Michael Myers with one of his more memorable kills

Halloween 2 1981 – Happy Samhain

3.5 out of 5 stars

Halloween 2 1981 is of course the follow-up to the psycho-slasher masterpiece Halloween 1978 by John Carpenter. Many consider this notable for many reasons. First of all, John Carpenter never intended to make a sequel, so he had to gin up a plot from nothing. John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote the screen play for the film, but Carpenter gave up the directors chair to Rick Rosenthal, his first directing job. Finally, according to legend, Carpenter committed the most egregious horror movie sin of all time by making Laurie Strode the hidden sister of Michael Myers, or so they say.

Halloween 2 1981 - Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the role of Laurie Strode
Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the role of Laurie Strode

Halloween 2 – An Immediate Sequel with a Bum Rap

For whatever reason, Halloween 2 seems to get shunned by horror movie fans. It certainly failed to impress the critics of the day. The whole thing boggles the mind considering the world wide cesspool of garbage slasher sequels. Halloween 2  begins immediately where the original left off. Dr. Loomis arrives on the scene to save Laurie in the nick of time. Loomis blasts several shots into the torso of Michael. Michael tumbles backwards from the balcony onto the hard ground below, presumably lifeless. Loomis diverts his attention to Laurie for a brief moment and looks back. Michael vanished.

Haddonfield Memorial Hospital – The Surgeon is In

The action of this sequel follows Laurie to the hospital where she recovers from her wounds. Michael , possessed with an insatiable drive to kill Laurie, tracks her down and infiltrates the hospital. The hospital makes fantastic setting for a slasher film. Thinly staffed, the resident doctors and nurses often find themselves alone and isolated. Every room and every corner creates suspense. Long dark corridors stretch in all directions. What’s more, hospitals are filled from floor to ceiling with implements of doom!

Maintaining Continuity

Rick Rosenthal does a tremendous job keeping the same mood and suspense as the original film. Michael Myers appears as creepy and menacing as ever as he methodically and relentlessly pursues Laurie. Of course, the original theme music written by Carpenter returns. Rosenthal dovetails the film perfectly into its predecessor. At the time that the film was released, stiff competition in the slasher genre was coming through the woodwork. That being said, the studio pressured Rosenthal to amplify the gore quotient.

Halloween 2 1981 - Michael Myers Mistaken Identity
Dr. Loomis causes the death of a young boy when he mistakes him for Michael Myers

Loomis on a Rampage

Bringing back the important pieces of the original cast contributes greatly to maintaining the flow between the original and the sequel. Among those, Loomis is critical to that formula. Dr. Loomis becomes even more unhinged as his worst fears about Michael Myers prove true. In fact, Loomis’ mania reaches a fever point in which he becomes as dangerous as Michael. This all bears out when Loomis chases a young trick-or-treater into the path of an oncoming squad car. Loomis doesn’t even blink in the morgue when the coroner reveals with near certainty that Loomis caused the death of an innocent child.

Halloween 2 - The naughty nurse gets the hot tub treatment
The naughty nurse gets the hot tub treatment

So Much Gore… Really?

The transition from pure suspense to a more gore oriented slasher format often gets quoted as one of the tragedies of the film. I couldn’t disagree more. For the most part, Rosenthal tastefully executes the the gore, and refuses to revel in it. He manages to create some genuinely disturbing sequences that WILL make the audience squirm, but they do not at all feel gratuitous. Of the most horrible, Michael Myers inserts a hypodermic needle into the eyeball of a doctor. It’s brutal to watch, but resides well within Michael Myers conservative boundaries. Again, in a world full of gory garbage sequels, why pick on this specific film for this?

Halloween 2 1981 - Michael Myers finds a new weapon, a syringe
Michael Myers finds a new weapon, a syringe

The Sibling Controversy

Growing up with this film, I never knew that the film contained a controversy so grand, so egregious that people would attempt to strike it from the history books. Of course, I am referring to the revelation that Laurie Strode is Michael Myers long-lost sister. Quentin Tarantino has been quoted, “The sequels were horrible. They’re like fruit from a poison tree because Laurie is not the brother of The Shape”. First of all, Quentin, she obviously is the brother of The Shape because John Carpenter said so. Carpenter has since tried to walk it back that he was ‘drunk’ when he wrote that, but too bad. It’s canon. To pretend like it’s not is a deceit.

Still, what really is so crazy about the premise. Certainly horror fans have suffered worse plot twists than this. If Laurie isn’t related to him, why the hell does he try so hard to get to kill her? Without that hook driving the story, Laurie literally has no reason to return as a character to any of the sequels. If only for having a reason to anchor Jamie Lee Curtis, the sibling side- story is brilliant.

Michael Myers with one of his more memorable kills
Michael Myers notches one of his more memorable kills

Samhain – The Lord of the Dead and Other Myths

Another fantastic addition to the mythology of Michael Myers gets painted in blood on the blackboard of a schoolhouse. Michael inscribes the word “Samhain”. Samhain, a Celtic tradition, celebrates the end of the harvest and the arrival of Autumn. Because Samhain also occurs in fall, it often gets associated with Halloween. Dr. Loomis explains that the word means, “Lord of the Dead”. The brilliant addition of a lightly treaded supernatural reference makes Michael Myers even more mysterious.

Love it or hate it, the reference to Samhain hooks up nicely with the global Celtic conspiracy of Silver Shamrock and eventually the Cult of the Thorn.

Halloween 2 1981 also adds to the mythology of the holiday itself. In a fleeting scene at the hospital, a mother ushers her son to the emergency room. Someone had put a razor blade in her sons candy. It’s a silly reference, but moms have been checking candy bags for 40 years due to this myth!

Halloween 2 - Michael Myers blinded by gunshots from Laurie Strode
Laurie Strode fires two shots into the eyes of Michael Myers, blinding him

The Death of Michael Myers

Halloween 2 1981 intended to mark the end of the Michael Myers era. Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis break bad on Michael Myers. Laurie shoots both of Michael’s eyeballs out, blinding him. While Michal blindly swings his scalpel and anything that bleeds, Loomis and Laurie open up tanks of Oxygen and Ether. Just as Laurie clears the room, Loomis ignites the gas, presumably killing himself and Michael in fiery explosion.

As Dr. Ian Malcolm once said, “Life finds a way”. Both Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers would return to the series in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

Rob Zombie’s Tribute

Halloween 2 enamored Rob Zombie enough the he began his 2009 sequel to his Halloween reboot with a dream sequence tribute to its namesake. Unfortunately, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 2009 is under appreciated in its own right.

Halloween 2 - Michael Myers in flames
Michael Myers in flames courtesy of Dr. Loomis

John Carpenter and the Dario Argento Incident

My whole life, I have been in awe of the simple, yet terrifying, theme song for Halloween. For many year, I have revered John Carpenter for writing it. However, it wasn’t until I heard the theme from Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975) that I wondered if possibly John Carpenter was influenced by other works. The theme, “Profondo Rosso” written by Claudio Simonetti sounds eerily similar to the Halloween theme.

Then there is the case of the boiled face. Deep Red also features a murder by boiling the face of the victim in extremely hot water. The scenes look very closely choreographed. The say that great artists steal, so we at Malevolent Dark won’t fault John Carpenter for bringing a bit of European flavor to his otherwise original slasher.

Halloween 2 – The Shape of Things

Contrary to popular belief, Halloween 2 1981 is actually one of the better slasher sequels of all time. It respectfully deviates slightly the original formula, but manages maintain continuity and mood between films. Had the series stopped when it was ahead, the combination of the first two films might have been an awesome one two punch. Don’t listen to the critics on this one. Halloween 2 is a great film and it deserves a renaissance. Happy Samhain!

Halloween 2 1981 - Happy Samhain - Malevolent Dark
halloween 2 1981 memorable kill

Director: Rick Rosenthal

Date Created: 1981-01-01 00:00

Editor's Rating:
3.5

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