Tuesday, October 6, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Halloween II (1981)

Like I said when reviewing Halloween for last year’s Horror Epics: it’d be a dumb idea to exclude it given the theme and all. With that in mind, let’s kick back and give the sequel a fair chance. Halloween II picks up right where its predecessor left off, with Dr. Loomis emptying his gun into Michael Myers’ chest and unable to contain his disbelief upon discovering that the killer managed to get up and walk away. Assisted by the local police, Loomis embarks on a wild goose chase looking for Michael as Laurie Strode is taken to the hospital. Although she begs not to be sedated, they shoot her up anyway. One of the EMTs informs her that the infamous Michael Myers was her attacker, having escaped the loony bin after killing his older sister fifteen years ago. The sedatives kick in after that and Laurie drifts in and out of consciousness, having some strange flashbacks about being adopted and visiting some mean boy in the hospital. Meanwhile, Myers remains one step ahead of Dr. Loomis at all times. Prowling through the shadows and back alleys of Haddonfield, Michael remains focused with his murderous intentions. Before long, he tracks Laurie to the hospital and decides to pay her a visit. Upon his arrival, Michael kills every staff member he comes across in his relentless pursuit. The hot nurse gets her face scalded off in a whirlpool bath. In a nice homage to Lucio Fulci, another one encounters Gratuitous Eye Trauma with a hypodermic needle. That’ll leave a mark. Despite being high as a kite and limping badly, Laurie manages to run from Michael and elude his blade long enough for Dr. Loomis to show up and meet his patient face-to-face one more time. Although the rule of thumb dictating that sequels dilute the greatness of the original applies here, Halloween II is better than you might expect. Part of this is due to John Carpenter’s continued involvement with the project. Although he refused to direct it for whatever reason, he did in fact produce and write the screenplay with Debra Hill. It’s also been said that he filled in the more graphically violent scenes against director Rick Rosenthal’s wishes, out of dissatisfaction with what was apparently too tame of a film. You can also guess that these scenes were filmed in an attempt to out-do the high amount of imitation slasher flicks that were produced in the three years between Halloween and its sequel. Where that’s concerned, time has been kinder to Halloween II than most of its ilk. Although it isn’t overall superior to the original, this sequel moves at a better pace. Coming in at a similar length to the original, it makes better use of the time and doesn’t get fixated on things like people walking down the street for extended periods. I’m sure some horror purists are groaning in disbelief at this opinion, but they should give Halloween II another spin through the DVD player and see for themselves. Wish I had Rob Zombie’s remake for a double-feature comparison, but that hasn’t been released on DVD just yet. Oh well.

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