31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2017, Night #31 – Halloween II (1981)

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Director: Rick Rosenthal

Writer(s): John Carpenter & Debra Hill

Studio/Distributor: Universal Pictures

Budget: $2.5m

Box Office: $25.5m

Release Date: 30 October, 1981

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

UK Blu Ray release? No, just DVD

Cast

Jamie Lee Curtis – Laurie Strode

Donald Pleasance – Sam Loomis

Charles Cyphers – Sheriff Leigh Brackett

Jeffrey Kramer – Graham

Lance Guest – Jimmy

Pamela Susan Shoop – Karen

Hunter von Leer – Gary Hunt

Dick Warlock – Michael Myers

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

While Sheriff Brackett and Dr Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatised Laurie is rushed to hospital, and Michael Myers is not far beyond her.

Inertia’s Insight

So, The Greatest Slasher Film Ever Made™ gets a sequel. With the writers of the original film returning to bring the masked Michael Myers back to our screens, surely this would become The Greatest Slasher Sequel Ever Made™… right?

With Friday the 13th smashing the box office the year before, Halloween II arrived in the wake of a slasher boom, one that the original had all but influenced. Instead of arriving to show the sophomore’s how it’s done, Halloween II leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth and a feeling that so much more could’ve been done.

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The film opens with the last few minutes from Halloween, as the briefly unmasked Michael is shot numerous times by Dr. Loomis, falling from the first floor balcony then disappearing into thin air… We’re reminded of the events of the previous film but rather than a recap – ‘last time on Halloween‘ – the end of the first film segues seamlessly into this one, as we follow Michael into the neighbour’s house and Laurie in to the back of an ambulance.

Immediately though, within the first five minutes, the sequel shows its colours. Halloween is infamous for the fact that for all its violence and pure horror, there’s nary a spot of blood in sight. Here, as Michael pays a brutal visit to the neighbours, there’s blood and gore, an indication that the sequel has moved with the times.

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It’s a bit of a slow burner for a good portion of the film. As Michael cuts a swathe through Haddonfield, Laurie lies in a coma in hospital. The groundwork for the Michael Myers theory as explored in later sequels is dropped here, as Dr Loomis investigates a break-in at the local school with the word ‘SAMHAIN’ inscribed on the chalkboard.

For the most part, it’s a bit of a boring film which is so crushingly disappointing considering the genius of Halloween. Sure, it ticks all the right boxes – death, despair and destruction – but there’s none of the original anxiety or fear here, it’s lacking in suspense, even though we know it’s building towards an inevitable showdown between Michael and Laurie. And when we get there… despite the revelation of just who Michael is, it’s still lacking in tension or suspense. It’s frankly quite disappointing.

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And therein lies the problem with slasher films. The first and original entry is always the best, the crème de la crème of horror films. Suspenseful, mysterious, making an impact. Just like that first high, we attempt to chase it but subsequent attempts will always fall short. Trying to be bigger, better, bolder and bloodier only leaves us feeling emptier and yearning for that original high.

Carpenter and Hill intended for this entry to round off the story of Michael Myers, allowing the Halloween franchise to focus each film on a ‘Monster of the Week’ style anthology. Yet after the disappointing success of Season of the Witch, just like every great masked slasher villain, they found a way of bringing him back – even if they do jump the shark…

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • The mask Michael wears is the exact same mask worn in the original Halloween, however it looks different because the paint had faded
  • This is the only Halloween film to show the morning after 31 October; every other movie ends on Halloween night
  • John Carpenter filmed a few extra gory scenes, fearing that Rosenthal’s version was too tame to stand against the recent successes of other slasher films of the time

Quotes

SAM LOOMIS: I shot him six times! I shot him in the heart, but… he’s not human!


Happy Halloween!

 

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