October Horrorshow: Halloween II

Halloween has finally arrived. Across the country the ghouls and goblins are out in force, and scary movies are lighting up the airwaves. We’ve been celebrating here at Missile Test for the entire month of October with the second October Horrorshow, when the site is devoted to watching and reviewing horror films. There’s been no rhyme or reason to it other than one common denominator: blood. Good films, bad films, entire franchises viewed out of order...so what? It doesn’t matter. It’s all in fun, as long as there’s death and gore involved. To close out this year’s October Horrorshow, we present a review of Halloween II, the sequel to John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece from 1978.

Carpenter didn’t direct this one. Duties instead went to Rick Rosenthal, who has since gone on to become a prolific television director, but Carpenter and producer Debra Hill wrote the screenplay, with Carpenter also doing a couple reshoots here and there during post. Also returning are Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. Although there is a new director, Halloween II is stylistically identical to its predecessor. Atmosphere is more important than gore, and the film is quite dark. I mean that literally. There’s not a lot of light in Halloween II. A whole group of crazed murderers could be hiding in those shadows, rather than just one.

Halloween II picks up immediately where Halloween left off. Insane killer Michael Myers has survived his confrontation with Dr. Loomis and is loose once again in Haddonfield, Illinois. Laurie Strode has been loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. Michael cuts his way through a few of the local townsfolk, then he, of course, manages to make his own way to the hospital, seemingly with the goal of finishing off Laurie once and for all. He takes his time about the task. It’s the middle of the night in a small town on edge, yet the hospital seems to have only five or six employees on staff and a couple of horny EMTs running around, and no cops either guarding or questioning the only surviving victim from a crime that occurred just hours before. Laurie also seems to be the only patient in the place, yet Michael makes quite a roundabout trip on his way to Laurie’s bedside. Had he marched right on in like a man on a mission, this film could have been wrapped up in about thirty minutes.

Slasher flicks ask their audiences to suspend quite a bit of disbelief, and Halloween II is no different. This film has got holes galore. Nothing major, though. That is, nothing dense enough that the story collapses in on itself. However, Michael Myers is a senseless killer, and apparently the filmmakers decided the senseless part was what they would focus on.

Probably my favorite moment in the film is when Michael kills one of the nurses by scalding her to death in a hydrotherapy tub. The water is hot enough to peel the skin from her face, yet we see Michael plunge his own arm into the water over and over again without harm. That’s classic b-movie stuff right there. The filmmakers didn’t care if it made sense. All they knew is, they thought of a cool way to waste one of the characters, and they ran with it.

Meanwhile, while Michael is stalking and murdering everyone in the hospital except the one person he really wants dead, Loomis is running around town waving his gun around like a mad man trying to find out where Michael is. He’s got the cops on his side, amazingly enough. Loomis is right, Michael is still loose and needs to be stopped, but Loomis is walking the razor’s edge himself at this point, and one has to be amazed at the high threshold for bullshit the cops in Haddonfield have. Very polite folk, indeed.

And the star of the film, Jamie Lee Curtis? She spends the majority of the flick laying in her hospital bed, exhausted both mentally and physically by her ordeal from the first film. That would be understandable, if this were real life. But it’s not. She’s being stalked by a guy who recently took six bullets to the chest and got up like nothing happened. Come on, Laurie, get out of the bed and do something. The poor girl spent two entire acts of the film on her back. That’s no way to treat a main character.

The three principal characters finally come together for last act shenanigans, resulting in an explosive finale designed to top the ending of the first film. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. In order to top a classic, a film has to at least be a classic.

This was a close one to score. I was leaning towards Alien: Resurrection until I actually pictured a couple scenes from that movie in my mind’s eye and my stomach began to hurt. Halloween II is better than Alien: Resurrection.