Halloween 2 (1981)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  

USA, 1981.  Dino De Laurentiis Company, Universal Pictures.  Screenplay by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.  Cinematography by Dean Cundey.  Produced by John Carpenter, Debra Hill.  Music by John Carpenter, Alan Howarth.  Production Design by J. Michael Riva.  Costume Design by Jane Ruhm.  Film Editing by Mark Goldblatt, Skip Schoolnik

It’s been three years since the previous film was released but no time has passed for the characters, who continue to be terrorized by Michael Myers on the same Halloween night.  Jamie Lee Curtis (in a bad wig) is rushed to the hospital to deal with the shock of what she has just survived, police collect the bodies of the teenagers killed in John Carpenter’s original masterpiece, and Myers, the knife-wielding mass murderer thought dead at the end of the first film, is still on the prowl.  Slicing and dicing his way through the neighbourhood, he makes his way to the clinic where our heroine is sedated, his determination to get to Curtis revealing secrets about their past.  Donald Pleasence is not far behind, roping the authorities into helping him catch the mad man, while the staff of the hospital (including many a nubile young nurse) find themselves fodder for the bad guy’s appetite for destruction.  Filmed with a healthy sense of style reminiscent of, though not equal to, the original, Rick Rosenthal’s sequel (from a script by Carpenter and Debra Hill) is a respectable follow-up that is not nearly as thrilling.   A few sequences are memorable, Myers helping himself to a kitchen knife from a random couple’s house is superb, as is Curtis evading him in an elevator, but setting it in a hospital makes for a less interesting juxtaposition of visual motifs:  it was having all that murderous mayhem occur in an idealized suburban Andy Hardy neighbourhood that made the 1978 classic so much juicier.   More important, the filmmakers commit the grave mistake of taking Curtis’ Laurie Strode, so capable and instinctive last time, and making her helpless in this one (which is why most of it is so boring), while having Myers preconceive his murders (by doing things like slashing tires and cutting phone lines) actually makes him less terrifying than the psychotic mind bent solely on the need to kill that he is supposed to be.

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