What Horror Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #53: Halloween II (directed by Rick Rosenthal)


Last night, I watched Halloween II.  No, I’m not referring to the rather disturbing Rob Zombie movie that came out in 2009.  Instead, this Halloween II was the original sequel to the original Halloween.  This version was written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.  It was released in 1981 and I saw it in 2012, via Cinemax.

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it’s October, of course!  It’s horror month and Halloween is one of the great horror movies.  Would Halloween II turn out to be another great horror movie?  Well, to be honest, I figured it probably wouldn’t but I decided to watch it anyway.

What Was It About?

Halloween II picks up exactly from where the first Halloween ended.  The sole surviving babysitter, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), is being rushed to the hospital by two paramedics, one nice (Lance Guest) and one kinda crude and pervy (Leo Rossi).  Two guesses which one of our two paramedics eventually ends up dead.  Meanwhile, Michael Myers has apparently survived being shot six times and falling out of a second story window and he’s still wandering around Haddonfield, Indiana.  Best of all, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is still running around all over the place, telling anyone who will listen that it wasn’t his idea to allow Michael to be released.  (In one of the film’s best running jokes, everyone responds to Loomis’ protestations by saying stuff like, “Damn you for letting him out!”  “Uhmm, I didn’t…” Dr. Loomis mutters at one point.)  It quickly becomes apparent that Michael’s rampage wasn’t quite as random as it seemed in the first film.  He’s after Laurie and, once he breaks into the local hospital, it seems like he might very well get her.  Why?  Because, for the most part, it appears that every single citizen of Haddonfield is a total and complete moron.

What Worked?

Halloween II is actually one the better of the slasher sequels of the early 80s.  While it can’t compare to the first Halloween, it’s still a fairly suspenseful little film and Michael Myers is just as frightening as ever.  However, what truly makes this film memorable, is Donald Pleasence’s unhinged performance as Dr. Loomis.  Whereas in the first film, Pleasence played Loomis as just being somewhat testy and annoyed, his performance here suggests that, in the minute or so between shooting Michael and then looking out the window at the end of the first film, Loomis has managed to totally lose his mind.  Pleasence gives one of the most mannered, over the top performances in film history in Halloween II and it works perfectly.  Whenever the film starts to drag, Pleasence shows up and injects a nice bit of crazy into the proceedings.  My favorite moment comes when Loomis suddenly yells at a policeman, “What is it you guys you usually do?  FIRE A WARNING SHOT!?”

Lance Guest, who plays the nice paramedic, was really quite likable.  I know there’s some debate as to the ultimate fate of his character but I chose to believe that he survived.

The Halloween theme music is still probably one of the most effective horror soundtracks to have not been composed by Goblin or Riz Ortolani.  When it came on the TV last night, our cat Doc actually got scared and ran out of the room.

What Didn’t Work?

It’s not the first Halloween.

While the film nominally stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Laurie spends most of the film catatonic and she never really gets to do much other than run from Michael.  Say what you will about how Laurie kept dropping her weapons at the end of the first Halloween, she still at least fought back.  In Halloween II, Laurie is reduced to being a stereotypical victim.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I have to admit that I kinda related to the three nurses who were on call at the hospital.  I related to Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) because, like her, I have, in the past, shown a weakness for bad boys who insist on making out in a hot tub even while there’s a merciless serial killer wandering about.  I related to Jill (Tawny Moyer) because, like her, I tend to look at my nails whenever I get bored at work.  Most of all, I related to Janet (Ana Alicia), because she couldn’t figure out how to use a walkie talkie.  (And, seriously, what type of name is walkie-talkie anyway?  It sounds like a cutesy robot.)

So, as opposed to most other slasher films, I was able to find instant empathy with not one but three characters!  Unfortunately, all three of those nurses were dead by the end of the film so, seriously … agck!

Lessons Learned:

I would not survive a slasher film.

12 responses to “What Horror Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #53: Halloween II (directed by Rick Rosenthal)

  1. Nice! 🙂

    Regarding Lance Guest’s character, there are multiple edits of the film. There’s one version that has him slipping in the blood of one of the victims and knocking himself out. Though he later tries to start a car and leave, he passes out due to a concussion and wakes up in the Ambulance with Laurie saying “We made it!” to him. That was the storyline they used to build on Halloween 4.

    Not sure why they did all the edits, but it’s interesting.

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  2. “Halloween II” is one that I saw this many years ago on videotape. What a great film. “Halloween” movies were always a good go-to source for really intense horror. Despite all the rubbish hurled upon it, I even love “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”. Those were the good old days. I’d hate to be a kid growing up these days with the lack of awesome horror films being produced, so it’s just as well that all these classics are around for them to enjoy.

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    • Rare to find someone who actually likes the third film in the series. It’s a film that’s quite literally misunderstood by genre fans who seem to hate it like it ruined the franchise. It’s definitely the most subversive film in the series and I think it would’ve done better if it had been released under a different title. Hell, under the title Season of the Witch would’ve given it more than half a chance to be more successful.

      I wouldn’t say that kids these days have no choices when it comes to awesome horror films. I wouldn’t look at Hollywood studio system to find them, but internation studios and filmmakers have done great to awesome work the past 10-15 years and stull raging to this day when it comes to quality horror. New French Extremity have come up with some of the best horror films of the past 10 years and the Southeast Asia film industries from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines have become hot bed for quality horror films.

      With the internet more and more young people are seeing these films now than years later. Then again time will tell if these films will stand up after 10-20 years. As much as I love the horror films of the 70’s and 80’s I can toss away nostalgia and say that some really haven’t stood up the test of time.

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  3. Oh shit, please don’t even get me started.

    Is there a French version of “The Thing”?

    Where is the Indonesian version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”?

    Has anybody seen a Thailand version of “The Stepford Wives”?

    I have pretty high standards when it comes to horror, fantasy and science-fiction. Where is the really imaginative horror? Where are the great ideas? They don’t have to be gory, just clever, intriguing and intense.

    There is an unfortunate tendency, by Anglophonic reviewers, to overrate films from a non-Anglophonic background. Case in point: “Let the Right One In”. If Hollywood had released it first, you would’ve hardly ever heard of it. But since the Swedes made it famous, it was meant to be this big earth-shattering phenomenon of a film, thus allowing for an American remake.

    I do watch a wide array of films from all over the world, and unlike many folks, still hike a fair way to the cinema to do so. It’s not just Hollywood, but the entire world whose standards have dropped when it comes to horror. Perhap it’s because all these “foreign” directors are influenced by Hollywood in the first place, thus we get the law of diminishing returns, the cheap foreing knock-offs, the inferior imported products.

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  4. Pingback: Horror On TV: Darkroom Season 1 Episode 1&2 “Closed Circuit/Stay Tuned, We’ll Be Right Back” (dir by Rick Rosenthal and Paul Lynch) | Through the Shattered Lens

  5. Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens and commented:

    And now that you’ve re-read Arleigh’s review of the original Halloween, why not check out my review of the original Halloween II? This was originally published in 2012! After reading this, be sure to check back in about 90 minutes for Case’s review of Halloween 4! And then come back on Thursday for Halloween 5! (Where’s Halloween 3? It will be dealt with as soon as we finish the saga of Michael Myers…)

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  6. Pingback: Horror Film Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (dir by Dominique Othenin-Girard) | Through the Shattered Lens

  7. Pingback: The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Halloween II (dir by Rob Zombie) | Through the Shattered Lens

  8. Pingback: Horror Book Review: Jamie Lee Curtis: Scream Queen by David Grove | Through the Shattered Lens

  9. Pingback: Here’s The Trailer for David Gordon Green’s Halloween! | Through the Shattered Lens

  10. Pingback: Film Review: The Howling (dir by Steven M. Smith) | Through the Shattered Lens

  11. Pingback: Horror Scenes That I Love: Dr. Loomis Explains Michael Myers in the original Halloween | Through the Shattered Lens

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