After Halloween 3: Season of the Witch proved that the loyal horror fans weren't always that loyal when their favorite stalkers were left out of the equation, series producer Moustapha Akkad went back to the basics: He brought back everyone's favorite "shape," and hired at least four screenwriters to give the boogeyman some fresh backstory.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) introduced the character of Jamie, Michael's little niece, whom (of course) he desperately wants to kill. Part 4 ended with Michael falling into a mine shaft after killing a whole bunch of people. Jamie, meanwhile, ended up going a little loopy in a finalé that tried to do a "dovetail" with the prologue of the original Halloween -- but pretty much failed at the attempt.
Just about a year later came Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and the schtick is pretty much the same: Apparently Michael not only survived his mine-shaft plunge, but also spent one full year convalescing in the hovel of a strangely charitable homeless man. Come Halloween Eve, Mike pops up, ungratefully skewers his rescuer, and heads on out to stalk Jamie again.
Jamie, for her part, has been scared mute for the past year, and now resides in a children's hospital. She can also telemagically "see" her uncle's actions, but only when he's killing people. A few of Jamie's twenty-something friends/guardians are (unwisely) planning some sort of Halloween festivities, and you can pretty much fill in all the blanks from here.
Basically, Halloween 5 is not much more than your (very) standard slasher construct: Non-stop chit-chat for 2 acts, and then a bunch of nasty skewering in act 3. And even going by those generic standards, Halloween 5 is a pretty stale affair. Points for trying to adhere to some sort of cohesive "thru-line", and I do appreciate that someone tried to give Michael a mysterious backstory and whatnot -- but even the small portion of Halloween 5's admirable components seem like they were just thrown into the stew for the hell of it.
For her part, little Danielle Harris delivers a sympathetic performance while suffering through some truly arduous "flip out" sequences. (This kid takes more punishment than Wile E. Coyote.) As usual, the always-welcome Donald Pleasance pops up for five or six scenes to rant and rave about the "unstoppable evil" this and "I've looked into his eeeyyyyyeeessss" that. Harris and Pleasance are the only things keeping you awake during the first 50-some minutes of this flick. The script is rote, the direction is drab, and the series spins its wheels through yet another sequel.
As far as the splatterings go...meh. We get a few semi-creative dispatches and half-hearted gore-droppings, but the flick's not dark or intense enough to generate all that much enthusiasm for the nastiness. I can see how the hardcore Halloween-heads can find some small nuggets of fun in this particular sequel, but in my eyes the series ended with the explosion in Halloween 2. (Having said that, I'd still take parts 4 and 5 over 6 and/or 8 any day. You gorehounds know what I'm talking about.)
Video: The anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer is really quite solid for a chintzy little sequel of this order. I've read that the previous Anchor Bay release was just dandy, transfer-wise, but this one seems to be freshly remastered, so it's your call.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, with a fine aural presentation overall. Captions are accessible through your hardware, but not click-on-able like your standard subtitles.
Extras: The only new supplement is a feature-length audio commentary with director Dominique Othenin-Girard, and actors Danielle Harris (Jamie) and Jeffrey Landman (Billy). Harris seems sweetly enthusiastic, Landman seems bemused, and Girard is clearly taking this silly slasher sequel a whole lot more seriously than he ought to. Still, fans of the series should enjoy the chat-track, as it includes discussion of deleted scenes, production issues, and "The Man in Black."
Returning from Anchor Bay's previous Halloween 5 release are:
A 7-minute section on on-set footage, which includes one deleted sequence that the fans will enjoy.
The 15-minute Inside Halloween 5, which features semi-recent interviews with producer Moustapha Akkad, cinematographer Rob Draper, and actors Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris and Don Shanks. (Ms. Harris grew up to be quite the doll!)
Rounding out the platter is a collection of trailers for Halloween 5, Halloween, Halloween 4, and Masters of Horror.
I'd be happy to call Halloween 5 a guilty pleasure, only there's not a whole lot of fun to be found. Series completists will enjoy the flick, the transfer, and the extras, but c'mon. It's Halloween freakin' FIVE.