Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween II (1981): Review

Halloween II is a 1981 slasher sequel. Written, produced and scored by Halloween (1978) directer John Carpenter but actually directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween Resurrection) the film stars Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Terror Train) and Donald Pleasance (Halloween, Phenomena) and picks up immediately following the events of the first film.

After a quick recap of the end of the first film, and after Michael disappears from the grass, Laurie (Curtis) is taken to a local hospital to recover whilst Dr Loomis (Pleasance) continues to hunt the streets of Haddenfield for The Shape. However, after Laurie's family tree is revealed to the doctor (and the audience) the reason for Myers' rampage becomes clear...he's aiming to dispatch his sister and finish off his family once and for all. All the while the victims from the first movie are cropping up left, right and centre which results in a Marshall being sent to apprehend Dr Loomis, but we all know he's the only one who can defeat Myers.

The tagline for this film was "more of the night he came home" and that's about as unimaginative as the plot itself. Essentially running as a feature length version of the end of the first film, there is no beginning or middle just a relentless third act that has real trouble keeping the viewer interested. The original Halloween is my favourite horror film of all time so I'm perhaps a little biased but it is an incredibly high watermark that the sequal could never hope to match. The fact that the Michael Myers character had been abandoned completely for the third instalment goes to show that the character was never going to get the same kind of mileage that Jason Voorhees would enjoy.

I personally feel that the film commits the cardinal sin of undermining it's predecessor. The fantastic thing about the end of the first film was that Myers was left at large, the closing shots reinforcing the ethereal nature of the character and suggesting he could be anywhere and everywhere at the same time. To have the sequel immediately answer that question ie. he just went round the corner, is clumsy storytelling and not what you'd expect from Carpenter. The iconic score is also tampered with here, replacing the subtle but atmospheric pianos for overblown 80s synth remixes is blasphemy and really hammers home that this is more the cheesy 80s film to the 70s subtlety of the original.

An unnecessary and repetitive 80s horror sequel (of which there were an abundance at the time) the film makes little use of Jamie Lee Curtis and has Donald Pleasance overdoing his proclamations of doom. Whereas the Friday the 13th franchise started off unrefined and later birthed a horror icon the Halloween franchise started off as strong as possible and subsequently left itself nowhere to go, only for hardcore Halloween fans.

** 2 Stars

What do you think of Halloween II? Is it too harsh to compare the film directly to the original?


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