By Ray Schwetz
The fifth installment of the "Halloween" series begins a downward trend from previous, superior sequels. The first film is one of the best horror films ever made. "Halloween II" is a good, albeit uninspired, follow up. The third film, dubbed "Season of the Witch," is (in my own opinion) an underrated diversion from the Michael Myers saga. The fourth film is a serviceable sequel that valiantly tries to recapture the essence of the original classic. However, this entry fails to live up to the prior entries in the series. In fact, it is only superior to the unwatchable sixth entry, "The Curse of Michael Myers."
This time around, Michael is nursed back to health by a hermit (!) and he comes back to Haddonfield searching for his niece Jamie (a role convincingly reprised by Danielle Harris) and Rachel (the engaging Ellie Cornell, reduced to a thankless cameo role here). Meanwhile, Loomis (once again portrayed Pleasance) relentlessly pursues Jamie as well, thinking her to be the link to Michael. Rachel's annoying friend Tina (Wendy Kaplan) tries to protect Jamie, once she is finally clued in to what's going on, but she winds up in Michael's cross hairs. All this conveniently occurs around a barn party of horny teenagers. The only true bright spot in the film, aside from an all too brief sex scene, is the appearance of a mystery man with black boots. However, the payoff for this was ruined in the next chapter. Sigh.
Director Dominique Othenin-Girard, responsible for the stylish low budget erotic-horror flick Night Angel, injects some life into the film with creative and colorful visuals. However, the film cannot recapture the ominous mood established in parts 1, 2, and 4. Also, the mask looks stupid! To be fair, it looks even worse in part 6. At least they made Michael scary again in H20. I also noticed that all of the part fives of slasher series ("Friday the 13th," "Nightmare on Elm Street," and "Halloween") all suck. Maybe there's a pattern here.
Despite the quality of the film itself, Anchor Bay presents a stellar DVD that is a decent improvement over their movie only "Halloween 4" DVD. The color reproduction of this DVD is quite impressive. There is slight grain noticeable in certain scenes, but that's nitpicking. The video presentation of "Halloween 5" here is outstanding. The new 5.1 soundtrack is quite good, considering that this is a 1989 film. Bass level is impressive and rear channels remain active through most of the film's running time. Frequent Carpenter collaborator Alan Howarth provides a lively score that benefits the most from this new mix.
The film is introduced by Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris. I always like to see this type of feature included. It gives the film a more intimate feel. Also, it lets the fans see their favorite actors as they appear now. There is also a 30 second trailer and a making of featurette that is fun and somewhat informative. The extras on this disc aren't going to wow you, but there's something there for the film's fans. The tin edition is very nice, but the DVD in the keepcase is the same as the one in the tin. I'm on a budget, so I opted for the keepcase edition.
Whether you buy this DVD or not would depend on how you feel about the film or the "Halloween" series in general. The film is pretty much a generic eighties slasher pic, but it does have its merits. I'm completist, so I had to buy the disc. In any case, Anchor Bay deserves kudos for another job well done.