Halloween I I

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 @ 5:11 am | DVD, Halloween

Halloween II
Tagline: More of the Night HE Came Home.
Released: 1981
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, and Dick Warlock
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Format: DVD
Distributed by Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: September 18, 2001

Features:
Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1)
Theatrical Trailer
Press Kit Notes

Premise: Picking up right where its predecessor left off, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they encounter the knife-wielding maniac they left for dead in the first Halloween. Is seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the hospital where Laurie Strode lays waiting. As he gets closer and closer to his terrified target, Dr. Loomis discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath’s savage actions. Written by horror masters John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year.

Plot Breakdown (spoilers): After the film replays a re-shot version of the last scene from Halloween, it moves on to Dr. Sam Loomis warning Sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) that although he has shot Myers six times, Myers still lives. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, while Myers wanders Haddonfield in search of her. One of the EMS attendants, Jimmy Lloyd (Lance Guest) begins to show an interest in her.

Jimmy tells Laurie that the man who attacked her was Michael Myers, the infamous boy who murdered his sister fifteen years earlier on Halloween night. After Jimmy leaves, Laurie drifts in and out of consciousness, having strange flashbacks about her adoption by the Strodes and visiting an unpleasant boy in an institution. Myers soon learns Laurie was taken to the hospital, and after arriving, systematically murders the hospital’s staff one by one. Laurie manages to elude him, but she is limping badly and sedated, thus unable to move very quickly.

Dr. Loomis and the Haddonfield police continue to search the town for the elusive Myers. At the local elementary school they discover Myers has broken into a classroom and scrawled the word Samhain in blood on the chalkboard. Loomis explains that it is a Celtic word that means “lord of the dead,” the “end of summer,” and “October 31st.” Nurse Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), Loomis’s assistant, arrives and tells Loomis that she has discovered a secret file on Myers to which he was not privy. The file reveals that Laurie is actually Myers’s sister, adopted by the Strodes shortly after Myers’s parents died. Chambers also informs Loomis he has strict orders to return to Smith’s Grove from the Governor.

Instead, Loomis forces the escorting marshal (John Zenda) and Chambers to drive him to the hospital, knowing Myers will have already tracked Laurie there. Once again, he finds Laurie in the nick of time, and shoots Myers several times in an effort to stop the murderer, albeit to no avail. Loomis and Laurie are forced to retreat into an operating room, where Laurie shoots Myers in the eyes after Loomis is stabbed by Michael. While Myers swipes at empty air, Loomis turns on the oxygen and ether tanks in the operating room, and motions to Laurie to run. After Laurie escapes, Loomis lights his cigarette lighter, causing an explosion that engulfs him and Myers. A shocked Laurie watches Michael slowly burn to death. The next morning, Laurie is transferred to another hospital, deeply haunted by the night’s events.

Halloween II

The Good: The film picks up right where the first film left off, giving the audience closure on these characters and their fates. The cast from the first film has returned, and Donald Pleasence again provides the most solid acting as the obsessed Dr. Loomis. Rosenthal’s directing is not too far off from Carpenters, providing continuity between the films. The body count is higher in this film with the death of the hospital staff, so slasher fans should enjoy the various ways Michael dispatches his victims. The finale is also satisfying, a great payoff for the audience.

The Bad: It is clear there is not a story here. Most of what is presented is built upon the foundation of the first film. Carpenter has been very vocal about the fact he did not want a sequel, but wrote one for the money. There is no character development to speak of, and the scare gags used here are a rehash of Carpenter’s original work. Jamie Lee Curtis, for example, is extremely underused, with her character either in bed sedated or limping to find help. Rosenthal does his best to provide a similar experience to the original Halloween, but it comes across, at times, as a pale imitation.

Universal’s DVD release is “bare bones”. Besides the film, the added features are the press kit notes and the theatrical trailer. This is a shame, considering all the extra material shot for the television version of the film is not included. Perhaps a release in the future will give Halloween II the respect it is due.

Final Comments: Halloween II is an acceptable follow up to the original Halloween, although it does suffer from a lack of direction. This DVD release is very basic, with limited extra features. Hopefully, a more extensive edition will be released in the future.

Grade: B (film) | C (DVD release)

 

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