It surprises no one that after Halloween {1978] became a box office hit that the producers and studios would want a sequel, especially since the film assisted in the launch of the slasher genre with Friday the 13th [1980], though a few blips proceeded it. In 1981, before the filming actually started, over 10-movies on this subgenre were released, most could name some of them, among them My Bloody Valentine, Final Exam, Night School, The Prowler, and the prolific homicidal maniac Jason Voorhees made his appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2 five-months before Michael began stalking once again. Therefore, with the theaters raking buckets of money in exchanging slashing galore no wonder the demand for more from Halloween was truly required. Afterall, the conclusion of the first movie, left the possibility for his return wide-open, while the intention was to suggest nothing stops the boogeyman and he’s in every shadow lurking for all who dare cross his path. John Carpenter originally had another thought for Halloween, a yearly anthology (that concept would fail after Halloween III [1982], and though wasn’t truly interested in penning/directing another one, he wrote perhaps in his mindset the worst script. He’s numerously stated that ‘a six-pack of Budweiser every day’ aided him in the screenplay process; He originally sworn off any directing duties however, one comes to learn that did not exactly occur, his actual involvement was thoroughly much deeper in the film’s production.

Producer/writer John Carpenter didn’t like director Rick Rosenthal’s first version of the film, avoided explicit violence and gore in favor of well-crafted suspense and terror, found in the 1978 version, success of the new wave of slasher films was scary and R-rated but lacked bloodshed and nudity poorly at the box office. Rick wasn’t noticing the trades or trends rising in the horror genre, re-edit was done, but Carpenter still found it too tame, so he took over the editing process and sped up the action. also shot a few gory scenes, all at the displeasure of Rosenthal. John felt slighted by the studio over lack of return of investment from the first movie, hence took on producer credit, although he did receive handsome back-payments from the studio. While the film doesn’t match the intensity, tension, or frights of the first movie, its fall isn’t quite bad, compared to the numerous screenwriters and directors, trying to design a mythos for the Myers character, when reviewing the franchise (this not counting or examining its placement in the new Universe or avenue of the Blumhouse created movies).

As its presumed that almost 95% of horror fans know this film very well, I won’t dwell too much on the plot, but rather some of the flaws and other unique aspects of the movie. Hence it picks up with a brief recap of the first movie, a trait that would be commonplace in both early films of the Friday the 13th franchise and would also reappear in some of the later installment of the Halloween franchise. Michael has attempted to kill Laurie, and to the viewers that moment she’s just another babysitter who crossed paths with the homicidal maniac who is more demonic due to his invincible behavior, surviving six-shots a center mass, and simply walking away. However, let’s look at this opening sequence closely, our first oops moment occurs of continuity, it involves Myers’ fall; the 1978 version he tumbles backwards off the balcony and the 1981 film has him up on the railing and noting neither scene matches the other.

Halloween – 1978 Balcony

Halloween – 1981 Balcony

Let’s move onward, the great thing about the first movie, it helped build and expand the slasher subgenre, from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho [1960], but what truly worked was incorporate well-timed pacing and hence ratcheted up tension and not necessarily suspension as we all know of the killer. This sequel attempts for that again but gave it away exchange for more violence and blood splatter. As Michael (Dick Warlock (The Relic [1997])) is on the aimless prowl once more, a couple of unnecessary scenes, first sweeping a knife from Elrod household and randomly kills Alice, with a jump scare for the audience; while the town and residents all become aware of the terror and death treating itself disastrous tricks. I mention the murdering of Alice, as many know this scene reprise in Halloween [2018]. While, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis (Terror Train [1980])) is taken to hospital, has its own weirdness, a slightly drunken Dr. Mixter on duty who was at a party with Strode’s parents, and the staff knows the doctor is tipsy, while Laurie battles with shock, shattered sanity, she’s aided by paramedics a caring Jimmy (Lance Guest (Night of the Wolf [2014])) and filthy-minded Budd (Leo Rossi). Then rounding the team is nurses Janet, Jill and stern head nurse Mrs. Alves (Gloria Gifford), yeah strange no surgeon or other doctors available no janitors just a security guard Mr. Garrett (Cliff Emmich (Return to Horror High [1987])). While is being cared for there’s a brief and never heard again child named Gary and his mother, which gave a nod to the urban legend of razor blades in candy. The hunt proceeds then a Michael-lookalike Ben Tamer is seen and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) goes even madder and we begin burn things up to given more damage inflicted to everyone. However, Sherriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers (The Fog [1980])) mourns the loss of his daughter, Annie (Nancy Loomis), in a scene that truly isn’t necessary to show her body just a grieving father, but a pull at heartstrings, needed to slow things for part of the second act.

Meanwhile, we have a stranger transitional scene to get Michael to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, some have tried to discount the location as a clinic, however it’s far too big for that, and signage on both street signs and clothing state the truth. When a teen walks by carrying a boom-box radio is listening to the news – oh come on, why him of all people is listening to a news broadcast, rums into Michael. On this chance encounter, no one is murdered and rather Myers hurries on his way to the hospital in search of his sister. The world’s most conveniently placed sign ever in a horror film, complete with an arrow, and it settles the argument that it’s a hospital and not a clinic, regardless of the interviews Rosenthal that quote him on the type of structure.

It is during this entire sequence that nurse Karen (Pamela Shoop (Empire of the Ants [1977])) has a lengthy discussion with her friend Darcy about giving her a lift home, and then we never see her again either, hence basically with five characters aren’t needed for the film and allowing for a straighter method. Finally, when at the hospital all the angles, Garrett walking the floors we the audience also learn the layout of the floor plans, we inform of how many souls, locations of some doors, how they are locked, everything is spelled out for our pleasurable viewership. But wait, how do we get Dr. Loomis here? Well, he needs to wait for a moment, time for Michael to get in touch with his feelings, hammer some out and likely one a few creative killings start with a therapeutic plunge. After Budd is dispatched to the afterlife, Michael makes his stealthy move to an unexpected Karen, it’s here we have a hint of his last traits of humanity shown, similar to when he donned the ghost costume and glasses in the first movie. However, this goes further, instead of the quick kill he allows Karen to massage and kiss his thumb, and it’s been suggested as erotic horrific arousal moment. The thumb, herein used as phallic symbol, as often the knife used in slasher movies is the representation of extension male genitalia, with the act of penetration as violent conquering. Hence, his breathing stays steady, but when she forces her need to return to work, he withdraws his hand in anger, from her rejection; then she realizes it’s not Budd. He’s ready to achieve his pleasure in exterminating her life he uses his hands; his strength controls the back of head thereby to she forced to submit his will; one witnesses her beauty destroyed by the water-torture and the increased boiling temperatures.

When Loomis visits an elementary school, a lot of scenes are filler, to pad the run time, as if almost a connect-the-dots, but one scene allows the fan to discover the word ‘Samhain’ and enter into a deeper mythology concerning Celtic rituals of what Michael is rather merely than who. It wouldn’t be Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers [1995] and writer Dan Farrands who’ll attempt clear up this weirdness. It’s interesting when Marion (Nancy Stephens, who has been a reoccurring character on a total of four Halloween films) arrives to retrieve Loomis, back to the institute, this actually is more of a liability issue, they’re on the hook for all the death and destruction, time to minimize their involvement. Here between the hospital and car ride with Loomis we learn a deeper plot line, Laurie’s connection to Michael, which leads a comical moment of the Marshall and warning shot, especially since he never disarms the dear doctor. Every viewer just laughs at this scene.

Similar to Friday the 13th, a camp setting, all the weapons are relatable to the location, and therefore same fitting usage herein, the eventful deploying of medical equipment. Such as the needle inserted into temple of a victim, or draining all the blood via intravenous tube, onto the floor, which gave quite a contrast of the rich blood against a darkened floor. That scene led to Jimmy slipping on the blood and having him sprawled out in the blood too, it doesn’t end the Michael show his talents for using a scalpel. The final 10-minutes work very well, and aided by the music, ratchets the tension upward for a final girl battle and one last session for doctor and patient. Well just for this movie.

One common criticism about the hospital due to the fact it is nearly abandoned, which is a fair assessment, and perhaps the film should have had more staff presented as does Halloween Kills [2021], and less of the unnecessary characters previously mentioned. Just imagine a scene of a mother clutching her newborn, the powerful impact transcending that image to the audience, sadly none of that occurs. The importance of minor characters who either speak or have direct interactions with main characters should do something to movie the story along, Darcy, Alice, Teen with boom-box, Gary, and his mother. Perhaps even develop more encounters with Michael who abandons his butcher knife for any object to use as a weapon, basically what Jason would be become to and for his audiences. Perhaps the inclusion Gary was Carpenter’s hint towards his conceptual idea of Halloween III, to have a seasonal horror film, on certain themes surrounding the holiday, although never confirmed, it is a mere speculation of mine. There’s one major improvement from the initial rough script to the finalized version, which has since been revealed by executive producer Irwin Yablans (Fade to Black [1980])) set in high-security high rise apartment/penthouses complex, thank goodness that was abandoned, the equivalent of that would have been send a killer to the Big City, oh wait Jason did that in the lame Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan [1989]. Sometimes a downfall of entire incredible scene is cinematography and framing therein, it happens in The Godfather during a fight sequence with mid-air whiff punch, and here it occurred with a false wall corridor. The picture below shows the oops factor (circled in black to the right), whether it could have been correct in post remains an unknown, it’s just an uh-oh moments forever caught on the screen. Alan Howarth (Basement Jack [2009]) composer, does a fine job of creating the proper tempo for multiple scenes and cues, works to keep the audience engaged.

First, the movie still holds the attention of audiences, and allows for repeated viewings, even with agreeable understanding that each new release led to further disappointment in the original franchise headed by executive producer Moustapha Akkad (Halloween 1 through 8). While the first doesn’t contain or present any of the uniqueness of the first movie, it does work to maintain tension in the long hallways of the hospital, a place where subtle references to life and death, the nursey as hope and the surgical room at the end, as a battle with death. The slasher fans of then ate it up, and requested more, aiding in the launch of the subgenre, still lasting to this day in some manner.

TAGLINES:

  • More Of The Night He Came Home
  • He came back to finish what they’ll never forget…
  • How do you kill what’s NOT alive?
  • The Nightmare Isn’t Over
  • All New. From The People Who Brought You “Halloween”… More Of The Night HE Came Home.
  • The Boogieman Is Back
  • Just when you thought it was safe to go trick or treating…
  • They couldn’t stop him… Now he’s back!
  • It’s not only a murderer… It’s an indestructible terror!
  • The sensational follow-up to the worldwide phenomenon. More terror, even more terrifying.
  • HALLOWEEN: The horror smash of the seventies! HALLOWEEN II: The horror smash of the eighties?

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082495/

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10

Follows 

Halloween (1978)

Followed by 

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Halloween (2018)

Halloween Kills (2021)

Halloween Ends (2022)

Edited from 

Halloween (1978)