A knitting needle in the neck didn’t stop him. Neither did getting jabbed by a wire hanger or his own knife. Christ, not even six bullet blasts were able to finish him off.
A stunned Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) looks out the window again at the beginning of Halloween II (just as he did at the end of Halloween) to discover that Michael Myers, the man he just shot and who crashed through the second floor window onto the ground below, is nowhere to be found. All that’s left is a rather large body imprint on the front lawn and some blood.
Of course, that’s not quite how it happened in Halloween. (Halloween II reworks the famous ending of its predecessor with new footage not so seamlessly edited with the old.) Regardless, the point remains that a man who should be dead is still walking around freely.
And he’s not done killing people.
After surreptitiously retrieving a kitchen knife from an old, oblivious housewife distractingly annoyed her husband fell asleep while the original Night Of The Living Dead starts playing on the telly (he’s too tired for that sandwich she was making), Myers squeezes in an extra kill before heading to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. The embattled Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis with strangely different hair even though it’s still October 31, 1978), the 17-year-old babysitter he only injured in the first movie, is being directly ambulanced there.
Now, common sense would dictate that Dr. Loomis would be right there with her knowing that Myers, his deeply troubled patient, wants her dead. But Halloween II is not a smart movie. Instead of doing the logical thing, Loomis sticks around with the bumbling local police and becomes indirectly responsible for a completely avoidable tragedy. It’s a scene so silly you just shake your head and laugh.
After arriving at the hospital, a highly stressed Laurie is diagnosed with an ankle injury, injected with medication against her wishes and ordered to rest. Jimmy (Lance Guest), a kindly EMT, befriends her, much to the annoyance of one of the nurses. (His younger brother goes to high school with her.) Meanwhile, his obnoxious partner is hoping to get lucky with another nurse, his chronically late girlfriend, later on during what should be a relatively quiet night shift. Let’s just say they picked the wrong time to hot tub.
But, of course, with Myers easily slipping into the facility shortly thereafter, completely undetected by the lazy-ass security guard who’s too immersed in his reading material to bother seeing the masked man slowly walking by on the surveillance monitor, death is on the horizon.
And Laurie knows it. How quickly she is able to elude his constant pursuit despite being heavily doped and hobbled. Yeah, I’m not buying it.
While Loomis is desperate to confirm if that young guy in the mask whose death he accidentally caused is who he hopes it is (keep hoping, dummy), Haddonfield’s least favourite son quietly gets back to work. Suddenly and inexplicably, the hospital phones stop working. No dial tone. That same security guard goes to check it out but gets seriously distracted by unexplained noises which, of course, he has to investigate. In a long, unscary, drawn out sequence, filled with the usual false alarms and tedious silences, it’s not exactly a big surprise who’s hiding on the other side of that last open door.
Over time, more hospital personnel are suddenly unaccounted for and it never occurs to anyone that maybe that’s just a bit suspicious, especially in the wake of sensational local media coverage of the murders from the original movie which everybody there talks about. (Where the hell are the police?)
It takes Loomis an incredibly long time to finally get his fucking dumb ass to the hospital (who cares about those goddamn druids?) but not before learning some new information. Laurie is Myers’ biological sister, hence his obsession with her. (At one point, she has a nightmare about visiting him in the mental institution when they were kids.) Despite being ordered by the Governor of Illinois to go back to Smith’s Grove to account for Myers’ escape, Loomis belatedly takes matters into his own hands.
I first saw the TV version of Halloween II when I was a teen and it did scare me. But all these years later, now that I know better, the theatrical version just isn’t compelling. It’s an average successor to the remarkably good original.
Carpenter and co-screenwriter Debra Hill can’t recapture what made the first film so menacingly good. That’s because they’ve pretty much run out of ideas here. (It also doesn’t help that Carpenter opted not to direct this time.) The scare scenes are mostly routine and we’re just not as hooked as we were in the original story. (Innocent question: besides the boy with the bloody mouth who comes and goes, where the hell are all the other patients in this hospital?)
In a lot of ways, the ending is supposed to tie in with Loomis’ history lesson about Druids and their dumb way of seeing the future, but it really serves as a reminder that the Myers character should’ve died at the end of Halloween, not this one.
Certainly better than most of its subsequent, awful sequels, Halloween II is a curious case of a film in dire need of a reason to exist.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, October 9, 2015