Halloween Retrospective: Halloween 2

stills-halloween-ii-02Throughout the month of October, Rob will be taking a trip down memory lane, examining the Halloween series as the films exist in chronological order. 

John Carpenter decided to hand of directing duties to Rick Rosenthal, who, apparently, would later say he'd never make another Halloween movie again due to behind-the-scenes conflict. Until Halloween: Resurrection, that is. The second film, written again by Carpenter and partner Debra Hill, picks up moments after Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) saved Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) from the clutches of Michael Myers. It's in this second film that Myers' impulse to kill become a clear and that he is, in fact, targeting his sister. 

Strode, adopted after Myers killed his older, begins remembering childhood visits to the sanitarium to visit her deranged brother. This sequel also further establishes Strode as just as unkillable as her brother. Surviving her initial run-in, Strode and Loomis engage Myers in his own ground, going practically toe to toe with him in close quarters.

From the opening credits of the film, the viewer knows they're watching something drastically different than the initial film. While the setting remains predominantly the hospital, there are sequences scattered around town, showing the impact Myers' rampage has had on the once-idyllic town of Haddonfield. This notion is also well-established in Zombie's sequel, however; the mythology of Carpenter and Hill's world is far grander.

Rosenthal knows what works. Its been two or three years since the public has seen Halloween on the big screen. Opening the film with the closing moments of the original film helps bridge the gap for new viewers looking to get caught up in the Halloween universe.

I've always loved the concept of what happens to this small town and how does that affect the folks who live there? This is the kind of small town where everybody knows everybody, where news travels fast, where folks gather at a lunch counter every day. Small-town America at its finest. Haddonfield is, in my opinion, the fourth character in Carpenter and Hill's slasher masterpiece.

It's important to note that the original Halloween ushered in a slew of horror flicks all centered around a holiday or around creepy days. Friday the 13th is one of these flicks. It upped the gore and blood content, while also making setting the stage for a juggernaut film franchise all its own with hockey mask-wearing Jason Voorhees as its star. The Friday the 13th connection is important to note here, in that by upping the gore and increasing the silliness of the kills, Halloween had to follow suit. Myers, in the original film, was a stab-and-strangle kinda' guy. In the sequel, he drowns, bludgeoned and drains his victims. It shows an evolution in his serial killing ways, however; it also highlights the escalation of the horror genre as a whole.

The introduction of a love interest in the form of Jimmy (Lance Guest), the EMT who brings Laurie to the hospital, is interesting. I'd be curious to know if people thought Jimmy was going to be a hero in the film or not, the introduction of a young, good-looking counterpart for Laurie is nice to see. Laurie, as a character, deserves something good after Myers' arrival, but it's cool to see the strapping young man turned into a shellshocked victim by the end of the film.

Halloween must be one of the few film franchises with so much additional material and so many different versions in existence. The original film had sequences shot for its television run during the production of this second film, While Rosenthal's film has so many alternate sequences, kills and survivors, it's hard to keep track. Either Jimmy slips and knocks himself unconscious when finding Nurse Alves' dead body or he ends up in the ambulance with Laurie at the end. Either Myers smashes the security guard's head in with a hammer or he merely stalks up behind him, killing him offscreen. Its almost a completely different film, one obviously more violent than the other.

The police are far more cooperative this time around, especially after Brackett exits the film. They trust Loomis. They get the horror of the situation. They're ready for action. Hunt, Brackett's right hand man becomes Loomis' squire, cruising around and searching for Myers. They have a kind of "brains and brawn" vibe to them.

The sequel also does an awesome job of highlighting the urban legend of Michael Myers. Everyone knows about Myers. Everyone knows that he killed his sister. It's common knowledge. This works in the film's favor as it plays into the notion of the past coming back to devour the present.

Loomis' narrative entails dealing with some bureaucratic nonsense under orders from the Governor of Illinois. For obvious reasons, mental health funding to Smith's Grove Sanitarium would be cut so drastically that it'd impact the entire facility. Loomis, one step ahead of everyone, begins laying the groundwork for what would eventually become the Thorn scenario of Halloweens 5 and 6. Loomis also connects the dots that the concept of Samhain, the fall season, end of summer having to do with ritual slaughter and mayhem. This would later be expanded upon, but it's interesting to see Carpenter and Hill lay the groundwork for it early on, whether that was their intention or not. 

One wonders exactly where Carpenter and Hill would've taken the Halloween narrative had they continued after Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.

Oct
27
2013
Robert Ottone • Staff Writer

A natural bon vivant in love with cigars, finery and luxurious booze, SelfieRob aims to make light of the world around him while living the party boy lifestyle. From the Hamptons to NYC and beyond, SelfieRob lives life to the fullest.

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