Halloween II (1981) Recap

Jamie

Michael Myers is back, Jack! And boy is he angry at his sister (spoiler alert). After the events of the first film, the unstoppable Myers continues his horror spree in the town of Haddonfield. He eventually tracks his ultimate victim, Laurie Strode, to the hospital. Can she stop the maniac before it’s too late? Find out in… Halloween II.

How?! Following the events of the first film, Haddonfield, Illinois is scrambling to figure out what happened. Laurie Strode is in shock and is transported to the local hospital where she is quickly sedated. Forget about her for the next hour, cause it’s the Loomis show everyone. He’s scrambling aroundt being like “he’s goddamn evil!” and “we gotta stop him” and basically acting like a total maniac. Good news and bad news comes with the Loomis show. The bad news is that he inadvertently kills a kid in town that he thinks is Myers. Ooops. The good news is that he does convince people that he’s still alive and they track down Myers. They find that he broke into a school and left curious occult markings and stuff. Suddenly he realizes it! Laurie is Michael Myers younger sister who was put up for adoption after Michael killed her older sister. Her name was changed and no one ever talked about the fact that she was a Myers. Myers is tracking Laurie, which can mean only one thing: the hospital. There, Myers is already killing pretty much everyone. Eventually Laurie wakes up and in a panic begins to evade the killer. She eventually gets out but can’t get a car started to leave. Just then she sees the police and Loomis show up and they are able to save her from Myers before leading him into an operating room. Loomis is stabbed while Laurie is able to blind Myers. In his dying moments (or are they?) Loomis tells Laurie to flee and lights a tank of gas on fire, totally exploding Michael Myers. THE END.

Why?! With the revelation that Laurie was in fact adopted and was the sister of Michael, this colors almost all the motivations from not only this film, but also the original film. In the original it is set up that Michael Myers is mostly interested in the memory of the sister that he killed and the family home that Laurie is seen dropping a key off at. It appears he becomes fixated on Laurie as a result of the random happenstance, right? Wrong, apparently. Just a coincidence… and maybe he just kinda magically is drawn to her by pure evil will. Otherwise it seems to make little sense that he would actually know that Laurie is his sister (secret adoption and name change and all)… this is all to say that Laurie just wants to survive and Myers just wants to kill (but more specifically wants to kill he remaining sister (which still makes no sense)).

Who?! I do like to talk a little bit about the monsters when we watch the entries of horror films, just to note how they change. I think I kinda forgot how consistent Myers was (besides the sister thing). Always an unstoppable force of evil from the get go. The one minor thing they add, that becomes a major thing, is a connection to Celtic occult lore… which ends up kinda ruining everything. Besides that, Dana Carvey shows up in a non-speaking role for like five seconds.

What?! Love it when a sequel really embraces the product placement. Here everyone is constantly asking each other if they might like a refreshing Coke. What does the guy in the hospital do to try to be sweet to Laurie? “Hey, I’m gonna go grab you a Coke.” Honestly, don’t blame them. What’s the only thing that can stop Michael Myers in his tracks? That cool refreshing taste of a Coca-Cola.

Where?! Unlike the revisionist history of Nightmare on Elm Street, this series was always set in the midwest, specifically the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. I wouldn’t say Illinois is required for the plot or anything, but it is made clear, so I’ll say a B+. It really makes it lame that Nightmare went Ohio at the end. Would have been nice if the major horror franchises were East Coast (Friday the 13th), West Coast, and Midwest. Zombies would eventually take the Southern region as their own.

When?! Right off the bat we can throw out an A+ Time Setting Alert on this guy. Set on Halloween and cha, it just might be important to the plot. It is a different kind of horror franchise though, since usually the films still sorta stick the everything being set in the year that the film is actually released. Obviously not the case here. If the first film was set in 1978, then the second one is as well. So really a period piece.

This is certainly a worse movie than I remember from the first time I watched it. It has far too much Loomis (who really started to annoy me even by the end of the first film) and far too little Jamie Lee Curtis, who spends much of the film in a coma. I also still can’t really understand why they made Laurie his sister. It has never made sense and never will make sense. But at least Carpenter doesn’t pretend like it was the plan the whole time. Even he kinda thinks the twist is dumb and only did it because they needed a new storyline for the sequel. Despite this, I think overall the film comes out on the plus side as far as horror films go (not to mention horror sequels). I still like the hospital setting quite a lot and the kills are a nice mix of gory and silly. It makes me wish they made one more for a trilogy to finish the full Halloween night of mayhem. As for The Birds II: Land’s End, it actually lived up to expectations a bit. It’s a little slow going at first, but you can get by with just how much of a total dick one of the characters is and also just how much of a rip-off of Jaws the whole set up is. Shame, really, for a classic film to have a sequel reduced to a boilerplate rip-off decades later. But really the payoff is the end, which is just a batshit crazy scene of mayhem where people are full body burning left and right. Wasn’t expecting how enjoyable the experience would be. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are continuing to collect the films I’ve already seen before. I think I’ve seen Halloween II a few times. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – At one point I decided I just wanted to watch a full horror series without waiting for BMT and so I consumed most of the Halloween series in the span of a few months. The preview is a revelation about the second Halloween though. At the time I was like “oh weird they continued the story and it was okay”, but the preview makes it clear Carpenter mostly did the film reluctantly and also forced them to make it gorier because he figured that was the direction horror in particular had gone between 1978 and 1981. I was genuinely surprised at how much of a hand Carpenter had with the odd direction the franchise took after the classic first film. What were my expectations? Well, I had seen the film before and mostly liked it. Given that it is, in fact, a bad movie, I figured with more horror franchise knowledge under my belt I would probably think it was a bad film like the critics did.

The Good – I do like the setting a lot. The setting of the hospital was a genius maneuver instead of running back the same suburban setting from the first film. I was somewhat surprised to realize just how much connective tissue from the first to the second there is, in particular the surprisingly varied methods of killing people and the way Michael displays the bodies all are very similar to the first film. The final full body burn is very impressive. Best Bit: The hospital setting.

The Bad – I cannot understand or believe how little they give Jamie Lee Curtis to do in this film. She basically doesn’t move or talk in the first hour of the film, and then mostly limps around barely being able to scream for the rest. Loomis is a jerk and dumb and I had forgotten how lame his character was until he ended up being the star of the film when outside of the hospital. Speaking of which, too much of the film takes place outside of the hospital, it should have all been inside the hospital with Loomis only showing up at the end. The kills in this one feel far more exploitative, and I think the entire thing would have been better served by a similarly slow and methodical pace of the first. Fatal Flaw: Too little Curtis.

The BMT – Yup, I can transparently see all of the issues this film had now that I know the rhythms of an 80s horror franchise. It tries to ratchet up the gore, but it feels exploitative. It fails to leverage its star, favoring a dialogue-less monster instead, which never works. It has far too much filler with Loomis wandering around. And then the twist is awful. And amazingly, from what I can glean, all of those decisions were Carpenter’s … I guess it makes sense given he didn’t want to so a second Halloween film, he wanted to do an anthology series instead. Did it meet my expectations? Absolutely. I kind of liked this film the first time I watched it. This time? I can transparently see all of the things they failed to do to keep the franchise going.

Roast-radamus – A solid Product Placement (What?) for the obviously placed Coca-Cola machines seen in the hospital. A very excellent Setting as a Character (Where?) for Haddonfield, Illinois which is where all of the original Halloween films take place (as that is where Michael Myers grew up and where he killed his sister in 1963). And an A+ Temporal Setting (When?) for the film taking place mostly on Halloween Night, 1978 (explicitly that year as it is explained that it is precisely 15 years after he killed his sister). Mostly closest to BMT I think, in that isn’t isn’t unpleasant to watch, just bemusing.

Prequel, Sequel, Remake – I think with a lot of sequels your best bet is a Remake. Mainly I think the key is setting it entirely in the hospital. Show Loomis finding the body missing and telling Laurie that the killer is still out there and to not let the doctors knock her out, that he’ll get there as soon as possible to prevent Michael from finding her. Then introduce the late-night skeleton crew at the hospital. From that point it is mostly the same as the film, except now Laurie is conscious and actively trying to rally the staff to defeat Michael because she knows he’s there somewhere. We see the staff picked off one by one (after they find the security guard missing … curious), and the remaining survivors corralled further and further into the dark hospital unable to escape. In the end Laurie and the young EMT friend find the staff killed and displayed like the girls in the first film, and just as Michael finds them Loomis comes bursting through the door and incapacitates Michael once again. Loomis explains that the police arrested him, suspicious as to how much he knew about Michael during the events of the first film, but they were convinced once the hospital’s phone lines were found to be cut. This sets up a concluding sequel which would take place entirely within the Myers home. Still called Halloween II.

You Just Got Schooled – Obviously I had to rewatch the classic Halloween (1978) prior to watching this film. And yeah, it is a classic for a reason. It is a lot different than the other films in the series though (even the second). It basically invents the Unstoppable Force as far as killers go (that might not be precisely true, but I think it is a plausible claim at least). But then the film takes absolute ages before anyone is killed. Mostly Myers can be seen stalking some of his victims and waiting around before finally starting to kill them. It works because it is not really a “slasher” film as the genre has now been defined. I also get why later entries in the series ended up going with the more early kills and more evenly paced kills. A. The film is, as I said, a classic and is probably one of my favorite horror films. Curtis is, in particular, amazing in the film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Wow, this is getting long, but I can’t not talk about The Birds II: Land’s End. I hadn’t seen the original prior to the viewing, but did catch up on that as well (obviously a great film and quite a bit different than I imagined, I thought it took place on an island like Jaws). I think the makers of Birds II took to heart the idea of animals attacking during an otherwise intriguing family drama a little too much. The sequel is 95% the story of a family dealing with tragedy, and 5% “oh, wait, I forgot about the birds, quick put some birds in there for a second.” The film would have been boring except that the local newspaper editor/photographer, Frank, is an insatiable horndog who can’t stop hitting on Ted’s wife May even after being told multiple times about Ted’s difficulties dealing with the death of Ted and May’s son. It is just an incredibly aggressive and unyielding display which captured my interest in the most BMT way. B. Unusually high, but I think the combination of it being a made-for-tv sequel to a beloved film, and Frank makes for a film that as crazy as it sounds I would willingly watch again. Wild stuff.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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