Get well soon
“The nightmare isn’t over.”
Director: Rick Rosenthal / Writers: John Carpenter & Debra Hill / Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Hunter Von Leer, Nancy Stephens, Pamela Susan Shoop, Dick Warlock, Gloria Gifford, Tawny Moyer, Ana Alicia, Leo Rossi, Ford Rainey.
Body Count: 10-13 (depending on who’s counting)
Laughter Lines: “You need their parents permission to make a statement, if you can’t find their parents, get a statement anyway.”
Lovers of this sequel (and that guy who stalks its IMDb message board claiming it’s better than the original and proclaiming anybody who doesn’t agree to be a moron) may question why it never featured in the Top 100 here. Well, wonder no more as we enter the topsy-turvy world of Halloween II…
Things begin so well, picking up from the moment Doc Loomis shoots Michael Myers out of the window at the Doyle house. When he sees Michael has vanished, he hits the streets looking for him. Meanwhile, the cops and reporters arrive on the scene as word spreads as to the murders… Michael is using backyards to escape and find Laurie, who’s been whisked off to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.
Carnage breaks out in town, Loomis misidentifies a trick or treater as Myers, who is subsequently hit by a squad car and burnt to a cinder (and turns out to be the crush Laurie had mentioned to Annie!). All the while, Laurie is put into an unguarded room at the world’s emptiest hospital, and it’s not long before Michael works out where she is.
Thus, the knife fodder in Halloween II comes in the form of the hospital staff: Sexy nurses, horny paramedics, dumpy security guards. Unusually for an 80s slasher film, it’s the middle stalk n’ slash act that is the least interesting here. The cast of victims are largely indistinguishable, with so little dialogue bandied out between them, there’s nobody really to feel sorry for when they bite it. And it features that most annoying quirk in horror: People who might have died. Jimmy. Gone, or not gone? He was absent at the end, as per Paul in Friday the 13th Part 2, so I’m voting gone.
Halloween II also carries an erring sexist undertone: Male victims are killed quickly and forgettably or off camera, whereas the young nubile nurses are subjected to longer, far more voyeur-heavy demises. The reactive element to the box office bell ringing of Friday the 13th and its gorier imitations is evidently strived for here, with more blood than atmos, and the less savory genre elements ticked off in order: There are boobs, drugs, and lots of wandering off to investigate strange sounds. The original film may have invented half of these tropes, seeing them approached in such a blase way here is just sad.
Things eventually come down to Laurie on the run through the hospital basement and car park in a series of near-misses that simply shift what happened in the Wallace house to a new locus. While that’s going on, Dr Loomis has learnt that Laurie is actually Michael’s other sister, and speeds off to the hospital. A decent showdown ensues and the story comes to a very final end. One would think.
Carpenter and Hill’s script is as weary as Curtis appears to be of playing the same final girl role for the fifth or sixth time (and her wig sucks); Pleasence throws himself in admirably, but the crowded supporting cast blur into their one-note roles without leaving much of an impression.
Functional and occasionally brilliant (possibly the inserts Carpenter supposedly directed to amp up the violence in post production) but so off-kilter with the excellence of the original that it could only ever disappoint, though something of a minor masterpiece compared to the bewildering Halloween III.
Blurbs-of-interest: Curtis returned in Halloween H20 and Resurrection, plus was already in Prom Night, Terror Train, Road Games, and The Fog and later the dreadful TV series Scream Queens; Pleasence came back for all Michael Myers Halloweens until his death after shooting the sixth. He was also in Alone in the Dark and Phenomena; Nancy Stephens returned for Halloween H20; Jeffrey Kramer and Lance Guest both appeared in Jaws movies (1/2 and The Revenge, respectively); Rick Rosenthal later directed Halloween: Resurrection and had a cameo in Lost After Dark.