Review – Halloween 4 (1988) & Joya de Nicaragua Silver cigar

The Doctor and his lifelong partner in partying, TNCC head honcho Matthew Cade, once again immerse themselves in all things Halloween!

Halloween 4 is what The Doctor refers to as a “desert island movie.” Allow me to explain: I am stranded alone on a remote desert island in the South Pacific like Tom Hanks in Castaway. My diet consists of coconut water and sand crabs (this almost certainly results in a painful and near debilitating case of projectile diarrhea but let us not dwell on that. Well… maybe later). Somehow, I have in my possession a portable DVD player and a limitless supply of batteries. What movies would you want to have with you, to watch repeatedly, in this desert island scenario? Halloween 4 would make my list. I realize that these are extremely heightened circumstances that hopefully will not come to fruition – there are probably one or two people who would like to see this happen to your favorite Doctor, but hopefully it will not – yet I think it clearly illustrates my feelings about Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. There is a rumor that Quentin Tarantino would judge prospective girlfriends by whether they had seen Rio Bravo or not. Hunter S. Thompson judged everyone from his generation by whether they had voted for Kennedy or Nixon in 1960. The Doctor doesn’t like to judge, but your feelings on Halloween 4 will affect where you are placed within the spectrum of my esteem. Unless I am drinking, and I probably will be, in which case I really won’t care, but you get the point.

THE FILM – HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)

The establishing shots of a midwestern farm during a bleeding orange dusk are simultaneously awe inspiring and ominous. Combined with the dissolve to an ambulance making its way down a deserted highway in a deluge of nighttime rain and we have a perfectly orchestrated opening that immediately sets a tone and paves the way for what lies ahead. Halloween 4 was not intended for those who easily get the willies.

Ten years have passed since the tragic events in Haddonfield of October 31st, 1978. Michael Myers did not die; he was badly burned and has been laying comatose ever since, swathed in gauze and strapped to a gurney in the dripping basement facility of Ridgemont Federal Sanitarium. It’s a labyrinthine setting that would have made James Whale proud. Ridgemont’s administrator Dr. Hoffman (Michael Pataki) would prefer to be rid of Myers – and, as it turns out, the still living Dr. Loomis – and since Myers hasn’t so much as twitched a finger or sprouted morning wood in ten years, Hoffman has arranged for a prisoner transfer. Needless to say, this transfer doesn’t end well. Michael has just been biding his time lo these many years and now he is on his way back to Haddonfield after overhearing that he has a niece living there with a foster family.

Michael gives this ambulance ride one big thumbs up!

Dr. Loomis thankfully did not perish in flame ten years earlier and Donald Pleasance is back on the job in a role that he has now made immortal. We are informed that Loomis’s position is more “ceremonial than medical” leaving one with a delightful image of the now physically scarred Loomis skulking around the sanitarium’s dank corridors and scaring the nurses shitless. Once again Pleasance delivers an outstanding performance as an older Loomis sporting skin-grafted flesh on one side of his face and hobbling about with the help of a cane. Continuing with the subtle gradations of the character that began in Halloween 2, Loomis is now a damaged man – physically and perhaps mentally – whose sole purpose in life is to try and see Michael Myers lowered into a grave. Loomis has traded in his revolver for a pearl handled Smith & Wesson and he still means business, much to the chagrin of Dr. Hoffman. Pleasance, now nearing seventy, makes it all believable and is fantastic in the process.

Donald Pleasance reprises his role as Dr. Sam Loomis for the third time and once again delivers a stalwart acting performance in “Halloween 4”

In addition to the ongoing Loomis/Myers dynamic, the backstory of Halloween 4 includes the information that Laurie Strode was killed in a car accident a few years earlier, leaving behind a seven year-old daughter named Jamie (Danielle Harris, exceptional in a role that she played as a ten year-old girl) who lives with a kindhearted foster family and has no idea that her mass murderer uncle is on his way to slaughter her. Talk about a fucking bummer of a day. It is impossible to overstate the performance of the young Harris as Jamie. She is plagued by nightmares and tormented during the day by her elementary school classmates, who are really a rotten little group of bastards. This makes for an achingly sad little girl who is brought to life with heartbreaking empathy by the almond-eyed Harris. She would turn into a stunningly beautiful woman who still acts in movies today, but Harris will always be remembered by many Halloween fanatics for her portrayal of Jamie in Halloween 4 and its (lesser) sequel. In fact, the casting of Halloween 4 included one home run after another. Jamie’s foster sister Rachel takes up the teen/college-aged female heroine mantel and is played with aplomb and gravitas by Ellie Cornell. The performances of the various other supporting players also go a long way towards making Halloween 4 the memorable film that it is. Sherriff Brackett has retired and been replaced by the equally capable Sheriff Meeker, played with the perfect amount of concern and bravado by Beau Starr. Sasha Jenson (later of Dazed and Confused fame) as Rachel’s two-timing boyfriend Brady and Kathleen Kinmont (later of Renegade with Lorenzo Lamas) as the sheriff’s sultry daughter Kelly are perfectly cast in their roles as well.

Battered but not beaten, young Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell are both wonderful in “Halloween 4”

Halloween 4 is separated from scores of pretenders by the technical acumen on display. The cinematography, the shot selection, and set decoration are things that most moviegoers don’t consider but the look and feel of this picture is second to none in the horror genre, from shots of Michael illuminated by flashes of purple lightning to the interiors of Penney’s service station and Earl’s bar (The Doctor has spent WAY too much time ruminating on the wonderful establishment that is Earl’s, along with Earl himself and the “beer bellies with shotguns” who frequent the place. The only reason this doesn’t bother me is that TNCC founder Matthew Cade has openly admitted to doing the same*).

Drinking and shotgunning, a winning combination!

Also, although I have defended Halloween 2 and will continue to do so, there is something of a welcome return to form in Halloween 4 with so much of the action taking place in the damp, midnight blue streets of Haddonfield after dark, complete with lush foliage and a swirling, almost supernatural ground fog. If the quintessential setting for a 1980’s slasher film was a sun-blanched summer camp for horny teenagers, it is only because there existed only one Haddonfield.

He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere…

Reviewing Halloween 4 is a test for The Doctor, and I hope that I have acquitted myself. I can’t be objective; I simply love this movie too much, and I risk overstating my case with everything involved. The original Halloween may be a classic piece of cinema that should be studied by would-be auteurs in film school, but Halloween 4 is an amazing, thrilling, and scary work by itself. This is the sort of movie that you watch after dark on a late October evening, preferably one where you have made the pizza guy make a late-night delivery. Go on a beer run. Then invite me over. I’m very interested to hear Cade’s thoughts while he enjoys a cigar, because it really doesn’t get any better than this. Happy Trick or Treating.

* ”Everybody shut up a goddamn minute!”

The aforementioned Earl’s bar is deserving of a footnote. Earl’s place is a dive tavern on the outskirts of Haddonfield where blue-collar workers go to drown the sorrows of their daily existences amidst a comforting ambience of clacking billiard balls and curling blue towers of cigarette smoke. Burly, bearded drinkers belly up to the bar at Earl’s to bitch about debt payments while stroking longneck beers and sucking on Marlboro’s. When Earl overhears a TV news segment ordering Haddonfield businesses to shut down, he is having none of that shit and calls the police station. When he gets no answer, he takes a gratuitous slug from the Budweiser bottle he has behind the bar and orders his disciples to follow him out into the fog-shrouded Haddonfield night. They crank up the roll-bar lights on their 4X4 trucks, load fresh shells into their hunting rifles, and go looking for trouble. Ted Hollister, you never saw it coming… poor son of a bitch.

THE CIGAR – SILVER by JOYA DE NICARAGUA

When I first had the idea of reviewing all of the Halloween film entries leading up to the most recent release this October, I planned on pairing each movie The Doctor reviews with a premium cigar that for whatever reason struck a chord with me as far as connecting to each individual movie. It could be a faint tie-in at best, but it would be personal and the pairing would make sense TO ME as a lifelong devotee of the Halloween series. That’s all that mattered as far as my thought process. As we began this jump into the mythological world of Haddonfield, I soon realized that this would be a perfect time to discuss and review some Drew Estate cigars that we had acquired throughout 2018 on our many adventures working for DE on the road doing various video and editing work for the company. So I will be reviewing a Drew Estate cigar within each of these initial posts (I imagine that I’ll be mixing in some non-DE offerings down the line but we shall see… there are no rules) AND I will be breaking TNCC tradition by rating each cigar as I go along. Why? Because it’s Halloween, my favorite time of year, and I’m the boss so I can do what I want. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as we are going to enjoy sharing them with you.

So if John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is my Gold Medal winner as far as the “Michael Myers entries” in the series are concerned, Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers would definitely take the Silver Medal. See how effortlessly I tied this all together, folks?

Gold – Halloween (1978)
Silver – Halloween 4 (1988)
Bronze – Halloween 2 (1981)
Honorable Mention – Halloween 6 (1995)
* Disqualified From The Myers Olympics For Pretending To Be A Halloween Movie & Sucking Ballz = Halloween 5 (1989)

Of course, it goes with saying, that Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch kicks major fucking ass but that’s a different conversation for a different day. Today we are focusing on Halloween 4 featuring The Shape’s triumphant return and there’s not much I can say that The Doctor hasn’t already said much more eloquently above (he must be drinking the good shit tonight). I was 12 years old when I snuck into a 9pm showing of Halloween 4 with my buddy Neil and as we exited the theater out into the barren parking lot my head felt drunk, spinning with excitement… the kills, the pendulous boobs, and those goddamn terrifying opening credits!

And as we slowly made the walk through the shadows to find our way home I found myself truly scared shitless. I was already a rabid reader of Fangoria Magazine so I knew all the blood onscreen was “fake”, I knew the man under the mask was actually named “George”, but none of that mattered under the full Texas moon that night. Luckily we found a payphone and Neil’s mom came and picked us up outside the Dairy Queen before I soiled my britches. And to this day this movie still does it for me, I just love it (a director and screenwriter who actually care, a talented ensemble of actors who can actually act, it’s not that difficult of a concept people!). And speaking of soiling my britches, the first time I lit up a Joya de Nicaragua cigar I almost blew out my pants. The Antaño 1970 Gran Consul kicked my ass and to this day I love it to death, I always have a box of these strong motherscratchers in my humidor. Sometimes you just want a powerful cigar that will keep up with the strongest of spirits. And sometimes you want a cigar that’s slightly more restrained. Joya is advertising the box-pressed Silver as a medium to full blend “that delivers a dynamic complexity of fresh spice, chocolate and cherry notes”. Well, I’m the official internet cigar expert so I’ll be the judge of what’s what around here…

Size: 6 x 52 toro
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano oscuro
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $7.80

PRE

The Joya Silver features a box pressed, dark brown wrapper that is slightly soft when squeezed. It’s a rustic Habano leaf and the bright white and silver decorative band pops visually against it. There’s a strong barnyard aroma off the foot with just a hint of rich sweetness. The cap clips off perfectly with scissors and that sweetness is front and center on the cold draw as well.

1/3

   

Spice! There’s a really favorable woodsy aroma pouring off the toasted foot, the smoke smells wonderful, but my nostrils and eyeballs are only concerned with the SPICE. About an inch in and my tear ducts have now stopped leaking (don’t judge me you bastards) and a dense earthiness has started to settle in. There’s a mineral presence as well and dark roast coffee note underneath it all. Having smoked both the Joya Red and the Joya Black, this Joya Silver is absolutely nothing like them at all. But that’s the point, right?

The burn line is slightly wavy but nowhere near needing correction at this point and the draw is spot on.

2/3

Man, that retrohale is escalating again and I’m loving it. The combination of sharp spice on the nose with that classic Nicaraguan mineral-heavy earth on the palate is a winner. At about the halfway point the coffee note has disappeared and a chocolate covered _________ flavor emerges. Cherries? Raisins? I’m not sure. I don’t like either chocolate covered cherries or chocolate covered raisins but I’m digging whatever this is despite my not being able to place it. You see, boys and ghouls, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to chocolate. Give me a Hershey bar, maybe a Reece’s peanut butter cup, occasionally a box of Snow Caps perhaps when I’m feeling a little frisky, but nothing crazier than that and FOR GOD’S SAKE don’t introduce fruit into the equation. When I worked all those many years behind the movie theater concession stand as a young lad, I’d curse under my breath whenever some ignoramus would order a box of Raisinettes. Dammit man, why?!? WHY?!?! I was soon locked up in the projection booth never to be heard from again and it was probably for the best…

   

Construction is still solid and the burn line has straightened out a bit on its own. I do torch the foot again just to bring a fresh blast of life to the cigar but it wasn’t mandatory.

3/3

   

The spice is still 100% there on the retrohale and the earth and chocolate still rule the roost throughout the final third. At no point was any of the Joya Silver smoking experience overwhelming or too strong. Quite the opposite – if you’re looking for a full bodied medium/full strength smoke this might be the cigar for you. The cigar never burned too hot even down to the nub.

TNCC FINAL SCORE = 91

THE NUB

There is no other cigar offering in the Joya de Nicaragua catalog quite like the Silver and that’s saying something as the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. They’ve managed to fill a tiny void and if they can keep filling those small gaps as well as they’ve done here I think they have a promising next 50 years to go. Not that they need to hear that from some cigar putz in Central Texas. So for now I’ll savor every last draw on this winning cigar knowing all too well that The Doctor and I have to soon watch the cinematic septic tank overflow that is Halloween 5. The things we do for you people…

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)


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Beyond The Pod

Brother of the Leaf, Filmmaker, Prophet, former Mr. South Dakota 1996. I was a bouncer on the child beauty pageant circuit until one too many juice boxes went missing and somebody had to take the fall. I was set up. Ok, I was thirsty. All that hairspray in the air dries out your throat like a motherfu... I apologize to no man. Now I host the Tuesday Night Cigar Club podcast.

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