Monday, 7 November 2016

Halloween II (1981) [Mini-Review]


Director: Rick Rosenthal
Screenplay: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis (as Laurie Strode); Donald Pleasence (as Dr. Sam Loomis); Charles Cyphers (as Leigh Brackett); Lance Guest (as Jimmy Lloyd); Pamela Susan Shoop (as Nurse Karen Bailey)
A Night of a Thousand Horror (Movies) #59

One of the likely surprises I'll have with the Halloween franchise, (having gotten to Halloween 5 at this point of starting to watch and write about the series), is how the sequels I hated will grow on me a lot more now. I have serious doubts Part 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) is going to have any merit, though I'd be happy with the shock twist if I did enjoy it, but with Halloween II in particular its slow, glacial tone is more effecting now whilst its absorption of the slashers its prequel spawn is rewarding rather than a bad idea, mainly because the film, as I've always viewed the franchise, was always more classier and better made than others and is able to use the tropes a lot a lot better.

Setting the film directly after the first was a risk, particularly with three years passing enough to have changed the fashions, but thankfully it proves to be a great advantage, a more manic Dr. Loomis for Donald Pleasance to play as his desperation is felt and the aftermath of the first film having a psychological effect on everyone that adds to this immediate continuation. Even knowing John Carpenter had to step in and shot new material doesn't detract from the final result, having to admire the technical quality of the first film still be present regardless of whether he or director Rick Rosenthal shot what scene. Dean Cundey's cinematography is still magnificent as it was in the prequel, the mostly if not all nocturnal setting for this film having an immense effect particularly for the isolated hospital setting, and Carpenter's music as naturally as good as his other work.

It's surprising, considering my original thoughts of the film and how much it's taken influence from the slashers the first movie birthed, that my initial views of Halloween II as being exceptionally dumb haven't been proven right. Barring the realisation that there's underground therapeutic hot tubs in American hospitals, with the temperature settings able to go up to "Scalding", its far more restrained and grounded then I originally thought. Merely the fact Michael Myers' has gotten bored and started using more creative ways to kill people, from syringes and even bleeding someone in the most patient way possible, brings up that this was aping the slasher films around it rather than them being indebted to this series. Thankfully the tone still emphasises the mood, allowing this to work.

I also don't mind the fact Laurie Strode is a side character in the film whilst the staff at the hospital she is in take centre stage, or we follow Loomis with the police for large portions outside the hospital. As much as it sadly means Jamie Lee Curtis is not allowed to show the great performance she showed in the first film, having her medicated to the point of lethargy and having to drag herself around from Myers is actually a scary proposition in terms of a viewer imagining themselves in her hospital gown. It also helps that, even when forced to write something, Carpenter alongside with Debra Hill still make the peripheral characters a lot more human and interesting, even as stereotypes, than at least the Friday the 13th films from this period - even the sleazy emergency ambulance driver who sings about wanting Grace to sit on his face has a personality in his dialogue reminiscent of a real staff employee, not a stock type hound dog from the more egregious films from the sub-genre and horror in general.

The real issue with Halloween II for me now, the one handicap, is that it [Spoiler] brought about the plot point of Laurie and Myers being siblings. It's a casually slipped plot twist near the end, softening its effect, but its future ramifications became a neutering effect on why the first Halloween was such a terrifying concept. Ironically, if that's the right word, the desire people have with real life murders wanting to know why they were committed, when many can be utterly irrational and un-explainable, entered into the world of horror movies which dealt with these real events through a safe veneer, the fact you could write in why the fictitious killer committed their crimes completely negating the point of such films as a healthy way to release fears about such violence. So, rather than the more frightening notion of Michael Myers as a bogeyman, Halloween II sadly dampened it, a worse decision knowing this film, and especially Halloween H20 in the nineties, would've still worked and actually had more power to them if Myers was just as homicidal non-entity trying to finish off a surviving victim he randomly choose.


No comments:

Post a Comment