Halloween II was released in 1981, three years after John Carpenter’s legendary first movie, and was directed by Rick Rosenthal. Carpenter, however, worked hard on it, as he composed the soundtrack, he acted as a producer, and above he wrote the screenplay together with Debra Hill. Since then, Uncle John hasn’t missed an opportunity to speak badly of the film and his own script, but in reality the movie is not that bad, in my opinion (it was also a job he did reluctantly and only for the money, since he thought that he exhausted the things to say with the first film). Halloween II picks up exactly from the Halloween finale (even reusing some scenes) and follows on one hand Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the hospital hunted by Michael Myers, and on the other Doctor Loomis (Donald Pleasence) who tries to find him to kill him somehow, although it has been understood that gun shots cannot stop Myers, but only hurt him. The film takes place on Halloween night, therefore, and ends at dawn the next day.
Rosenthal as director did everything to refer to and respect Carpenter’s work, I must say with nice results. There are many subjective scenes shot with the Panaglide used in the initial Halloween scene, many others shot with a dolly, there are jump scares but not too many, and you can see the care with which many scenes were composed with things happening in the background more than in the foreground (like a creepy Michael Myers walking around without anyone seeing him, for example), just like in the first film. It also helps that practically all the technicians were the same of the first film, even the director of photography: Dean Cundey.
Perhaps what this film fails to do is to create characters who manage to stay impressed. In the hospital, where most of the action takes place, there are several people doing things (and dying): the guard played by Cliff Emmich, the doctor played by Ford Rainey, the couple formed by Leo Rossi and Pamela Susan Shoop, the young man who falls in love with Laurie (Lance Guest)… but probably no one has enough time to develop and become memorable. And even if there are some good kills (above all, that of the nurse played by Tawny Moyer), Michael Myers simply walks slowly towards his victims with knives of various shapes in his hand, exactly like in the previous film. Perhaps Carpenter was right to think that his character didn’t lend itself to a sequel, let alone an entire saga!
Halloween II was a box office hit nonetheless, grossing ten times its $ 2.5 million budget, but was butchered by critics for being a mere re-run of the first film (what did they expect from a slasher sequel if not another slasher? ). Seen almost forty years later, I haven’t found it that bad, and it’s certainly superior to many of the films that have tried to imitate Halloween, starting with Friday the 13th (1980). But one thing must be said: Jamie Lee Curtis’s wig was horrible. Ciao!
PS: one day someone will explain to me why Dana Carvey appears for a few seconds in a role in which he doesn’t even have to speak at the beginning of the film.