AKA Halloween II: The Horror Continues (1981)
AKA Halloween II: The Nightmare Isn't Over! (1981)
(Release Date: October 30, 1981)
The Sequel picks up quite literally where the first leaves of... to the minute. Michael Myers' six shots to the chest seem to have had as much an effect as an ear piercing, and the body is ever-so-gone! Naturally this doesn't sit too well with Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence... there's something ABOUT that guy) or the barely surviving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)! As Laurie is brought to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, the mess Mike made in the first film is slowly uncovered, including the Sheriff’s daughter.
Myers isn't anywhere near finished, though, as he cuts a swath through Haddonfield on his way to Laurie's impending skewering. What follows is a Hospital team under siege by The Shape as the cops and Loomis himself tick off clue after clue on their way to the stunning last act which seems to tape up the loose ends just fine! No wonder Halloween III had nothing to do with these two films! Damn well nowhere to go!
Naturally, along the way, The Shape takes a number of lives in new and creative ways. New director Rick Rosenthal takes a much different approach from that of Carpenter, allowing us to see more of Myers, and more of the blood and guts. On the other hand, Rosenthal does offer us up a new and unique method of frightening the audience: Half of the murders are shown in gruesome detail, and half take place off camera to be discovered by the surviving few. Of the potential prey of The Shape we see The Last Starfighter himself, Lance Guest teamed up with Budd (Leo Rossi) as a couple of mack-daddy EMTs; Pamela Susan Shoop as the shockingly hot Nurse Karen Bailey; Gloria Gifford as the irritable Head Nurse Mrs. Alves; and among others our resident chubby guy Cliff 'Fatty' Emmich as the security guard, Mr. Garrett! Of course, that's just the beginning. There's no shortage of Blood in this film. It's no Kill Bill, but damn!
Donald Pleasence shines here as Loomis, acting with a realistic balance between gun-wielding defender and intelligent psychiatrist. All the waiting around and mumbling that took place in the first film is made up for here in so many ways, particularly the exciting final act. For all her helpless female in danger role here, Jamie Lee Curtis is still really something else as Laurie. She's a scream queen but a realistic human being at the same time with some legitimately great acting!
Major Studio Backing certainly helped the clean (yet seamless) look of the film and a bigger budget allowed for effects of a more special nature. However, this may have also allowed more of a Whoreywood Suit influence taking away some of the more innovative and groundbreaking work on the original. Michael Myers' William Shatner Mask looks three years older (as does Pleasence's beard) and some of the subtle creepy horror is bartered away for in-your-face gore. All told this is a pretty damned indispensable film (light years ahead of the other sequels) and it ties up a lot of loose ends left undone in the first film... but it's not a better film than the original. Taken for all with all the two should really be held as one good film, rather than two, but the second film does such a good job of recapping the events of the first film that Halloween II almost stands alone more successfully than Halloween!
Even so, Halloween II gets Three and One Half Stars out of Five... slightly less than Halloween! What's your favorite? Up to you, but I'd say: "Gimme both!" Like Halloween's struggle to remain on top of both Freddy and Jason, Halloween II benefits from a turn about back in time and a re-analysis of the merits herein! As for Brother Kneumsi, Halloween 1 and 2 belong together! Halloweens 3 through 8... you can keep them!
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