Holiday Horror We Love: “Halloween II” (1981) Review

I thought I’d take a look at this because its rarely mentioned when talking about a good film in the series, many go with the original being the best all the time and it gets pretty jarring, since this is a terrific follow up.

The film set on the same night as the original heightens the body count up a bit, but still manages to create an ominous mood, very suspenseful moments that drive you nuts if it is the first time you have seen the film. The tone of the film really seems to capture what made the original so great and runs with it.

Granted, Jamie Lee Curtis is put in the background here, as she is sedated through most of the film, but it gives us a chance to see Donald Pleasance and Charles Cyphers shine as the Psychiatrist and Sheriff respectively. Donald Pleasance is probably the biggest reason I love this film so much, his dialogue never seems to get old and each time I watch it, I feel the way I feel every time I watch a Vincent Price film, like I’m watching a master at work. Dick Warwick also does a fine job as The Shape, the mask looking more worn than in the original film and more robotic (which is bit of a problem, but this is post F13TH, so I can let it slide)when he walks. Dick brings a new suspenseful feeling to the film, don’t understand why they didn’t just bring back the two who played Michael in the previous film, but Dick is a decent choice (he also came in as Jason for one of the F13TH films).

The hospital setting is another factor to why I believe this to be a solid sequel and one that can’t be missed. Yes, I’ve been in and out of hospitals a lot and it is NEVER this deserted, but I’m guessing getting several extras to walk around would just create less of a story, cause Michael would certainly be on a killing spree. Also its Halloween night, the busiest day in a hospital, but it does provide a great setting and mood for the film.

I was probably one of the people who actually likes it when a killer is given a link to their victim, so having Michael and Laurie siblings is great, but as a psychiatrist he should have known he had another sibling, plus I love the scene between him and Marion and how he responds to finding this news out.

The deaths are few this time, which is nice, but there is one death that always bothered me cause I happens off-screen (you all know). This was the early 80’s and with Friday the 13th dominating horror fans minds they had to up the deaths and blood, it works when you watch the two film back to back as it balances it out, like watching both Kill Bill films as opposed to just one.

Shout Factory (UNDER THEIR SCREAM FACTORY BANNER) is coming out with Halloween 2 and 3 on DVD and Blu-Ray and they will all come with features including a commentary, so I’m excited to finally have it in my DVD collection (I have the VHS version and have been holding off on a DVD for this reason).

–Eric Curto