This sequel is the complete polar opposite of the original. Where the first film was goreless, this film is drenched in it. Where the violence was implied or shown in shadow in part one, here is it always in-your-face and extremely graphic. Don’t get me wrong, that’s what most people watch horror movies for in the first place, but when you’re following a classic like Halloween you have to admit that this was not the direction you want to go.
Taking place during the same night as the original, Halloween II follows Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), survivor of Michael Myers’ murderous rampage, to the local hospital where she is treated for her injuries. Little does she know that her would-be killer has followed her there and now stalks the halls to finish what he started. Elsewhere, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) investigates the reasons behind Michael’s attack and discovers that Laurie is his sister.
All the major cast members from the original reprise their roles, and they all do an admirable job regardless of the script they have to work from. Donald Pleasence once again makes his Dr. Loomis character the most interesting aspect of the film. The irritating thing is that the movie is supposed to be about Laurie, and she’s only in it for maybe 30 minutes of the 90 minute runtime. The film focuses mostly on Loomis or the irritatingly immature members of the hospital staff (why did that one dude sing “Amazing Grace, come sit on my face”?).
Director Rick Rosenthal replaced John Carpenter here (although Carpenter did direct the multiple reshoots after a disastrous test screening), and he shows an ineptitude of gargantuan proportions. Instead of building up suspense or dread he relies on cheap ‘boo’ scares, pointless nudity and gratuitous gore to keep things moving along. In the place of tension we get needles in eyeballs, burnt off faces, stabbings with multiple hospital tools (including a random hammer) and a victim drained completely of blood that has been spilled all over the floor for some poor schmuck to slip on.
There are some bright spots. The revelation that Laurie is directly related to Michael was a cool twist and gives an explanation as to why he chose to stalk her. There are nice references to the original, like the entire Bennett Tramer sequence. The finale is actually exciting and thrilling, with an explosive ending that caps things off before they go too far.
In the end we see the death of Michael Myers, and it was probably a good thing at the time. As far as I’m concerned he overstayed his welcome with this installment.
2 out of 5