This article is about the fourth film. For other meanings, see Halloween 4.
|Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers|
|Directed by||Dwight H. Little|
|Music by||Alan Howarth|
|Halloween Theme||John Carpenter|
|Cinematography||Peter Lyons Collister|
|Editing by||Curtiss Clayton|
|Studio||Compass International Pictures|
|Distributed by||Galaxy International Releasing|
|Release||October 21, 1988|
|Running time||88 minutes|
|Preceded by||Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)|
|Followed by||Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989, 4-6 Timeline)
The Scream Factory (1997, Youth Novel Timeline)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 horror film and the fourth installment in the Halloween film series. Halloween 4 is directed by Dwight H. Little and written by Alan B. McElroy. The central plot focuses on Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) awakening from a coma, 10 years after his 1978 killing spree in Haddonfield, Illinois, and returning home to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the daughter of Laurie Strode, with Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) once more pursuing him.
As the title suggests, the fourth installment marks the return of Michael Myers, the central villain of Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981) following his absence from Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Initially, John Carpenter and Debra Hill retired the Myers plot line after the second installment of the series, intending to feature a new Halloween film every year, of which Halloween III would be the first. However, due to the lack of success of the third entry, Halloween 4 reintroduced a Myers-related plot, and he has remained in the series ever since.
The film was a moderate box office success— grossing $17 million domestically—on its $5 million budget. It received a mixed reaction by critics, however, was generally well received by fans of the Halloween series.
10 years later
OCTOBER 30, 1988. The film opened with the credits viewed with the fall harvest in a rural farm area, of mostly Halloween-related imagery (pumpkins, skull/ghost/skeletal decorations, pitchforks, scarecrows, bare trees, etc.). On a rainy and stormy night, a Smith's Grove Sanitarium ambulance pulled up at the high security Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium, for the pickup/transfer of a patient to Smith's Grove. The security guard James (Raymond O'Connor) allowed entry to the two attendants and noted: "You never get used to the faces, never...Jesus ain't got nothin' to do with this place. Yeah, this is where society dumps its worst nightmares." He added that their patient, Michael Myers, was a notorious homicidal maniac responsible for a murderous killing spree in the town of Haddonfield, Illinois ten years earlier: Michael had survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II but has been in a coma for ten years and is bandaged and comatose, The supervising Doctor Hoffman mentioned that the patient's doctor, Dr. Sam Loomis, wasn't there, but personally, he was "happy" to see the problematic patient taken away.
The bandage-faced and sedated patient was supervised by Attendant J. Black and Attendant L. Evans in the back of the vehicle, as two paramedics sat in the front cab. Although in a coma, Myers became conscious when he heard the two Smith's Grove attendants discussing his nearest living relative, a young niece in his hometown. Suddenly, Myers killed the attendants and escaped.
In Haddonfield, young eight-year-old niece Jamie Lloyd, Laurie Strode's daughter, was having trouble sleeping at 4 am - experiencing nightmares of a threatening figure in her room in the days before Halloween. She had been adopted by the Carruthers family for eleven months, and was close to her consoling teenaged foster sister Rachel Carruthers, but didn't feel like a real sister. Grief-stricken Jamie treasured a shoebox with a picture of her mother Laurie at 17 years of age, who had recently died in a car accident. Her major traumatizing hallucination was the sudden appearance of masked killer Michael Myers in her room, threatening her with a scalpel.
The next day, some costumed school children raced to their school bus, excitedly anticipating a night of trick-or-treating. However, Rachel's plan to go on a date with her boyfriend Brady had to be postponed, when she was, at the last minute, asked by her parents to assume babysitting duties for Jamie on Halloween evening. When Jamie overheard that Rachel was upset over the changed plans, she expressed hurt feelings of rejection. Feeling sympathetic to Jamie, Rachel begrudgingly accepted the babysitting job and proposed that they have ice cream at the Dairy Queen after-school.
On Halloween morning, Dr. Sam Loomis was speaking to Dr. Hoffman in his office. Loomis had a disfigured and scarred face (and body) from the life-threatening fire (in Halloween II (1981)) - he wore black gloves and was forced to use a cane. He was furious at Dr. Hoffman for not being notified about Michael Myers' transfer the night before: "You let them take it out of here...We are talking about evil on two legs." Loomis reminded Hoffman that it was Halloween: "I don't want anyone to have to live through that night again." A phone call interrupted their conversation—something about an accident. Loomis and Hoffman drove to the location of the accident - the carnage area was marked by flares and yellow police tape. The Smith Grove ambulance had run off the road and overturned in shallow water near a bridge. In addition to the two deceased attendants, the two paramedics were also presumed dead. Loomis intoned that his patient had survived: "He's gone. He was here but he's gone." He told the investigating troopers: "You're talking about him as if he were a human being. That part of him died years ago." Loomis proceeded onto Haddonfield, a four-hour drive away.
In Penney's service station garage on the way to Haddonfield, a greasy mechanic working under a car was impaled in his stomach with a metal rod by the still-bandaged Michael Myers. Loomis was observed as he pulled up and filled his gas tank. He found the chained-up, gagged, and dead corpse of the mechanic inside the shop. And in the attached diner restaurant, Loomis also came upon the dead body of a waitress behind the counter, more evidence of Michael's rampage. He saw Michael standing immobile in the kitchen, and as he prepared his gun, Loomis asked: "Why now? You waited ten years. I knew this day would come. Don't go to Haddonfield. You want another victim, take me. But leave those people in peace. Please, Michael. Damn you." He fired a few stray shots, but the figure disappeared, and Myers then crashed through the garage's main door and drove off in a massive tow truck while setting the dispensing pumps and Loomis' car on fire. The wires on a nearby telephone pole were burned, cutting off communications, so Loomis could not call ahead and warn the Haddonfield citizens.
At school, Jamie was mercilessly teased and taunted by young classmates about not having a costume, for having an uncle called the "boogeyman," and for having a dead mother: "Jamie's mommy's a mummy...Jamie's an orphan!" After school, Jamie was picked up by Rachel's friend Lindsey Wallace (Leslie L. Rohland), and Jamie decided to buy a trick-or-treat costume at the Vincent Drug Discount Mart (where Rachel's boyfriend Brady was an employee) before getting ice-cream. One of the masks on display was similar to the one Michael wore ten years ago - grabbed by a disembodied hand.] Jamie chose a red and white clown costume, and when standing in front of a mirror, had a momentary vision of herself as young six-year-old Michael Myers in his same clown costume from the night he murdered his older sister. She also experienced a real-life view of the "nightmare man" - Myers (wearing the mask) standing behind her. When she backed up, the mirror ominously shattered.
Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis was hitchhiking to Haddonfield, still 119 miles away, and finally found a ride in a run-down old pickup with whisky-swigging, religious fanatic, and itinerant preacher Rev. Jackson P. Sayer who in his wild rantings to his fellow "pilgrim" spoke of the "apocalypse, end of the world, Armageddon. It's always got a face and a name. I've been huntin' the bastard for 30 years, give or take. Come close a time or two. Too damn close! You can't kill damnation, Mister. It don't die like a man dies!"
On Halloween night, Rachel and Jamie (in her clown costume) were spied upon as they eagerly left to go trick-or-treating. Michael entered the Carruthers house, climbed to the upstairs, and overturned the contents of Jamie's shoe box (including a picture of his sister Laurie, a picture of himself as a boy in a clown costume, and a picture of his niece). He could now identify his own niece. [Before leaving, he killed the family dog Sundae.]
In Haddonfield's police station, Dr. Loomis learned that Sheriff Leigh Brackett had retired in 1981, and that the town's new Sheriff was Ben Meeker. He notified them that Michael Myers had escaped from Ridgemont and had come to Haddonfield, and that Laurie Strode's daughter Jamie Lloyd was "in mortal danger." He convincingly warned that between there and Ridgemont, he had already come upon six bodies in Myers' wake, and "he's here to kill that little girl and anybody who gets in his way." Loomis recommended immediately finding the girl and keeping her in safe custody from Michael's wrath.
Jamie and Rachel were followed by Myers as they went door-to-door for candy. At the Meeker home, Rachel was shocked to see that the sheriff's sexy blonde daughter Kelly Meeker, another employee at the Discount Mart, was keeping company (in a T-shirt and panties) with her own unfaithful boyfriend Brady after their cancelled date. A TV news bulletin from Sheriff Meeker notified residents of Haddonfield of a curfew - everyone was to clear the streets and businesses were ordered to close. The local redneck bar owner Earl Ford called the Sheriff's office to confirm, but there was no answer at the station.
Meanwhile, Rachel lost track of Jamie during their door-to-door outing when she wandered off, and she panicked. A technician named Bucky was at the town's power station, where he lost his life when the masked Myers threw him into an electrical transformer and he was electrocuted in a shower of sparks. His death caused an electrical blackout throughout Haddonfield. The darkened streets were deserted as Rachel searched for Jamie, fearing that she was being followed by the Shape. Sheriff Meeker and Dr. Loomis finally found the two girls wandering around. The two adults were spooked by seeing three figures wearing "Michael Myers" masks - until they realized the prank. But as they drove the two girls to the police station, the real Michael Myers watched them silently from the street. After leaving the two girls unattended in the car!, they entered the ransacked station, where they discovered the ripped apart, mutilated body of Deputy Pierce (Michael Flynn) who was missing a hand. [There may have been other bodies there, but they were not clearly visible.] Dr. Loomis restated his belief that Myers was evil, and not human. Then outside, Loomis told a group of shotgun-toting, concerned beer-drinkers and patrons from the local bar led by owner Earl Ford (including Alan Gateway, Orrin Gateway, and Unger): "It was Michael Myers. He's come home to kill." The vengeful, frightened group drove off in their trucks, acting as a vigilante lynch mob, with Earl vowing to kill Myers: "We're gonna fry his ass." After shooting multiple rounds at an unseen suspect in some bushes, Earl, Big Al, Orrin, and Unger found that they had accidentally killed one of their friends, Ted Hollister.
Attacks at the Meeker house
In front of a roaring fire in the Meeker house, cheating boyfriend Brady makes out with Kelly, but their romantic liaison is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of her father. As they hurriedly dressed to avoid being caught, Dr. Loomis, the two girls, and Sheriff Meeker entered the house. Deputy Logan also drove into the driveway behind them (unwittingly carrying Myers as a passenger in his backseat). Brady was given a shotgun to protect the girls (and warned by strict Sheriff Meeker to stay away from his daughter) as he went to secure the attic, and Deputy Logan and Kelly barricaded the lower part of the house for protection. Without phones or power, Sheriff Meeker communicated via shortwave radio in the basement, and sent a distress call to state police trooper headquarters for backup, mentioning "there's a killer loose in the streets." Loomis left for the Carruthers house, predicting that Myers would go there, and Sheriff Meeker left to check out the Ted Hollister murder ("I got a town full of beer bellies running around in the dark with shotguns! Who's gonna be next?"). Kelly all but admitted her indiscretion to Rachel after stealing her boyfriend: "I've got a right to do what's best for me." Rachel replied: "Don't you mean what you do best?" Kelly then followed up with how she could entice any man with sex: "Wise up to what men want, Rachel. Or Brady won't be the last man you lose to another woman," prompting Rachel to throw coffee on Kelly's T-shirt. Deputy Logan remained in a rocking chair guarding the front door with a shotgun.
Kelly discovered Deputy Logan's mangled and bloodied body on the living room couch with blood trickling from his mouth - Myers had taken his place in the rocking chair with his shotgun. Myers impaled Kelly through the chest with the shotgun, pinned her to the wall (# 11 death), and left her hanging there. Shortly later, Brady fought valiantly against Myers, until his head and neck were crushed, snapped and broken by the bare-handed killer. After all of Jamie's and Rachel's protectors were either gone or dead, the two girls escaped out onto the roof with Michael in relentless pursuit in a dangerous chase across the slippery tiles. Rachel lowered Jamie to safety on the ground via a loose cable tied to her waist, but fell off the roof when she dodged to avoid being slashed by Michael's butcher knife - she appeared dead but actually survived. Jamie ran off screaming for help - and found herself in Dr. Loomis' arms. They went for refuge to the elementary schoolhouse where they broke in, with Myers still following. Dr. Loomis was thrown through a window, as Jamie fled down a corridor and found only locked doors. She tumbled down stairs and found herself helpless as Michael approached to murder her - but Rachel sprayed the killer with a fire extinguisher, and they were able to escape together.
Outside the school, the group of four patrolling, vigilante citizens heard the school's siren, and picked up the two girls in their pickup truck. They decided to leave Michael Myers and the town's troubles to the state police. Earl Ford drove them out of Haddonfield, as they passed a caravan of state police heading to town. However, Myers had inexplicably hung onto the back of their truck, and crawled up to the open truck bed to assault the three hillbillies. He first knifed Orrin in the back, and then knifed Big Al in the stomach, gutted and pierced him, and pushed both corpses off the moving truck. Unger was then heaved off the moving vehicle - all three deaths were unnoticed by the passengers in the truck. Then, Earl had his neck bloodily ripped open by Michael as he reached down from the top of the truck through the driver's side window. Rachel was left to steer the swerving vehicle after she had tossed Earl's body away from the truck. With her maneuverings and an abrupt braking, Michael was thrown off the top of the truck, and she deliberately attempted to run him down. His body was sent flying through the air into a fence. Sheriff Meeker the state troopers and the serviving members of the lynch mob arrived at the scene, as Jamie was walking to the seemingly-lifeless corpse where she touched the burned/scarred hand of her uncle's body. Revived, the Shape suddenly gripped his knife and sat up, forcing the troopers and the lynch mob to open fire as he rose up. Michael was relentlessly shot dozens of times by state police before he fell down a mine shaft where he is presumed dead.
Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Meeker brought the two girls back to the Carruthers home after the horrific ordeal - and Loomis was assured that Myers was dead and the nightmare was over: "Michael Myers is in hell, buried, where he belongs." Upstairs, Mrs. Darlene Carruthers (Karen Alston), Jamie's foster mother, was preparing a hot bath for Jamie. The film ended with a plot twist - through touch, psychically-linked Jamie was trance-possessed by Michael's murderous and evil instincts, and stabbed Darlene Carruthers. Dr. Loomis screams, witnessing Jamie wearing her clown mask and costume and standing with upraised bloody scissors at the top of the stairs, similar to the image of young Michael in the opening of the first film twenty-five years earlier, when he killed his older sister Judith.
- Donald Pleasence as Samuel Loomis
- Ellie Cornell as Rachel Carruthers
- Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd
- George P. Wilbur as Michael Myers
- Michael Pataki as Dr. Hoffman
- Nancy Borgenicht as Attendant L. Evans
- Raymond O'Connor as James, the Security Guard
- David Jensen as Attendant J. Black
- Beau Starr as Ben Meeker
- Kathleen Kinmont as Kelly Meeker
- Sasha Jenson as Brady
- Gene Ross as Earl Ford
- Carmen Filpi as Jackson P. Sayer
- Jeff Olson as Richard Carruthers
- Karen Alston as Darlene Carruthers
- Jordan Bradley as Kyle
- Leslie L. Rohland as Lindsey Wallace
- Danny Ray as Tommy Doyle
- Richard Stay as Wade
- Michael Flynn as Deputy Pierce
- George Sullivan as Deputy Logan
- Walt Logan Field as Unger
- Michael Ruud as Alan Gateway
- Eric Hart as Orrin Gateway
- Erik Preston as Young Michael Myers (uncredited)
- Kelly Lookinland as Dead Penney's Gas Waitress (uncredited)
- Alan Gateway (Deceased)
- Attendant L. Evans (Deceased)
- Attendant J. Black (Deceased)
- Ben Meeker
- Brady (Deceased)
- Bucky (Deceased)
- Darlene Carruthers (Injured)
- Deputy Logan (Deceased)
- Deputy Pierce (Deceased)
- Earl Ford (Deceased)
- E. W. Hoffman
- Jackson P. Sayer
- Jamie Lloyd
- Kelly Meeker (Deceased)
- Laurie Stode (mentioned)
- Leigh Brackett (mentioned)
- Lindsey Wallace
- Michael Myers
- Orrin Gateway (Deceased)
- Rachel Carruthers
- Richard Carruthers
- Sam Loomis
- Sundae (Deceased)
- Ted Hollister (Deceased)
- Tommy Doyle
- Unger (Deceased)
After Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Moustapha Akkad wanted to move further with the franchise and bring back Michael Myers. According to producer Paul Freeman, a friend of Akkad with a long list of credits to his name, explained to Fangoria magazine in 1988, everybody came out of Halloween III saying, "Where's Michael?" John Carpenter was approached by Cannon Films, who had just finished 1986's release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, to write and direct Halloween 4. Debra Hill planned to produce the film, while Carpenter teamed up with Dennis Etchison who, under the pseudonym Jack Martin, had written novelizations of both Halloween II (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) to write a script to Halloween 4.
"Halloween was banned in Haddonfield and I think that the basic idea was that if you tried to suppress something, it would only rear its head more strongly. By the very [attempt] of trying to erase the memory of Michael Myers, [the teenagers] were going to ironically bring him back into existence." Dennis Etchison on his idea for Halloween 4.
However, Akkad rejected the Etchison script, calling it "too cerebral" and insisting that any new Halloween sequel must feature Myers as a flesh and blood killer. In an interview, Etchison explained how he received the phone call informing him of the rejection of his script. Etchison said, "I received a call from Debra Hill and she said, 'Dennis, I just wanted you to know that John and I have sold our interest in the title 'Halloween' and, unfortunately, your script was not part of the deal."
Carpenter and Hill had signed all of their rights away to Akkad, who gained ownership. Akkad says, "I just went back to the basics of Halloween on Halloween 4 and it was the most successful.
Elements of Etchison's script (in particular the idea of the Halloween celebration being banned in Haddonfield) would later go on to be incorporated into the script of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. An exchange between Tina and her friends in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers where they joke about how Halloween should be banned from the town could also be a nod to the script.
On February 25, 1988, a writer was chosen—Alan B. McElroy, a native from Cleveland, Ohio—was brought in to the write the script for Halloween 4. The writer's strike was to begin on March 7, 1988. This forced McElroy to develop a concept, pitch the story, and send in the final draft in under eleven days. McElroy came up with the idea of Brittany "Britti" Lloyd, Laurie Strode's daughter, to be chased by her uncle, who has escaped from Ridgemont after being in a coma for ten years. Dr. Samuel Loomis, who has also survived the fiery explosion at the end of Halloween II, goes looking for Michael with Sheriff Meeker. The setting of the place was once again Haddonfield, Illinois. The character of Laurie Strode was revealed to have died in a car accident, leaving Britti with the Carruthers Family, which included Rachel, the family's seventeen-year-old daughter. Britti's name was later to Jamie, an homage to Laurie Strode actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
McElroy told Fangoria: ""When I first saw the original, I was dating a girl and took her to a theater in Boston to see it. We were the only ones in the place, but she was climbing all over me. When Halloween II came out, a group of friends and I got completely blitzed and saw it, and we had the best time. So when the director, Dwight Little, asked me to write the script, I jumped at the chance. Here I was going to bring the Shape - Michael Myers - back to life. It's a piece of film history. He's truly an icon."
In the original draft, titled Halloween IV, Sheriff Ben Meeker was to be killed during the Shape's attack on the Meeker house. A fire would have started in the basement and burnt down the entire house. The scene on top of the roof with the Shape, Rachel, and Jamie was supposed to be engulfed in flames. This was cut due to budget issues. A more "soap opera" feel was added to the film, which included the triangle of the teenagers and their relationship situations. Rachel is dating Brady, who is also having sex with the buxom blonde Kelly Meeker. In addition, in the finale, Jamie was originally intended to have murdered her step-mother, Darlene Carruthers while drawing the bath, and become evil. This idea was abandoned for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989).
The cast of Halloween 4 only included one veteran actor from the original film and its sequel; Donald Pleasence, who reprised his role as Samuel Loomis, Michael Myers' psychiatrist. Before McElroy's script was chosen, the producers asked Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her role as Laurie Strode, the original's heroine. Curtis had become a success in the film industry and had established a career with her roles in films like Trading Places (1983) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988). Curtis declined and did not want to continue her participation in the film, although she did return for Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998). As a result, her character was written out and supposedly died in a car accident, which is briefly explained in the film.
The script introduced Laurie Strode's seven-year-old daughter, Jamie Lloyd. Melissa Joan Hart had auditioned for the role, among various other girls. Up against her was Danielle Harris, who had previously starred in One Life to Live as Samantha Garretson. Rebecca Shaeffer had auditioned for the role of Rachel Carruthers, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Twenty-four-year-old Ellie Cornell had also auditioned. Cornell had chosen to audition for Halloween 4 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1987) as the role of Kristen Parker, after Patricia Arquette had declined to return as Kristen. Cornell chose Halloween 4 and successfully landed the role of Rachel. Beau Starr was cast as the new Sheriff in town, Ben Meeker, replacing Charles Cyphers, who had played Sheriff Leigh Brackett. George P. Wilbur was cast to play the infamous Michael Myers. Wilbur had to wear hockey pads under his jumpsuit to appear bigger and stronger.
Since John Carpenter had refused to continue his involvement with the series, a new director was sought out. Dwight H. Little, a native from Ohio, replaced Carpenter. Little had previously directed episodes for Freddy's Nightmares and the film Bloodstone.
Principal photography began on April 11, 1988. Instead of filming in Pasadena, California (the original filming location and stand in for Haddonfield) due to high-rising costs, filming took place in Salt Lake City, Utah. As filming was taking place in March, during springtime, the producers were forced to import leaves and big squash, which they would use to create pumpkins by painting them orange, which was also done during the filming of the original Halloween. "One of the obvious challenges in making a part four of anything is to interest a contemporary audience in old characters and themes," said director Dwight H. Little. "What I'm trying to do is capture the mood of the original Halloween and yet take a lot of new chances. What we're attempting to do is walk a fine line between horror and mystery. Halloween 4 will not be an ax-in-the-forehead kind of movie." Paul Freeman agreed. "This film does contain some humorous moments, but it's not of the spoof or send-up variety. It's humor that rises out of the film's situations and quickly turns back into terror."
George P. Wilbur, who was cast as Michael Myers for this film, wore hockey pads under the costume to make himself look more physically imposing. During filming, the cast and crew made it a point to take it easy on Danielle Harris, as she was only a young child at the time, and made sure that she was not scared too badly and knew that none of it was real; to this end, George Wilbur regularly removed his mask in front of her in order to remind her that it was just a movie and he was not going to hurt her .
The late night scenes caused issues with the cast. Garlan Wilde, a gaffer for the film, was injured during the scene between Brady and The Shape when he dropped a light and accidentally slit his wrists. He was rushed to the hospital. In addition, Ellie Cornell accidentally stabbed her foot with a loose nail on the set of the rooftop scene, and also cut her abdomen open on a nail while sliding down the roof in that same scene. During most of the night scenes, Donald Pleasence became so cold that he wore a hat for most of the scenes, unacknowledged by the crew. This caused over six hours of footage to be re-shot. The shoot lasted about 41 days and Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris were required to be on set for 36 of those days.
During filming it was considered that the customized 1975 Captain Kirk mask be reused for this film. However, the mask was long gone and a new one was purchased from a local costume shop. The producers wanted to test and see what it would look like without the edits. The school scene was filmed and when reviewing the producers did not like how the mask turned out. It was allegedly customized again but did not live up to the original and the producers felt it was too old and went for a new mask. Some scenes had to be re-shot with the new mask. The only scene left in is when Loomis is thrown through a glass door; as Michael comes up behind him, the unaltered face and blonde hair is visible.
After viewing the film's initial cut, director Dwight H. Little and producer Moustapha Akkad decided that the film's violence was too soft, and so an extra day of "blood filming" commenced. Special effects makeup artist John Carl Buechler was brought in to create the thumb in the forehead kill and neck-twisting of the redneck seen in the film's final cut.
The film's soundtrack was performed by Alan Howarth, who had assisted John Carpenter on the previous two film's soundtrack. Howarth had recently finished working for Carpenter on his film, Prince of Darkness (which also starred Donald Pleasence as a priest named Loomis). Howarth gained approval from Dwight H. Little before he could accept the offer, creating a new score that referenced the original's but with a synthesizer twist. Howarth also included new tracks such as "Jamie's Nightmare", "Return of the Shape", and "Police Station."
Halloween 4 opened in 1,679 theaters on October 21, 1988, and grossed $6,831,250 in its opening weekend achieving a total domestic gross of $17,768,757 in the United States, becoming the fifth best performing film in the Halloween series.
The film has received a moderate critical reception, with most reviews either mixed or positive. It was criticized for not having anything "striking, interesting, or exceptionally memorable" besides the ending. It currently has a score of 43 on Metacritic, which indicates mixed or average reviews, placing it higher than Halloween II; on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "rotten" score with only 22%. Halloween 4 was nominated for two Saturn Awards by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Horror Film and Best Writing in 1990.
Overall, fans to this day are split on 4. Some praise it, others hate it. However, it is usually regarded as the third best film in the franchise, and seen as a class act, much like the first two films. The addition of Michael's niece, Jamie, was also a great decision, as it quickly became a staple of the franchise.
The film was first released on VHS in May 1989 as a rental title. It became for "SALE" in October 1989 to coincide with the release of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. In 1999, Anchor Bay's company, Divimax, released transferred, better-quality editions of this film and its sequel for DVD. Supplements include the Halloween 4/5 Panel at the Return to Haddonfield convention, theatrical trailer, Halloween 4 Final Cut – a "behind-the-scenes" documentary, a commentary with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell, and another commentary by Alan B. McElroy and Anthony Masi. Halloween 4, along with Halloween 5 and Halloween, was released with the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, and The Shape's Mask in 2008.