Sunday, November 16, 2014

Movie Review: Halloween 2 (1981)

It was the dawn of the early 80's slasher craze. After the colossal hit that was Halloween, there have been a slew of movies capturing it's success. Friday the 13th, Just Before Dawn, My Bloody Valentine, The Prowler, Happy Birthday To Me, He Knows When You're Alone, and even Jamie Lee Curtis' own Prom Night and Terror Train were just a few of the slashers that was released from 1980 to 1981. So it wasn't long until a sequel to the 1978 classic was in the works.
To be honest, this movie is mediocre, practically riding on the coattails of the previous slashers I just mentioned. It still has the essence of the original, but it's not as brilliant. Though I still think it's a nice continuation and probably one of the better Halloween sequels. The first half is just a lot of stuff happening, like a paranoid teenager getting attacked by Michael, Dr. Loomis running frantically trying to catch Michael, and finally Laurie's love interest getting blown away in a car accident. By the second part, this is where the story picks up, although there's not much focus on Laurie and probably too much focus on the hospital staff/victims. It's pretty much your standard slasher flick at the end of the day, although I do find it entertaining than most of that era. Nothing mesmerizing but a good enough watch, no less.
The Story: Halloween Night, 1978, a bruised and unconscious Laurie Strode is taken to the local hospital after surviving her attack from the blood-thirsty Michael Myers. But somehow, somewhere, her attacker is still alive and out there waiting for his next prey. Laurie senses that he might find a way to the hospital. Turns out....Her senses are right. With a frantic, determined Dr. Loomis searching for the vicious night stalker and the unwitting hospital staff at bay, Laurie must find a way to survive the night before Michael strikes.....

The cast is good....Well for what they work with. There is just no character development or anything interesting about the characters, they were just there for the most part.

Jamie Lee Curtis is as good as always but she has literally nothing to do here. Most of her scenes consists of either being bedridden or walking around dazed and confused from sedation.

I wish there was more time with her but unfortunately 26 minutes is all we got. Yes, I said it, 26 minutes. It's a shame really because she's actually top billing I wish there was much more to say about Laurie but there really isn't. Though there is an important plot revelation between Laurie and Michael, in which I will discuss later in this review.

Dr. Loomis is in on the action most of the time, which I appreciate because we have more focus on the character now than the first movie. Donald Pleasance is as good as always and provides the right intensity he has for the role. This time he plays more of an amateur detective uncovering hidden secrets about his long lost patient all the while trying to stop his murderous rampage. Along the way, Nurse Marion, a minor character in the first movie, pays a visit with some encrypting evidence about Michael which is a deep dark family secret....So I appreciate that Dr. Loomis becomes the action hero he's known to be.
I know you guys want to know about the BIG secret (which is not shocking to some of you anymore) but first let's talk about the supporting characters, even though there's really not much to talk about.

First, you have Ms. Alves played by Gloria Gifford, the no-nonsense head nurse who runs the hospital with an iron fist.

 Then you have innocent, shy Nurse Janet played by Ana Alicia who is endlessly paranoid by the media surrounded Michael Myers.

Then you have Nurse Jill played by Tawny Moyers....She's blonde. That's all I 've got.

Here you have the loudmouth, obnoxious Bud played by the smokin' Leo Rossi, who rather goof off and fool around with his girlfriend than care for his patients.

Nurse Karen played Pamela Susan Snoop, maybe a uptight maternity nurse but secretly has a wild side.

And lastly, we have Jimmy Lloyd played by the adorably handsome Lance Guest, who is a pseudo-love interest for Laurie. But there is one problem I have with this character. Yeah, Jimmy is cute and all but given that Laurie is injured and critically traumatized by her ordeal, I just don't think that's the right time to ask for a first date.

And here's Michael, the ultimate boogeyman and Night stalker. Nothing has changed from the first movie. Stuntman Dick Warlock did a good job copying the same robotic inhuman movements that Nick Castle did so masterfully. Even the mask looks the same.

Though the main problem I have with Michael is a certain plot thread that is controversial till this day. You see Michael so happens to have a younger sister, and that younger sister turns out to be Laurie Strode herself. I really don't have a problem with this sudden plot revelation, it's just how it comes out of the blue and how it sort of gives Michael a motive when originally that's not was intended. Since Michael killed his older sister, it now seems that his only targets are his family members and kills anyone who gets in the way. It never really gives much information and it leads to nowhere.
The scenes in here are actually suspenseful. This one scene that got me is where Michael stalks and kills the lone teenage girl, Alice, at her house. It all seems quiet and normal all the while she's talking on the phone with her friend....until paranoia creeps in and then suddenly out of nowhere, Michael stabs and kills her while there's a close-up shot of his face. Just watch it for yourself:

Then there is the chase scene with Laurie which is still very effective as it was in the first one. Just imagine being drugged and dazed and this unstoppable killing machine coming after you. It's got to be a pretty scary situation. I mean I was practically at the edge of my seat.

And yes, like any other horror sequel, the movie is filled with creative kills. It's mostly Michael killing most of the hospital staff with surgical instruments. It seems a little over the top for some, but I think the filmmakers tried to keep things fresh and original since seeing a serial killer with a kitchen knife can be a bit clich├ęd and boring.
I should give note that although some of you may think this a run-of-the mill slasher, Rick Rosenthal really put his heart into this and wanted to make a true Halloween movie. It definitely shows and I give him much credit for that.
Now for some trivia:
John Carpenter did not find Rick Rosenthal original cut all that scary, so he opted to amp up the film's violence and body count, which explains the random (but well-done) scene of Alice's death, which wasn't in the original script.
Halloween 2 also has an alternate version called the "TV cut", which I've seen many times. There is a scene where Laurie finds Jimmy in the ambulance wither her. Which explains that they would later get married and have Jamie in the later sequels:

Jamie Lee Curtis had to wear a wig to keep in the continuity of the movie and it's quite noticeable, sad to say.
Nancy Loomis has a brief as Annie's corpse and Alice's friend on the phone.
John Carpenter had a hard time coming up with a certain plot twist to expand the movie more, so after six cans of beer and a presumably drunken mindstate, that's when he wrote in the concept of the Laurie/Michael siblings subplot. Yes, you guys it was John Carpenter himself who came up with that.
The film debuted with a 7.4 million dollar opening weekend. A good opening  but not as colossal as the first. The critics savaged the movie calling it "another mindless slasher." Sure  you could call it that but it still doesn't deviate from being a true Halloween sequel. Though it is somewhat flawed and drags most of the time, I still think it's an enjoyable movie with it's great suspense and action-packed finale.
My Last Word: It may not capture the magic of the original but it's still a solid horror sequel.


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