Halloween II (1981)
From the people who brought you Halloween... more of the night HE came home.
Year of Release: 1981
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Jamie Lee Curtis ... Laurie Strode
Donald Pleasence ... Sam Loomis
Charles Cyphers ... Leigh Brackett
Jeffrey Kramer ... Graham
Lance Guest ... Jimmy
Pamela Susan Shoop ... Karen
Hunter von Leer ... Gary Hunt
Dick Warlock ... The Shape / Patrolman #3
Leo Rossi ... Budd
Gloria Gifford ... Mrs. Alves
Tawny Moyer ... Jill
Ana Alicia ... Janet
Nancy Kyes ... Annie Brackett
Adam Gunn ... Young Michael Myers
Dana Carvey ... Assistant
Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they encounter the knife-wielding maniac thought had been for dead in the first film. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath's actions.
Halloween II, the movie that reminds us that the only thing better than four nurses is knowing there's absolutely no reason to bother learning their names. Real estate agents hate this one, and it's not difficult to see why. After all, it's hard enough to sell a house that belonged to a serial killer, but once all the neighborhood parents find out about the place, they go trash it until it looks like an 80s hair band spent the night there. Granted, there is a niche segment of the population that may not only be unbothered by this kind of backstory, but that might seek out these types of houses. But realistically, they're gonna live in their parents' basements until the cops catch 'em trying to transplant the heads of animals onto the bodies of other animals, so their buying power is going to be rather limited. So in the end, they're left with a dilapidated trashhole that they now either have to pay to repair and hope they can sell it before the parents realize it's been rebuilt an trash it again, or move in themselves an live in squalor so they won't have to take a loss on it. Some days it's just extra hard to put on your phony smile and try to convince everyone how "cozy" or "rustic" your "fixer upper" merchandise is. Alrighty, well, to commemorate Jamie Lee Curtis' departure from the sinking ship, I've put together some important factoids for the occasion, guaranteed to be taught only by Halloween II, and several dozen other hospital horror movies. First, hospitals reduce their electricity consumption down to nothing more than mood lighting when night falls. After all, nobody ever gets hurt at night. So there's really no need to keep the lights on. Besides, if somebody trips an falls, they're in a hospital, so what's the big deal? Second, as a police officer, it's standard to return to the job immediately after accidentally plowing into a teenager, pinning them between your police cruiser and a van, and blowing them up in a spectacular homicidal fireball. Oh sure, the cop may claim to be traumatized, but you can tell they just wanna get some paid leave so they can take the family someplace nice without dipping into their vacation time. Big babies.
And third, teenagers love boomboxes because it allows them the freedom to go anywhere and still listen to AM radio. But there's something the movie looked into briefly that I'd like to expand on a little bit. About halfway through, while Donald is collecting clues so he can try to figure out what the heck Mike's problem is, he goes to investigate a break-in at an elementary school. Upon arriving, he finds a really terrible stick figure drawing made by a child, with a knife stuck in it. Donald takes the wrong idea away from the scene, but I follow it 100%, and I have to say, I agree completely with Mike on this one. Teachers take ANY picture drawn by a child these days and tell the kid how "artistic" it is and hang it up on the wall an try to make 'em feel like they're Vincent Van Gogh or somethin'. See, this is the kinda crap that causes kids to grow up into teenagers an think they're hot shit an that they've got talent, when in reality, their artwork looks like Michael J. Fox tryin' to sign an autograph. To be fair, without this teaching method, we'd never get the season opener of American Idol featuring the tears of the children these teachers indirectly betrayed with their dishonesty. So these teachers try to pump the children up into thinking they can be something they really can't if they just believe in themselves hard enough. And of course, what's the teacher care? By the time the kid finally realizes they're a talentless hack, teacher's retired an taken a position on the city council. This whole "everyone's a winner" bullshit we're tryin' to perpetuate throughout society so we can feel good about ourselves only makes things harder on the kid when they grow up to find out they can't write for shit, or paint worth a damn, or that the teacher was lyin' when they told 'em that they were the best kisser in the entire class. So, I for one applaud Mike's deservedly harsh criticism of the elementary school artwork, because someday, I'm gonna need these punks to pay my medicare, and I don't need them all suffering from crippling depression when it's time for them to join the work force.
The movie begins with a recap of the events of Halloween the greater, followed by Donald Pleasance lookin' around for Mike's corpse an gettin' eyeballs the size of dinner plates when he realizes that Mike's gotten up an decided to walk off the six gunshot wounds. Shake it off, Mike, get back in the game. The neighbor comes outside about midway through Donald's nervous breakdown an when he tells 'er to call the police she just asks stupid questions like "is this a joke?" Yeah, it's just a joke. Donald always squeezes off six rounds into a guy in a Shatner mask an coveralls on Halloween night, just forget he brought it up. So while Donald's rantin' an ravin' at Sherriff Brackett about how Mike isn't takin' his bullets seriously, Mike's tryin' to shake the cobwebs loose an find a new turkey carver since he lost his when he was tumblin' over the balcony. He's able to find a place with a fresh bloodletter, only once he leaves, the old lady don't like the blood he dripped all over right after she finished moppin' an she starts squealin' so loud the neighbor girl comes out to see if she fell in the bathtub again or whether she just saw an interracial couple holdin' hands on TV. When the neighbor receives no reply, she goes back in the house an continues her vapid phone conversation until Mike can't stand the inanity an opens up her windpipe so he won't have to listen to it anymore. By this point, the whole town knows about Mike's homecoming party an any cops that aren't gettin' yelled at by Donald are scoopin' up Jamie's friends into Hefty bags. Meanwhile, Jamie goes to the hospital where the doc wants to give her a night night potion an doesn't seem to care that the guy that tried to kill her is not only still on the loose, but that it's not the least bit necessary to get knocked out just for stitches. I get the feelin' this doctor is gonna give her a free breast exam while she's out. But anyhow, while this is goin' on, Donald an Brackett are havin' a lively debate about whether or not Donald is capable of hitting a stationary 6' x 2' target that's only eight feet away from him when Donald spots a guy that looks to have mugged Mike an stolen his ensemble. Donald tries to shoot first an get his facts straight later while Brackett tries to wrestle his gun away from him, but about that time another police cruiser shows up an plows into the guy in the Mike Myers suit an pins him against a van which then promptly explodes an cooks the poor bastard like a rotisserie chicken. Well, that works too.
Then the cop that hit the guy gets out an tries to make excuses until he remembers why he came flyin' through the residential area at 90 mph while kids are out trick or treatin' an tells Brackett that one of the teenagers that got scooped up into a Hefty bag was his daughter. Brackett has skipped right over denial on this one an goes right to anger, an Donald figures if he doesn't get in the police cruiser real quick he's about to lose his ride when Brackett tears outta there. When they arrive at Chateau de Splatto, Brackett identifies Annie an gets real mad at Donald for lettin' Mike out. Donald lets it roll off his back since by now he's used to bein' blamed for everything an gets Brackett's deputy to drive him to the morgue so he can see if the guy that got fricasseed was actually Mike, or if Mike is tied up someplace missing his mask an pantsless. Elsewhere, the real Mike is wanderin' around town tryin' to get directions to his next victim when he comes across a kid with a boombox which just happens to mention that Jamie got hauled off to the hospital. Of course, Mike shouldn't really know where that is since he's been locked up for the last 15 years, but he's a clever boy. Meanwhile, the security guard at the hospital buzzes in a late entry to the hospital staff so we can get all the meat lined up in a nice, neat, and orderly row for Mike so he won't have to wander all around town lookin' for people to poke anymore. They're all kinda obnoxious an difficult to tell apart. You've got Karen, who pretends to be appalled by Budd's foul language and insensitive demeanor. Jimmy, who spends most of his time creepin' on Jamie. Janet an Jill, who matter less than even the aforementioned three. And Mrs. Alves, the grizzled veteran nurse who's cranky an a little tough to love. At this point, Jimmy's hangin' out with Jamie providing exposition about who's been tryin' to chop her up into Jimmy Dean sausage links, an Jamie's tryin' to figure out why he's after her but Jimmy's kind of a chunkhead an he ain't good for much more than repeating what the radio says. Which is just as well, cause Mrs. Alves keeps havin' to run Jimmy off with a stick so Jamie can get some rest. She tells Jamie they're tryin' to find her parents, which probably wasn't true, cause at this point she picks up the phone to give it a(nother) shot an the phone's deader than Michael Richards' acting career. So she gets Janet to get the security guy to go outside an pretend he knows anything about the fuse box, only he spends most of his time lookin' around the storage room for CPR dolls that he can fashion into a wife until Mike hammers his melon-esque head like Gallagher.
Elsewhere, Donald an the coroner are playin' name that tooth with the roasted remains an tryin' to figure out who they belong to. Good news for Jamie, she's not gonna have to try to squirm outta the date Annie made for her a few hours earlier in the first movie, cause he's the guy on the slab that looks like the outside of a campfire marshmallow. Bad news for Jamie, Mike's still out there an he's a man on a mission. Then Donald an the deputy have to go over to the Myers house 'cause all the townsfolk're over there bustin' out all the windows an beatin' on the aluminum siding cause they figure that Mike's the kinda guy to just pack up an leave town if they bring down his property values. Then some other cop shows up an tells Donald there's been a break-in over at the elementary school an that they should go over there so Donald can stand around solemnly for a while an perform another monologue on the subject of Mike's overall evilness. Back at the hospital, Budd scares the tar outta Karen cause he's pretty sure that nothing turns a woman on more than feeling the trickle of her own piss run down her leg. Sure enough, while Jamie's havin' flashback nightmares of her childhood where her hag of a mother keeps tellin' her she's adopted an they only took her in cause her father fires blanks, Budd an Karen make for the hot tub. The hot tub looks like a big bent-ass mixing bowl, an while Budd tries to mix his DNA with Karen, Mike goes into the control room an starts fiddlin' with the knobs an burnin' up all of Budd's swimmers by crankin' up the temperature. So Budd goes to check on it, but Budd's thinkin' with his own knob an not payin' attention to the fact that Mike's standin' right behind 'im an pretty quick Mike unscrews his head like a Snapple cap. By now, Karen's gotten outta the tub an most of the blood has reentered her brain, so she's startin' to think maybe this whole thing is a mistake, considering how severely they're gonna be fired if nurse Grumpypants Alves finds out. She's not real observant though, an when Mike comes out an puts his hand on her shoulder she just licks it for a while until he gets grossed out by all the girl cooties an has to dunk her head into the now scalding hot tub a few times until she develops a case of the Incredible Melting Face. Over at the break-in, Donald finds a stick figure drawing from the special education class with a knife stuck in it an the word "Samhain" painted on the wall in blood an just when Donald's about to go into a grimly profound speech some woman from the hospital he works for comes in an tells 'im coach is pullin' him outta the game.
Seems they've already got a lot of bad PR an Donald's runnin' around like a crazy person isn't improving their public image. Back over at the hospital, Jimmy's been talkin' to Jamie for the last hour or so an only now realizes she's got the 1000 year stare an gets a nurse (Janet) to figure out why she won't stop havin' a starin' contest with the ceiling fan. She dunno squat though cause she missed that day in medical school, so she goes to find the doctor, only he's sittin' in his swivel chair facin' the other direction not answerin' her. Clearly this situation requires that we swivel the chair around an... oh, so that's what intestines look like. But she ain't gonna be doin' any screamin' cause Mike's right behind her an he gives her a booster shot right in her temple an brains her damage. At this point, Mike figures he's got the place pretty well thinned out, so he heads for Jamie's room, only when he stabs the bejezus outta her blanket he succeeds only in spreading goose down all over the room an kickin' up his allergies cause Jamie's flown the coop. So Jamie gimps around the hospital until she finds a nice quiet spot where she can curl up into the fetal position an hope that somehow everything works out. By now, the last surviving nurse (Jill) has noticed that Jamie ain't in her room, nobody seems to be around, an that no matter how often she mops, the bloody footprints just seem to magically return every 15 minutes. About that time, Jimmy shows up an tells her that they should split up to find Jamie but that if they can't find her, she needs to go get the sheriff. Cause in a hospital this big, she'll know whether Jimmy finds her or not while she's clear on the other end. Unfortunately, all Jimmy's able to find is unconsciousness after he finds the exsanguinated corpse of Mrs. Alves an not only is he now thoroughly concussed, but he's never gonna get all this red paint out of his corduroys. Equally unfortunate, is the fact that the tires of every car in the parking lot have been slashed, so Jill has to head back inside where she finally spots Jamie. Only Mike's spotted Jill, an he hollows out her back with his tool kit an lifts her up like a puppet til her Nurse Mates fall off an Mike dumps her like a pan of moldy casserole, an the chase is on. Now it's Mike's methodical 70 year old man walk versus Jamie's Igor shuffle. But elsewhere, Donald, having finally conceded that he's bein' kicked outta the movie, is told by the woman that came to haul his butt back to the office that there were records regarding Mike that he never got to see because they were sealed by the court when Jamie's parents died. Seems she was adopted, and that her real last name is... none of your damn business. Watch it yourself. It goes without saying that Donald takes the driver hostage an whips the car round like Willow Smith's hair, cause Mike ain't gettin' off that easy.
Alrighty, well, as sequels go, perfectly acceptable. As a sequel to one of the greatest horror movies of all time... maybe not so much. You certainly won't be hearing any complaints from me about this one being a little slow. Its biggest problem is that there's virtually no character development here. And that seems like a reasonable enough thing to complain about, except that, with the way the movie is structured, having picked up precisely where the original left off, I'm not sure there's any reasonable way to include any. Donald and Jamie we already know, they're not a problem. It's the hospital staff that comes off as nothing more than body count fodder. Trouble is, there's been no time for the fictional town to settle down from the first movie to the next because they're perfectly continuous. So we have to know what Mike is up to all the time. You can't just pick up where the first movie left off an then go into a half an hour of character development with the hospital staff, cause then your main attraction is getting shoved aside. So I'm not really sure if this is even a valid complaint or not. And yet, the movie can't work on the same level as the original if we don't have characters that we're exposed to for a certain period of time before they become imperiled. Here, we've got what's goin' on with Jamie, what's goin' on with Donald, an which of these new characters that we don't particularly care about just got their neck wet. But it simply cannot be structured the same way the first movie was because there's no slack time that can be used to build towards the climax. Technically I suppose it has that, but it's being used getting any would-be threats out from between Jamie an Mike. It's complicated, I dunno. It's hard to decide how to rate it because it's not as good as the original, but by virtue of the fact that it picked up at the end of the original, that was never even an option because it couldn't be structured the same way. In any event, I think everyone can agree that it's at least the best sequel in the series. I'm a little surprised to see that the IMDB agrees with me, that Halloween 4 was better than Halloween H20, considering H20 brought Jamie Lee Curtis back. But that's another discussion for another review. I would at least acknowledge that they did a good job, with the direction they choose to go in. And if nothing else, you've gotta like the way they picked up exactly where the previous movie left off. That's anomalous. More so then than now, but still anomalous either way.
Okay, well lets give this honorable sequel a breakdown the likes of which M.C. Hammer would approve. There's actually a noticeable drop off in plot between the original and the sequel. And I don't mean a drop off in the quality of plot, I mean a drop off in the quantity of the plot. It's about equal as far as the plot twists go. Though in the original you get the twist right outta the shoot, where here, you get the twist near the end. I guess you'd call it a twist, I suppose it's an explanation as much as it is a twist. But it was sorely needed so it's still a plus. So just okay with the plot, but then, it's a slasher movie, it doesn't need any. The acting you'd probably also have to say is about on par with the original. You've got Jamie Lee Curtis an Donald Pleasance bringing the score up, while everyone else is more or less average. You'd have to say the original movie had better characters because they were able to expend more time on them, but going by nothing more than acting, they're about even. Jamie an Donald of course need no introductions, but here are the minor cast members that're interesting and why: Charles Cyphers (Hunter's Blood, Halloween, Escape from New York, The Fog), Jeffrey Kramer (Jaws, Jaws 2), Lance Guest (Flu Bird Horror, The Last Starfighter, Jaws: The Revenge), Pamela Susan Shoop (Empire of the Ants), Hunter von Leer (Trancers 3), Dick Warlock (Beastmaster 2, Pumpkinhead, Firestarter, Halloween 3, When a Stranger Calls), Leo Rossi (Mutant Species, Maniac Cop 2, Relentless), Ford Rainey (Amerika, Manhunter), Cliff Emmich (Return to Horror High, Hellhole, Barracuda), Jonathan Prince (Fear), Lucille Benson (The Devil's Daughter, Slaughterhouse Five, Private Parts, Duel), Howard Culver (The Swarm), Leigh French (Children of the Corn 2009), Ty Mitchell (The Fog), Pamela McMyler (Blood Beach), Dennis Holohan (Hyper Sapien: People from Another Star), Roger Hampton (Vamp, Critters, The Return), Jack Verbois (Lord of the Rings 1978), Helen Kelly (Death Spa, They Live, Surf Nazis Must Die, Munchies, Trancers 2, Night of the Comet), Anne-Marie Martin (The Boogens, Savage Harvest, Prom Night, The Shape of Things to Come). Also interesting, Dana Carvey in a completely irrelevant role, back before he became immortalized as Garth in Wayne's World. So the acting's alright, an that's your standard lengthy list of people from other genre flicks that's probably not important to anyone but me.
The special effects are pretty good, with this sequel being somewhat bloodier than the original, although still not horrifyingly so. The stand-out scene would probably be Donald's chauffeur getting his throat slashed, although Pamela Susan Shoop's incredible melting face is pretty good as well. Otherwise you've just got a bit of blood here and there. I would say though, that the red paint on the floor beneath Gloria Gifford is way too bright in color. It's possible they chose to do it that way because the shot was so dark and you wouldn't have been able to see it otherwise. Movie's got a lot of lighting issues. Anyway, good special effects, and you'd probably have to say better than the original, just for the fact that there are a lot more of them. The shooting locations are pretty good. They were able to use the same house from the original for the scenes requiring them, and the hospital is a decent setting as well. Although the fact that it'd been shut down might have something to do with why there was never enough light in most of the shots. It's since been torn down, but hospitals tend to make pretty fair settings for horror movies, even though there's not much difference from one hospital to another, and a lot of movies use that particular setting. The soundtrack is, once again, pretty good. Although not as good as the first. Though the new tracks are used in virtually the same way, I just didn't find the new tracks as memorable as those of the original. Though they do use some of the music from the original. The slightly modified main title might actually be a little better than the original, it's got a little more going on with it. They're all still enjoyable tracks that create tension just as well as the original, they're just not as ear pleasing, generally speaking. Overall, very good by sequel standards. I think it's judged a little harshly on the IMDB, but no more than I would expect for that particular site's critiquing. It's got enough of what made the original work, to be a success. And while it's not all that different from the original, the continuation of the story gives it a certain degree of uniqueness. Very worthwhile.