Halloween II (1981) Review

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Halloween 2 1981

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis
Director: Rick Rosenthal

After Doctor Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shoots Michael Myers size times and falls off a balcony, Michael escapes and continues his massacre in Haddonfield. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is also sent to the hospital and Dr Loomis gathers a group of police officers to hunt down Michael and put an end to his murderous rampage.

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I have watched some of the Halloween movies, I had seen the original, I had seen the recent follow up to it, and I had seen the reboot movies from Rob Zombie. However, I had never checked out Halloween 2 from the 80s, the original follow up to the original movie. Even though the current series continuity is going down a different direction (with Halloween 2018 onwards), I did want to check it out. It’s definitely not as good as the first movie and has a ton of problems, but it does have some decent moments.

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With Halloween 2, you really get the feeling that the sequel was made only because the original was successful. It does aim to be a second half to the first Halloween movie instead of a sequel, as it picks off right as the first movie ended. There are opportunities for Halloween 2 to show the effects of the last movie, as the town is shown to react in disorder and mayhem after the massacre. The hospital is also a classic horror and slasher setting, and works for this movie for some horror moments. On the whole though, it is a very by the numbers slasher. Also, it feels in many ways different to the first movie (despite trying to be a part 2 instead of a sequel), being over the top, less serious, and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are also some leaps in logic, whereas the first movie seemed somewhat grounded in comparison (invincible bogeyman aside). There is also a reveal added into the story that felt unnecessary, not to mention, it feels really forced. To the movie’s credit, Halloween 2 does try to actually end the storyline, with no hints at a sequel. Although of course it would continue with numerous sequels.

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Donald Pleasence is really good as Dr Loomis once again, especially as he’s under more stress and pressure after finding out that Michael Myers is still alive despite shooting him 6 times at the end of the last movie. Jamie Lee Curtis gives it her all as Laurie Strode but she doesn’t get much to do in this movie aside from be unconscious for half her screentime, and limp and run away for the remaining half. Everyone else just felt like bodies for Michael Myers to slaughter, you don’t care for any of them and some of their actions are rather dumb, it’s like they might as well be in a Friday the 13th movie.

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It isn’t Halloween 1 director John Carpenter directing this time, instead it is Rick Rosenthal. Still, Carpenter and Halloween 1 writer Debra Hill were closely involved as producers and writers. I found some of the direction to be a mixed bag. John Carpenter wanted to go insane with the over the top violence and bloody that was popular in the 80s (which explains the blood compared to the first movie). Rosenthal wanted to keep the film similar in tone to the first movie so it felt like a continuation. However his direction just wasn’t on that same level for it to work as well. It does utilise some of the familiar and successful aspects from the original, especially in terms of the overall look. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to create the same real tension, suspense and dread and instead goes more for gore. There are some memorable kills, though a lot of them were pretty silly. Halloween 2 does have one or two creepy moments, but overall isn’t very effective on the whole. With that said, it is a very well shot movie, with great tracking shots and POV sequences, and I also liked the use of colour and lighting. I also like the hospital setting, the empty rooms made it work, dimly lit rooms and the addition of Michael Myers really make it work. The mask of Michael Myers looks a bit off and worse than the first movie, it’s weird particularly seeing as it is a follow up to the original, which is right before the sequel. The score is also by John Carpenter, however it makes itself stand out by being more synth based.

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I wouldn’t say that Halloween 2 is bad, I’d say that it is relatively decent. It’s a by the numbers slasher that does have its moments, as well as aspects of the direction which work, but on the whole it is rather forgettable. However, if you liked any of the Halloween movies beyond the original and Halloween 2018, I’d say give it a look.

2 thoughts on “Halloween II (1981) Review

  1. nscovell

    I love Halloween II. Like you said, it takes a great leap in the logic. But the setting is terrifying, probably more than the first. I remember being lost in a hospital when my first kid was born and all I thought about was this movie. Hospitals be scary ass places.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Halloween Movies Ranked | The Cinema Critic

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