The best of the sequels to Carpenter's seminal slasher movie HALLOWEEN, this one hit the screen just in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original. Picking up 10 years after HALLOWEEN II left off, we learn that the infamous "Shape," Myers, has survived the fiery blast that

appeared to kill both him and his perennial pursuer, the slightly mad doctor (Pleasence). Having been in a coma all these years, Myers finally comes to, slaughters his handlers, and escapes while being transferred from one mental hospital to another. When Loomis--who also survived the blast, with

only some facial scars and a limp to show for it--hears the news, he immediately heads for Haddonfield, Illinois, the site of Myers' rampage a decade ago. Knowing that Myers has a grade-school-aged niece (Harris) in Haddonfield, Loomis assumes that the psychotic killer will go home to finish her

off. Although Carpenter has disavowed any connection with the "Halloween" series and had nothing whatever to do with this sequel, HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS is easily the best entry since Carpenter's original. Directed with flair by Little (KGB--THE SECRET WAR), who does not

blatantly ape Carpenter's style, the movie delivers a number of effective chills without relying too heavily on the kinds of tired tricks and bloody gore that have made this genre a boring cliche. The solid script by McElroy takes time to develop its characters, exploits each situation to the

fullest, maintains a fairly complicated structure (with several simultaneously running subplots), and taps into childhood fears in the way that made the first film so memorable. Pleasence turns in a great hammy performance as the crazed doctor. With his scarred face and painful limp, he has begun

to take on the mantle of a modern-day Captain Ahab, relentlessly pursuing his white whale. Carpente--who didn't want to participate in any more HALLOWEEN films and who was forced to divest his financial interest in the series after being threatened with a lawsuit by his partners (Akkad, Yablans,

and Hill)--didn't want his name on the film, forgoing the credit line "Based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill." The producers were determined to place Carpenter's name prominently in the credits anyhow, and his name appears by itself on screen when the HALLOWEEN theme music

is credited to him. Despite Carpenter's misgivings, HALLOWEEN 4 is a worthy successor to his original and nothing to be ashamed of.