Halloween II (1981)
WRITERS: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
DIRECTOR: Rick Rosenthal
STARRING: Donald Pleasence as Sam Loomis
Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett
Lance Guest as Jimmy
Pamela Susan Shoop as Karen
Leo Rossi as Budd
QUICK CUT: Michael Meyers is back, and he seems to have some major injuries after taking six bullets to the chest, because he's heading to Haddonfield's local hospital!
Laurie - Laurie is still just an average high school student, since this takes place literally seconds after the first movie. And if you thought she was shy and quiet before, wait 'til you see her laying in a hospital bed for two thirds of the movie!
Dr. Loomis - The obsessively dedicated doctor is back to try and stop Michael, and he is just as determined, if not more so, now that there is a body count. The man is almost crazed in his doggedness to bring in Michael.
Jimmy - A love interest for Laurie, which is a neat trick since she's passed out for most of the movie. He's an EMT, and seems like a nice enough guy who maybe needs to watch where he walks a little better.
Budd - Jimmy's partner in crime, and in the ambulance. He's a bit of a perv, with that certain sensibility and sense of humour, but he doesn't seem like a *bad* guy, just one with a singular thought on his mind.
Michael Meyers - After he got shot blocked by Loomis at the end of the movie, Mike is still looking for a little Halloween night release. He's just as determined as the good doctor to get what he wants.
THE GUTS: Happy Halloween Triskelions! Or close enough. Yeah, I will not be pulling a tricky treat this year with Halloween II. I pulled that surprise review last year, and I can't do the same trick twice. So October kicks off with the sequel to the grandfather of all slasher films, Halloween II! Also, after that botched movie of classic monsters, I need a REAL classic monster, and Michael Meyers fits that bill perfectly.
But that's not all I have planned for October. This is Trisk's 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary, so I will be doing three reviews in the middle of this month to celebrate, PLUS a review on the 26th that harkens back to the earliest days of Trisk, in a way. That is right, October brings you a bag full of treats with not 3, not 4, but FIVE reviews this month! Wait, what? Am I serious?? Who planned this?!
Well, I best get started, with more of the night Michael Meyers came home...
The movie literally picks up where the last one left off. Even more than that, it picks up several minutes *before* that, and reuses several full minutes of footage from the ending of the first movie. But since it's those last few tense minutes from when Laurie sends the kids outside and the not-dead Michael sits up behind her, right up until he's shot and falls off the balcony, it's a good few minutes to reuse, with good tension, while also setting up what has gone before, and the tone.
After the credits peel through a pumpkin (With some amazing effects work for the insides), we're back inside Michael's head as he escapes, and finds himself at an older couple's home where it doesn't take him long at all to find something he can make stabby with.
With new weapon in hand, he immediately finds a teen to satiate himself, since he got killus interuptused by Loomis.
Ultimately, this death is pretty pointless, has nothing to do with anything, and just serves as a reminder to the audience that yes, this is a horror movie, and there's a guy killing people. I do like my justification that Meyers does it because he was robbed of killing Laurie and just...just needs to *kill* something. Anything.
Meanwhile, Laurie's being taken by a pair o' medics to the hospital, and is in shock. Oh, and the two guys in the ambulance are actually important to the rest of the movie. Keep an eye on them.
Back on the streets, Loomis and the sheriff are still hunting for the missing Meyers. They see a guy in a matching white mask, and chase him into the road, where he gets hit by a car, which runs into a van, and inexplicably explodes because movie cars.
No, no, not really. It eventually gets revealed through dental records that it's obviously not Michael Meyers. But what a coincidence that some other guy had the same mask. If they hadn't established in the first movie that he stole the mask from a store, it would actually seem far fetched. But in the world of the Halloween movies, this was a mask being sold in at least one store, so there must be more than one, right?
The movie continues to actually deal with the plot of the first movie, as someone remembers that there was actually a body count, mentions the victims in that movie, and remembers that the sheriff's daughter was one of them.
Cops seem pretty willing to believe the crispy critter is Meyers and case closed, but Loomis knows better, and needs to be sure. As much for his own obsession as for properly closing the case.
We spend some time with the night shift at the hospital, since they're going to be our canon fodder for the movie, and since they need to be filled in with the plot of the first movie with news reports, it also works to catch up the audience. A clever, simple device that works well, and since it's also background noise, it's not in your face.
Jimmy the EMT gets a little too interested in Laurie, and is a clear romantic entanglement they're trying to shove into the plot. Oh, and he mentions to Laurie that she was being chased by Michael Meyers, and of course she knows the name. But I find it noteworthy that not until 35 minutes into the *second* movie, does she even find out WHO was trying to kill her for an entire film.
Little things are starting to go wrong around the hospital, thanks to the lurking Michael, like the phones suddenly going dead. But hey, it's 1981, in middle America. It happens. Nothing TOO suspicious yet
The security guard on duty checks things out, and after a gratuitous jump scare with a cat in the dumpster, he finds Michael and Mister Stabby.
Loomis actually gets the cops to do the right thing and assume Meyers is still alive, and keep searching, since if they wait for dental records on the well done corpse, that gives him plenty of time to kill more and/or escape.
Meanwhile, word has gotten out that the local kids were butchered by Michael Meyers, so the town has begun gathering outside the old Meyers house to break windows and vandalise the place.
Loomis and the cop he's running around with stand out there and spout some dialogue about Meyers' time in the hospital, and I don't think anyone other than Pleasence could have given the words as much gravitas and weight as he does. His tone, the way he speaks, absolutely sells the terror of this we never actually see in the hospital. Show don't tell is the rule of cinema, but this works, it really does.
Finally, we've stood around enough, and they hear about a break-in at the nearby school, and while they check that out, we head back to the hospital.
Unaware that Meyers is lurking around, Budd and Karen head down to the hydrotherapy room to make use of their hot tub so the movie can get in some nudity and murder. Because this is the 1980s horror movie tropes we live for.
Mike turns up the heat so Bud has to check the temperature, and gets killed in a really nice silent, background murder while Karen dries off, unawares. But her cluelessness doesn't last long as Meyers comes in to finish her off too.
Over at the school, the cops and Loomis are checking out Mike's little side trip to stab a desk and scribble SAMHAIN on the blackboard in blood. Oh, and the woman that was with Loomis when Meyers escaped in the first film shows up, out of her work clothes.
Y'know, if you acknowledge that the characters in your movie don't recognise her, especially the one who spent a long car ride with her, they maybe could've done a bit more work to clue the audience in. But that's a minor quibble.
Anyways, she's there to bring Loomis back to Smith's Grove, and that he's been ordered to stop hunting for Meyers because this is already a PR nightmare for the sanitarium. This is like the Jaws plot, but with more stabbing.
Meanwhile, Laurie's had a bad reaction to her medication, and one of the nurses goes to find the doctor in charge of the night shift. She finds Doctor Killed McOffcamera with a needle jabbed into his eye, and Meyers appears behind her, in a great (And arguably better!) nod to the first film where his stark white mask slowly appeared floating in the darkness behind her, and does the same to the nurse's eyes.
This movie sure is loving stabbing people with needles, both for proper medical reasons, and the less medical ones.
Finally, Michael finds Laurie's room and stabs her good! No wait, somewhere along the way she snuck out and replaced her body with pillows, so all he did was kill a few feathers. Man, that must've been anticlimactic for him. "AT LAAA...aww."
And let's take a moment to think about the heroine of the movie spending the entirety of the first two acts just laying in bed. This seems like an ill conceived idea.
Just as you think she's actually going to do something though, she curls up in another room and sleeps some more.
Meanwhile, one of the surviving nurses has noticed Laurie is missing, tries to get help from the security guard and finds he's gone missing, and in fact, this is starting to seem like a pretty quiet hospital, even for 2 in the morning!
Jimmy's still around though, and the two of them try and put a plan together to find Laurie, unawares that Michael is listening in.
The nurse goes off to try and find some police, since the phones are still dead, and Jimmy finds another nurse who's ended up having all her blood drained out and spilled on the floor. No reason, just I guess Mikey decided to mix things up a little.
Oh, and surprise! The nurse's car won't start, so she's not going to get any help! And double surprise! Her tires are slashed! Mikey isn't just about stabbing PEOPLE, nope. In fact, he stabbed pretty much every tire. Can you imagine if we got to see that? Just ten minutes of Mike exhaustively going to *every* car and stabbing *every* tire? Now there's a deleted scene.
With 20 minutes left, Laurie decides it's finally time to wake back up and join the rest of the movie. That's when the nurse finds her, so at least she accomplished something. At least, in the five seconds before Meyers showed up and stabbed her in the back with a scalpel.
It's also worth noting that Jimmy slipping on the gigantic pool of blood and hitting his head is pretty much his exit from the movie. That's it, he's gone, there's your hero and love interest. Slipped in a pool of blood and went unconscious.
The movie runs almost silently for the next ten minutes or more, focusing on the slow stalking of Laurie by Michael through the halls of the now all but empty hospital. The only thing we have is the haunting, droning heartbeat of a score that kicks in and keeps the tension very high. It's wordless and long, but it's great, entirely driven by that simple music.
It IS a shame that Laurie woke up just in time to just run through the last 20 minutes of the movie. Something went wrong here, I think. We somehow have a strong story that completely misuses the actress and character that should be their star. It's not bad, and there's enough going on that SOMEhow this works, but I have no idea how or why.
The best thing I can say about it is, that it DOES nicely play with your expectations, since of course, you'd think they would do exactly what I suggest, and not sideline the main point of Meyer's quest for most of the movie.
You know, if Meyers actually walked at a normal pace, this movie would've been over by now... But instead, Laurie actually escapes into the parking lot, and hides in a car, hoping Mike just passes by, if he comes out at all.
Look, miss, he took the time to meticulously make sure every tire was good and stabbed, I'm sure he will do every due diligence, when he actually gets out here, to check every single car for you.
Meanwhile, back with Loomis being escorted out of town by Marion and a marshal, gets a big ol' infodump of a sealed file that reveals...LAURIE STRODE IS MICHAEL MEYERS SISTER!!
...Yeah, that just doesn't have the same punch after being out for 30 years, does it? Oh well. Anyways, Loomis uses his gun to 'convince' the marshal to turn the car around and head to the hospital. Because now it's personal! Er, well, it was ALWAYS personal, but now Loomis *knows* it's personal.
Back at the hospital, Jimmy briefly wanders back into the movie to try and drive Laurie out of there, but A) the car won't start and B) he's still got a head injury and passes out. Our hero!
Laurie falls out of the car just in time to see Loomis and friends drive up with a fully functioning car, but is still too damaged, weak, and drugged, to get to the car or cry out. Because reasons.
She finally manages to get back on her feet, just in time for her brother to appear from the darkness to slowly chase her some more. She reaches the door to the hospital and bangs on it to be let in. And again, Michael's inability to do anything other than casually saunter along is his undoing.
Everyone hears her screaming, finally, and let her in the hospital, so clearly they are safe behind the locked, giant glass door, right?
Yeah, that's a big old pile of gigantic nope.
Loomis empties another five or six bullets into Meyers, and he goes down again. This guy currently has more lead in him than entire box of pencils.
The marshal comes over, sure he's dead, and who wouldn't be, right? I mean, a half dozen bullets, you go down and don't get up, right?
Well, the marshal pays for his mistake, and gets his throat slashed by the Not Dead Yet Meyers.
As Marion runs outside to the car to radio for help, Loomis and Laurie hide out in one of the operating rooms of the hospital and wait for death to come on its two long legs.
They don't have to wait long as our star of Fuck Doors bashes through yet another one like it was tissue paper.
Loomis tries to shoot Michael, for all the good that would do, but the gun is empty. At least he was aiming for the head at point blank range. I wonder if he'd get up from THAT?
Meyers just kinda looks at Loomis wondering what the fool thinks he's doing, and stabs the doctor in the gut. And at last Michael comes face to face with his sister.
Laurie uses the marshal's gun that Loomis handed her earlier, and shoots Michael in the face. I'm guessing miraculously through the eyeholes, since there's no other damage to the mask.
That STILL doesn't put this rabid dog down, and he slashes wildly through the air with his scalpel, hoping to carve Laurie like a Halloween pumpkin.
Loomis and Laurie use the opportunity of a blinded Michael to open up all the cylinders of gas laying around the OR, and fill up the room.
The killer heads towards the sound of Loomis's voice, and Laurie runs for the door, leaving the doctor to use Chekov's lighter they briefly set up an hour ago while standing outside the Meyers' house.
So, Loomis flicks his Bic, and the entire room explodes into a giant ball of fire, with Loomis and Michael at the center of it.
Unsurprisingly, Meyers still isn't quite dead, and stumbles out of the inferno, but only for a few more seconds until he falls over and the flames consume him.
And that's pretty much where we end, save for a tally on Michael's massacre, and shipping Laurie off in another ambulance. Unless you watched the tv version of the movie, and Jimmy's in the ambulance too, recovering from his head injury.
Since we're doing a weird month of extra reviews, don't forget to come back on OCTOBER 7TH for the next review!
Video: It definitely looks good, like most things that are popular and have a transfer budget behind them.
Audio: Also solid.
Sound Bite: "I shot him six times! I shot him in the heart! But he's not human!!" Oh, Loomis, you are gonna do so, so much more to him...
Body Count: Oh thank Craven. After The Creeps, Michael Meyers comes along to make up for lost deaths.
1 - Just 11 minutes in, and Michael is already getting to stabby work with a poor random teen.
2 - Random guy with the misfortune to be wearing the same mask as Michael escapes being shot by Loomis, only to be run down, crushed between two vehicles, and burnt to death.
3 - The hospital's security guard gets a hammer to the head when he looks where he shouldn't.
4 - Budd gets stabbed in the background after a nice bath.
5 - And then Meyers comes into the room to kill Karen too.
6 - Dr. Mixter gets found already dead thanks to being stabbed in the eye with a needle.
7 - The nurse who found Mixter shares his fate shortly afterwards.
8 - Another nurse found dead and her blood drained. (Or is that the same one with the needle in the eye?)
9 - Meyers stabs another nurse in the back with a scalpel.
10 - The marshal Loomis brought with him foolishly gets too close to a resting Meyers.
11 - Loomis goes boom, and should be dead, and is dead for the purposes of this movie.
12 - Michael survives a few extra minutes, but collapses after the cleansing ritual of fire.
Best Corpse: It may well be the single most underplayed death in the movie, but Budd's death really sings for me. It's so well shot, in complete silence, behind the actual action in the foreground. And it was a character we spent time with, so cared about.
Blood Type - A-: We got a high body count, with quite a bit of blood splattered here and there, but if you give me a gigantic lake of blood on a hospital room floor, I give major bonus points. And a few more for a really great burn at the end.
Sex Appeal: Karen and Budd provide the titillation when they head to the hydrotherapy room of death.
Drink Up! Every time Michael would've ended the movie sooner if he moved just a little bit faster.
Video Nasties: I've talked a lot about it, so it's no surprise that the scene I go with is the hot tub death machine, with Budd and Karen. There is just the *tiniest* hint of nudity, just so you're warned.
Movie Review: Well, let's get this right out of the way. Carpenter and Hill's involvement is minimal this time out, although they at least wrote the plot, so that's something. But Carpenter's loss is definitely felt. The movie isn't quite as creatively, visually unique. It doesn't have quite that same vibe to it as the first one. They try and ape a few things, but there's a few missed opportunities where they could have really nailed it and missed, but Rosenthal did an admirable job. The story following immediately after the first, expanding things and telling more of the same story, totally works. This is how I like sequels to be done. And to be honest, I almost prefer this movie to the original. I like that it builds the story, it answers some questions, and actually HAS a story that it feels like it is telling. The original was really just a force of nature stomping around and destroying things. Which I still love, and is clearly the better made, more visually stunning film, but the story here worked out better. Although, a stronger focus on actual Laurie would've been preferable. The original Halloween has an almost incomplete feeling, leaving you wanting, which works FOR it, but with Halloween 1 and 2, you really can sit down and have a complete experience, and they're not so jarringly different that you would feel a difference between the two. Four out of five needles to the eye.
Entertainment Value: A lot of that is brought by Pleasence's overacting, which I'm not saying anything bad about, I love it, but he is just so over the top whenever he's stressing out about Michael's rampage. And it's wonderful. He brings so much to these movies, and not having the character, or a different actor, is hard to envision. This is a great little slasher, set in a pretty confined space, and filled with bodies waiting to be killed in some very creative ways. Such a trip. Four out of five dunks in the hot tub.