasted with Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, a much better film. That film also gets the Divimax treatment and the DVD is released on the same day. Be sure to click on the title above for the link to the review of that DVD on Home Theater Forum.

    Michael Osadciw
    July 10, 2006.
     
  2. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    I didn't know this title was even out yet, as this and part 5 DiviMax are on my want list; I own the original Anchor Bay pressing of Halloween 4, and it seems like this version is not worth upgrading to....the visual transfer seems to, based on Michael's report, still riddled with some grain and not all that impressive, as the first release was...and the Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesnt seem to be all that hot either based on this first go-round in terms of a listen. I distinctly remember the first Anchor Bay release, in my collection, having an extremely dissapointing audio track that required a lot of amplification to get going. Seems like that's the problem here again; I dont know if I am going to upgrade. [​IMG]
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Thanks for the review. Eventhough there's no apparent increase in PQ, I'll be picking it up for the commentary.
    You may be the first person I've ever seen that likes Halloween 5 more than Halloween 4. [​IMG]
     
  4. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Really????!!!! I'm crazy then!!

    Mike
     
  5. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Hmm...not sure I'll upgrade here. I haven't watched the old DVD in quite some time but the review makes it seem like the older version is better. I remember the old transfer being very good with an excellent 5.1 track. As for the film, I think it's the best sequel because, like the original, it goes for atmosphere over the slasher gore, which was typical at the time.
     
  6. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    Funny Michael recalls the first Anchor Bay release of Halloween 4 to have a good 5.1 mix, etc. etc.....I havent watched mine in awhile (I save it for October viewing only) but from what I remember, it was quite far from stellar in terms of audio.
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I've always thought HALLOWEEN 4 started out well but then fell apart later in the film. And I think HALLOWEEN 5 is probably the worst in the entire series, including HALLOWEEN 6 (I like the PRODUCER'S CUT -- which at least tries for a different story approach).
     
  8. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    I must have watched the wrong movie!! lol...how could I be the only one who liked it??!!

    Mike
     
  9. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer

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    My feelings about Part 5 exactly. I haven't seen the producer's cut of 6 yet, but it has to be better than the theatrical cut (which I tie with part 5 as the worst). Glad to see I'm not alone in preferring 4 over 5.
     
  10. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    I like 4, 5, and 6, but I'd probably have to say that part 5 is the weakest of those 3. However, I'd take 5 over H20 and Ressurrection any day.
     
  11. Scott Temple

    Scott Temple Supporting Actor

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    Thank you very much for the review, Michael. I had been waiting anxiously to read about these new Halloween DVDs, so your work is very much appreciated. I've got all three on pre-order with DVD Empire and should receive them by Monday, July 24th. Disappointing news about the transfer, but as long as it looks as good as the 2001 release, I'll be happy. What I'm really looking forward to is the Ellie Cornell/Danielle Harris commentary track. Both of those women seem very sweet and you can tell they have a passion for these movies. I like all of the Myers films (part 3 doesn't belong in this series, IMO), but parts 1, 2, and 4 are my favorites. One thing that has always irked me about parts 7 and 8 is their disregard for parts 4-6. That was totally wrong and now they're about to do it again with Rob Zombie's entry which isn't going to be Halloween 9, but a remake/reimagining/retelling/semi-prequel/whatever.
     
  12. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    Many fans of this franchise thought Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, myself included, was a rather worthwhile effort to get the series back on track after Halloween III: Season of the Witch derailed the franchise with the failed idea that each year there was going to be a different Halloween-themed exploration (once Myers was "killed off" in Halloween II)....I am one of those people who actually liked Season of the Witch and appreciate it for what it is when standing alone in the series, and I watch it every October 31 when I can along with the original, of course. But thats another story for another day....

    All I have in my collection with regard to the Halloween franchise is up to part 4, as I believed once "The Revenge of Michael Myers" came into play (part 5), the series was beginning to get a little offtrack and stupid for lack of a better term....I mean, the whole thing about him being a force driven by a cult's power and such just ruined the whole magic of the Carpenter original to me -- for real, who cares what drove Myers to stalk the sisters of his family? Thats what made the original so creepy! We did not know why Mikey was acting this way, putting on a creepy white mask and stalking his babysitter sister through a Halloween night, killing her friends along the way. To me, THIS was far more effective -- and knowing he escaped from a mental asylum and his doctor was after him -- than any of the sequels that came after it could achieve. At any rate, in Halloween 4 (which had a rather beautiful metal tin special edition at one point, anyone remember that? Why didnt Anchor Bay do this for the ORIGINAL Halloween?????) there was a noble attempt to explain how Loomis and Myers survived the explosion at the hospital at the end of II (although it would have been quite impossible) and achieved a bare hint of atmosphere and mood established in the original. To me, it was the last decent attempt in the series (which really should have ended with the decent sequel).

    The idea to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back as Michael's sister-in-hiding all these years in H20 was ridiculous, I thought, and when Busta Rhymes yells out "HAPPY HALLOWEEN, MOTHA FUCKA!" in the last entry of the series (am I right about that?), I knew it was totally, totally over for this frachise.
     
  13. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    Adam,

    Don't forget that it wasn't even until part II came around that she was his "sister."

    I personally find it much creepier that he just picks a random girl who came by his house to drop off a key... then proceeds to stalk her and her friends all night.

    Regarding part 4, too bad, but in the original script there was supposed to be a flashback to 1978 where Loomis was blown through a wall (thus explaining how he survived being burned up) and when the police and everyone run over to him he says [regarding Michael] "Let him burn..."

    That was cut for some reason or another, but would have helped the reality of his survival.

    I liked the idea of H20, but how they pulled it off wasn't too great. You can smell Dimension Films' OBSESSION with milking SCREAM all over it (that and the CURSED production of CURSED... which also had great potential...). From the mask alterations, musical score, to the reshoots... *sigh*

    Even with all of that I still liked the story of H20, and I found it a fitting conclusion to the series. Ressurection was probably the worst pile of garbage I've ever seen.

    I find Halloween 4 to be a much better sequel than the others purely because it DOES have an atmospheric quality, and it doesn't go overboard with the gore and violence (there are a few shots though... and I wonder if these were the result of reshoots, much like Halloween II) and instead focuses on the scares and mood. I also was a big fan of the Rachel/Jamie relationship and found it to be a pretty interesting connection to the original film. A fine attempt that probably could have used another rewrite or so... but the film is far from horrid.

    And anyone who thinks the acting in part 4 is bad... how could you stand Michael, the blonde devil girl, and "TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENA!" Those were some baaaaaad actors... [​IMG]
    Still, there has to be something I like about it... I just sold my previous edition to buy the Divimax one. Wouldn't have gone through the trouble for nothing.
     
  14. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    "Don't forget that it wasn't even until part II came around that she was his "sister."

    I personally find it much creepier that he just picks a random girl who came by his house to drop off a key... then proceeds to stalk her and her friends all night."

    Agreed, Robert.

    "Regarding part 4, too bad, but in the original script there was supposed to be a flashback to 1978 where Loomis was blown through a wall (thus explaining how he survived being burned up) and when the police and everyone run over to him he says [regarding Michael] "Let him burn..."

    That was cut for some reason or another, but would have helped the reality of his survival."

    Interesting; as it is, it seems his survival of the explosion was far fetched.

    "I liked the idea of H20, but how they pulled it off wasn't too great. You can smell Dimension Films' OBSESSION with milking SCREAM all over it (that and the CURSED production of CURSED... which also had great potential...). From the mask alterations, musical score, to the reshoots... *sigh*"

    ABSOLUTELY agreed; Dimension did pour "SCREAM" all over the end of the franchise and it was a joke.

    "Even with all of that I still liked the story of H20, and I found it a fitting conclusion to the series. Ressurection was probably the worst pile of garbage I've ever seen."

    I agree about Ressurection....anything that has Busta Rhymes in it could not do the motion picture any good....

    "I find Halloween 4 to be a much better sequel than the others purely because it DOES have an atmospheric quality, and it doesn't go overboard with the gore and violence (there are a few shots though... and I wonder if these were the result of reshoots, much like Halloween II) and instead focuses on the scares and mood. I also was a big fan of the Rachel/Jamie relationship and found it to be a pretty interesting connection to the original film. A fine attempt that probably could have used another rewrite or so... but the film is far from horrid."

    I guess I can agree with this; as I said, it was a decently-fitting continuation to II, if they HAD to make more....
     
  15. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    I agree 100% about Halloween 4 having a great atmospheric quality. So do 5 and 6 for that matter. It FELT like a Halloween movie, wheras H20 didn't. H20 could have been good if they wouldn't have ignored 4-6.
     
  16. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, Brett, I agree that 4 had an atmosphere about it that SOMEWHAT felt like a Halloween franchise film, somewhat approaching the realm of a decent followup to II....but once 5 came and on and on, I think it was doomed. And forget the last one, which was complete direct to cable crap that felt like a SCREAM spinoff, as mentioned. [​IMG]
     
  17. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    And you know what the bad thing is? I'm a completist, so I have H:R on DVD, and even worse, I had to buy it twice when the first one got scratched up by someone being careless.

    I think 5 was interesting enough just for the "Man in Black" mystery subplot running throughout the film. It could have been better resolved by part six, though.
     
  18. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    "And you know what the bad thing is? I'm a completist, so I have H:R on DVD, and even worse, I had to buy it twice when the first one got scratched up by someone being careless."

    Oh Jesus....my condolences....hahahahaha....seriously though, I can understand being a completist; I do it for some films, too, depending what I "feel like" collecting for; for example, I have ALL the Jaws films on DVD -- even THE REVENGE, which sucked big time -- just to say I "had them all" but I dont have, for example, ALL the Halloweens or ALL the Exorcists (I HATE part II but have the rest)...etc etc....so I dont hold you TOO responsible...LOL....but I dont think I will ever get all the Halloweens. I just think 1 (and 2 for that matter) are just such untouchable classic films in their own right and the sequels, from 5 on, take you out of the franchise in an unenjoyable way.

    "I think 5 was interesting enough just for the "Man in Black" mystery subplot running throughout the film. It could have been better resolved by part six, though."

    And see I disagree about the "man in black" thing; I think the series went down the toilet from five on...there was a mystique about Carpenter's original that just made it so damn magical....we didnt know what drove Michael....we only knew he was evil on two legs, as Loomis kept telling everyone, and I think by exploring all these elements of what drives him, the need to explain his cult involvement, etc., just ruins the whole experience that was Halloween.

    Just my two cents. [​IMG]
     
  19. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    I agree that the explanation they came up with in Halloween 6 was pretty weak, with the Thorn cult. But I'd still take Halloween 6 over H20 and Ressurrection, even though that's not saying much. I think Part 5 could have been stronger had the Man in Black been something more interesting than Dr. Wynn. After you find that out in Part 6, it takes the mystery out of part 5.

    And I have Jaws: The Revenge, too. Funny thing is, I bought that one twice too. I had the Goodtimes version at first, but bought the Universal release because the case matched up better. At least it was only $5.50 then.

    Oh, and I don't have The Exorcist II either (Exorcist III is pretty underrated, though).
     
  20. Adam Scott

    Adam Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    "I agree that the explanation they came up with in Halloween 6 was pretty weak, with the Thorn cult."

    Indeed...

    "But I'd still take Halloween 6 over H20 and Ressurrection, even though that's not saying much. I think Part 5 could have been stronger had the Man in Black been something more interesting than Dr. Wynn. After you find that out in Part 6, it takes the mystery out of part 5."

    I guess....

    "And I have Jaws: The Revenge, too. Funny thing is, I bought that one twice too. I had the Goodtimes version at first, but bought the Universal release because the case matched up better. At least it was only $5.50 then."

    Oh Jesus....I dont think I ever ran into anyone who bought JAWS THE REVENGE....TWICE....I watched it once since I own it because my ex was a massive shark/Jaws fan, so I put them all in my collection but MAN is that a BAD film...what was Michael Caine THINKING? Do you know he missed some award ceremony because he was busy filming that piece of crap?

    "Oh, and I don't have The Exorcist II either (Exorcist III is pretty underrated, though)."

    III is ABSOLUTELY underrated; I have done a few reviews of it already over the years as I am a fan of that film....it is a much more worthy continuation of the story than II will EVER be. In fact, II was one of the worst films ever made, right up on the list with smoldering turds like GREASE 2; John Boorman should be ashamed of himself. But, for some reason, unlike Jaws The Revenge, I have resisted adding Exorcist II: The Heretic to my DVD library.
     

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