Monday, September 12, 2011

Halloween 2 (1981)

It’s very rare that I review a movie like Halloween 2, mostly because it’s a very mainstream horror movie. I’m talking the original sequel of course, directed with a steady hand by Rick Rosenthal. So why the hell do I bother to do something one trillion other horror geeks out there will do the next weeks? The answer is obvious: Halloween 2 is, together with Psycho 2 and Maniac Cop 2, the best horror sequel ever made. Seriously. This is sequel-perfection and I’m not ashamed to being turned on by this yellow/brownish gritty and nasty continuation of John Carpenters classic.

Often sequels are unfairly bashed by fan-boys who still haven’t grown hair on their balls. What a good sequel must succeed in, and is both a blessing and a curse, is to top the original in every way possible. It’s no need for it become scarier – that’s extremely overrated – but it needs to boost the violence, nudity and twists. And here what Halloween 2 succeeds in every department, plus that it’s one of the scariest and at the same time most satisfying sequels ever made. The legend says that Rick Rosenthal’s original cut was quite lame in the gore-department, and John Carpenter wisely shot more bloodshed. Whatever really happen, this was a wise decision. This was 1981, the violence had since the first Halloween become graphic and it was time for this series to go in that direction also. It’s not overly graphic, but the murders are nasty and sadistic and very mean-spirited. The first time I saw this movie was on a cut VHS, and every murder was cut in the most ridiculous ways. For example, when the cop is getting his throat slit at the end the censors left the beginning of the slit and right to the end of the slit. Like a parody of censorship! What a jump-cut!

It also strikes me very time how much details the movie has. From the kid who has a razor in his mouth (what the hell happen there?) to the drunk doctor Mixter being sloppy with the syringes. Leo Rossi smoking weed (I guess) in the hospital kitchen…or one of the most controversial twists in the franchise: Loomis causing the death of the teenage boy, which is a subject almost left untouched, like the other characters just don’t dare to bring it up with him! Every time I see this movie I’m also reminded of that they can’t find Laurie’s parents. What happen to them? Did they also meet Michael’s knife somehow?

The newly released BD of Halloween 2 also brings forth the wonderful sets, which always reminds me of US TV-movies from the seventies. Lots of yellow and brown in the design, ugly tapestries and an interesting realistic atmosphere I’ve seen in very few other movies from the same time. The gritty look of the movie, which never stops it from looking completely gorgeous, also gives it an almost documentary style when it comes to just showing the community, the houses, interiors, the streets and the hospital. The camera-work is of course very classic Carpenter, but the quality of the film-stock echoes realism.

In all this Jamie Lee Curtis is almost forgotten, and it’s simply because she’s not the main character. Michael Myers is, and this is also his story. The first movie told Laurie’s story, here we finally get a chance to know and react to what Michael does and why he do it. But even with the violence and the lack of a sympathetic main character this is one scary mother of a movie. The final chase is among one of the best ever filmed. I’m sure Rosenthal did his homework, but his teacher was Carpenter and it feels a lot more Carpenter than any other director. Much of it is because the writers are Carpenter and Hill, and it was produced by them also. But also keep in mind that the score by Carpenter and Howarth is stunningly effective, one of the best example of the sequels score being superior to the original movie.

Halloween 2 still holds up as one of the best horror movies I’ve seen and I’m sure it can scare the shit out of even the most horror-experienced teenager even today. I was scared like hell the first time I saw it, that won’t happen now, but I still admire it as a true masterpiece of horror.


forestofthedead said...

It's good to review something others review because your perspective is unique. Thank you for sharing it with us!

bruce holecheck said...

<< From the kid who has a razor in his mouth (what the hell happen there? >>

Growing up here in the U.S. in the early '80s, I can remember being warned about eating apples gained by trick 'r treating; urban legend had it that some sadistic folks would put slide razor blades in them, so when you took a bite, you'd slice up your mouth. I don't know if there was actually documented cases or not, but it was apparently popular enough to get visualized in this sequel. And also popular enough that I knew *exactly* what happened when I first saw the film, at the tender age of 10 or so...