Halloween II – USA, 1981 – reviews

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‘From the people who brought you “Halloween”… more of the night He came home.’

Halloween II is a 1981 American slasher horror feature film directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween: Resurrection) from a screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.

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The film is the second instalment in the Halloween series and is a direct sequel to Halloween, immediately picking up where it had left off, set on the same night of October 31, 1978, as the seemingly un-killable Michael Myers continues to follow Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) to a nearby hospital while Doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is still in pursuit of his patient.

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Carpenter refused to direct the sequel and originally approached Tommy Lee Wallace, the art director from the original Halloween, to take the helm. Carpenter told one interviewer, “I had made that film once and I really didn’t want to do it again.”

After Wallace declined, Carpenter chose Rick Rosenthal, a relatively unknown and inexperienced director whose previous credits included episodes of the television series Secrets of Midland Heights (1980–1981). In an interview with Twilight Zone Magazine, Carpenter explained that Rosenthal was chosen because “he did a terrific short called Toyer. It was full of suspense and tension and terrific performances.”

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Aptly named shunt performer Dick Warlock played Michael Myers (as in Halloween, listed as ‘The Shape’ in the credits), replacing Nick Castle who was beginning a career as a director. Warlock’s previous experience in film was as a stunt double in films, such as Jaws (1975). Warlock also claims that the mask he wore was the same one as used by Castle in the first film.

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The decision to include more gore and nudity in the sequel was not made by Rosenthal, who contends that it was Carpenter who chose to make the film much bloodier than the original. According to the film’s official website, “Carpenter came in and directed a few sequences to clean up some of Rosenthal’s work.”One reviewer of the film notes that “Carpenter, concerned that the picture would be deemed too ‘tame’ by the slasher audience, re-filmed several death scenes with more gore.”

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Originally, Halloween II was intended to be the last chapter of the Halloween series to revolve around Michael Myers and Haddonfield, but after the lacklustre reaction to Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), the Michael Myers character was brought back seven years later by producer Moustapha Akkad in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).halloween-II-teaser-poster-1981

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• Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal
• Audio commentary with stunt coordinator/actor Dick Warlock
•  The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making of Halloween II, featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey and more
• Horror’s Hallowed Grounds- Revisiting the original shooting locations
• Theatrical Trailer, TV and Radio Spots

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The movie has a nice amount of tension, and director Rick Rosenthal does a fine job of re-creating the look of Halloween. The mask looks a little weird, but Michael Myers is still a menacing figure. I have issues with the dark and seemingly deserted hospital and the singular location makes the movie feel a bit flat at times…” DVD Sleuth

” …Halloween II fits rather snugly on the “decent sequels to excellent movies” shelf, right next to Rocky 2, Psycho 2, and Jaws 2. Many recall pretty fondly how H2 picks up (literally) one second after Halloween finishes, and I’d echo those sentiments: having Part 2 take place in the same night as Part 1 creates a very cool kinship between original and sequel.” FEARnet

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” …it’s ultimately not playing on the same level as the masterpiece that precipitated it. That said, That said, it is vastly superior too many of the slasher films and is a welcome continuation of the Michael Myers saga.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s, McFarlane, 2007

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“The murders are occasionally vicious (including a hot tub kill that quotes Deep Red), the twist (echoing a key story beat of Jamie Lee’s Prom Night) dilutes the more frightening notion of Michael as a random killer and the backdrop of Haddonfield Memorial proves a less effective than the Autumnal suburban streets.” Horror Screams Video Vault

“Director Rick Rosenthal repeats the same scare gimmicks of the first film and they simply can’t stand up to repetition. The various plot revelations actually diminish the raw power of Carpenter’s original concept and put the series on a downward spiral that has continued.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide, Visible Ink Press, 2013

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Cast and characters:

  • Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode
  • Donald Pleasence as Doctor Sam Loomis
  • Charles Cyphers as Sheriff Leigh Brackett
  • Lance Guest as Jimmy
  • Pamela Susan Shoop as Nurse Karen Bailey
  • Tawny Moyer as Nurse Jill Franco
  • Ana Alicia as Nurse Janet Marshall
  • Hunter von Leer as Deputy Gary Hunt
  • Nancy Stephens as Marion Chambers
  • Dick Warlock as The Shape (Michael Myers)/Patrolman #3
  • Gloria Gifford as Nurse Virginia Alves
  • Leo Rossi as Budd Scarlotti
  • Ford Rainey as Doctor Frederick Mixter
  • Jeffrey Kramer as Graham
  • Cliff Emmich as Bernard Garrett
  • John Zenda as Marshal Terrence Gummell
  • Anne Bruner as Alice Martin
  • Lucille Benson as Mrs Elrod
  • Catherine Bergstrom as Debra Lane
  • Anne-Marie Martin as Darcy Essmont
  • Dana Carvey as Barry McNichol
  • Billy Warlock as Craig Levant
  • Nancy Loomis as Annie Brackett [corpse cameo]
  • Brian Andrews as Tommy Doyle [flashback]
  • Kyle Richards as Lindsey Wallace [flashback]
  • Jonathan Prince as Randy Lohnner
  • Jack Verbois as Ben Tramer

Principal filming:

18 April 1981 to 25 May 1981 in Alhambra, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Sierra Madre, California

Technical details:

92 minutes
Audio: Dolby Stereo
MGM Color
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1

Box office:

Budget:$2,500,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $7,446,508, 1 November 1981
Domestic: $25,533,818
Worldwide Gross: $25,533,818

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Trivia:

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