Happy Halloween! It is October 31st 2020, by now we were supposed to have seen the new Halloween II titled Halloween Kills. Something happened and now we won’t be getting it till October 15th, 2021. Fortunately though, this incredibly complicated franchise has multiple Halloween II’s but this year I wanted to focus on the original sequel which not many people talk about, not even the fans.
1981’s Halloween II starts not exactly after the first movie but during it’s last few minutes giving us a seamless transition between the two movies. One thing I noticed while rewatching the first movie is how atmosphere-heavy it is. The long, wide shots capture autumn and fall perfectly in a suburban city like Haddonfield. The movie isn’t just called ‘Halloween’ because it sounds cool. The movie embodies this dark holiday because Michael Myers is the very thing we fear when we entertain the idea that someone might be watching us. The first movie has a ton of creepy set-up and even when it turns to night after the halfway point, it is still mostly set-up. The unsettling shots of young Tommy looking out the window to see Michael holding dead Annie’s body makes us revert to our child-like mindsets where even by looking out a window on Halloween night, there’s that slim feeling of fear where you entertain the idea of something evil looking back.
With Halloween II, it transitions that atmosphere and expands on it in a clever way. The first movie was very restricted in terms of locations, it was mostly filmed on the sidewalks or in the houses of Haddonfield. In Halloween II, we get to see more of Haddonfield and it’s people. The Halloween holiday aspect is played up even more making this movie also very atmospheric. One aspect I would have loved the original movie to play up was the fact that is set on a day where everyone diguises themselves. No one would suspect Michael because it’s Halloween night so when they killed off that poor drunk teen who was wearing a similar mask to Michael’s, it made sense. I loved that entire scene because it uses the holiday to a greater extent.
Just like it’s predecessor, Halloween II is another tension-filled hour and a half with Michael on the loose and out for blood. The first twenty minutes or so are easily my favourite part of the movie. I loved how the horrors of the first movie got out to the public creating a very eerie and unsettling atmosphere. It’s a small town, it’s Halloween night and there’s a killer on the loose. What if you left the door open? What if your window was open? It starts creating this paranoia which you as the viewer immediately start experiencing because just like Michael’s victims, you never see him coming.
However this movie is not perfect and I wouldn’t match it up to it’s predecessor and call it a masterpiece. This movie has it’s flaws and some of them are debatable, some of them however can’t be helped. The debatable flaws really come down to preference and pacing. This movie is a slow-paced, tension-filled hour and a half set entirely at night and for some that sounds great. In my opinion the movie did sometimes feel like a chore to get through, mainly because there was nothing new to hold my attention. The first Halloween benefited from using the entire day, when it turned to night, it felt like a nice change in tone. Here, however there isn’t any change in tone because it’s just a series of scenes shifting from Laurie in bed, Loomis on the hunt, Michael killing of hospital workers and hospital workers being horrible at their job and getting killed. When you start picking up on the pattern it does make the movie feel less exciting and more predictable. The other flaws come down to direction. John Carpenter had a clear vision and wishlist for the first movie and he made exactly how he envisioned it. Rick Rosenthal on the other hand had some interesting ideas but there just wasn’t the same level of pacing and timing.
If there’s one thing the movie is famous for, it’s the reveal that Michael Myers and Laurie Strode are indeed related. I have definitely heard about this long before watching this movie and for the longest time I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world. That being said watching this movie made it makes sense. Michael is hunting Laurie specifically, he wants her. The first movie never questioned it and it was fairly odd for it not do so but this movie does and it gives us a reveal that actually makes sense. I know the new canon has removed this but it’s still a very clever concept.
I feel like this movie was meant to be Halloween’s darker counterpart and for multiple reasons. Yes this movie is literally set entirely at night making it a literal darker sequel but everything from the gore to the tangible anger from Michael gives the movie a certain edge that wasn’t present in the first movie. It has some genuinely great and clever ideas and while I wouldn’t call this a masterpiece, it’s executed in a mostly satisfying manner.