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Film / Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

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"Six bodies, Sheriff! That's what I've seen between here and Ridgemont! A filling station in flames! I'm telling you Michael Myers is here, in this town! He's here to kill that little girl and anybody who gets in his way!"
Dr. Loomis

When the idea of making the Halloween franchise into a Genre Anthology didn't work out, the studio had an obvious solution: bring back The Shape himself. Thus, this film picks up a decade after the events of Halloween II (1981).

In Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, ten years have passed since Michael Myers terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. The fire that seemed to consume both Michael and Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) put Myers in a comatose state and burned Loomis over a good portion of his body, but both men lived. During a medical transport, the medical staff members happen to mention the fact that Michael has a young niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), of whom he was previously unaware. Michael awakens from his comatose state, massacres the ambulance personnel, and heads back home with a new target in mind: Jamie herself. Loomis, as usual, follows the trail back to Haddonfield, and it soon becomes a race against time to save Jamie from her psychotic uncle.

While not seen as the best of the series, it was well-received by fans at the time of its release, and did decent business at the box office, enough to bring Michael Myers back for good. It also begins a three-part story arc that continues with the fifth movie and concludes with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alleged Car: Reverend Sayer's truck isn't exactly in good shape.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: The film ends with Jamie stabbing her foster mother with a pair of scissors, implying that she has become the new killer.
  • Artistic License: Sheriff Meeker and co. are "Haddonfield Police," despite Haddonfield being in Warren County (or Livingstone County depending on the movie). Consequently, they should be portrayed as county police because sheriffs are county - not town - law enforcement.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: There's no way—something stated by the Sheriff—that after ten years in a coma, Michael would have an ounce of strength, as his muscles would be severely atrophied, though Dr. Loomis dismisses this with his conviction that Michael isn't exactly human.
  • Asshole Victim:Zig-zagged with Kelly Meeker for stealing Rachel's boyfriend Brady from her, proudly and unapologetically, although she shows concern for Jamie, treats the guard officers with kindness, and answers trick-or-treaters at her door. Subverted with Brady himself, as he cheats on Rachel with Kelly just because she's forced to cancel their date to babysit, despite how badly she didn't want to and tried to get out of having to do it, but he does manage to redeem himself in the end by giving his life to protect Rachel and Jamie. Al, the redneck who has his group kill an innocent man he stupidly assumes to be Michael, can also count.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Rachel gets her share of injuries and run-ins with death while watching over Jamie.
  • Bandaged Face: Michael is covered in bandages when he escapes from the ambulance.
  • Big Blackout: Caused by Michael throwing a hapless technician named Bucky into a transformer.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Loomis and Meeker pick up Rachel and Jamie off the street. It's not played up as a grand rescue, but the audience knows Michael is lurking about and would've made his move if not for the arrival of the police car.
  • Big "NO!": Loomis has the biggest "no" in history in the ending when he sees Jamie after she stabs her foster mother.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Rachel to Jamie. She goes through absolute hell to protect her little foster sister.
  • Boyfriend-Blocking Dad: Don't go thinking that Meeker doesn't notice how Brady's home alone with his daughter half naked.
    "Oh, yeah...I catch you gropin' my daughter, I'll use that shotgun on you. You understand?"
  • Bus Crash: Laurie and Jamie's father have apparently died, but it's not revealed how.
  • Call-Back: The ending is one for the first film's opening.
    • It's raining as the ambulance crew arrives at the hospital to collect Michael, again, just like in the beginning of the first movie.
    • Jamie's classmates bully her just like Tommy's did.
  • Car Fu: Rachel uses a truck to run into Michael Myers. But since Michael is Michael, it doesn't faze him much; he's left prone for a few minutes, but he's soon back on his feet.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The mask Michael uses to disguise himself for this film is seen on a rack behind Jamie at the drug store.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Rachel uses a fire extinguisher to ward Michael off at the school and later runs into him with a pickup truck.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Michael and Dr. Loomis have burn scars from the climax of the second film.
    • Lindsey and Tommy, the kids from the first two movies, make brief appearances as teenagers early in the film.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster features a shot from the first movie of Michael lurking outside of Lindsay's house while he stalks Annie. There's no such scene in this film. Furthermore, the mask on the cover/poster is the original film's mask and not even close to the laughable replacement mask used in this film.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Michael doesn't just cut the phone lines of his victim's house. He destroys two diner phones and unknowingly cuts (by inadvertently sending fire up a telephone pole) the long-distance phone lines and causes a blackout in the town.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Michael pulls this off by clinging to the bottom of a pickup truck. Earlier in the film, this is how he manages to get to the house where the team has barricaded themselves, by hiding in the backseat of a police car.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jamie says this line when Rachel doesn't want to babysit her:
    Jamie: I'm sorry I ruined everything. If I wasn't here, you can go out.
    • Rachel is a bit of a snarker, too.
  • Defiant to the End: Brady spends his last moments spitting blood at Michael.
  • Demonic Possession: Jamie gets possessed by Michael and stabs her foster mother Darlene in the chest with a pair of scissors.
  • Dented Iron: Doctor Loomis, having managed to survive the events of Halloween II. He doesn't let it stop him from pursuing the escaped Michael once more.
  • Determinator: Brady does everything he can to hold Michael off for Rachel and Jamie to escape, first firing at him with the shotgun, then smacking him with the butt end of it, and then just going for Good Old Fisticuffs. Unfortunately, since it's Michael Myers, he shrugs off everything.
  • Disposable Pilot: Driver in this case. As four of the vigilantes try to escort Rachel and Jamie to safety, Michael kills the three in the pickup truck’s bed, then tears out the driver’s throat with his bare hand, forcing Rachel to take the wheel.
  • Does Not Know Her Own Strength: Jamie is small, but when she sees Michael behind her, she screams and backs away close to the mirror surprisingly shattering it and alerting Rachel.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Michael gets his hands on two shotguns during the movie, but doesn't fire either of them. He uses one to impale Kelly, and discards the other after hitting Brady in the face with it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Michael forcibly rams a shotgun through Kelly's abdomen.
  • Driving Stick: Rachel is shown fighting to shift gears in the truck as much as she is trying to fight Michael while he's on top of it.
  • Empathic Environment: The stormy weather as the medics arrive to pick up Michael is a pretty clear indicator that something bad is about to happen.
  • Empty Promise: From Loomis to Jamie, in the school. Subverted when she asks him if he really believes they'll make it out alright, and he gives a barely audible Little "No".
  • Enfant Terrible: Jamie becomes one in the end.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The power comes back after Michael is supposedly defeated.
  • Evil Orphan: Jamie is turned into one after touching Michael's hand.
  • Exact Words: Meeker asks Brady if he has ever handled a shotgun before he gives it to him. That Brady has no formal weapons training becomes a major reason why he gets killed since he isn't trained enough to reload the weapon quickly enough.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • The medics transporting Michael in the opening fail to notice the supposedly comatose patient clenching his fist.
    • Rachel, Jamie, and the driver all fail to notice Michael tossing people off the back of a pickup truck. In fact, they don't notice him at all until he smashes through the driver's side window and rips out the driver's throat. The worst of all is the third man in the bed of the truck who somehow manages not to notice Michael kill the other two men in the bed right behind him.
  • Final Girl: Jamie Lloyd and her foster sister, Rachel.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: When the doctors in the ambulance with Michael mention his niece, he slowly clenches his fist before waking up and making his escape.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Reverend Sayer tells Loomis "You can't kill damnation, Mister. It don't die like a man dies!" Even after Michael is seemingly killed, his evil lives on, as Jamie attacks her foster mother, just as Michael had murdered his sister.
    • After picking out her clown costume, Jamie sees a vision of a young Michael holding a bloody knife, which foreshadows the grown Michael's imminent appearance and Jamie's own actions at the end of the film.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Look very carefully and you can just barely make out Michael lurking in the background as the deputies and Rachel move around the house. One particular instance is even accompanied by a Scare Chord and occurs just before Kelly finds Logan murdered. There's also a moment after the sheriff and the deputy make sure that the front door is locked. As they begin walking down the hall, the point of view abruptly moves away behind a wall, strongly suggesting that he was standing there watching.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The Michael Myers mask for this film features slicked-back hair.
  • Gross Up Closeup: A close-up is shown of Michael tearing out a man's throat with his bare hands.
  • Hero of Another Story: Reverend Jackson P. Sayer, who gives Loomis a ride into town. He talks about hunting evil (having come close a time or two over the years) and can tell Loomis is essentially in the same business.
  • Heroic BSoD: After seeing Jamie take after Michael, Loomis is left a shaking, sobbing wreck.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Inadvertently done by Brady who tries to shoot Michael, then futilely struggles with him, ultimately giving Jamie and Rachel a chance to escape.
  • High-Voltage Death: Know how Michael manages to cause a blackout? By throwing some poor schmuck into a electric generator at a power plant. The Shape knows how to improvise.
  • Hope Spot: All right, the State Troopers are headed into town and the truckers are getting Rachel and Jamie to safety. Everything's gonna be okay—Oh, Crap! Michael's hanging onto the bottom of the pickup truck!
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Zigzagged with Kelly and Brady. On one hand, they do end up at Kelly's house and come onto each other pretty fast, but (off-screen) apparently do something besides just having sex for a while based on how they've only started to get undressed right before Rachel, the sheriff and the rest arrive, well after Rachel first sees them together.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Jamie Lloyd, Rachel Carruthers, and Sheriff Meeker, three of the most frequently lauded characters from the series, don't appear until this movie.
  • Ignored Expert: Loomis again. He knows exactly what happens after the ambulance crash, despite Hoffman's protests. Meeker is a little skeptical of Loomis's claims early on, but he's more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: This excuse for Brady's infidelity with Kelly is actually offered by Kelly herself, remorselessly stating that Brady slept with her because he wasn't getting any from Rachel.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Michael spears a mechanic with a metal rod.
    • Kelly gets impaled to the wall with a shotgun.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: Rather than shooting Kelly with the shotgun, Michael impales her and pins her to a wall with it.
  • It's Personal: Loomis's stake in this. He points to his burn scars and remarks that he doesn't want anyone to go through what he did.
    • Allan Gateway lost his kid to Michael's massacre in 1978. Whose father he is never explained.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: After an establishing shot of a farm decorated for Halloween, the film opens on a rainy Halloween Eve.
  • Kick the Dog: Michael kills Jamie's dog Sundae.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Some of the kids at Jamie's school tease her for the fact that she's an orphan and for being related to Michael.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Michael massacres the Haddonfield police force in their own station. Loomis and Meeker arrive in time to see the gory aftermath, but Michael is long gone.
    • Deputy Logan, whose body is found by Kelly, who realizes that it's not Logan in the rocking chair...
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Meeker is immediately familiar with Loomis, despite never having met him. He tells Loomis that others in town may or may not be fuzzy on who he is, but cops sure do remember him.
  • Missing Mom: Kelly's mother doesn't appear to be in the picture.
  • More Dakka: the Haddonfield Sheriff, State Police and vigilantes pump Michael full of lead once finally able to confront him in the open.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: A very literal and egregious example, as the Rocky Mountains from the Salt Lake City filming location can be seen in the establishing shot of "Haddonfield."
  • Murder by Mistake: A group of vigilantes accidentally shoot to death parkgoer Ted Hollister, thinking he was Michael.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • After impaling Kelly to the wall with the shotgun, Michael tilts his head exactly as he did in the first film after impaling Bob with a knife.
    • Sheriff Meeker mentions that Sheriff Brackett retired in 1981. Halloween II (1981) was when Brackett last appeared in the franchise at the time, the implication being that he retired after his daughter Annie was killed.
    • The kids at Jamie's school taunt her in a manner very similar to that which Tommy Doyle experienced in the first movie.
    • The film opens on a rainy Halloween Eve, with two medical professionals going to pick up Michael from the hospital, and him escaping, just as seen in the original film did.
  • Neck Snap: Brady's death, sort of. It's really more of a bare-handed head/neck crush than an actual neck snap.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire time that Michael is wheeled out of the hospital to the ambulance, and during the ambulance ride, he doesn't even so much as twitch. It isn't until the EMTs start talking about his niece that he clenches his fist in rage and he springs to life. One can only wonder if he'd stayed comatose if he'd never heard about Jamie at all.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Kelly prepares coffee for the deputies guarding the house.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The asylum security guard's tour of the place clearly leaves the paramedics freaked out due to the grimness of the atmosphere and Michael's dark past.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens offscreen to an officer in the police station.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: A villainous example; Michael slaughters everyone in the police station without so much as a scratch.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: When Jamie and Dr. Loomis manage to escape the Meeker house, they run away, leaving Michael in it, and decide to hide in the school. Loomis breaks open a door - which sets of the burglar alarm - rushes inside, and immediately runs into Michael, who not only managed to get to the school before them, but also got inside without setting off the alarm.
  • The Peter Principle: Dr. Hoffman, who is dismissive of Loomis both personally and professionally and sets all of the death and chaos that follows into motion by deciding to needlessly transfer Michael under his own initiative and without proper security.
  • Pet the Dog: Kelly has a few of these. When Jamie has a freak-out at the store after seeing Michael with a bloody knife, she's among those who hurry over to see what's wrong, and later she brings Logan some coffee at his guard post. She also answers the door for trick-or-treaters.
  • Police Are Useless: The Haddonfield Police force is massacred single-handedly. Only Sheriff Meeker survives because he isn't at the police station when Michael attacks it. In their defense, it's indicated they put up a fight, and Meeker does have the good sense to call the State Troopers. Sheriff Meeker himself is an overall aversion of this. He's genuinely competent and professional, more than willing to give Loomis the benefit of the doubt, and actively hunts and searches for Myers with a shotgun alongside Loomis. He's also completely badass.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • The guard at the asylum keeps Michael locked in a well-secured underground cell and admits that "I'll be glad to see this one gone, yes indeedy," despite the fact that Michael has been comatose for a decade.
    • Earl tries calling the police station, but it just keeps ringing. He remarks that phones don't just ring on and on at police stations and is certain something bad is going down.
  • Punch Catch: Michael does one in his short fight with Brady, crushing his fist.
  • Put on a Bus: Loomis is told that Sheriff Brackett from Halloweens I & II has retired in 1981 (which was the year the second film where he made his last appearance was released) and moved out of town.
  • Recruit the Muggles: When several trucks full of bar patrons drive up to the police station to investigate the blackout (caused by Michael's spree-killing rampage), Big Good Dr. Loomis tells them what is happening and encourages them to try to find and kill Michael before he can hurt anyone else. They are useful during a couple of moments but some of them kill an innocent local during a moment of panic.
  • Red Shirt Army: Inverted with the crowd of vigilantes, as the ones without names or dialogue are the ones who both survive and get to take part in gunning down Michael, while the more prominent ones are less lucky.
  • Retcon: This film retcons Michael's and Loomis's deaths at the end of Halloween II, the film that was supposed to end the Michael Myers story for good by killing off both the antagonist and the antagonist's foil. Loomis is an especially poor example since he was at the epicenter of the explosion that was intended to have killed off both characters and apparently managed to survive with nothing more than one side of facial burning, an unspecified amount of body burning where we only see a burnt hand and a limp. At least Michael seems to be severely burned from head to toe and rendered comatose by the event, but how he's able to see after Laurie rendered him blind by shooting out both of his eyes isn't explained.
  • Right Behind Me: Rachel complains about having to give up her date with Brady to babysit just as Jamie walks in from behind.
  • Sadist: Some of Michael's actions indicate sadism. A prime example of this is Kelly's death. He continually rocks back and forth in the chair just as the deputy did, while Kelly brings the deputy coffee, and it's only when she realizes that Logan is dead and it must be someone else in the chair that Michael then gets up to kill her. He similarly takes his time with Brady, preferring to see Brady try to fight back against him with his shotgun and later fisticuffs, and dragging out the kill as a form of mockery. This comes to bite him later on, as it costs him valuable time to get to Jamie and Rachel.
  • Scars are Forever: Both Loomis and Michael bear gruesome burn scars from the explosion in Halloween II, but Loomis's are far less severe than they should be given the severity of the explosion and the fact that he was the epicenter of it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When the vigilante force rescues Jamie and Rachel, Earl wants to go in the school and hunt down Michael. The others dissuade him from this, encouraging him to just go and let the state police handle everything.
    — Earl: Let's get this bastard
    —Jamie: No! He'll kill you too!
    —Rachel: We have to get out of Haddonfield. Let the state police handle it!
    —Vigilante 1: I don't know about you Earl, but that makes sense to me. Let's get the hell out!
    —Vigilante 2: He's not our patient. Let the troopers have it. That's what they get paid for.
    —Earl: Screw it. Let's get out of here.
  • Sex Signals Death: Trampy Kelly, who sleeps with Brady, her friend's boyfriend, gets killed, as does Brady, said cheating boyfriend. The virginal Rachel survives. For now, anyway.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Averted. Brady's attempt to shoot out the lock promptly results in the lock being too hot to touch. Later, Brady tries to frantically reload his shotgun. However, he is trying to do it in a hurry, Michael has closed the gap, and his shotgun is quickly rendered impossible to shoot.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Subverted. Brady tries to do this so that he, Rachel, and Jamie can escape Michael (having key locked the doors to keep him out, they now have no key or time to unlock them when he gets in anyway). Unfortunately, having been blasted with a shotgun, the lock is far too hot to touch.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Blonde Kelly Meeker winds up falling prey to Michael Myers. The other blonde, Rachel, is an inversion in that she survives multiple fights with Michael Myers.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Sayer only appears in one scene, but he's the reason Loomis gets into town after the messy confrontation at the gas station.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Kelly Meeker stands 5'10" and is the resident Ms. Fanservice of the film.
  • Super-Strength: Michael Myers is somehow so strong that he can impale Kelly with a shotgun through her torso and through a wall.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: As Michael lies seemingly dead after Rachel hits him with a truck, Jamie walks over to her fallen uncle and touches his hand in a small show of compassion.
  • Take Me Instead: When confronting Michael at the diner, Loomis invokes the trope — saying Michael could kill him in exchange for leaving the people of Haddonfield alone. Michael remains still following this, suggesting he's turned it down, and thus prompting Loomis to try to shoot him.
  • Take That!: In a cut scene, Michael is coincidentally looking for a new mask at a store at the same time Jamie is. He grabs a Ronald Reagan mask and walks off-screen. A few seconds later, he throws it away and grabs the white mask instead.
  • Taught by Experience: Michael seems to have learned a thing or two about unwanted interference. He cuts phone lines in order to keep Loomis from warning the local authorities in advance and then totals the doctor's car to leave him stranded. He also takes out the police force before making a move on Jamie. Furthermore, considering how desolate the streets are during the blackout, he presumably caused it to ensure the townspeople would stay huddled indoors and out of his way.
  • Theme Music Withholding: The opening credits feature a creepy synthesizer score until it cuts to the hospital with the main theme in full blast.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The rednecks in the truck Michael clings to. None of them notice Michael killing the others directly behind them, and they pay for such stupidity with their lives.
  • Tuckerization: Jamie's name was originally Brittany, but she was renamed in honor of Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • Underside Ride: Michael hitches one of these on the truck used to get Rachel and Jamie out of town.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • Dr. Loomis managed to survive the explosion of the first floor of a hospital in Halloween II (1981), returning with only a half-burnt face, a limp, and a mangled hand.
    • The same goes for Michael, seeing as before the explosion, he got shot in the eyes by Laurie, causing him to become blind. Likewise, he has no trouble moving around despite him being comatose for 10 years; one would probably have some form of muscular atrophy. The muscular atrophy is actually lampshaded by Hoffman, but as Loomis states, Michael isn't exactly human...
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • The nurse who asks about Michael having relatives not only sets off the events of this film, but the next two films as well, resulting in dozens of people dead.
    • Dr. Loomis telling the mob about Michael causes them to accidentally kill an innocent person, which in turn draws away Sheriff Meeker when his staying at the house might have made a difference.
  • Vigilante Militia: The local bartender and a dozen or so of his customers appoint themselves as one of these when they drive to investigate a blackout and find that the titular serial killer has killed most of the sheriff's department. On one hand, they accidentally kill an innocent man they think is Michael, but on the other hand, they do try to evacuate the main characters from the danger zone, and some of the surviving members help gun down Michael at the end.
  • Villain Ball: After successfully infiltrating the Meeker house, Michael wastes time on sadistically toying with Kelly and Brady rather than going straight for Jamie. The latter especially gives Jamie and Rachel time to escape.
  • Villain Decay: Sadly, Michael's breathing and grunting is missing. He's completely silent from start to finish no matter what abuse he takes or how much he exerts himself, making him seem more like a literal robot than a man Made of Iron.
  • Welcome to Hell: The comatose Myers is about to be transferred, much to the relief of the staff at his hospital.
    Asylum Guard: Yeah, I'll be glad to see this one gone. Yes, indeedy. (He takes the transfer team to the elevator). Welcome to hell.
  • Wham Shot:
    • As Deputy Logan sits in the chair on guard in the locked-up house, we briefly see Michael's mask in a distant room, indicating he's already gotten inside.
    • The ending, where we see Jamie holding a bloody pair of scissors, having stabbed her foster mother in a horrific echo of Michael's original crime.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Loomis riles a group of truckers into becoming a lynch mob against Michael, Sheriff Meeker calls him out on it. Loomis, however, turns the tables by pointing out that the police force is dead and the truckers may be the only defense the town has against Michael. This turns out to be wrong as several of the truckers themselves get killed by him after accidentally killing a bystander on the streets themselves, and diverting Sheriff Meeker when he really would have come in handy guarding Jamie.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Michael, obviously. But strangely enough, Dr. Loomis, who does not hesitate to slap iron at a child no less than twice in the movie (to be fair though, the first time he doesn't know they're just kids, and the second time it seems that Jamie is turning out to be just like her uncle).