Halloween 2 is an exception to the rule of all sequels sucking. In fact, I think in many ways H2 is a better and-dare I say it-scarier film than the original. While director Rick Rosenthal has his own style, he doesn’t stray very far from what Carpenter did in the original. I wouldn’t say he copied him, but he certainly paid attention.
Unlike most sequels which seem to take place a certain amount of time later, be it in weeks, months or years, H2 takes up exactly where H1 left off. In fact, it starts a little before that, using the last 5 minutes or so of the original to make the transition into the sequel (much like Friday the 13th Part II did as well). Most of the original cast returns, those who weren’t killed anyway, as well as some new and very forgettable characters who make an appearance. If I was a bit tough on the lack of characterization in the first film, I’d be absolutely brutal about the new folks inhabiting Haddonfield. They mainly consist of horny nurses, horny EMT’s and clueless cops. Laurie gets a little back story but it’s nothing more than to give the movie a twist. Dr. Loomis is still looking for MM, and doing a really bad job of it, as I’ll get to in a moment.
With Laurie taken to Haddonfield Hospital, and Dr. Loomis on his quest to find MM, our friendly neighborhood killer is sulking in back alleys, until he comes across an elderly couples house. He kills them, steals their knife, and heads to the hospital after hearing that’s where Laurie was taken on the radio. As he takes his leisurely stroll towards her, he passes through town amid party goers, trick or treaters and even a passing patrol car.
Not once does he kill any of them, or even think about it for all we know. MM kills out of necessity, not for pleasure (though a case could probably be made there’s some sexual gratification he feels from it, but that’s far too introspective for this movie and my review). It’s actually a creepy moment as well as a bit of character building for him, and one of my favorite moments in the film. The paramedic in the ambulance with her, Jimmy begins to develop a crush on her, because women with knife wounds and trauma are apparently a turn on for him.
Loomis meanwhile, that level headed lovable shrink, sees someone with a similar mask as MM’s and runs after them, shooting 6 times, and missing every shot. In spite of that, the masked man is hit and crushed between a police car and a van which then explodes and burns him to death…because. Rather than lock Loomis up (which the Sheriff should have done in the first movie), he follows along with him instead, again…because.
While SF author James Blish coined the term idiot plot, it was Roger Ebert who popularized it. Idiot plot refers to anything that could have been resolved easily were it not for the necessity of plot. This has people behaving as no human being with a working brain cell would act. There’s a lot of that here, to the point you just roll your eyes and go along for the ride. Unlike the original, H2 is pretty well paced, with no real slow downs. The scares come on a regular basis, and the kills are far more numerous, and far more grisly than the first. In fact if there was one thing that truly stands out as different from H1, it’s the gore. While there was certainly violence in the original much was done in the dark, or out of view, and there was little to no blood. H2 has stabbings, beatings, burnings, drownings, and immolation. You name it, and it’s here in all its gooey, wet, and splatterific detail.
Much of the movie takes place in the hospital where they took Laurie. Before I get into this part, a bit of a disclaimer. I have had three hospital stays this year, and I’m intimately familiar with how they work, and for the record, Haddonfield Hospital is nothing like reality, thank God. Even though it’s Halloween, there’s a skeleton crew (pun not intended), and the first person we see going into the lobby is a woman with her son who has a razor blade stuck in his mouth. We think this is going to play some part in the film, but their time is limited, and they’re gone before you know it. It makes you wonder if there had been more involving those two that ended up getting cut. Anyway, once MM gets to the hospital he cuts the phone lines. How he knows where they are is irrelevant, he just does. The head nurse sends the overly rotund security guard to investigate, and after the requisite jump scares, he meets his end, thus setting up MM to kill everyone else in the hospital so he can get to Laurie.
As with the first article there are a couple of things that bothered me with H2. Again, they can be attributed to the idiot plot (which to be fair is the mainstay of most horror). First as I mentioned above the kind of needless plot point of the kid who has a razor blade stuck in his mouth. Sure, you could see it simply as there are others out there as bad as MM, but there’s little point in doing so if you don’t follow through at least a little bit more.
Again, there’s the slow pace of MM’s walking. I mean seriously, my 75 year old mother could outrun him without a problem. His victims have plenty of time to get out of there before his slow ass finally gets there.
At one point Laurie escapes from the hospital and tries to get away in a car, but no matter which one she tries, they either won’t start or the tires are slashed. She hides in one of them, and somehow miraculously the horny EMT who has a rectal thermometer with Laurie’s name on it gets in the car, and tries to turn it over, and Laurie eggs him on. Unfortunately he had suffered a blow to the head previously from MM, and passes out.
During the climactic scene, Laurie ends up with Loomis’ gun and shoots MM’s eyes out. A teenage girl with no apparent training in firearms manages to take out his eyes while he’s wearing a mask. I won’t go into the whole explosion thing as I think that’s better suited to talk about in H4, though I will say, it’s the silliest ending I can think of, and yet, it makes sense and works when you’re watching it. That’s more a testament to Rosenthal’s directing than it is to the script, but either way, it really borders on moronic.
In spite of all that, I really enjoyed H2, and think there are worse ways to spend a Halloween night, than with MM and company.
Tomorrow: The red headed step child of sequels!