Halloween II (1981)

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I feel it’s appropriate to start my review of Halloween II with a public apology. After watching it last night in a single sitting, I’m almost certainly convinced that I wouldn’t have disliked the film so much if the opening sequence (where juvenile Mike Myers murders his sister) wasn’t so horrible. But there’s something about that sequence that rubs me the wrong way. Possibly because it makes no sense.

Halloween starts with Michael watching his sister fool around with her boyfriend on the couch. They then go upstairs to finish the deal. As they’re walking upstairs we see, through his own eyes, Michael walk into the kitchen, grab a knife, and walk to the stairwell. Where we see the boyfriend come down the stairs putting his shirt back on. Now I understand that high school kids aren’t super experienced sexually, but the sister sounds happy talking to him, which means she wasn’t disappointed by the fact that her boyfriend lasted 30 seconds. 30 seconds minus the time it took to take his shirt off and walk up the stairs. Now maybe he was too excited, you’re saying, and shot his load before even making it into her room! Yet when Michael kills his sister she’s sitting in front of her vanity(?) topless. Which is movie shorthand for sex. So her boyfriend lasted somewhere between 10-15 seconds. Which again, high school kids being high school kids, is believable. Except he jets off immediately afterwards which I would assume would bug Michael’s sister. Sure, she won’t want him around when her parents come home, but I have to assume she’d like a bit of compassion shown.

Halloween II - Sandwiches!

“Want mayonnaise on your sandwich? How about mustard?”

This, combined with the POV shots, is a huge turn-off for me, even if Michael’s older sister doesn’t seem to mind it.

Halloween II - Depth of Fields!

I hate to throw shade on Carpenter, but director Rick Rosenthal’s shot composition is on-point.

Halloween II while directed by someone different, is literally just a continuation of the first film. It opens with Halloween’s ending scene, and once that set-up is established, it transitions right back into a Mike Myer’s POV sequence. A sequence with more old films being shown on television (Night of the Living Dead this time around). Luckily for us Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) sounds like he’s gone completely over the edge. A tiny change that saves this beginning from being a total rehash.

Halloween II - Poor Laurie

One nice aspect this film has going for it is a number of narratives going on simultaneously. We have Mike Myers slashing his way through the neighborhood, Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) searching for him, Laurie in the ER, and a slew of television reporters swarming the neighborhood trying to get statements. This does wonders for breaking up the monotony of “heroine runs away from villain. Cop searches. Eventually all converge.” It also adds a dose of realness to the proceedings; even if the film starts with Myers taking six slugs at point-blank range, falling out of a 2nd story window, and managing to walk away apparently unharmed.

Another aspect that has sadly been abandoned is how Doctor Loomis and the police force work hand-in-hand. Half the film isn’t wasted trying to get the police to believe there’s a maniac on the loose. Hell, even during the first film the cops knew Myers had escaped, and immediately started a manhunt. Not a “all points bulletin” manhunt, but a (limited) manhunt nonetheless.

Halloween II - The Cavalry Arrives

One thing I never realized until watching these two Halloweens (practically) back-to-back is just how indebted the slasher genre is to them. First we have the establishment of the old “sexually promiscuous teens get killed first” trope. It’s hinted at in Halloween, but really driven home in the sequel. Halloween’s original closing sequence had Myers’ taking his mask off; showing a mangled face. While Halloween II’s opening sequence cuts that reveal out, the deformity can only be assumed to have provided some kind of inspiration of Jason’s own misshapen face. And the crowd of angry neighbors bombarding Myers’ childhood home with rocks immediately brings to mind the angry Springwood lynch mob that would create Freddy while being a nod to Frankenstein’s classic ending.

Halloween II - Again With the Depth of FieldHalloween II - The First Gimmick Death

We also see the birth of silly, scene-specific deaths. Long before Jason was shoving road flares into people’s mouths we had Michael Myers shoving nurse heads into overheated hydrotherapy tanks. The jury’s still out on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Sadly, a half hour in and Halloween II runs out of steam. I guess codifying all these tropes took a lot more effort than one would imagine. Laurie ends up in the hospital and Michael Myers decides to go after her. The following hour is spent watching Michael slowly kill off the hospital staff while Laurie wanders around in a drugged out state. Yet she manages to outlive all the other perfectly healthy, and uninjured people. As you can imagine, this destroys the pacing and makes the film utterly predictable.

Halloween II - The Last Great Flame Stunt?

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