After ten Saturdays where I have been counting down to Halloween, and (hopefully) been entertaining you with posts celebrating all things horror we have finally reached the end. I have certainly been enjoying myself during all these weeks, and while I am sad it is now almost over, I smile knowing that next year I can do it all over again. Last week I mentioned the fact that Halloween was also the night he came home. Now if you are a horror fan you should know who I was talking about. Anyone, anyone? No? Sigh…okay. Guess it’s up to me then to reveal the answer. I was talking of course about The Shape, who is better known as Micheal Myers. Introduced to the movie going audience way back in 1978, the first Halloween movie directed by John Carpenter is legendary, and a true classic when it comes to horror flicks. But we all know that when a horror film is as succesful as this one was, the audience demands a sequel. (Not to mention that the studios already see the dollar signs in their eyes). Honestly though I can’t think of a single horror movie to date, where the sequel was better than the original film. That’s not to say that those sequels were necessarily bad, but they just always seem to fail to bring the same level of suspense as the one that started it all.
Usually with horror sequels one thing is guaranteed: we get a bigger body count, and almost always the level of blood and gore is raised as well. Which unsurprisingly quite often results in a loss of quality. In 1981 Halloween II was released, and as it happens that is the movie that I have chosen to review for this final installment of the Countdown to Halloween series. Did that film follow the rules that I just mentioned? Well, let’s find out shall we? This movie picks up immediately after the events of the first film. In fact, you could watch both of them back to back and think they were one movie. After Doctor Loomis shot Michael six times during the climax of Halloween part 1, something he keeps repeating quite often, the enigmatic killer is still at large. Desperate to find find his former patient, he teams up with the police searching the town of Haddonfield for any signs of the inhuman murderer. Meanwhile Laurie Strode is taken to a nearby hospital, the sole survivor of Michael’s killing spree. Her injuries are relatively minor, but of course her mental trauma is severe. It’s about to become much worse though. For Michael isn’t done with the innocent girl yet, and has found his way to the hospital. And nothing and no one will stop him from getting to her….
As far as horror sequels go, this one certainly isn’t bad. In fact I would go so far as to say that it’s actually a pretty good one. John Carpenter himself wasn’t too thrilled to make another one though, and while he did write and produce this movie, he opted out of directing this one. Honestly though, that doesn’t show as right from the start this film sets the tone with a very creepy atmosphere that continues throughout most of the film. The opening scene is done especially well, where we see the world through Michael’s eyes in a first person view through his iconic mask, and only hear his breathing. It’s quite chilling as we see him close up on some potential victims, and of course in the end one falls prey to his bloody knife. The movie is full of little scenes such as this one, and I just have to give praise to the camera work that really adds to creating a very scary vibe. But that’s not the only thing to enjoy in this film. Both Donald Pleasance and screamqueen Jamie Lee Curtis returned to reprise their roles. Pleasance is especially good in this film, where he truly instills his character of Dr. Loomis with a sense of desperation, and quite frankly at times a total obsession in trying to stop his out of control patient. But at the same time you also feel that he is losing control, as he is up against a force that seems to be unstoppable.
Curtis does a little bit less screaming here than in the first movie, as her character Laurie spends most of the movie in a hospital bed. It’s only during the final act of the film that her famous lung capacity is put to the test again. The final confrontation between her and Michael is well worth the wait, and offers up some of the film’s best sequences. The rest of the cast is honestly pretty much forgettable. We hardly spent time with them, and as such it’s hard to get attached to them, as they are very flat and one dimensional characters. The hospital staff is also pretty dumb for lack of a better word, and just very unlikeable with maybe the exception of Laurie’s potential love interest Jimmy played by Lance Guest. Where the first Halloween movie was mostly a thriller with little to no gore, as per the rules I mentioned in the beginning that all changed with this one. While compared to modern day horror movies it’s all pretty tame, one can’t deny that the kills here are more bloody and shocking than in the first film. Especially a pretty graphic scene where a nurse get’s attacked by Michael and drowned in boiling water. That scene is truly quite brutal and disturbing.
Now, two years ago a new Halloween movie came out, and effectively reset the timeline. Which means it acted as the sequel to the original 1978 movie, and ignored this one. I wasn’t too thrilled about that one though, and I simply put enjoyed this movie much more. Where the 2018 film lacked substance and even more importantly for a horror movie, real thrills, this one did a much better job at creating a bonechilling atmosphere. Jamie Lee isn’t quite done yet though, as there are going to be two more Halloween films Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends. The stupid titles notwithstanding, it seems there is still a market for the masked killer. And that’s no real surprise as despite the fact that I wasn’t much a fan of that version, most of the moviegoing audience had a different opinion. That said, it’s probably not a real surprise that I’m still going to watch them anyways. Halloween II is an enjoyable horror romp, and if you are a fan of the original movie, it’s very likely that you are going to get a kick out of this one too. While it doesn’t reach the same heights as the original movie, and quite frankly that one set the bar so high that would be nigh impossible, it’s still a movie that doesn’t become boring for a single second. And so the Countdown to Halloween has come to an end. I hope you enjoyed this series, and I guess now it’s time for me to say: Happy Halloween! 🎃
I give Halloween II a 8 out of 10 score.