Michael Myers picks himself up off the front lawn and tracks down an injured Laurie Strode to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where he stalks the halls in search of her. As the cover says, it's more of the night he came home!
Following the release of Rob Zombie's faux Halloween II on DVD and Blu ray, I decided now would be a good time to review the real Halloween II. One of the things I've always really liked about this film is that it picked up literally seconds after the conclusion of Halloween. Even though it had been three years since the release of that film, the makers of this Sequel really pull off the feeling well. The key cast members return such as Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Dr. Loomis (Pleasence) is as determined as ever to find Michael and Sheriff Brackett (Cyphers) is a little less submissive to Loomis this time out. More on Laurie later. The filmmakers even add little touches such as bringing back the Horror film marathon from the original. The character of Marion (Nancy Stephens) returns for further scenes with Dr. Loomis; and Nancy Loomis even returns for a one shot cameo as a dead body. Great stuff used in establishing this as the same night.
This film also recaptures a lot of Halloween's atmosphere and tension. While it's not as scary as the first film, because we've been down this road once before, it's still quite an effective movie. Helping accomplish this is the music done once again by John Carpenter, this time assisted by Alan Howarth; and new director Rick Rosenthal utilizes the long hospital hallways as the backbone for the template of his film's suspense.
While Rosenthal's return to the franchise for 2002's Halloween: Resurrection wasn't stellar; I thought he did a bang up job here. He continued with what Carpenter had started and also
added a bit of his own style to the mix. There seems to have been problems during the film with Carpenter and Rosenthal however. That carries over into what many cite as a problem with Halloween II - it had more onscreen violence. This has never been an issue with me, because I don't think it's anything to really make an issue of. Some speak about the violence in this film like they're referring to some unrated, blood-soaked film.
It's not really that at all, and still has some sense of restraint. But still, some insist John Carpenter sold out the style of Halloween in order to try and compete with other slasher films which had come along and featured more gore. My stance on that is, whether he did or not, it's not so interesting to simply make a Sequel with the same exact style of scares again. Just because the style is not verbatim of the original film, doesn't mean that it's bad. But, this film drew a lot of detractors, including Carpenter and the late Debra Hill (who wrote it). To this very day, Carpenter cites this film as having nothing worthwhile about it. Ah well, more fun for the rest of us, right?
The cast in this film is much larger than last time, seeing that we have the returning characters plus a hospital staff. I think most of the characters pass muster in one way or another. They're either credible, likable, or entertaining in some way. Jimmy (Lance Guest) was plausible as the clean cut good guy and his driving partner Bud (Leo Rossi) provides some comic releif with his occasional vulgar sense of humor. The only two that I didn't really like were Janet (Ana Alicia) and Deputy Hunt (Hunter von Leer). I just found Alicia to be a little uninteresting. Julie (Tawny Moyer) and Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) were sort of thinly written too, but they had more of a presence on screen than Alicia. Leer came off a bit too goofy in some scenes for my liking.
Some didn't like what they did with Laurie Strode in this film; as she lies in bed for a good part of it. I can see their point, however it didn't hurt the film for me. I thought it worked overall; as you think she's essentially helpless and that Michael could show up for her at any time. I think it might have hurt Jamie Lee's performance a bit, but not the story; and a deeper relationship between Michael and Laurie is explored that would shape the future Halloween Sequels. Speaking of Michael Myers, I think Dick Warlock may be my favorite. Between his look and mannerisms, he comes off in some scenes as almost demonic and ultimately seems more effective and unstoppable than the Shape in the original to me.
After the finale of this film, I felt closure on the entire story. Perhaps that's why I had trouble warming up to many of the later films. Though, their declining quality also had something to do with that. But, Halloween II is for my money, the best Sequel in the franchise. It completes the story began by Carpenter and I think is essential viewing for fans of the original.
Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock
Released by: Universal
- Theatrical Trailer
- Production Notes
- Cast and Filmmakers Biographies