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  • Writer's pictureGareth Bennett

394. Halloween II (1981; Rick Rosenthal; Film)

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Sequels. For money or love they are rarely any good. Filmmakers either don’t care or worse yet, don’t really seem to know why the first film was good in the first place. They are just like… uhhh I guess people liked X or Y, let’s give ‘em more of that. But they so often miss the element, or the lightning in a bottle that made the first film so great in the first place (Ghostbusters II, Matrix 2 and 3). Often they dilute the things you loved about the first (Conan The Destroyer, Robocop 3.) And now and then they increase the things that made you like the first and it becomes too much, the formula is off (Robocop 2)

But occasionally they do it. The right vision. The right director. The right script. Everything falls into place and you get a new film, set in the same universe, telling a new and yet familiar story. Aliens is the best example I can think of. A pitch perfect sequel -- the same character, the same universe, but a completely different take/vision. One of my favorites. Of all time. ALL TIME.

But… most sequels I just avoid. I want them to be good and then, I’m let down. I prefer new tales. One I avoided on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD was 1981’s Halloween II. My loss.

I love the first -- I love Black Christmas more -- but Halloween (1978) is fantastic. A genre spawning horror masterpiece. From the first-person opening scene to Michael rising in the background (!) in the finale. WOW. An amazing horror movie. (Just writing this makes me want to see it again!) But in 1981, director Rick Rosenthal was given his first feature assignment, directing the sequel to one of the most loved horror films ever, Halloween. With a script written by the original’s director, John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill, it was, like Aliens, a perfect sequel!

Halloween II picks up right where the first film ends, seriously, it’s the exact same night! But this time the action is mostly confined to the claustrophobic hallways of an understaffed, Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. The setting is shadowy and perfect. It feels like a survival horror game. One I want to play. Wandering the halls of hunted by Michael Myers. That would rock.

A side note on the films one questionable sequence: The gratuitous nudity of the hot tub scene. It was silly, almost a parody of the genre. Hey, I’m all for nude bodies but I can’t see the sumptuousness, if I’m rolling my eyes.

Other than this brief silly detour, Halloween II is a great movie, truly.

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