There is no denying the impact the original Halloween movie had. It is single-handedly responsible for all the slasher movies that have been released ever since. It’s also responsible for every horror film that revolves around a holiday or other special date. April Fool’s Day, Friday The 13th, Silent Night Deadly Night to name a few. Aside from the commercial success it was also a critical success. Something most slasher movies were not. So Halloween II, released three years after the original, has some big shoes to fill. While it does its best, it doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
Halloween II picks up right after the previous movie. Like a Rocky movie it even starts off with the final moments from the original with Loomis discovering the body of Michael Meyers is gone. Quite the surprise because he shot him six times. How do I know such trivia? Well, because he mentions it constantly. “I shot him six times! I shot him in the heart, but… he’s not human!”. Lines like these are the first steps of turning Loomis into a caricature.
Most sequels don’t pick up directly after the previous movie. Most of them have a period of time between them. But since the first movie had a rather open ending it makes sense. The only movie without an open ending that directly picks up after the previous one that comes to mind quickly is Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter. Fun fact: in both movies does the first act feature a trip to the hospital.
Halloween II’s plot is fairly simple: Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers while Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed to the hospital. It doesn’t take long for Meyers to end up there also and wreck some havoc. In terms of style Halloween II feels like a natural follow up. The makers have done a good job at creating the same atmosphere with the P.O.V. shots. If one would mash both Halloween and Halloween II together as a 3 hour movie people won’t even notice when part 1 ends and part 2 starts. But the movie does take a different approach after the opening scene.
Keeping up with the more visceral approach of movies like Friday The 13th, Halloween II incorporates a lot more gore and nudity. The original hardly had any blood, no gore and little to no nudity. It relied on the suspenseful atmosphere it created. Movies like Friday the 13th focused more on graphic novelty deaths and female nudity. Halloween II takes that cue and throws in a variety of killing methods including piercing a needle into an eye and drowning someone in a boiling hot medical bath. But not before we get some gratuitous nudity:
The movie quickly establishes a small hospital running on a skeleton crew as the main location. This does provide movie with an original setting and a fresh batch of characters for Meyers to kill. While his main goal is Laurie, Meyers takes his time and is more busy killing off every employee in the building than he is searching for Laurie. In the previous movie there were only a handful of teen characters and a couple of children who we got to know. In Halloween II most of the character development is thrown out of the window in favor for more bodies to pile up. A lot of the scenes involved a random character going to a remote location like the basement. Just because they hear a sound or something only for them to be killed off.
The character of Laurie is pretty much wasted. While receiving top billing and being the face of the franchise, she almost has as few lines as Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. The script put her in a hospital bed for most of the movie. It isn’t until the final act that she gets out of bed for another round of cat-and-mouse with Meyers. Her escaping Meyers’ clutches twice does cement her as the main protagonist from the entire series. Much like Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th and Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Despite its flaws and a more nasty tone, Halloween II is still an enjoyable slasher movie. It doesn’t escape the shadow of its predecessor, but it’s a worthy follow up.