Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween II

If Norman Bates and Leatherface were the slasher film's biological parents, then Michael Myers was its abusive foster dad. John Carpenter's Halloween seized the disparate elements present in those early forbearers and forged them into the tried and true formula that every movie in the tradition has followed ever since. With Halloween II, Carpenter (along with writing partner Deb Hill and director Rick Rosenthall) sought to look further into that fateful Halloween night back in '78. The original ended with Myers shot six times and thrown out a second-story window, only to have his body disappear. Our prediction? He crawled off someplace to die of serious internal injuries, and the remainder of the movie is about Laurie Strode's (Jaime Lee Curtis) peaceful convalescence in the hospital...
  • Beginning your movie with the last five minutes of your last movie. = +3pts (Hey, it was the early '80s; most of us didn't own VCRs back then.) 
  • Donald Pleasance cast as Dr. Sam Loomis but seems to think he's King Lear. = -8pts 
  • Pausing a moment to point out that this movie was edited by Skip Skoolnick, a man with a name so wholesome, he can only be neighbor teen from Leave It to Beaver who was sucked into the real world through some electromagnetic anomaly. = +4pts 
  • Post-opening credit scene filmed in Halloween's patented StalkervisionTM. = +15pts 
  • Michael Myers pops by a lone teen girl's house to grab a murder for the road. = +2pts 
  • Paramedics rush Jaime Lee Curtis to the hospital past a boy whom we can only guess came down with a serious case of "sass mouth." = +1pt 
  • Donald Pleasance showing zero compunction over waving a gun around in a cop car, crowded street full of children. = +11pts 
  • Guy in Michael Myer's mask hit by speeding police vehicle, pinned to a news van, and then incinerated as the rocket fuel that the officer was storing near his engine catches fire (at least, we're assuming that's what happened. There's no other logical explanation for why a t-bone collision would result in a massive conflagration). = +14pts
  • By the way, no one in the movie is nearly as concerned as they should be that a cop accidentally plowed into a pedestrian so hard that the guy burned to death while pinned between two vehicles. = -9pts 
  • The teenage paramedic sneaking into Jaime Lee Curtis's room to watch her sleep is supposed to be touching. Supposed to be. = -10pts 
  • Paramedic Budd lives up to his name by smoking a J in the break room. = +13pts 
  • As if showing up late to work wasn't bad enough, the "slutty" nurse is now shamelessly flirting with Budd. Thank God masked, butcher-knife wielding justice is on its way to clean up this lot of miscreants. = -4pts 
  • To be clear: The prissy nurse has no problem with Budd's illegal drug use in her presence, but she just cannot tolerate all that sailor talk. = -2pts (Slasher movie rules dictate that she's probably going to come out of this alive.) 
  • Budd advises his teenage companion not to get involved with patients, but that nurses are another story. But maybe don't take advice from a guy who has to smoke up where he works. = -4pts 
  • The fat hospital security guard seems fated to die of repeated jump-scares. = -5pts 
  • Never mind... Claw hammer. = +7pts 
  • Upon discovering that the flash-fried body is not Michael Myers, the Haddonfield police, in conjunction with city hall, arrange for a lawyer for the officer that hit him and hire an expert PR firm to help them weather the media firestorm that this tragedy will doubtlessly unleash. Ha ha, J/K. He is immediately forgotten. = -10pts 
  • A cryptic dream sequence that throws Jaime Lee Curtis's parentage into question? Eh, it's probably nothing. = +3pts 
  • Budd and "Slutty" Nurse have a rendezvous in the hydrotherapy tub, which seems needlessly involved for a work-quicky. = - 7pts 
  • Predictably, this encounter ends with Budd strangled to death and "Slutty" Nurse getting her face scalded off, but not before we got to see her boobs for a few seconds! = -14pts 
  • Why does the gauge on the hydrotherapy tub even go up to "scalding?" That just seems like poor design. = -6pts 
  • Sorry if we're beating a dead horse here, but that would be like if an ordinary light switch could be turned up to "permanently blinding." Under what circumstances do you want that to happen? = -5pts 
  • Donald Pleasance finds "Samhain" written in blood in an empty schoolhouse and determines that Michael Myers is preparing an old-school pagan sacrifice. Really, though, he was just expressing his enthusiasm for Danzig's post-Misfits body of work. = +16pts (We know the timeline doesn't work. Shut up about it.) 
  • Donald Pleasance's superior from the mental hospital comes to retrieve him, along with a federal marshal. Was not aware that "chaufferring civil servants" fell under the marshal's mandate, but I guess there's a lot we don't know. = -3pts 
  • Hey, Prissy Nurse bites it after all! = +10pts 
  • The teen paramedic knocking himself unconscious after slipping on all of the blood in the head nurse's body. = +8pts
  • Even when the object of his life-long, murderous obsession is on the cusp of evading him in a very slowly closing elevator door, Michael Myers takes things at his own pace. All of us scrambling around in this workaday rat race of a world could take a page from his book. = +7pts 
  • Donald Pleasance, who has apparently become the prototype for Frank Reynolds, forces the marshal to drive him to the hospital at gunpoint. = +12pts 
  • Teen paramedic makes his way into the car where, up until now, Jamie Lee Curtis has been successfully hiding from her psychotic brother. He does not help her situation. = -2pts 
  • Upon arriving at the hospital, the marshal is obliging enough to come inside and investigate with Donald Pleasance rather than, you know, arresting him on the spot for pulling a gun on a federal officer. = -6pts 
  • My wife's reaction, after watching Jamie Lee Curtis fail to call out for help in time to get the attention of Donald Pleasance's entourage: "She's like the opposite of Sigourney Weaver." = -18pts 
  • Despite her best efforts, Jaime Lee Curtis is still rescued by Donald Pleasance, who once again unloads a full cylinder into Myers. = +3pts 
  • The marshal does not think to kick the scalpel out of Michael Myers' hand before checking for vitals. Raylan Givens this guy is not. = -10pts 
  • Holing up in a surgery room, Donald Pleasance hands Jaime Lee Curtis another gun that we guess he's been carrying all along. Donald Pleasance never rolls out unless he's double-strapped. = +7pts 
  • Jaime Lee Curtis proves to be a natural marksman by shooting out both of her brother's eyes. = +2pts 
  • Michael Myers' blind flailing about in the operating room reminds us of this classic Simpsons' moment. = -8pts 
  • The shot of his burning figure emerging from the massive explosion in the operating room is pretty badass, though. = +20pts
Total Score = +31pts
Available on: DVD

Halloween II is not without its admirable qualities. The fact that it picks up immediately where the original leaves off is pretty cool, and it makes good use early on of the first-person camera work that was so unsettling in the first installment. Overall, though, it feels a little like "more of the same," except Jaime Lee Curtis doesn't really have anything to do except hobble away and scream. Even the big reveal that she's Michael's estranged sister feels a little underdeveloped. Don't get us wrong, compared to the later sequels, HII is Citizen Fucking Kane, but it's not exactly all that it could have been.

Score Technician: Joe Hemmerling

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