Halloween II, 1981
directed by Rick Rosenthal
starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Lance Guest
It took three years for Halloween II to be released, a sequel to a film that was never intended to have one, and furthermore, a sequel that wasn’t initially intended to pick up immediately where the first left off. It’s definitely a disappointment, but being readily available it’s always so tempting to watch Halloween II after the first. Maybe it’s not as much of a disappointment as it would have been to have waited for years for, but Halloween II feels almost like a fan made production in comparison to the first. It takes away the buildup, tension, and atmosphere that made the first a classic and feels much more like a throwaway slasher.
Halloween was originally meant to be a film series that featured a new story and set of characters for every film, but with the success of the first, the villain Michael Myers was brought back. And while I can’t fault the decision to continue the story of the first, continuing immediately after the first seems to be the worst decision the makers made. Michael is quickly hacking up victims, and with no atmosphere or story to build on the film has no way to escalate any kind of fear. Making the film feel like even more a mess, Laurie Strode’s flashbacks seem like a last minute decision to reveal plot information and feel ineffective and out of place. Additionally, out of what seems like desperation, Michael is portrayed to to be a supernatural, more-than-human being in an almost comical way.
While a hospital is a great setting for any horror movie (especially in a town like Haddonfield that seemingly only has no patients admitted), Halloween II takes way too long to take advantage of the setting. For too long the focus sits upon an EMT with nothing interesting to offer other than the fact that he knows Laurie, and two other characters that could have been ripped out of any mediocre horror movie. There’s definitely a couple of exciting moments towards the end, Michael really is a great villain and Jamie Lee Curtis is a strong horror actress, but it’s campy entertainment at best. Donald Pleasence is reduced to playing Sam Loomis as a bumbling idiot, rather than the perceptive, but jaded and slightly unhinged character from the first. Curtis hardly has anything to do until the second half of the movie and by then it’s far too late for redemption.