Halloween II (1981) Review
Written by: vxtq
Since it's approaching that time of year, I felt like finally adding a review for one of my favorites in the series (and all time) the original Rick Rosenthal (w/ a little help from John Carpenter) directed Halloween II. I feel this one is right up there with the original, though I admit, it's hard to argue with those who feel Carpenter's 1978 classic is hard to top or even match. One thing that works in this sequel's favor was the somewhat rare decision to immediately follow up the events of the first film so directly. After revisiting the first film's conclusion, we get the aftermath of Michael's escape from the grounds of the Doyle house, intercut with news reports of the original film's murders and Laurie (a returning Jamie Lee Curtis) being taken by ambulance to Haddonfield memorial Hospital, or clinic as it's sometimes referred. After some scenes on the streets of Haddonfield, much of the rest of the film takes place in and around the hospital.
Halloween II definitely has its' share of "creative deaths" & assorted mayhem, including a kid who has bitten into an apple with a razor blade in it, a nurse getting stabbed with a scalpel, whilst being lifted right off her feet with it, scalding/drowning in a hot tub, and other horroresque sights. The additional bloodletting has gotten criticism, but the uniqueness of some of those scenes works IMO, and while I do feel suspense is key, this film manages that too. My favorite scene in this film, and maybe ever, is that of Michael pursuing a somewhat sedated Laurie through the hospital hallways, staircase, boileroom, basement, and eventually outside. The tension there is all the more palpable due to the fact that Laurie has just witnessed the aforementioned scalpel murder firsthand, right before this chase takes off. I don't think Halloween II has ever quite gotten enough credit for its' cast & crew. I thought Jamie Lee did a great job expressing fear throughout, and Donald Pleasence is once again fantastic as Dr. Loomis. His talk of the druid priests, and such while riding with Nurse Marion was eerie, as was his chat with sheriff Hunt at the Myers house. J. Michael Riva did a fine job with the production design, and perhaps the most under credited person in the early part of the Halloween series is DP Dean Cundey. Out of all the aces in the whole the first film had he might just have been the biggest (and I know that's saying a lot). The camerawork throughout this film, and pretty much everything he's ever shot is just flat out slick. The supporting cast deserves credit here as well. Gloria Gifford is very effective as "Mrs. Alves," all three young nurses are great looking, and gave fine performances. Last but not least Lance Guest & Leo Rossi as the ambulance guys are both likeable, and Rossi's "Bud" character is funny in a way that horror characters/writers today can't seem to muster.
No in-joke referencing other films type of B.S. just a real funny guy. It's almost a tragedy the lack of DVD treatment this film got from Universal. Rosenthal did a commentary for Halloween Resurrection, and mentions this film on his commentary for that and the film "Bad Boys." I can't help but think he'd do one for this film too, and most fans know this film had additional scenes in its' t.v. version which could probably be included. I also found out there was at least one or two scenes originally filmed featuring Laurie's father. Anyone else notice him listed in the end credits yet not featured in the final cut? Mmhmm. Whether or not that footage still exists we may never know. If you're wondering why I've gone on so long about this one, it's because not only is it a fave, but it is THE horror film, that got me interested in horror films. Yes, I saw it on cable, before I had the privelege of seeing the original. I know this review has been a bit long winded. My guess is if you've read the whole thing, you're either a fan of this one like I am, or you think I'm full of it. Either way, thanks for reading and........Happy Halloween!!