THE LAIR EXPERTS
Matt: How do you top of one of the most influential and successful independent films of all-time? Make another! That's precisely what Trancas International Films had in mind following the success of John Carpenter's groundbreaking 'Halloween'. However, this time, Carpenter and Debra Hill would only be returning as producers, with Rick Rosenthal taking over the director's chair. Despite that, this film showcases a lot of the elements that made the original so successful, while furthering the storyline between Michael and Laurie.
'Halloween II' picks up right where the original left off, and you can't go wrong when you do that with a sequel. I really got the feel that it was the same night as the original, even though it was filmed years later. Carpenter and Hill achieved this through painstaking effort (and a lot more money in the budget). Returning were the first film's two key cogs, Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis, along with some new cast members, including Lance Guest and Leo Rossi. However, one element they did not manage to re-create was Michael himself. Nick Castle was not available to return as The Shape, so the role went to stuntman Dick Warlock. Dick did as good a job as could have been expected from a stuntman, but a lot of his motions were contrived and predictable. Throughout certain key moments in the film, you can tell it's a stuntman behind the mask (like when Michael is descending to the basement), and it really brought down the overall quality of the film. If Nick Castle had reprised his role as Michael, this might have given it a higher rating.
The main problem I had with Laurie was that she barely spoke until the end of the film. Was that done intentionally? I am still not sure to this day, but when you got a powerful actor like Jamie Lee Curtis in a role like that, you want to turn her loose and let her act. I don't feel they did enough of that this time around. Donald Pleasence was again iconic as Dr. Loomis, but they should have left Sheriff Brackett on the case and not replace him with Officer Hunt. It would have been much more effective if Brackett was with Loomis going after Michael, given everything that happened in the original and the personal emotional stake Brackett had in the case. And what happened to Michael's mask? It looks very different from the infamous pale-faced Shatner mask used in the first film. It looks much more sleek and thin and stuck to Dick Warlock's face than the original did on Nick Castle's face, and while it was a scary mask, it was not up the caliber of the original (and none since have been, either).
The hospital setting was very well thought out and provided a really creepy backdrop for the continuation of the 'Halloween' story, and ultimately, its climax. However, my question is-- what happened to all the other patients? Surely the hospital was not that empty, especially on a night like Halloween. For a hospital that size, there should have been a lot more staff on-hand, and the patients just don't disappear. And what about the children's ward? What happened to all the babies when the hospital burnt up? Too many holes in the plot left me questioning almost every scene at the hospital.
John Carpenter did provide the score once again, and it was almost as great as his from the original. He teamed with Alan Howarth this time, and gave a more symphonic, echoey score (maybe to reflect the fact they were essentially entombed in the hospital?) It was very well done, and this is another score I can still listen to and never get tired of. You can hear it and instantly know what film it is from. As for the other music, who can argue with The Chordettes' "Mr. Sandman" at the end? It was definitely not an expected choice, but very well placed. Every time I hear that song now, I think of this film. It was that effective, and was even praised by critics at the time.
Overall, despite its flaws, this is still the best 'Halloween' sequel of them all, far better than any that have come out since. 8 out of 10.
A.J.: The only reason this movie got such a high rating was because it picked up right where Part 1 left off. The hospital was a good setting, but Laurie Strode should have at least spoke a complete sentence. If this movie would have started out on a fresh new Halloween night, it would have sucked, but since it continued off of Part 1 it is an alright movie. 8 out of 10.
MovieMania: Halloween II (which is unfairly maligned) never tries to one-up the original. Director Rosenthal may be no Carpenter, but his direction is creepy, ominous, and mysterious. The darkness and the shadows add and build to the already frightening plot at hand. Another aspect of the film which I loved is the atmosphere. It always feels late at night. I really believed it took place directly following the events of the original. And that music....fantastic! The whole score was terrific, especially the new rendition of "Laurie's Theme", in which a commenter on YouTube called, "a creepy lullaby for little monsters". Overall a great film, and worthy sequel. 10 out of 10.
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