Take a Drink: whenever Donald Pleasence chews on scenery like old beef jerky
Take a Drink: when you wonder where that poor kid got a Mike Myers costume
Take a Drink: when you realize how much more horrifying this Mike Myers with a knife would be:
Take a Drink: for every stabbin’, of course
Do a Shot: for every mention of “sister”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
It’s almost Halloween, so clearly only one franchise will do to fuel your late night work and school-shirking horror marathoning… Halloween! Where, you ask, are our reviews for John Carpenter’s original classic, or the deliriously, enjoyably bizarre, basically unrelated Halloween III, or the other five sequels? The first StarvinMarvinMcFly already wrote a stellar review for, and the third Gary Anderson covered in all of its glory, and for the other three, we’ll pull a Halloween: H20 and pretend they never existed. Well, those and Resurrection, because fuck Resurrection.
The less said about Rob Zombie ,the better.
That leaves us with the second, still cannon entry into the series. Halloween II picks up right where the first left off with Michael Myers still on the loose, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) on her way to the hospital, and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) still hell-bent on killing his monstrous patient once and for all.
Picking up right after (or technically a few minutes before) the first one is a bold choice which mostly pays off from a story standpoint, answering nagging questions like “where the fuck are all the adults?” The cast does a good job leaping back into the terror and desperation of the ending of the first film, and extending it through another several hellish hours. Curtis in particular shows how much of a find she really was, seemingly a fully formed talent from the start, and Donald Pleasence gets to wrap his jowls around some scenery and masticate thoroughly.
This decision also means that new director Rick Rosenthal had to follow John Carpenter’s stylistic template from the first film, which obviously was a welcome development. He’s not as adept as the master, but does achieve some of the same unnervingly voyeuristic camerawork aided by a jazzed up, more gothic variation of Carpenter’s iconic keyboard score from the first and the added very nice counterintuitive use of The Chordettes “Mr. Sandman” (which H20 also makes great use of).
What doesn’t work, though, is the decision to forgo the atmospheric slow-building tension of the first film in favor of gorier thrills (some of which, admittedly, are pretty nastily inventive). This is actually Carpenter’s own fault, as he helped pen the script and even reshot some of the kill scenes himself in order to “bring it up to par with the competition.” His franchise is a victim of its own success. This plus the lack of the original’s wide and low, magisterial tracking shots almost completely removes Carpenter’s imprint.
Roger Ebert called the film out for being full of idiotic, plot-driving decision-making, but to be fair, the original is just as bad in that regard. However, the elemental horror of the first film is definitely lacking, mostly because Michael Myers has transformed from an unknown terror lurking at the margins of scenes into a pure flesh & blood juggernaut. All subtlety and psychology has fled, and all that’s left is Pleasance, Strode, this human tank, and a bunch of murder fodder.
The redshirts had better odds.
The final twist doesn’t make much sense, and worse is how awkwardly they try to retcon it into the film. The timeline doesn’t really add up, and in the end it comes off as a cheap motive for a monster whose evil was more frightening the less explainable it was.
Halloween II is neither fish nor fowl, not good enough to live up to the standards of the first, which it pretty much has to considering its structure, nor unique enough to stand on its own. Viewed on the level of the dumb gory 80s slasher genre the first film helped spawn, it’s not half bad.