The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

HALLOWEEN 2 (1981) *** ½

<Special Note:  It’s October and that means Halloween is almost here.  If you couldn’t already tell, Halloween is by far my favorite time of the year.  I just like the fact that anyone can dress up like a stark raving lunatic and it’s socially acceptable.  The big reason why I love Halloween though is because that’s when a whole bunch of horror movies start coming on TV.  To celebrate this wonderful time of year I wanted to do something special.  Since I have a soft spot in my heart for all of the major horror franchises, I’m going to try to watch and review one horror sequel (or original) a day for the month of October.  Any Michael Myers, Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, etc. sequels that I haven’t reviewed yet should hopefully be put up on the site one-by-one day-by-day by All Hallow’s Eve.  This is a pretty big undertaking; one that I probably won’t be able to achieve (I’m still working full time and my wife and I are expecting our first baby in the first week of November), but hey we all need goals, right?  To start things off, here’s my review for Halloween 2 (The ORIGINAL Halloween 2, not that Rob Zombie jazz)…>


Halloween is hands down the scariest movie ever made.  Since it made tons of money, a sequel was naturally in order.  By the time it came out though, theaters had been flooded with just about every kind of holiday themed horror movie imaginable (from Friday the 13th to My Bloody Valentine).  Because of this, Halloween 2 kinda got lost in the shuffle.  It’s a shame too because it’s a solid and effective movie that unfortunately gets overlooked whenever somebody starts talking fairly kick ass horror sequels.  This is partly because the shadow that the original Halloween cast was so large.  Halloween 2 is a noticeable step down from the first movie but that’s fine.  Any step down from a movie as great as Halloween is going to be a steep drop anyway.


Halloween 2 picks up exactly where the first one left off.  (Just like one of those old Saturday morning serials, it actually starts with the final moments of the last chapter.)  Maniac Michael Myers is still loose in Haddonfield; his impassioned physician Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is still looking for him; and his intended victim Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is still freaked out.  She gets taken to the hospital for her injuries while Loomis relentlessly scours the streets for Michael.  Predictably, Michael finds his way to the hospital and slashes up teenagers, night watchmen, ambulance drivers, doctors, and of course lots of nurses until setting his sights on Laurie again.


I like this movie a lot mostly because Michael was allowed to get more creative with his kills this time out.  Throughout the course of the movie he plants a knife in a random chick’s chest, lands a hammer into some dumbass’s head, strangles a horndog, puts a hypodermic needle in the eye of a bimbo, sticks a scalpel in one chick’s back, and lifts her a foot off the ground and slit’s a cop’s throat.  He also makes inventive use of an IV to completely drain a victim of her blood.  Then a guy discovers the body and slips on the blood and hits his head!  Ingenious! 


The standout death scene though comes when Mikey Boy drowns some sexpot nurse in a scalding hot tub.  Although this scene was ripped off wholesale from Deep Red, it still rocks pretty hard.  I think I like this scene so much because it’s kinda like a cross between an 80’s slasher movie and a Roger Corman nurse movie.  This hot nurse should be watching her patients but she’s too busy humping to notice that Michael is about to turn her face into the consistency of astronaut ice cream.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pamela Susan Shoop looks mighty fine nekkid in the hot tub before Michael offed her.


Too many reviews that I’ve read of Halloween 2 say that it sucks because there are hardly any people in the hospital.  The fact is that Haddonfield is an extremely small town so the hospital probably would be empty.  A few years back my brother went to the hospital in the middle of the night with appendicitis and I stayed all night in the hospital with him.  Folks, this was a small town hospital and guess what; there was hardly anybody in the whole place!  All throughout the night, the empty corridors reminded me of Halloween 2.  Since I’ve seen firsthand an empty ass hospital in a small town; all the ninnies out there that poo-poo this movie because of the lack of people in the place can go spit.


A lot of negative things have also been said about Dick Warlock’s portrayal of Michael Myers.  I have to disagree.  He does a swell job and although he isn’t quite as scary as Nick Castle’s performance of Mikey in the original film, he has a few nice moments here and there.  My favorite comes towards the end of the movie when he nonchalantly walks through a glass door.


One thing completely bugs the shit out of this movie that no one ever mentions is the inclusion of the song “Mr. Sandman”.  This song serves no purpose whatsoever.  It’s not creepy or scary; it’s just one of those irritating oldies that get on your damn nerves.  Why the Hell is it even in the movie?  I mean Laurie calls Michael “The Boogeyman” not “The Sandman”.  If anything, they should be playing KC and the Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogie Man”!


John Carpenter, who did such a magnificent job on the original declined to take the director’s chair, opting to only produce and co-write this installment.  Rick Rosenthal was hired to direct and he apes Carpenter’s style adequately enough.  Ironically, Carpenter was dissatisfied with Rosenthal’s work and went in and added some gory insert shots after the fact.  Since the kills are the best thing about the movie, it kinda just makes you wish that Carpenter had gone ahead and directed the damn thing himself.  Rosenthal does manage to build up a modicum of suspense and atmosphere, just not in the same league as JC.  (Rosenthal would later helm the abominable eighth entry in the series, Halloween:  Resurrection.) 

Acting-wise, Pleasence does another solid turn as Loomis.  He gets a bit unhinged now and then but nothing like his later work as the character.  He does earn points for keeping a straight face while mouthing a lot of gibberish about Samhain and some other nonsense about the Druids.  (This shit would later get incorporated into the immensely crappy Halloween 6:  The Curse of Michael Myers.)  Pleasence does hit some perfect notes during the film’s Bride of Frankenstein-ish ending.


The weak link in the movie is Laurie.  It’s not her fault though.  She was so likable and personable in the first film but here she just basically cries, whimpers, and screams.  Since Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the best screamers in the business, this is an acceptable trade-off.  However, one wishes that she had a meatier role.  That would come seventeen years later when she starred in Halloween 7.  (I refuse to call that shit H20.)


Also returning from the original is Charles Cyphers who does some woefully bad overacting.  (“YOU LET HIM OOOUUUUTTT!”)  Lance Guest makes a memorable appearance as the nice guy ambulance driver who befriends Laurie.  He later went on to star in The Last Starfighter, which ironically enough was directed by Nick Castle, the guy who played Michael Myers in the first movie.  You should also keep an eye out for Dana Carvey who pops up in a blink-and-you-miss-him role.


Carpenter produced the next sequel, Halloween 3:  Season of the Witch but unwisely left Michael Myers out of the film.


<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Friday the 13th (1980)>

Tags: donald pleasence, h, halloween series, horror, sequel


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