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Halloween II (1981)
Rated R

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Charles Cyphers

Rating:
**
out of
*****

When the makers of 1978's Halloween scored a $47 million box office bonanza with their $300,000 creation, they felt tempted to make another grab at the till. On paper, Halloween II looks like it has a proper pedigree. The script was co-written by John Carpenter, the co-writer and director of the original. Most of the original cast returns, including Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis and Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. Unfortunately, with the main motivation being an easy cash grab, it's apparent that no one cared much about the finished product.

The story begins immediately after the events of the first movie. Laurie Strode, who has survived her encounter with the murder-crazed Michael Myers (Dick Warlock), is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital for treatment. Myers, who was shot six times by Dr. Loomis, has disappeared without a trace. Dr. Loomis and the Haddonfield Police search everywhere for Myers to no avail. However, Myers has tracked Laurie to the hospital and begins preying on the staff, one-by-one.

All of the elements that made the original Halloween so unnerving and effective as a horror movie were thrown out the window with this outing. Rick Rosenthal, who takes over for John Carpenter in the director's chair, tries to mimic a few characteristics of his predecesor but he lacks the finesse to pull it off. Many of Halloween II's "scares" are of the cheap "jump" variety. There's no suspense at all and many of the sequences don't even make logistical sense as there's no way Michael Myers could be in so many different places at just the right time.

The cast of the original, including the aforementioned Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis, are largely wasted here. Pleasance is given some truly awful dialogue. Curtis, on the other hand, has approximately four sentences of dialogue and does little else but whimper and scream. She's also forced to don a hideous wig to look as she did in 1978.

One key element is missing from the script: a story. Although a ham-fisted attempt is made to give Myers and Strode some kind of familial connection, it doesn't work. Even more strained is an off-hand reference to the Druids and the celebration of Samhain that never gets explained or explored any further. Most of the film features characters aimlessly wondering around the dimly-lit hospital, calling out people's names, and then getting offed by Myers, usually in a medically-related way (ie. syringe to the eye or scalpel in the back.) Aside from Loomis' incoherent ramblings about Myers being "inhuman" and "waiting for this night", there's no attempt at addressing what made him into an unstoppable killing machine in a way that makes any sense. It would have been better not to try than to do so with so little regard to the intelligence of the audience.

Halloween II was followed by 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which doesn't have anything to do with the Michael Myers storyline. In some ways, it continued the trend started with this film. Halloween II may feature a lot of the same elements of the original, but it really has no place next to the classic Halloween.

Trivia: This is the only Halloween film to show the morning after the 31st, every other movie ends on Halloween night. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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