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.
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!
I would not survive a slasher film.