HALLOWEEN II (October 31st)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
So here it is! Halloween! And the last night of this blog series. It's been a bit of a challenge watching and writing up thoughts on one movie every single day but overall it's been a lot of fun. I've seen some really good stuff (What We Do In The Shadows, Silhouette), had some undemanding fun with others (Black Room, Countdown), finally watched some classics (Dracula) and experienced some real abominations (I, Frankenstein, VHS Viral). On Halloween night, I traditionally watch John Carpenters Halloween but as I need to see something I've never watched before, that's out of the window (insert sad face emoji). However I've got a shameful confession. I've never seen the sequel! I've seen most Halloween movies (all the modern incarnations especially) but the original sequel has always alluded me. Until now!
The film opens with the last few minutes of its predecessor. Lazy film-making? Usually I'd say yes but Halloween II takes place directly after the original so it kinda makes sense. Laurie Strode is attacked, Loomis shoots Myers, he falls out of the window he then disappears. You know the drill. After this Loomis searches for him on the streets of Haddonfield, aided by the always useless local police department whilst Laurie is whisked off to the local hospital. Whilst Myers still looms large in Haddonfield and continues his murder spree, Laurie receives treatment and Loomis and co try to figure out where the shape is. But after hearing a local news report that Laurie is at the hospital, Myers heads there to finish the job – and let's just say the small team of doctors and nurses don't really stand much of a chance...
Halloween II was not very well received by critics at the time. Compared to the original it's an inferior film, no doubt. Carpenter and Hill had no plans to do a follow up to their masterpiece but the lure of cash changed their minds to some extent. Although Carpenter didn't direct, he did co-produce it and write the screenplay. He has since gone on to say that he views the movie as 'an abomination'. I must say, I don't quite agree with the horror master on that – and I think there's a healthy portion of genre fans who have a bit of a soft spot for the sequel.
Director Rick Rosenthal (a relative unknown at the time) does his best to retain some of the look of the original and he's largely successful. Killer POV's and scenes where the shape glides around in the background, unbeknown to his victims are there in droves. This does just feel like a continuation of the first movie to some extent. For any Halloween movie to work, it has to fulfil it's promise as a slasher movie and again, it does a solid job on that front too. The stalk'n'slash elements are well staged and there is an increased level of violence and bloodshed here as well. Myers stabs, hammers and scalds people to death in a prolific fashion. Rosenthal also manages to work up a nice level of tension during the second half of the movie when Myers is roaming around the hospital looking for Laurie. Dick Warlock, who plays Myers, isn't quite as imposing as Castle but he's still pretty effective. The mask looks different too – even though it is actually the same one used in the original. But apparently Debra Hill has kept it under her bed for a couple of years and it has gathered dust and aged a bit so it looks a bit different. As for Lee Curtis, she doesn't actually have too much to do until the last act which is a bit of a shame actually.
The film also introduces some new story elements into the mix as well. One of them being that Laurie Strode is actually Myers' sister. I always wondered where that came from because I grew up assuming that to be the case but never really knew why. It's also a notion that's been dropped by the new Halloween movies too. More interestingly though is the reference to Samhain that crops up, inferring something almost supernatural is at play. I mean, we all know that Myers' is superhuman but is he actually an 'entity'? Is he not even human? I prefer to leave it up to the imagination quite frankly.
There are obviously some elements that don't work and some story choices that seem a bit inane. It's a film where I almost feel that we see a bit too much of Loomis too. The ripeness of his performance is fine in small doses but it can get a bit much sometimes. Anyway, ignoring that – this is still a film I had a lot of fun with. Watching it as a double bill with the original would be pretty darn cool I imagine. Well, maybe next year!