Halloween II (1981)
Because I am taking a different approach to discussing Halloween II (1981) it’s going to sound like I don’t like it. Let me be clear: I love this movie. It’s just that when I watched it recently for the Nightmare Junkhead podcast, its flaws really showed. After watching something so many times, you hope to find new things you didn’t previously notice… you just normally hope they aren’t bad things.
Whether or not you like how writers John Carpenter & Debra Hill plotted their follow-up to the perfect film, Halloween (1978), probably depends on whether you believe escaped killer Michael Myers needs more backstory than was originally presented. I’m someone who likes to know more, as long as it logically fits into the story; and, I think it does fit logically into the Halloween mythology.
However, when Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) sits in her hospital bed whimpering, “Why me?” I wondered why she would ask that? At that point, how does she know Michael is targeting her? He’s killed an awful lot of other people by then. Granted, she may not know that, but neither does she know that he’s on his way to the hospital at that very moment. I think this was forced as a clue to the ultimate reveal, but it makes no sense.
I also noticed a major continuity error. There’s a scene in which Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) and an emergency crew examine the scene of an accident in which Ben Tramer was killed. A deputy drives by to tell him that his daughter was a victim, and he speeds away in his car. The next scene features Jimmy (Lance Guest) and Laurie in the hospital. Then, the next scene shows Brackett arriving to the scene of the crime, and Jimmy is removing the body.
If you think about it, the timing is wonky. First, it either took the sheriff an awful long time to drive a few blocks in Haddonfield, Illinois, or he stopped at the neighborhood watering hole for a drink or ten. Second, either Jimmy is the Flash, or he had Scotty beam him to the crime scene. Again, I don’t normally notice things like this… I certainly haven’t noticed any time I’ve watched it before.
In general, my other feelings about Halloween II haven’t changed. I’ve always noted that it brings Michael out of the dark and into the light, which reduces the scares by a large percentage. For example, one more thing I noticed this time… in an early scene, instead of emerging from the shadows as if he materialized out of thin air, he springs up from the floor as if he’s been crouching and waiting for someone to walk by. That’s kind of silly.
These are few minor flaws in a movie I adore. I love how it begins near the point where Halloween ends, with a shaken Laurie sitting on the stairs with the kids telling them to go. Michael then sits up behind her. But from that moment, when airy synthetic music starts playing instead of the simple piano theme, you know Halloween II is going to be something different. Different doesn’t automatically mean bad. We don’t want the same, do we?
Written by John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest
RT 92 min.
Released Oct. 30, 1981
Home Video Universal (30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray)