Halloween II PosterThis is the original HALLOWEEN II, not the inexcusable Rob Zombie one. That’s not to say, however, that this 1981 film is much better. In fact it’s pretty rotten, as even its co-writer/producer John Carpenter admits.

The Package

John Carpenter claims he never wanted to make a sequel to HALLOWEEN but was forced into it by the threat of a lawsuit by HALLOWEEN’S greedy producers. First-timer Rick Rosenthal was picked to direct, but Carpenter disliked the finished film so much he shot some extra scenes that were incorporated into the film (over Rosenthal’s objections). The film was a mild success anyway, and succeeded in launching a lengthy directorial career for Rosenthal, who’s since helmed the likes of BAD BOYS (1983), DISTANT THUNDER (1988) and HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (2002).

HALLOWEEN II was the first, it turned out, of numerous HALLOWEEN sequels, as well as the 2006 Rob Zombie-directed remake and aforementioned ‘08 sequel–which, contrary to popular belief, has no connection with the present film outside the title.

The Story

It’s mere minutes since the final scene of HALLOWEEN, when Michael Myers was seemingly shot to death by Dr. Loomis, only to inexplicably get up and walk away. As HALLOWEEN II begins, the original film’s heroine Laurie is being loaded onto a stretcher and transported to a hospital.

In the meantime Myers wanders through the neighborhood, and, in a killing mood, busts into a woman’s house and slashes her throat. Dr. Loomis is also casing the neighborhood, and spots who he thinks is Myers on a sidewalk; Loomis chases the figure, who runs into the street and is burned up in a car accident. The only thing is, Myers is still at large–as an examination of the charred corpse proves–and heading straight for the hospital where Laurie is now interred.

Upon reaching the hospital Michael gets right to work, bludgeoning a security guard to death, dunking a nurse’s head in scalding water and injecting two orderlies through the eyeball with poison. He enters Laurie’s room and stabs her bed, only to find that she’s no longer there. He stalks her through the hospital, stabbing a nurse to death along the way, but Laurie manages to escape into the parking lot.

Dr. Loomis makes his way to the hospital by commandeering a police car at gunpoint. A brief investigation has uncovered Michael Myers’ secret: he’s Laurie’s younger brother, and now looking to do in his surviving sister. The stage is set for a final three-way showdown between Loomis, Laurie and Michael Myers, who we already know is impervious to bullets.

The Direction

Rick Rosenthal does a credible job aping the style of John Carpenter in a series of nicely executed wide shots that, in true HALLOWEEN fashion, grow increasingly intimate. What’s missing is the care and artistry of Carpenter’s work, with a lot of excess gore in place of the previous film’s cunningly wrought suspense. The dopey synthesizer-heavy re-orchestration of Carpenter’s original HALLOWEEN score also does the film no favors.

In Rosenthal’s defense, much of the gore was added by John Carpenter, and the script by Carpenter and Debra Hill gave the director very little to work with. Carpenter has admitted he did a lot of drinking while writing the film, and his disinterest in the material is evident in the uninteresting and obnoxious protagonists, namely the selfish hospital orderlies, the pontificating know-it-all Dr. Loomis, and the heroine Laurie, who spends most of the movie immobilized in a hospital bed and so has very little to do (which Carpenter has since conceded was a conceptual mistake).

Another problem is the revamped Michael Myers. As portrayed by the veteran stuntman and sometime actor Dick Warlock–replacing the lithe and graceful Nick Castle–this Michael Myers is a lumbering dork who wouldn’t scare a fly. The same, of course, can be said for the movie overall.

Vital Statistics

HALLOWEEN II
Universal Studios/Dino De Laurentiis Corporation

Director: Rich Rosenthal
Producers: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Cinematography: Dean Cundey
Editing: Mark Golblatt, Skip Schoolnik
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Pamela Susan Shoop, Hunter von Leer, Dick Warlock, Leo Rossi, Gloria Gifford, Tawny Moyer