RETRO REVIEW – ‘Halloween II’

A decent continuation of the original horror masterpiece.

Review by J.T. Johnson

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: October 30, 1981
DIRECTOR: Rick Rosenthal
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dean Cundey
WRITERS: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
MUSIC: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth

After the surprise success of “Halloween”, it was really no surprise that the studios wanted a sequel. The executives returned to director John Carpenter, but he was really not interested in returning to the series. Still, a deal was made that Carpenter would write the story and produce the film along with his then producing partner, Debra Hill.

“Halloween II” is a special horror sequel as it set out to do two things. First, it was set on the very same night as the first film, continuing where the original left off. Secondly, Carpenter’s story was a solid attempt at finishing the Michael Myers story once and for all.

The new movie literally picks up with the final scene of the first film as Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers out of a window only to discover that Myers is gone. From here, we follow Dr. Loomis as he continues to track Myers and we follow Myers as he tracks the surviving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) back to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.

The movie is directed with considerable skill by Rick Rosenthal and beyond Carpenter, most of the crew of the original film returned to make the sequel. It is a valiant attempt at finishing the story from the first film. This is also the entry where we learn that Laurie is actually Michael’s sister due mostly to the fact that writer Carpenter didn’t know how to explain why Myers was still coming after her specifically.

Still, despite the confident direction by Rosenthal, the movie is inferior to the first one. This is due to a couple of reasons. One, the movie is way bloodier than the first film. In the original, the tone of the movie and the power of suggestion kept the audience on their toes.

Here, the movie is trying to compete with other slasher flicks that had come since, such as “Friday the 13th”. This was something else that Carpenter eventually took responsibility for as he thought there needed to be more blood for the film to remain competitive. In retrospect, though, the extra blood works against the movie.

The only other problem is that beyond Laurie and Dr. Loomis, I don’t really care about the new characters as much. In the first movie, we got to know Annie and Lynda before their demise. Here, I don’t really care for those that work at the hospital simply due to the fact that the story doesn’t take the time to know any of them.

Beyond those two obvious flaws, though, there is a genuine and mostly successful attempt to give a sequel that acts as a continuation of what came before. Also, unlike other horror sequels of the time, there was also an attempt to end the story permanently. Out of all the sequels to the original “Halloween”, this particular entry is easily the strongest of them all.

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