OCTOBER 17, 2007
While many fans point it out as being the only good sequel, I never shined on to Halloween II as much as I did 4 (and even III, but that’s another review). Granted, it’s light years ahead of the last few, but to me it’s more like part 5 – a direct continuation of a far superior film, buoyed by some great sequences (and in II’s case, some nice black humor) but also lacking in what made the previous entry so great.
Part of the problem with II is that even though it takes place the same night as the original, Michael has somehow changed his MO. Instead of playing with his victims and sticking to the shadows, he basically hangs out in the movie (I think he has more screen-time than Jamie Lee), killing just about everyone he comes across (he even goes out of his way to kill a random girl who lives a block away from the Doyle’s). I can (almost) ignore the fact that everyone has noticeably aged, but not the fact that the film just has a totally different feel to it.
Worse, II introduced what would become the Achilles heel of the series: making Michael Myers Laurie’s brother. I could write an entire review just about how stupid a decision this was, but I will spare my carpal tunnel. All I can say is, it’s a damn shame that almost everyone who sees the original film now for the first time will probably go in “knowing” that Laurie is his sister, which severely cripples the creepy nature of the film. II also introduces the Druid nonsense, though it was (rightfully) ignored again until the 6th film. I cannot condemn Carpenter for writing the film drunk, because it’s hilarious, but at the same time, it’s just a pity to realize that the franchise got doomed almost as soon as it began.
Also, this film began my obsession with the ludicrously strange communication skills of the Haddonfield police department. We saw a glimpse of it in the first film, where Michael breaks into a hardware store presumably early in the day, and yet the alarm is still going off at 3 in the afternoon. But it gets full blown here, as somehow the press and many other cops are on the scene of the murders, yet Sheriff Brackett seems to be the last person to know about it. And rather than just call him on the CB, Hunt apparently drives around town looking for him so he can tell him that his daughter is dead. This continues throughout the series (in part 4, a cop goes out to his car, onto the radio, and says “I just heard about the station!” – despite being in a house by himself with no electricity. Who told him? And how did they do it if his radio was out in the car?). My good friend Matt and I toyed with the idea of making a “Cops” style parody about the Haddonfield PD, but of course, we never did.
But there’s still enough here to elevate it above the more recent sequels, not to mention most of the slasher films it was competing with in 1981. The final chase around the hospital rivals most of the stalk sequences in the original film, and Loomis (who, like Myers, appears in this film more the first one) is even more of a hoot. “I shot him six times!!!!” And even though almost the whole movie takes place inside a hospital (ironically, most of the film's best moments take place in the beginning, before anyone gets there), there’s still a decent amount of Halloween atmosphere on display; such as the little kid who gets a razor in his candy.
Also, we have one of the best deaths (sort of) in slasher movie history – Jimmy slipping in the nurse’s blood. He comes back only to seemingly die of his injuries a few minutes later (however, in the “Rosenthal cut”, which sometimes airs on TV, he survives), but it’s still fucking hilarious. And Bud is also pretty memorable, what with his Amazing Grace rendition and pizza desires. Plus, the newscasters are also hilarious, especially the dude at the end who narrates Laurie getting into the ambulance. “She’s putting her leg up now..” And somewhere in the film, Dana Carvey assists someone (I’ve never spotted him).
One bad thing about the movie is the occasionally terrible editing. At one point, Hunt and Loomis are divulging some exposition, and we see a female newscaster intently listening in, with a “oooh, scoop!” look on her face, and then we never see her again. There’s also a point during the finale, right around when the deputy gets killed, where the music quite obviously jumps as the result of a late edit. There are a few others, and I can’t remember if they are all explained in the Rosenthal cut (I’ve only seen it once, years ago), but again, they are trying to sell the film as the most direct continuation of a film ever, and yet is miles apart in terms of technical quality.
I used to walk home from ski practice (which involved us running around and doing stretches until it actually started snowing) through the woods near the town hospital (the very one I went to the night I first saw part 4 – that story soon!), and would always think about this movie. My hometown was like Haddonfield (quiet, suburban, and made up), and one day I saw a guy standing behind the hospital, near the emergency entrance, and was convinced it was Michael (should I not point out I was like, 15 at the time?). It was probably just a maintenance guy out for a smoke, but at any rate, I never went that way again, so I guess in that respect the movie scared me a little.
What say you?