Halloween II (1981) Preview

“Where is everyone?” Patrick says in exasperation with a look at his watch. The set is empty and today was supposed to be the big zeppelin chase sequence. Just then Jamie runs up. He’s out of breath, but manages to gasp out news of an impending disaster. The TikTok teenyboppers playing Richie and PJ are holding out for a stand alone series of their own: The R&P Saga: Young Guns II – Part 1 of 4. “And we can’t get rid of them,” Jamie says with a shake of his head, “it’s in their contract that they are the only actors allowed to pilot the airships… and we’ve already spent $40 million on the state-of-the-art zeppelin technology.” Patrick throws his hands up in despair. Advances in zeppelin technology may prevent any future disasters like the Hindenburg, but apparently it can still be the reason a film production goes down in flames. They settle in their chairs and ponder the mess they’re in. “Kids these days,” Patrick thinks ruefully. “Don’t give a damn about baseball or good ol’ apple pie. Just want to twerk and dab and somesuch,” he thinks stroking his previously unmentioned goatee he grew for production. Suddenly he jumps out of his chair. Eureka! He grabs Jamie by the elbow and starts to lead him away. “Get makeup and wardrobe on the phone, they have a long night ahead of them,” he tells Jamie who is thoroughly confused. Sighing in exasperation he lets him in on the plan. “Kids these days. We gotta scare them straight and you and I both know what that means.” Jamie is already pale with horror. “No, not… not him,” he stammers, but Patrick just nods. “Get me Michael Myers,” he says, but the quaver in his voice belies his own fear. That’s right, we are starting in on one of the major horror franchises that has probably the best first entry in the series, but some pretty dire sequels in the mix. Little known BMT fact is that Halloween II is a BMT qualifier, while the very odd Halloween 3 (which doesn’t even feature Michael Myers) somehow has escaped BMT by some quirk of nostalgia. Oh well, bring on #2. Let’s go!

“It’s a disaster,” the mastermind notes, cackling with glee. “Release the film, for it’s too late for them to stop us.” The cyborgs grin and leave the office to do his bidding. The mastermind hobbles over to a large birdcage housing his award winning pigeons. “Yes, my pretties. Just a matter of time before you are feasting on the flesh of the bad movie twins.” That’s right! Obviously everyone knows that the director of Halloween II also directed The Birds II: Land’s End, the TV movie sequel to the Hitchcock classic that was only released on VHS and I definitely didn’t buy off of ebay for probably (definitely) too much money… … Let’s go!

Halloween II (1981) – BMeTric: 18.6; Notability: 47

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 23.9%; Notability: top 12.1%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 16.0% Higher BMeT: Endless Love, Galaxy of Terror, The Final Conflict, Saturday the 14th, Final Exam, Madman, The Hand, Friday the 13th: Part 2, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Student Bodies, Deadly Blessing, Caveman, The Cannonball Run, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, The Boogens; Higher Notability: The Cannonball Run, The Incredible Shrinking Woman; Lower RT: Saturday the 14th, Final Exam, Deadly Blessing, Death Hunt, The Devil and Max Devlin, The Hand, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Student Bodies, Caveman, Endless Love, Friday the 13th: Part 2, Tattoo, The Final Conflict, The Cannonball Run, Galaxy of Terror; Notes: You know what? That sounds right. The film is arguably a genuine cult hit. I liked it when I saw it years ago, entirely because of the setting. I am not surprised it is in the mid-6’s on IMDb.

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – This can get monotonous. But since most of this movie takes place in a hospital, the killer has lots of props to work with. I’ve already mentioned the whirlpool bath and the needles. Another particularly nasty gimmick is the intravenous tube. The killer uses it to drain the blood from one of his victims. That’s gruesome, but give the filmmakers credit. They use that gimmick to deliver the one scene I’ve been impatiently expecting for years and years in gore films: Finally, one of the characters kills himself by slipping on the wet blood and hitting his head on the floor. Sooner or later, it had to happen.

(Yup, the hospital does all of the heavy lifting in the film. You get interesting kills. It is spooky and quiet. You have a protagonist who is vulnerable being held against her will in the location with a killer. I can see why critics wouldn’t like it at the time though.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEo5m2VEprI/

(Old 80s horror trailers like this are hard to get a grip on because Halloween has been so pervasive throughout my life … it was already a notorious long-running horror franchise by the time I would have even considered watching it. So it is weird to think of teenagers in 1980 sitting in a theater watching that trailer and being amped to FINALLY get to see Michael Myers again … was that a thing? It must have been.)

Directors – Rick Rosenthal – (Known For: Bad Boys; Just a Little Harmless Sex; Nearing Grace; Distant Thunder; Drones; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Russkies, American Dreamer; BMT: Halloween II; Notes: Nominated for two Emmys for the show Transparent. Since the late 80’s he’s been doing pretty much exclusively television as far as directing is concerned.)

Writers – John Carpenter (written by) – (Known For: They Live; Halloween; Halloween; Escape from New York; Assault on Precinct 13; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Assault on Precinct 13; Prince of Darkness; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Dark Star; Black Moon Rising; Eyes of Laura Mars; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Halloween; Lockout; BMT: The Fog; Ghosts of Mars; Halloween II; Notes: His father was a professor of music, and he, in turn, composed many of the synth-heavy soundtracks to the horror films he wrote.)

Debra Hill (written by) – (Known For: Halloween; Halloween; Escape from L.A.; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Halloween; BMT: The Fog; Halloween II; Notes: Worked with Carpenter on many of his early films, and one of the bigger female producers of the time.)

Actors – Jamie Lee Curtis – (Known For: Knives Out; True Lies; Halloween; A Fish Called Wanda; Halloween; Trading Places; Escape from New York; My Girl; Freaky Friday; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; The Fog; Forever Young; Veronica Mars; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; From Up on Poppy Hill; Prom Night; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Terror Train; Beverly Hills Chihuahua; The Tailor of Panama; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; My Girl 2; You Again; Drowning Mona; House Arrest; BMT: Virus; Christmas with the Kranks; Perfect; Halloween II; Notes: Tony Curtis’ daughter, she was the original Scream Queen. Has been married to Christopher Quest for nearly 40 years.)

Donald Pleasence – (Known For: Halloween; The Great Escape; Escape from New York; You Only Live Twice; Prince of Darkness; THX 1138; Phenomena; Tales That Witness Madness; The Eagle Has Landed; Escape to Witch Mountain; Wake in Fright; The Greatest Story Ever Told; Fantastic Voyage; Death Line; Dracula; Cul-de-sac; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Alone in the Dark; The Night of the Generals; The Last Tycoon; Future BMT: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; BMT: Halloween II; Notes: Was nominated for an Emmy for The Defection of Simas Kudirka. One of the only actors to appear in the five original Michael Meyers Halloween films.)

Charles Cyphers – (Known For: Halloween; Major League; Escape from New York; Grizzly II: The Concert; The Fog; Assault on Precinct 13; Coming Home; Death Wish II; Murder in the First; Gleaming the Cube; Truck Turner; The Onion Field; Big Bad Mama II; A Force of One; MacArthur; Honkytonk Man; Borderline; Gray Lady Down; Vigilante Force; Hunter’s Blood; Future BMT: Loaded Weapon 1; BMT: Halloween II; Notes: A decently big television actor, including a starring role in Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher. He appeared in many Carpenter films at the time.)

Budget/Gross – $2.5 million / Domestic: $25,533,818 (Worldwide: $25,533,818)

(Horror films at the time were easy money. You could make a crap horror film in a weekend and make $10 million dollars easy peasy, just have Carpenter fire up his synth and you are set.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (13/41): Halloween II picks up where its predecessor left off – and quickly wanders into a dead end that the franchise would spend decades struggling to find its way out of.

(Yeah, basically. I’ve seen it before, and I like the second film, but it is true that they end up painting themselves into a corner with Myers as the main villain. Out of the three main horror mega-franchises they struggled the most with the lore. Reviewer Highlight: This uninspired version amounts to lukewarm sloppy seconds in comparison to the original film that made director John Carpenter a hot property. – Variety)

Poster – Ballerween II: Big Time Scares

(This almost looks like a spoof poster. The “All New” in the corner and “from the makers of Halloween”.. Uh duh. Otherwise it’s a nice looking poster with some mildly interesting font. Not as iconic as the first one, but I like the artistry. B+.)

Tagline(s) – More Of The Night He Came Home (C-)

(That… is what it is. It does its job, but in a not at all clever way. Fine.)

Keyword – halloween

Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Deadpool (2016), Mean Girls (2004), The Karate Kid (1984), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Wonder (2017), Zodiac (2007), The Predator (2018), Hocus Pocus (1993), Our Friend (2019)

Future BMT: 92.3 Son of the Mask (2005), 82.5 Halloween: Resurrection (2002), 71.8 Bewitched (2005), 69.3 Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), 67.0 Halloween II (2009), 63.7 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 63.6 Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), 60.7 Skinwalkers (2006), 58.9 Pet Sematary II (1992), 57.7 The Next Best Thing (2000);

BMT: The Predator (2018), Batman Forever (1995), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), Halloween II (1981), Made of Honour (2008), Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016), Deadly Friend (1986), Town & Country (2001)

(I love that they, correctly, have The Predator there. A very Halloween film, weirdly. I can’t wait to watch all of the Halloweens, they are terrible with really weird lore. I think the plot is right … America was weirdly obsessed with ghosts and ghouls and Halloween in the late 90s … or is that just because I was a kid in the 90s watching Nickelodeon?)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jamie Lee Curtis is No. 1 billed in Halloween II and No. 2 billed in Christmas with the Kranks, which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – The mask Michael wears is the exact same mask (a repainted and modified Captain Kirk mask) worn in the original Halloween (1978) film. It looks different in the sequel because the paint had faded due to a few reasons, first because Nick Castle, the original Michael, kept it in his back pocket during shoots. Also, Debra Hill kept the mask under her bed for several years until the filming of Halloween II, causing it to collect dust and yellow because Hill was a heavy smoker. Also, the mask appears wider because Dick Warlock is shorter and stockier than Nick Castle, so the mask fit his head differently. As the producers thought it would be the final sequel in the series, they let Warlock keep the mask, scalpel, boots, jumpsuit, and knife used in filming. When they decided to revive Michael in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), the producers realized they had made a mistake and never again gave props out to the cast and crew, therefore subsequent sequels used different masks that looked rather different.

Producer/writer John Carpenter didn’t like director Rick Rosenthal’s first version of the film, believing it to be as scary as an episode of Quincy M.E. (1976). A re-edit was done, but Carpenter still found it too tame, so he took over the editing process and sped up the action. He also shot a few gory scenes that were added into the film despite Rosenthal’s objections. This annoyed Rosenthal because he had wanted the sequel to emulate the way the original avoided explicit violence and gore in favor of well-crafted suspense and terror. In fact, Carpenter had intended for “Halloween II” to do just that, but the success of the new wave of slasher films in 1979 and 1980 made him afraid that a film which was scary and R-rated but lacked bloodshed and nudity would do poorly at the box office, leading to the extra graphic material inclusions. He later said that he thought that Rosenthal didn’t have a “feeling for what was going on” with the film”. Rosenthal would go on to direct Halloween: Resurrection (2002).

John Carpenter and Debra Hill had no interest in making a sequel as they believed the original Halloween (1978) was a standalone movie. When the studio offered them more money to write the script, Carpenter took the job so he could earn back what he believes was his owed pay (at the time, Carpenter had seen little earnings from the original movie. He admitted that he received a significant back-end salary much later). However, the script was not forming out as well as he thought, and he has personally stated that the only thing helping him through the screenplay process was a six-pack of Budweiser every day, which led to what he believes an inferior script and bad choices in the movie’s story. He later called Halloween II “an abomination and a horrible movie”.

This is the only Halloween film to show the morning after the 31st. Every other movie ends on Halloween night.

“Halloween II” was originally written to take place in a high rise apartment building. Later in script meetings, however, the setting was changed to Haddonfield Hospital.

John Carpenter turned down an offer to direct, as he initially had no desire to become involved in the project anyway. However, several of his people convinced him to stay involved in some capacity, like executive producer, so that he could at least earn some money from it. He also liked the fact that he could help give a new director a chance to make a movie, as the first film had done for him. He ended up producing and writing the screenplay, and later got involved in editing and re-shoots as well. He was then asked by NBC to shoot additional footage for the TV version of Halloween (1978), since the original version was too short for the network, so he also oversaw the filming of those scenes while Halloween II was being shot.

In a 1981 interview in Fangoria magazine, Debra Hill told of how there was consideration of making the movie in 3D. Hill said: “We investigated a number of 3-D processes . . . but they were far too expensive for this particular project. Also, most of the projects we do involve a lot of night shooting-evil lurks at night. It’s hard to do that in 3D”.

Debra Hill years later knocked Dick Warlock’s portrayal as Michael Myers, claiming he didn’t move as well as Nick Castle or have his body language. Dick defended himself saying he followed her instructions all the time while she was on the set and she never showed any dissatisfaction with his work at the time of filming.

John Carpenter himself admits that while writing Halloween II, the idea of Laurie being Michael’s sister came to him “at 2:00 in the morning in front of a typewriter with a six pack of beer.”

Jimmy’s fate is left unclear in the theatrical cut, as he simply collapses in his car, from a concussion after he slipped on the pool of blood. However, in the alternate ending, he is revealed to have survived, with bandages over his head, and sharing an ambulance with Laurie to be transported to another hospital.

This sequel was originally intended to be the final film to feature Michael Myers, Dr Sam Loomis and Laurie Strode. Producer/writer John Carpenter purposely killed off Myers and Dr. Loomis because he wanted to end the Haddonfield storyline. When he was asked to do a second sequel, he wanted to continue as an anthology of non-related horror stories that take place during Halloween. He co-wrote and produced Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) as a stand-alone movie, but fans were disappointed because they saw Halloween and Michael Myers as synonymous. The studio chose to revive both Myers and Dr. Loomis without Carpenter for the aptly titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), which retcons the events of Halloween II, and completely ignores Halloween III.

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