3 Years later, but still the same day: Halloween 2

Halloween 2

After the stunning success of Halloween, John Carpenter then carried on with his creative hot streak. However, in the interim a plethora of Halloween clones appeared on the big screen and made a vast amount of cash. Thus, it was inevitable that they would return to the seminal original to try to milk the cash cow’s teats. Therefore, it was absolutely no surprise to anyone that Halloween 2 would limp out of the blocks to wow absolutely nobody. What was more of a surprise, however, is that they would continue the story on the same night- no unexplained break here, we’re simply watching part 2 of Halloween.

In a way, I kind of admire the idea here. It’s a solid concept and avoids the shenanigans that the likes of Prom Night had to go through to get the sequels with undead Prom Queens and so forth. However, it’s worth pointing out that Jamie Lee Curtis was now 3 years older, and thus it was a bit incongruous to simply pick the story up the same night. Anyhow, Halloween 2 follows straight on from the original, with the return of Michael Myers and his increasingly odd attempts to kill Laurie Strode. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is still trying to catch Michael, and there’s the disastrous decision made to expand on the back story. Eventually, it all culminates in a showdown, and Myers gets definitively killed this time. Definitively. He’s dead. Got that. No more sequels.

Jamie not to happy about still slumming it in Slasher films.

Jamie not to happy about still slumming it in Slasher films.

Despite that, I’m sorry to say that Halloween 2 isn’t actually a good film. All the pieces are present, including the iconic score, but it basically manages to hit all the pitfalls that the first one ably avoided, and as such is a painfully humdrum affair. Director Rick Rosenthal had his heart in the right place, and works hard to recreate the same magic that Carpenter nailed, but he falls sadly short. This is no longer a suspense thriller, rather what we have here is a pure slasher and quite a nasty one at that.

The blame for this, incidentally, goes to Carpenter. In the interim period, he’d clearly seen far too many of the imitators, and as such he had his doubts that a 1981 audience would buy into the 1978 atmosphere of Halloween. Therefore, he looked at the bloodless film Rosenthal turned in, which was far closer to the original (and I would be curious to see), and decided that no 1981 slasher sequel could be so comparatively tame. Thus, he reshot many of the murder sequences himself and turned the gore and violence up as far as he dared. The effect of this is to dissipate the tension as the audience begins to expect a gruesome slaughter and “The Shape” is greatly diminished. Less, as noted in the last review, is definitely more.

Nurses who moonlight as phone sex workers tend to get stabbed my masked nutters.

Nurses who moonlight as phone sex workers tend to get stabbed my masked nutters.

Nevertheless, to be absolutely fair, Rosenthal does a competent job, and that’s probably the best description of this film in general: competent. However, there are a number of serious problems that would have terrible ramifications for the rest of the series that surface here for the first time, and almost all of them are at script level. Firstly, the plot relies heavily on every character basically being terminally stupid, but, hell, it’s a slasher so I can deal with that to some extent. Nevertheless, the real problem is that they decide to expand on the mythology, to explain why Myers is so intent on hunting down Laurie.

As such, they introduce a load of absolute guff- and guff that Myers simply could not have known about. His seemingly indestructible nature is due to his tie to paganism, and in particular “Samhain”, something that also compels him to hunt down and sacrifice his sisters. This is palpable bollocks, and had a terrible effect on the rest of the series, but I’ll come to that when relevant. What’s particularly aggravating is that Michael helpfully writes all this stuff on the walls, so Loomis can transform into “Dr Wikipedia” and helpfully exposit everything that we “need” to know. Except we don’t need to know this. It’s irrelevant, and worse than that it actually makes Myers as an antagonist less scary. By giving him a motive, they’ve added an unnecessary level of plausibility to the character. He’s no longer the boogeyman, instead, he’s a boring and single-minded serial killer on a mission from nobody of interest.

The realisation that Jarv still had 8 Halloween sequels to go hit Sam like a ton of bricks.

Not only does this neuter The Shape as a threat, but when combined with the excessive death scenes, it also eliminates the phobias that the first film traded on. Yes, a hospital is an intrinsically scary setting, but nobody is scared of dying by having air injected into their temple. The film simply can’t capture the same magic, because above all else, there is no fear of the unknown here- we know what Myers is after- and as such the script handicaps it to a ludicrous extent, no matter how hard Rosenthal or DP Dean Cundy attempt to mimic Carpenter’ s first film.

The nurse wasn't so keen to be on the receiving end of the proctological exam.

The nurse wasn’t so keen to be on the receiving end of the proctological exam.

Overall, this isn’t a great sequel. It’s an OK slasher, but it never gets remotely close to the original, and therein, I think, lies it’s biggest problem. The original casts such a long shadow over the bastard offspring that it simply cannot step out into the light, and this is in no small part because it simply imitates its parent; tries to copy the aspects that made the original a classic. At the end of the day, the first film is an all time classic of the genre, and the sequel is a pale imitation that aspires to watchable on a few occasions. I’m giving it 2 Jack O’Lanterns out of a possible 4, and that’s in part because I’m keenly aware of what’s coming.

2outof4

Next time it’s the sequel that breaks all the rules of sequels: Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Understandably as this film definitively ties up the Michael Myers Story.

Until then,

Jarv

Halloween logo

 

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

20 responses to “3 Years later, but still the same day: Halloween 2”

  1. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Yup, completely forgettable. Changing the setting from the neighborhood to the hospital helped neuter the sequel in my opinion too.

    • Jarv says :

      I can kind of see why they did that though- Laurie was fucked up at the end of the original, and thus would be in hospital. If they’re carrying on straight after that makes sense.

      What does not make sense is Loomis wandering around haddonfield screaming like a nutter for half the run time.

  2. tombando says :

    Yes indeedie doo, this one sucked.

  3. M. Blitz says :

    Saw this on tv one night on Halloween, after trick or treating. In the context of being 11, I thought it was ok. Don’t remember much though! Surprise, surprise…

  4. Continentalop says :

    You know what the only memorable part of this movie for me was (besides the nudity)?

    When the kid with the bleeding mouth is taken to the emergency room by his mom after biting into some candy with razor blades. In many ways, that scene should have been what HALLOWEEN 2 should have been about.

    • Jarv says :

      There are loads of little Halloween touches like that all the way through this film. More like that and they may have been on to something.

      I actually find it more depressing than a lot of the later sequels in a way, because Carpenter was involved and its such an epic fall from grace from the first film.

      I kind of appreciate what Rosenthal was trying for, but between him and JC they turned out a totally run of the mill slasher.

  5. ThereWolf says :

    Yeh, not great, but Dean Cundey’s camera-work elevates the film somewhat. As you say, too much back story & motive dilutes the Shape’s presence. I didn’t know Rosenthal had delivered a gory-less version – I too would like to see that…

    Nice one, Jarv. Ooooh, I suspect it’s gonna get ugly – particularly after 3…

    • Jarv says :

      I literally cannot remember a single frame of 4,5 or 6. H20 I don’t hate- even though I’ve just realised that the title looks like “water”. D’oh.

      Resurrection is going to be ugly, as are, I suspect, the remakes. I hate Rob Zombie films.

  6. Judge Droid says :

    I haven’t seen this, and probably won’t. I will say it’s probably wise to give a hospital lit entirely by jack-o-lanterns a wide berth.

  7. Xiphos0311 says :

    Hospitals suck, just thought I would throw that out there, they are awful.

    The only thing I vaguely recall about this flick(surprise surprise I’m in the same boat as everybody else) was thinking how much older yogurt lady looked compare to the first movies and its supposed to be the same night.

  8. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    I haven’t seen this film in ages, but your review feels right-on. I didn’t know Carpenter had that much involvement here. It’s a great argument against sequels–I can understand them changing the things they did, otherwise it’s just the original over again, but each change feels stale and uininvolving.

    By the time we get to the sister reveal, you can sense the entire production grasping at straws.

    I concur with Conti–the series should have continued as different tales told on Halloween, which is, at least, what Halloween III feels like.

    I’m looking forward to the review of that one.

    You know what series did the ‘follow the survivor to the hospital’ routine better than this? The swedish slasher flick, Cold Prey. That series fell apart on the third one, though.

    • Continentalop says :

      Hey Echo, you remember the early 80s slasher film, VISITING HOURS, with Michael Ironside and William Shatner? I remember that handling the hospital setting pretty good (although it has been years since I’ve seen it, and it’s more thriller than slasher film if I remember right).

      PS – I saw Wadjda. Loved it.

    • Jarv says :

      Cold prey 1 and 2 are probably the lbest slashers of the last decade.

      Didn’t know they did a third.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        It’s a prequel and pretty lame, while being more sadistic than the predecessors. Sound like any franchise we know?

        The director did go on to do an interesting giant snake adventure flick called Ragnarok.

  9. Toadkillerdog says :

    Confession!
    I have only watched the first Halloween flick.
    I have had no interest in any others.

    Good write up jarvik
    And JLC gets bad aging genes from her mother. Janet Leigh was gorgeous but she aged badly and JLC followed suit – but had a tremendous body in True Lies

  10. Parlor of Horror says :

    I guess it would be scary for hospital workers, which most of us are not. I’ve watched it a few times and still can’t totally remember it.

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