Horrortoberfest ’22 Day 23 – Halloween II (1981)

Time to cap off the Halloween season with a look at the Halloween franchise. While the original Halloween is an uncontested classic, I never felt like I needed to see more of The Shape plodding around murdering teens. The only other entries in the franchise I’ve watched were Season of the Witch, the absolutely bonkers third installment that has nothing to do with Michael Myers which I cannot recommend highly enough, and the Rob Zombie remake out of a morbid curiosity to see what he would do with/to the source material.

Halloween II is a direct sequel to the first movie, starting partway through the last movie’s ending and reshooting the last scene a bit. Just like before, though, Myers is not where he landed after getting shot out of the second story window and Dr. Loomis begins to lose his fucking mind. Laurie get taken off to the hospital to get her wounds taken care of and to provide some new bodies that can get slashed. Meanwhile, Loomis is riding around with the police causing the accidental death of a teenager and being a manic menace to Haddonfield in general. When Michael overhears that Laurie got taken to the hospital he heads off to finish what he started since, as this movie reveals in a later retconned moment, Laurie is actually Michael Myers baby sister.

With the script written by John Carpenter and the director, Rick Rosenthal, doing his best to ape the style of the first film; this feels like a direct continuation of the story. While the style remains the same, they do try to ramp up things in terms of the bloody effects of the kills and in what exactly The Shape is capable of. This time around, Michael Myers is played by stunt performer Dick Warlock, the man with the greatest name in history. They lean hard into Myers being unkillable and implacable with Michael taking a total of 13 gunshots and having two scenes where he straight up just walks through a closed door. It feels a little weird since he isn’t supernatural like Zombie Jason and it stops being impressive after the third time bullets fail to kill him.

I think this is probably about the best you could hope for, in terms of a true sequel to the original. I just don’t think the story particularly needed to be continued on from where it left off. I don’t hate the sister revelation, though, since it gives an explanation of why he waited so long to escape and why he would be stalking Laurie in the first place. Plus they needed some reason why Laurie would continue to be a target even when she gets taken away. The big thing missing from this movie that we got from the first is that building tension as The Shape appears and disappears, stalking his prey. Now Myers is front and center through most of the film but he’s a silent stalker and Laurie spends most of the film quietly lying around. It gets a little dull in-between scenes of Donald Pleasance shoving as much scenery as he can get into his gaping maw as Dr. Loomis.

Given the continued storyline and directorial style between the first two films, I could see this being a decent back-to-back watch for a horror movie night. On its own, it lacks a little of the magic that made the original so good.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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