Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days Of 80's Movie Slashers: 10/30 - Halloween II (1981)

Day Thirty:

Halloween II
From Universal Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 30th 1981
DVD: Yes

Plot: Michael Myers returns to further stalk newly appointed sister Laurie Strode while she is recovering at a hospital. Slutty nurses and hot tubs ensue.

30 years ago this very month in 1981 John Carpenter released the sequel to his masterpiece, Halloween. While the inevitable Halloween II was ushered into Production to make a Halloween Release for the year (and to nicely tie in to NBC’s Broadcast Premiere of the Original Film) Carpenter was already at work on Escape From New York for AVCO-Embassy, so he would be working this time in a Writer/Producer capacity along with his partner Debra Hill. Rick Rosenthal was assigned Directing duties, but watching Halloween II, it’s clear that John Carpenter’s stamp is all over it. And thank goodness for that!

Carpenter had some Production problems on his previous Film, The Fog, and had learned in the editing process that his Film just simply wasn’t scary or visceral enough. He ended up re-shooting and adding additional scenes to that Film, greatly upping the Tension and Terror. As it turns out, Halloween II would be a similar affair. It’s not to say that Rosenthal’s work on the Film was not completely working, It’s just that the film needed to have more of what made the Original Film work so well, as well as additional scares, and Carpenter was clearly the only man for the job. With some re-shoots, Carpenter not only created a more impactful Halloween II, but he also had the duty of adding some scenes for the Television release of his Original. NBC needed to pad out the Film after the necessary cuts that was made for a Broadcast Release, and Halloween was already only a 91 minute Movie. This was Carpenter’s chance to expand on the mythology of the first Film that would be carried over to Part II, making both Films adhere closer to each other.

By 1981, The Slasher Film was in full swing and Carpenter & Company had to deliver a Movie that would hold up to it’s newfound peers. Halloween II really delivers. Freeing itself up a bit as a sequel rather than a stand alone Film that ultimately became a Masterpiece in Filmmaking, Halloween II’s goal was to entertain and to give us the goodies you’d expect in a Film of this kind. Fans wanted what made the first Halloween work so well, but once you cross into sequel territory, they also expect a bit more. Halloween II has all the amped up violence and suspense of a Horror Sequel, but also delivers on the atmosphere and impending sense of doom that permeated the First Film. Halloween by it’s very name conjures up feelings and mood within us, so naturally a Film with that moniker should do the same.

The hospital-set Halloween II serves as a great way to follow Laurie Strode’s natural progression from her survival into the night evil Michael Myers came home. Poor Laurie, she’ll never get any rest as Mike doesn’t seem want to stop until she’s dead. Along the way, he racks up quite a few more bodies in gruesome and memorable ways. Halloween II. Like the previous year’s Friday The 13th, Part II has some very unique death scenes that stand out, even after all these years. Notably when hospital workers are falling prey to their objects of healing... Needles and therapeutic hot tubs oh my! John Carpenter’s wonderful score (here with additional help by Alan Howarth) also adds greatly to the proceedings and atmosphere as it did with the first Film. It isn’t Halloween until you hear Carpenter’s music.

Jamie Lee Curtis does an admirable job with a role that was a bit underwritten and requires her to be almost comatose for a large part of the time. It’s too bad they fit her with such a terribly distracting wig. Curtis had cut her by the time the Sequel rolled around and considering that she’s the lead of the Film, they should have sprung for something a bit more natural looking. As always, Donald Pleasence is fun to watch as the obsessed Dr. Loomis. He has to make the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the Film, and somehow makes it all believable. It’s no wonder the franchise was really hard to watch in some of it’s later installments. Pleasence’s great talents were often wasted. I also enjoy some of the new characters from Part 2. Especially Gloria Gifford as sassy head nurse Mrs. Alves, Leo Rossi as horny nurse fondler Budd and Lance Guest as nice guy EMT Jimmy and potential new love interest for Laurie. Speaking of love interests, poor Laurie doesn’t know that her beloved Ben Tramer dies in Part 2 as he’s mistaken for Michael Myers. Laurie Strode is having the worst night ever.

It's a good thing there's a sign right there.

You’ll never have such a bad night watching Halloween II. For me it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Slasher Films so much. Slasher Sequels can be a lot of fun. And in some ways, a bit easier to watch than their predecessors. You don’t really have to hold the up against the gold standard. If they are good or at least fun to watch, you simply enjoy them over and over again. That isn’t to say the original Halloween isn’t the same for me. It’s actually my favorite Horror Film of all time. And the first Film I remember seeing at the Cinema period. I can watch both of these films continually and leave them always with a smile on my face. The work their magic in both similar and different ways. Add the fact that they are set on one of the best days of the year and that it’s villain, arguably the most indelible of all Horror Films, shares my namesake, I would say these Pictures are the most special to me of all of the Slasher Films of the time.

Laurie Strode should get work as a sharpshooter. She has the best aim ever.

Spend your favorite Holiday with the big brother you never knew and watch Halloween II. If he follows you to the hospital afterward, skip the painkillers and get yourself to a town that isn’t named Haddonfield. Though Michael may continue to follow you. He just can’t help himself, the big lug.


TV Trailer:

I'd be upset if I'd have to wear that thing on my head as well, Laurie.

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