John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is deservingly considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made. It introduced us to “the boogie man”, the unstoppable evil: Michael Myers.
Then came the sequels … the remake … and its own sequel.
Unlike the subsequent films, which were all mindless blood baths, Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II (1981) is actually a worthy sequel. Like the original it’s a slow burn with evil lurking in the shadows, stalking innocent prey. However, even with Carpenter’s script, we’re given a precursor to Myers’ unfortunate future.
The Plot in a Nutshell (spoilers!)
We start on the same night where the original left us. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) continues his Ahab-pursuit of Michael Myers as the near comatose Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is taken to the hospital. Myers evades police and finds his way to Laurie. As Myers picks off the understaffed hospital one by one, Loomis discovers that Laurie is actually Myers’ sister. Loomis arrives at the hospital, saves Laurie, and kills himself and Myers in an explosion.
Despite keeping Michael Myers as a “shape” in the background with POV shots, the movie loses the original’s uniqueness when it racks up bodies of undeveloped characters. With the first movie we followed three innocent girls; we gained a sense of their personalities, we related to them, we sympathized with them, and we watched them helplessly perish.
For Halloween II we have three nurses: Janet, Jill, and Karen. I would combine all three into Janet. Janet is the younger and less experienced of them which makes her vulnerable and sympathetic. She becomes our ‘new Laurie’. Plus with fewer characters it creates a more isolated atmosphere, therefore raising the tension.
Along with Jimmy, the heroic ambulance driver and Laurie’s protector, these two would be left alone in the hospital as all the authority figures go missing. Mr. Garrett, the security guard, would still die as he talked to Janet on the radio, Janet would still find Dr. Mixter dead in his office, and Jimmy would still find the dead Head Nurse Alves. With no one left and the power lines cut by Myers, these two young and helpless orderlies would have to protect Laurie by themselves. We keep the slow burn atmosphere and add a cat and mouse game with Myers stalking them throughout the hospital.
After Jimmy is knocked out by slipping on Alves’ blood, Janet would meet her end like Jill does in the movie. This way we keep the famous death scene of her being lifted off the floor but it’s more emotional since we care for her.
After Myers chases Laurie, Loomis still arrives on cue. However, instead of Laurie unbelievably blinding Myers with two perfect gunshots into his eyes, Loomis would shoot a gas tank that explodes into Myers’ face. With Myers blinded, Laurie escapes, and Loomis blows up the room killing himself and Myers.
In the end the distraught Laurie would ironically be taken to the same mental hospital that Myers escaped from as Jimmy helplessly watches her be taken away.
This makes the sequel even more like the classic original. There are few yet sympathetic characters as Myers stays as “the shape”. Everything with Loomis stays the same, Laurie is still Myers’ sister, and the ending is much more disturbing. And with that, Myers now has the much-needed closure to his story.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to re-imagining another movie with you next week!