Halloween II (1981)

*. John Carpenter didn’t want to make a sequel to Halloween. However, since it was one of the most profitable films of all time, and he felt he hadn’t seen enough of those profits, he signed on. Unfortunately, he felt “there was no more story to the idea,” and basically just put together what he felt, justifiably, was an inferior script while drinking a lot of beer. He didn’t direct, passing the reins to Rick Rosenthal (whose first feature this was), though he was involved a lot in the production.
*. Even with a better script I think this movie was doomed. It’s not just the story here that’s tired. The direction is utterly lifeless. I can’t imagine a horror movie feeling more inert. Even the jump scares (a cat leaping out of a dumpster, the old hand-on-the-shoulder gag) fail. There’s no attempt at building suspense. Michael just looms up behind people and kills them. That’s it.

*. The dialogue is drippy, with the leering by-play between the ambulance medic and the nurse being bad even by the low standards of the genre. Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis repeats, several times, the same vague diagnosis of Michael’s evil he made in the first movie. Jamie Lee Curtis spends most of the movie asleep or huddled in a fetal ball. She also inexplicably loses her voice at an inopportune moment.
*. None of it works. I don’t think Rosenthal was the right fellow for the job, as he just seems to have the timing all wrong. That’s why the jump scares aren’t effective. Or look at how long the camera just sits on Jimmy as he lies in that pool of blood. It’s a nice shot, sure, but why hold it for six seconds? It stops the movie in its tracks.

*. Worst of all is the way Michael’s invincibility has become a bad running joke. “Why won’t he die?” Laurie complains at one point. Good question. Go ahead, shoot him as many times as you want. He’ll just get back up again. Hell, even drilling him with bullets through both eyes only temporarily blinds him.
*. There was some conflict over the amount of gore that Carpenter felt had to be added in order to keep up with what was going on in the genre post-Halloween. Despite this, I wasn’t that impressed by it back in the ’80s and it strikes me as a remarkably tame movie today. Inflation has that effect.
*. Look, Halloween II isn’t a terrible movie. It’s just that I can’t think of a single good thing to say about it. It’s a big yawn. The franchise ball was rolling though, and there were going to be a lot more.

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