Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#90 - Halloween II - 1981

The sixth movie I watched this week was Halloween II, the sequel to the 1978 smash hit Halloween. I've only seen this movie once before so I was anxious to see it again and see how different or similar it was to the original classic. When I originally saw this one it was back when I was in high school so it was a long long time ago. Yes I said that, a long long time ago. 15 years back to be precise. Below is my detailed description.

This film brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Samuel Loomis so the two main characters besides Michael Myers of course were back for this film. Michael Myers was played by Dick Warlock in this film and interestingly enough he also played the role of Patrolman #3 as well. I couldn't tell you where Patrolman #3 was in this film but that was none other than Michael Myers. On a side note this film was Dana Carvey's acting debut as he played an assistant to a news reporter while reporting in front of the Wallace house. Very odd.

This film released three years after the original definitely tried to bring in some of that classic Halloween movie feel especially with the opening credits to this film. It starts right where the old one left off and in fact the beginning of the film is actually the end of the first one which was weird to see but often common in sequels. Its like a refresher for the audience and it is probably more evident in films where the sequel is released 3+ years after the original. None the less this is what happens with this film as it starts with the title of October 31st, 1978 Halloween. After the opening sequence (the end of the first film) the candlelit pumpkin with the opening credits ran very similar to the original with one twist. At the end of the scene a skull rips out of the pumpkin and this was very cool. Nice touch!

The setting for this film was mostly shot in and around the local hospital, Haddonfield Hospital and personally I did not care for it as much. It was originally set to take place in a high rise apartment building however I don't think that would have been great either. Yes the beginning of the film was shot on that tortured street in Haddonfield but it quickly jumped to the Hospital once Laurie arrived. One thing I didn't particularly care for was the lack of authenticity at the hospital. The hospital was much much darker than a hospital would ever be and it was much more quiet and empty than any hospital I've ever seen. That to me was unrealistic. Overall the setting for this film didn't compare to the original at all.

The music wasn't much better. The first time I heard the Halloween theme it sounded like a candy corn version of the original classic, seriously it was more corny than scary. I know that with a new film you want to create a new soundtrack and score but since the original was so excellent I thing they should have borrowed from that playbook at least for some of the music. Even some of the more dramatic and tense scenes in the film had the more fun upbeat sounds attached to them so it wasn't as scary or suspenseful as it could have been. In a movie that plays on the music and score so much it would have been nice to have seen a more dreadful and suspenseful collection of music even if that meant going back with some of the original tracks from the first film.

The kill scenes in this film were ok at best and again I hate to harp on it but that had a lot to do with the poor music in this film. Had there been more dramatic scary tracks associated with certain scenes the kill scenes them self could have been 10 times better. With all that being said there was plenty of killing to go around so lets get to it. First victim (of this movie) was the next door neighbor girl to the elderly couple. This scene was typical and not that scary. The next to go was the Hospital security guard as he met his maker in the storage room at the hospital. Here we saw a kill scene involving a hammer and again nothing all that scary.

For me personally there was one scene that was not even a kill scene but was easily the most disturbing scene to watch. I am talking about the scene where Laurie is brought into the hospital and the repeatedly stick her arm with a needle to draw blood. The constant visual on this scene and the emphasis on the needle going into the arm is like one of the worst things I could witness. I loathe getting my blood drawn and it has to do with a bad experience as a child so watching this scene was actually extremely difficult for me, difficult enough that I had to turn away a couple times. Other scene's that the director I'm sure was actually "trying" to gross people out would have been the boiler room scene where Michael Myers literally cooked a girl to death and her smoldering skin peeling off face was left over to see. Add in a the kill scene where Myers sticks a needle in the nurse's eye and another where he slits the throat of a police officer and I think that completes the actual most disturbing kill scenes the movie has to offer. Much more mellow than today's horror films right?

Considering the let down in both the music and the setting of this film I was actually disappointed. The kill scenes were ok but nothing to write home about and when you really don't have anything other than an iconic slasher movie killer holding up your film it tends to be quite lackluster. Fortunately this franchise picked up the pace with Halloween 4 & 5 which were excellent films. Halloween III: Season of the Witch didn't really involve Michael Myers so I don't really consider that when referencing this franchise. All in all it was ok at best so I would give this film a C!

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