Monday, August 23, 2010
To me, the original Halloween sits comfortably on the all time top ten list of horror movies. In fact, I’ve long joked that it and Rosemary’s Baby are the only horror movies in my list of all time favorites that don’t start with ‘the,’ with the other four being The Shining, The Omen, The Changeling, The Thing and The Exorcist. So, lately I decided to watch all the Halloween’s in order, not in one sitting mind you, for the fun of it. I’ve seen the original many times, so I skipped it and went straight to Halloween II.
Wow, what a drop in value occurred from I to II. In II the audience picks up exactly where I left off. If you remember, the cliff hanger at the end of Halloween I was that Dr. Loomis goes over to check the body of Michael Meyers only to find he’s no longer there. Roll Credits. Well, in II, we start with Dr. Loomis freaking out and heading off with the cops on a manhunt for Mr. Meyers. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) is being hauled off to the hospital. While the good Dr. and the po-po look for Mike Meyers, Mr. Meyers is heading to the hospital to finish what he started. So, Laurie, though she’s now in no shape to do so, must escape her psycho brother yet again.
That plot description sounds just fine for a horror flick and it was written for the screen by John Carpenter, just like the first one, but it’s a clear example of the importance of execution. While the story is good, the execution is dreadful. The acting is bad, the shots are generic and the production design is awful, with way too much of Michael Meyers being shown, including almost comically wide eyes that seem to show up when he’s killing someone. And while the first in the series was taught and restrained, this one is overwrought with superfluous nudity and violence. More action and less tension almost always equals a lower quality film. II was directed by a first time director who went on to have a very successful career directing TV shows like 90210 and Buffy. Not to knock TV, but, well, it’s clear he’s more apt for short bursts of quality rather than helming an entire film project. After a major hit with I, we see a major miss with II, but, lucky for it, the story is enough to keep it out of U territory.