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Halloween II [1981]
by: Version2.0  Thursday 23 October 2003
MORE OF THE NIGHT HE CAME HOME

After the box office success and the ever so open ended finale of the original a sequel to Halloween was always on the cards and three years later, in 1981, Myers returned to our screens. However this time John Carpenter would not be directing the film, instead he and Debra Hill only share writing and producing credits for the film while Rick Rosenthal (who also directed Halloween: Resurrection) takes over at the helm.

Halloween II takes place on the same night as Halloween with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) rushed to hospital after her ordeal from Myers. Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) are in a race against time to try and track down Myers before he turns Halloween night of 1978 into a total bloodbath as opposed to just a minor one. However Myers’ interest in Laurie seems unabated and it is not long before he is at the hospital to track her down and finish the job he failed to do earlier.

With it starting straight after the original it wouldn’t be the craziest thing to watch Halloween first before you view the sequel. Although you can view it without prior knowledge to the original it is best to do so as you will know the events of what happened beforehand, some of which are mentioned in the film. As said it starts straight after the original (and also starts with a continuity goof involving the number of bullets coming from Loomis’ gun) Michael is nowhere to be seen after falling from the balcony and Laurie is rushed to a very understaffed hospital while Loomis tries to track Myers again. The film basically alternates between the two, Laurie in the hospital in a drugged up state and Loomis and the Sheriff looking for Myers. This leads up to the climatic battle between Loomis and Myers in the hospital.

With Laurie being bedridden and dazed and confused there is little room for dialogue and the only real conversations come from a budding romance between herself and a male nurse that knows her (but this is a horror film so that wont last). The scenes with Loomis and the Sheriff build up the story slightly more and even offers an ‘explanation’ as to why Myers is out to get Laurie. For spoiler reasons I wont say why in this opinion but if you’ve read others and seen Halloween H20 you’ll know why. The revelation (hinted at in the TV version of Halloween) does take away some power from the first film as Myers was perceived to have no motive to stalk and terrorise young Laurie and that was the raw terror. Myers had no personality, no reason he belonged as a myth and as the proverbial ‘Bogeyman’ he was referred to as being. Presenting Myers with a motive means he has a ‘point’ as to why he chooses to kill people as opposed to being so evil that he would go on a senseless rampage.

Unlike Carpenter, Rosenthal isn’t exactly subtle with his directing. The death scene’s, like Randy says in the rules of a sequel in Scream 2, are much more elaborate. While Halloween had a significantly low body count and quite low on-screen violence, Halloween II is ten times gorier. Myers doesn’t always use a knife either for killing people and he comes up with all sorts of imaginative ways of killing helpless victims, an injection through the eye and a hot tub burning are the obvious candidates. Also while Myers was very much a man of the shadows in the first film as he peers menacingly from behind a tree or a dark corner he can be seen quite clearly many times during the film and sometimes doesn’t even attempt to hide. To me these are two distinct disadvantages to the film, the later more so. The kills seem to try too hard to be different and violent and this was probably due to the upsurge of imitations, including Friday the 13th that came out around the time of release. After the subtle killings of the original to see such graphic and blatant acts of violence to the sequel is a shock. Also after the low body count of Halloween (5), Halloween II has eleven new corpses to add to the morgue. Luckily, although the deaths are more violent and there are more of them, it doesn’t take over the film. The fact that Myers can be seen throughout the bulk of the film also dissipates any tension that you may have felt when he was hiding in the shadows of the original, he seemed like the true ‘Bogeyman’ then, now with him being out in the open you still get that chill, the mask is still as terrifying as ever, but the tension decreases.

Performances are good where it matters. The main characters such as the Sheriff, Loomis and Laurie are once again very commendable. Although Jamie Lee Curtis wasn’t exactly stretched for her role as Laurie in this film she does a good job managing to combine the helpless victim and determined fighter well. Once again Pleasence is excellent at playing Loomis and plays the role with such determinism and realism it adds to the film immensely. Little development is served to the characters, although the Sheriff is more determined to track Myers down due to the death of his daughter, however this doesn’t really matter as the development that got built up on the first film still applies. As for the other characters such as the hospital night staff et al they all pass well enough though really they just serve as bodies to get knifed, burnt etc with little real development or sterling dialogue between them.

The musical score, so prominent in the first film to building up the tension, is also credible here. The original theme has a more gothic feel to it with an organ taking the place of the piano. While it doesn’t sound quite as good as the original piece it still remains a classic piece of music. Music is used effectively throughout the film and once again serves to create a sense of foreboding and terror. The inclusion of the Mr. Sandman song is interesting and not a song you would associate with a film like this. However it works well. Using it as a song to mimic Laurie’s situation (sleeping a lot) the once innocent sounding lyrics seem threatening in a horror film.

Despite its shortcomings, which were bound to happen as no film can measure up to the original Halloween, Halloween II remains a very worthy sequel and probably the best out of the Halloween bunch with H20 coming soon after. A touch of Carpenter can still be seen in the dialogue with Loomis and the Sheriff but the feel of the film as a whole has changed due to the direction of Roshenthal and, while not an overly good step in another direction, it is merely a reflection of what was going on at the time of release. Halloween II is bloodier and also verges on the slightly silly but the narrative is still there (even if it does have to stoop into a ‘Luke, I am your father’ skit) and it doesn’t dissolve into another brainless slasher.

If you liked Halloween then be sure to watch this sequel and if not then watch Halloween and then this sequel. You will have fun watching this and it still manages to be creepy enough to work as a horror film. It doesn’t come matching the original but it still has its essence and, as sequels go, this is a great one.


HALLOWEEN II IS

A good sequel
Still unnerving
Bloodier

HALLOWEEN II IS NOT

As subtle
Brainless
As good as Halloween (obviously)


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