Director – Rick Rosenthal
Starring – Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Cramer.
In keeping with the season, those creepy people over at Channel 5 screened Halloween II on Thursday night, giving everyone a chance to revisit this forgotten entry in the original Halloween series. John Carpenter’s first movie is rightly hailed as a classic, not only of the genre, but also cinema in general (and is still the only horror movie, other than the Exorcist, which the Radio Times has deemed worthy of 5 stars). Halloween 3 has a cult following for its kooky, “off-message” storyline and head-invading advertising jingle, parts 4 and 5 are renowned for launching the career of Danielle Harris , The Curse of Michael Myers is remembered for being vaguely ridiculous, Halloween H2O saw the return of Jamie Lee Curtis to great fanfare and the one after that had some rapper in it (which should never be forgotten, in case it happens again). But Halloween II seems to be rarely mentioned these days.
After the impact of Halloween (which is possibly still overstated to this day, because so few people had managed to see Black Christmas at the time), it’s fair to say that Halloween II was labelled something of a disappointment and we’ve all heard the stories of how Carpenter (already involved in a writing capacity) had to step in and shoot some additional gore sequences in order to save director Rick Rosenthal’s insipid movie. However, just as recent “Dead” sequels aren’t classic Romero but ARE superior in the wider pantheon of zombie movies, so it is with Halloween II; weak when compared with its predecessor, it still holds its own in comparison with many of its slasher brethren.
Taking over at the point when Halloween ends, with Michael Myers still on the loose despite the best efforts of Dr. Loomis, the film benefits from the continued writing presence of John Carpenter by retaining the original’s odd atmosphere of homeliness combined with danger. The illusion of passing off a town in California as one in Illinois during Autumn is again performed flawlessly, with the leafy avenues providing a suitably Halloween-y backdrop to the action.
In the aftermath of the original murders, Laurie is taken to Haddonfield Hospital, whilst Loomis roams the streets, fruitlessly searching for Myers, who, in turn, searches for Laurie. All very similar to the first movie, but as it’s the same night and same characters that makes sense, conveniently. As Sheriff Brackett has the death of his daughter, Annie, to deal with (murdered in her car by Myers), Loomis is now accompanied by Deputy Gary Hunt. It is here that the film’s major incongruity arises. Loomis has all the same expositional exchanges with Hunt as he has previously had with Brackett, but his attitude now is of flippant, impatient, aggressive tough guy; a sharp contrast to the scared old man from just a couple of hours earlier.
The film has its interesting points; naming an unfortunate victim of mistaken identity as Ben Tramer (Laurie’s unseen admirer from the first movie) is a good continuity tool and the way that Myers discovers that Laurie is in the hospital is also cleverly done.
Once Myers is aware of Laurie’s location, the majority of the action takes place in the hospital, which is a typical horror movie hospital (i.e. deserted except for a couple of randy nurses and paramedics, waiting to be killed). The “final” denouement takes place here, but you’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens.
One unforgivable downside that the movie does have is that it introduces Myers’ rubbish motivation of wanting to kill his whole family (Laurie being revealed as his long lost sister).
For those of you who are interested, Dick Warlock, who plays Myers here, was the shortest to don the Captain Kirk mask, apparently needing boosters to increase his height on set (hey, it could be a quiz question, you never know).