When you think about it, 1978 through 1982 were psychotically good years for John Carpenter. 1978 saw the release of Halloween, The Fog came out in 1980, Halloween II and Escape from New York came out in 1981, and The Thing came out in 1982. All outstanding movies. Four out of five of these feature Jamie Lee Curtis, you do the math. I just really miss the days before my mind associated her with digestive yogurt.
Four years ago, I admitted that I’d never seen Halloween. Now I’m finally catching up with Halloween II for Slashermastine’s Day. It’s really rare that a sequel outshines the original. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Empire Strikes Back. As much as I love the original Halloween, I think I like Halloween II just a touch more.
The movie picks up exactly where the original left off.
Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers (Seen in the credits as “The Shape” and played by Dick Warlock this time) six times. Myers then falls off of a second story balcony, yet still manages to walk away. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is sent to the hospital for her injuries and Dr. Loomis tries to track Myers down.
That’s basically the entire movie. Laurie doesn’t want to be medicated because she knows Michael Myers is still out there. She’s basically forcibly medicated and left in the creepiest, most empty hospital ever. Loomis is desperate to catch Michael, who resumes his killing spree minutes after escaping.
The old standards of the original movie are back. There are shots from the monster’s POV aplenty, but there are also lots of shots from Laurie’s point-of-view, especially in the hospital.
Laurie is still resourceful, smart, and likable.
The music is as good and as creepy as ever. I hear the opening notes to the Halloween theme and it creates instant tension.
There are a few new points in this movie. First, we get more information, especially about Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Dr. Loomis finds the word “Samhain” scrawled on a blackboard.
Technically, Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival that occurs before the darkness of winter. Loomis attributes Samhain to a Gaelic god and death via wicker man. I guess this will eventually be tied in with the cult of Thorn in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.
More importantly, we learn through flashback and from nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) that Laurie Strode was born after Michael Myers was incarcerated, that she survived him killing her parents, and she was adopted by the Strode family.
The pacing in the movie is different, I think it follows a more standard slasher template. There’s also more gore and nudity in this movie. Apparently, the director, Rick Rosenthal wanted the sequel to be more like the original but John Carpenter decided to make it more like a mainstream slasher. These additions aren’t necessarily bad. I felt more engaged with Halloween II than I did with the original, frankly. I found myself taking notes more and it felt more tense.
What I particularly like about these movies is the irrationality of Michael Myers. You can understand the origins of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kreuger but Michael Myers just IS bad. Always has been, always will be. He’s looming and implacable. Like death, you can’t stop Michael Myers, you can just put off your appointment for a bit (Unless you–SPOILER ALERT–blow him up.) In that sense, he reminds me of the vengeful ghosts in Japanese horror. Sadako and the Saeki family can’t be appeased, so, in a way, Michael Myers is like an Onryō.
You know what I think is unfair? This movie has a 29% “rotten” rating on rottentomatoes.com. In what universe is Halloween II bad? If you combined Halloween and Halloween II into one very long movie, it would still make sense and be good. Try doing this with Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope and your eyes will bleed.
This just reinforces how much mainstream movie critics don’t get genre and make no effort to even understand genre.
Past Slashermas Offerings
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Who can Kill a Child?
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Bloody Mary (2006)
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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