Tuesday, October 9, 2012

30 Days of Fright - 08: Halloween 2 (1981)

Some people are batshit crazy. There's no easy way to say it and there's definitely no politically correct way to say it (no matter how hard you try), some people are just loopy. Screwballs. Nutters. Line workers at the puzzle factory. Thankfully, no matter what mental malady a person may be suffering from they can always turn that condition into an asset and secure employment as a provider of psychiatric care to other psychos.

Set on October 31st 1978, the same Halloween night as in the first film, Halloween 2 (1981) continues the story of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as she and wacky, incompetent, psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) confront Michael Myers. Loomis finally gives up on all those years of medical training and experience and just shoots Myers as he remembers to old adage about how doctors can hide their mistakes in the graveyard.Loomis isn't a bad shot and manages to pump six rounds into Myers but is horrified to discover that Myers hasn't been stopped and has managed to escape.

The emergency services arrive and take Laurie off to the hospital and Loomis off to search for Myers, who's out and about in downtown Haddonfield and finds the time to murder a girl before discovering that Laurie, the one that got away, has been taken to the hospital. Now knowing where she is, and for some unknown reason, obsessed with her, Mike heads off to the hospital to get Laurie.

Laurie is in a right old state after the night she's just had, and has a couple of broken bones and a stab wound so the doctor looking after her has dosed her to the eyeballs with some sedatives. While under, Laurie experiences visions of a young boy in a mental hospital and more disturbingly of her own apparent adoption by her parents.

Myers makes his way to the hospital and once there he starts into his usual brand of mayhem, by cutting off the phones, slashing the tyres of the cars in the parking lot, and then getting down to some wholesale murder, working his way through the hospital staff to get to Laurie.

Loomis meanwhile is off with the Sheriff and makes some shocking discoveries about Myers' true nature and that of his family...

Look, no hands! Nurse Jill meets Michael Myers for the first time and gets instantly pregnant

It's no secret that I don't think much of the original Halloween from back in 1978, and that I believe that people who bang on about it being a great horror film have probably never seen it. However, when it hit the cinemas in the late seventies, people did go to see it in their droves and so it spawned a handful of sequels. In going about putting together a sequel it must be very easy to just do enough to get by, safe in the knowledge that the cash will come tumble in regardless of whatever crap gets flung at the screen.

Everybody knows the deal with sequels so no one really expects that much from them. Of course, the film-makers know that expectations are going to be low for a second film in a series so if they want to cause a stir all they have to do is make a decent film. There have been one or two cases of this in the past but they are extremely rare. Halloween 2 is not one of those rare films, it was never going to create a stir by being stunningly good, but it is actually quite good. No, to call it good is a bot too much, actually, it's not that its good its more that it's not completely shit.

The way the film continues the story in such a literal way, by recapping the final moments of the first film and then carrying on, seems like a risky move for a film of this calibre but it paid off. The join between the two films is almost seamless and you're sucked back into the events of that October 31st very quickly. I do wonder what it would be like to watch the two films one after the other as I can only imagine that a whole pile of mistakes and continuity errors must have crept into the second film that you'd only be aware of after a recent viewing of the first film.Without that "luxury" I didn't really notice anything glaring and certainly nothing that would have ruined the enjoyment of the film.

A couple of good choices in the plot really helped Halloween 2. Jamie Lee Curtis' character Laurie isn't in it that much, despite being the focus of the whole thing, which is good as she'd gone from being a dowdy cow in the first film to being a dowdy cow in a hospital gown in the second. Donald Pleasance as Loomis seems to be in Halloween 2 a lot more then he was in the first one, which is good because he's madder then the patients he's allegedly treating (that is if shooting them multiple times, reloading, and shooting them some more can be classed as "treatment" - Loomis' medical competency once again gets called into question every time he opens his mouth in this flick).

There are some other nice touches in Halloween 2, like the people of Haddonfield finally copping on to the fact that there's been a lot of murders in the area overnight and that those left alive in the town either know the victims or are related to them! There's also a clever in joke about a mother taking her young son to the hospital in the middle of all the action. The young lad in question is dressed like a cowboy and has obviously been out trick or treating and has fallen victim to the urban legend of someone sticking a razor blade into an apple. It's a sick joke but perfect for a Halloween movie.

Overall the effects are somewhat muted as is the violence, for a brutal killing machine Myers seems a little bit squeamish.This reduces Myers effectiveness as a villain and that only serves to draw the audiences attention to the fact that Halloween 2, despite its good points, is a little bit boring; once thing that really sticks out is that there's just too much of the film set in the hospital as so little goes on there for such a long time, and all during that time hardly any of the main characters feature.

Halloween 2 (1981) does well for a sequel in its class and it's certainly miles better then the remake/reboot Halloween 2 (2009). This is a film made a little bit for entertainment but mostly for cashing in but it can still teach us something; be really, really careful where you get psychiatric help from as some shrinks will only make matters worse, just ask Michael Myers.

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Halloween 2

Jamie Links Curtis:
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_2
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082495/

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