halloween | halloween ii | rick rosenthal | john carpenter | debra hill | jamie lee curtis | donald pleasence | charles cyphers | slasher | sequel | michael myers | united states | jeffrey kramer | lance guest | pamela susan shoop | hunter von leer | dick warlock
Film: Halloween II
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Writer: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence and Charles Cyphers
For my history to start this introduction off, I realized that this is probably the film in the Halloween series that I’ve seen the least number of times. I believe this is only the second time I have ever seen it, with the first being in college when I finally obtained it. I decided that my Halloween watch of 2019 would be this one since I didn’t have a review written up yet.
Synopsis: while Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) hunt for Michael Myers (Dick Warlock), a traumatized Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed to the hospital and the serial killer is not far behind.
This picks up where the last one ended. It starts up with archive footage of Dr. Loomis saving Laurie and shooting Michael Myers until he falls out of the window. When Dr. Loomis looks out, he sees Michael is gone. The police are called over as Laurie goes to the hospital. She is insistent that she’s not put to sleep out of pure terror.
The police continue to search for Michael. He ends up stealing a knife and killing another local teenager in her home. He hears from the radio that Laurie was taken to the hospital so that’s where he goes next. It is there that Jimmy (Lance Guest), one of the EMTs who knows her, takes a liking and continues to check on her. He does have a busy night though along with Budd (Leo Rossi), his co-worker.
Michael makes his way to the hospital and wreaked more havoc with the medical staff that is working this Halloween night. Away from this all, Dr. Loomis and the police continue to look. They go to the local elementary school where it seems he broke into. On the board is written ‘Samhain’. Dr. Loomis reveals what the word means and that’s when Marion (Nancy Stephens) shows up to tell him that he’s being forced back to the hospital by the governor. It is during their drive that she reveals hidden information about Michael Myers and why he could be doing what he is.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. I went a little bit lighter on the recap since there’s not a lot to the story and I don’t necessarily want to go into spoilers, even though at the time of writing this the movie was almost 40 years old. That’s not to say that we don’t get a good story here. I really that they got back all of the actors to play their characters and it literally picks right up where you could watch these back-to-back.
I know there are some people that don’t like the back-story that is introduced here. I personally don’t mind it and the reason could be that’s just what I knew when I was growing up. With sequels you need to build on the story and introduce new things so that’s what we get here. It would explain why he continues to come after Laurie so that ends up making sense. I do understand that when you give them a motive, that it makes it less scary. With a killing machine this guy, he still is scary regardless.
Something else that you need to do when it comes to sequels is amp up the deaths and the number of them, which I think this one does. I would go as far to say that they’re not only brutal, but they’re creative. All of this is done practically so that really helps as well. I like the hot tub death scene as well as the one where Michael stabs someone in the back. There is one with a nurse and draining her of blood that I do question though. The blood doesn’t look great as it is a bit too bright. There’s always that spot for me though, being a fan of the 1970s. The cinematography here is on point so that helps as well.
I’ve also heard complaints about the lack of hospital staff. I will say that I’ve been in hospitals where the number of staff is minimal. With the mayhem going on, I do think there’d be more people. It could be that since they didn’t have cellphones at the time. It could be hard to get in touch with them as a possible reason. I do love the setting of a hospital though for sure.
That will take me to the pacing of this film. We are clocking in at 92 minutes and I think that length is perfect for a slasher like this. It sets up where we are and then at once gets into it. I think it is strategic to give Michael an early kill, because we then get a lull until he gets to the hospital. During that time though we’re building the story, but then once he arrives, it doesn’t stop and makes for a solid slasher. I also don’t mind the ending which was supposed to be the end of the character at this time. We all know that’s not the case now, but I can’t hold that against this movie.
Another thing that I’ve heard complaints about is the acting. Curtis does take a good part of this film lying in bed, but I don’t have issues with that. She’s gone through a traumatic event so they’re sedating her. The problem would be that they would have a police officer watching the door until they know Michael was captured or dead. Pleasance is way crazier in this and literally goes on about having shot Myers ‘six times’. He played unhinged so well so I don’t mind it when he goes mad. He’s the star here. Guest is solid, even if he falls for Laurie a bit too quick. I thought the rest of the hospital staff and nurses were solid. They’re there to bolster the body count. Shout out to Warlock, as I thought he did a good job in stepping into the role as The Shape. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed for sure.
That takes me to the final thing to cover, the soundtrack. I will admit that I loved what we got here. Co-writer John Carpenter and Alan Howarth teamed up here for this, where they took things from the original and tweaked it along with adding new stuff. I think part of what makes the original work is the score and they took time here. It helps to raise the tension of scenes for sure. This is one that I listen to regularly when writing.
In conclusion, this one can’t touch the original, but I think that it does good things to build on what the first does. We get more back-story here and we also get more kills which is what you want from a sequel. I think that the pacing is good in building tension with a solid ending that could have ended this franchise. I don’t mind the acting and think it is quite good. The effects were practical and looked solid. The soundtrack is also great and helps the mood of the film for sure. Overall, I think that this is a good quality film and a solid slasher. If you like the original, give this a viewing as they can be watched back-to-back and it’s pretty seamless.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10