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Old 06-12-2004, 11:56 PM
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Default Halloween 5






Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: June 17, 2002
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 8/14/2000
MSRP: $24.98 (standard) | $39.98 (tin)
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



Debuting at number one in the U.S. box office upon its theatrical release, Halloween 4 was a surprise hit. It brought new characters and ideas back to the ten-year-old franchise, and more importantly, it brought back Michael Myers. With a rejuvenated concept and money coming in at the ears, a sequel was bound to happen. Nearly a year later, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers was completed and released to North American audiences, and to somewhat mixed results. Although profitable, the film was not the success that Halloween 4 had been, and the audience reception was much milder.

Slowly falling into oblivion on the home video market, Halloween 5 has lived a tough life. Leave it to Anchor Bay though, to revive the film with a fresh new transfer and a decent little documentary for their recent DVD release. Is this film really the clunker it's made out to be though? Read on to find out!


The Story

inline Image After receiving over 30 gunshot wounds and falling into a mineshaft at the end of Halloween 4, it looked like poor old Mikey was finally done for. But to no one's surprise, Michael Myers survived and escaped the ambush, and with the help of a hermit and his pet parrot(!), he is given intense medical treatment. Arising from his coma exactly a year later (which is coincidentally the morning of Halloween), Michael is off once again to hunt his now mute and psychologically disturbed niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris).

inline Image Jamie has been living in a children's clinic ever since the gruesome Halloween night of a year prior. Unable to talk, she begins to realize she shares somewhat of a telepathic bond with The Shape and begins having nightmares and seizures as Michael offs victim after victim. Her adopted sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) returns from the previous film, along with her new best friend, Tina (Wendy Kaplan), to keep Danielle company. They are both getting ready to attend a huge Halloween party at a nearby farm. New to the series is a mysterious man in black who apparently has a connection with the faceless menace. And it wouldn't be a Halloween film without series stalwart Sam Loomis (the legendary Donald Pleasence), as he is back again, still uttering his perfectly corny one-liners and bordering on insanity. He knows there is something wrong, and that Michael is lurking, and harasses little Jamie to tell him where he is.

inline Image Jamie refuses to talk, and heads over to a costume charade. Tina and her friends also head out to a party of their own, complete with drinking and pre-marital sex. Dr. Loomis, knowing that Michael will be making an appearance at Tina's party, sends a pair of policemen (complete with goofy clown music in the background) to escort the girls and ensure nothing goes wrong. But this is a Halloween film, so of course things go wrong, as Michael victimizes bystanders with scythes and his trusty butcher knife. Tina's party is merely a pleasant diversion for ol' Mikey though, as he leaves in pursuit of Jamie. Loomis uses Jamie as bait at Michael's now abandoned home (looking much bigger this time around) and what ensues is a tag team effort from both Jamie and Dr. Loomis to put Michael away once and for all.

inline Image There are a lot of problems with Halloween 5. Made only months after Part 4, the film falls victim to a rushed script and some poor conceptualization. The first film was so simple, merely a faceless man stalking an innocent babysitter, and that attributes largely to why it worked so well. With Halloween 5, there are several strands of needless plot developments and characters that ultimately bog down the film and offset its dark tone. As mentioned earlier, there are a few scenes with a pair of bumbling police officers that just do not fit in the film at all. Straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, these inept policemen banter on like children with attempts to be funny, but merely annoy the viewer instead. Many criticisms have been drawn from the policeman sequences in Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, saying that they provided unnecessary comic relief to what was intended to be a grueling picture of society's worst nightmares. The same knocks can be given to Halloween 5, as the policeman subplot does nothing but lessen the film's suspense while overcastting it with an unprofessionally goofy tone.

inline Image Another needless inclusion was the "Man in Black" character. His scenes are carelessly inserted in the film, and are confused and discontinuous with the flow of the film. His identity, motives, and usefulness to the story are never revealed, so really, what's the point? Like a joke with no punch line, this character merely disrupts the pace of the film by adding unnecessary confusion to an already flawed screenplay. Clocking in at an overlong 97 minutes, this film really could have benefited from having the policemen and "Man in Black" characters chopped from the film.

inline Image The majority of the film's problems lie in the writing though, as the rest of the elements in the films production are fairly well done. Most notable is Dominique Othenin-Girard's creative and stylish direction. Giving the film a unique European visual flair, he bathes the story in high-contrast lighting and inspired camera angles. The creative angles help increase the uneasy, lurking feeling of the film, while the lighting successfully parallels the ideas of good and evil within the story. When the tone has been firmly established, Girard let's the camera go, making for some suspenseful action sequences. The "laundry shoot sequence" is executed with extreme skill and urgency, making for one of the best climatic scenes in the series. The original was all about style, and thanks to Girard's inspired direction, this film delivers strongly on that quotient.

inline ImageAlso hitting their marks are the actors. Little Danielle Harris, although underused for the first part of the film, really carries the film for the last half, holding her own against all the actors. For such a young age she is very professional and convincing, and it's a shame Harris doesn't have more acting credits to her name. Ellie Cornell also gives the film a touch of innocence, as her Rachel character perfectly parallels the purity of Jamie Lee Curtis' characterization in the first two films. Although sounding old and worn out, Donald Pleasence is still a joy to watch, as he takes the Sam Loomis character to the hilt, delivering all his proverbial banter with seriousness and desperation. Pleasence put so much emotion into his portrayal of Loomis that one can't help but feel as if the Halloween films were responsible for his somewhat premature death. While Donald Pleasence's role has been reduced to nearly a cameo, he makes the most of his screen time and helps bottom out a strong cast.

Michael's mask has always been a topic for debate, as it seems to change its "Shape" in every film in the series. Away is the smooth and ultra-white shine featured in Part 4, instead being replaced by a much more brash and frightening mask this time around. Although it does look much different than John Carpenter's original, it retains the same tapered and daunting quality that it brought forth in the first film. Donald Shanks also does a credible performance of the big lug, creating a much stronger and imposing figure than the films prior.

Plot complications and needless characters aside, Halloween 5 is a nice addition to the series, and nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. Roughly the same in quality with Halloween 4, Halloween 5 makes a nice companion piece with the previous outing. It has some stylish photography, solid acting and a frightening Michael Myers, and deserves a second look by those who disliked the film the first time around.

Image Quality

inline Image Anchor Bay presents the film in widescreen for the first time ever on home video, and the video transfer is solid. Presented in both anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen and full frame ratios, Halloween 5 has never looked better, and is a huge improvement over its washed out VHS incarnations. Colors are surprisingly solid and defined, with no bleeding to be found. The daytime scenes are especially impressive, exhibiting vibrant greens and blues. The print is clean and virtually blemish free, with accurate saturation and flesh tones. Unfortunately, during the night sequences (which amount to basically the final 30 minutes), there is an everlasting grain present with weak blacks abound. Although far from a nuisance, it does detract from what is generally a very fine transfer. For a low budgeted 80's production, this is a well done transfer that will please those who have grown up watching the film on TV and VHS, but is not quite up to par with Anchor Bay's work on the Halloween 4 remastered DVD.

Sound

Presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround mixes, this is a great sounding DVD. Right from the opening menu the soundtrack pulses from all 5 speakers, proving that AB has put considerable effort into creating this new mix. Sounds generally stay upfront for the first half of the picture, with the score pushed to the surrounds. The dialogue is clear and has considerable depth on all audible levels. For a stereo film from 1989, this sounds much better than it has any right too. The speakers really get a workout during the final 30-minutes, as sound effects and music pound out through the surrounds while the front end is saturated with intense screams and shrills. There is also considerable audio movement in all directions as the sound accompanies the visceral camera movement. The overall mix sounds very full and atmospheric, and is up to par with Anchor Bay's remixes for the previous Halloween films.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Halloween 5 has been released in both a Limited Edition Tin (15, 000 units) and a regular keep case. The Tin contains a 40-page booklet of biographies, notes on the production and behind-the-scenes stills as well as a 5" x 7" reproduction of the original theatrical one sheet poster. Content wise, both releases contain the same disc, and Anchor Bay has done a nice, is sparse, job with supplements. A short and sweet introduction precedes the film, with stars Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell talking all smiles. Also included is an anamorphic 30-second trailer, which is nicely done, but much too short.

inline Image The biggest, and best supplement is the 17-minute documentary "Inside Halloween 5", with all new interviews with Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Don Shanks, and Moustapha Akkad as well as old interviews with the director and cinematographer. The documentary is well produced, and details several aspects of the production. It is amusing to hear how not even the filmmakers knew what the purpose of the "Man in Black" character was. All the cast and crew look back on the film with pride and are all entertaining to listen to. Like the documentary on Halloween 4's disc however, this clocks in a tad short, and lacks the depth of the documentary on the original film's DVD. Owners of the standard edition will also be pleased that the keep case has a reversible cover which contains information about sequels and Halloween 5 in general, complete with a misspelling of Donald Pleasence's name. The menu's are also nicely animated in true Anchor Bay fashion.

Overall, a nice bunch of supplements to round off Anchor Bay's solid transfer, but as good as the documentary is, it leaves the viewer wishing for more. Given the $15.00 price difference between the standard edition and the tin, it is recommended that buyers save their money and go for the standard disc.

Final Thoughts

Generally regarded as the worst of the series by fans, Halloween 5 has unfairly taken a lot of hits for its introduction of supernatural elements, and not to mention a mysterious cowboy, into the realm of the Halloween world. It is a skillfully shot and credibly acted movie that deserves more respect than it has received. Presented for the first time ever on DVD, Anchor Bay has given the film a fine transfer and some entertaining supplements. Fans of the series should give this forgotten film another chance, and picking up this well made DVD is the perfect start!

Rating

Movie - B-
Image Quality - B
Sound - B+
Supplements - B-

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English 2.0 Surround
  • English captions
Supplements
  • "Inside Halloween 5" Documentary
  • Introduction by Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible cover sleeve (standard)
  • 5" x "7 poster reproduction (tin)
  • 40-page collectors booklet (tin)
Other Pictures

 

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