“You don’t know what death is…”
Halloween II is often criticised for being too similar to the film that preceded it. While that is a fair evaluation, it doesn’t take into account all the positive aspects of the 1981 sequel. First of all, and unusually for a horror sequel, all the main players from the first film have returned. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is one of the first examples of the Final Girl horror trope and Donald Pleasence is still brilliantly over the top as Michael Myers doctor, Sam Loomis. Master director John Carpenter also returns for the sequel, this time in the role of writer. The result is a film that feels like an extension of the original and when the source material is so good that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing.
The other interesting thing to note about Halloween II is that it picks up right where Halloween left off. If you watch the films back to back they basically follow on from each other and this means that director Rick Rosenthal doesn’t have to waste time with exposition and story telling, he can slash straight into the action.
Horror sequels have a tendency to be a little more silly and camp but Halloween II is more brutal than the original if anything. A seventeen year old boy is mistaken for Michael Myers and burned alive, a young nurse pays the price for having the gall to reveal her breasts by being drowned in boiling water and a caretaker takes a hammer to the head. This is a departure from the more subtle scares of Halloween but it is one that makes sense for the character. Michael Myers would never be as brutal again.
Halloween II is not a particularly acclaimed film but it has enough memorable moments to ensure that it is genuinely one of the most effective horror sequels. It is within this film that the Myers family tree is revealed after all, something that defines all the other sequels and presents the original in a different light. Michael Myers has become one of the most important on screen killers and that is thanks, in part, to Halloween II.
For my list of the 10 greatest movie killers, click here.