“… a definitive shift from if Michael Myers will kill, to how he will do it.”
Audiences loved Halloween so what do you do? Make a sequel of course! Halloween II picks up even before the last movie ends, reusing footage from the last five minutes of Halloween as its opener. The film then goes on to continue the story of Laurie Strode on that fateful halloween night in 1978. But despite Halloween II being a direct sequel, there is quite a bit that is different.
Halloween II marks the series’ turn from ‘horror’ into ‘slasher’. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not written in stone that these two genres are mutually exclusive, but it is very noticeable.In Halloween II there is a definitive shift from if Michael Myers will kill, to how he will do it. There is no longer suspense regarding whether any particular character (save for the few mainstays in the franchise) will make it out of a situation alive, but the suspense lies in which cool way Michael Myers will choose to end their lives.
The Michael Myers from the first Halloween was bloodthirsty, and he utilized whatever means necessary to quench that thirst. He would kill with his bare hands, but then when he found his trusty kitchen knife that became a mainstay. in Halloween II Michael Myers changes weapons as though killing is going out of style. Very early on in the movie he gets his kitchen knife back, but very quickly he misplaces it (I guess) and is forced to used whatever is at his disposal. This brings me to what is a very popular part of slasher films, and also one of the main signs that Halloween II had taken that turn: environmental kills.
No longer does Michael Myers kill becasue he needs to, it seems like he’s killing for fun. The entirety of Halloween II takes place in a hospital, so why stab someone when you could drain their blood? Or boil them to death? Or slice them with a scalpel? Once again I didn’t dislike these changes, but they are very noticeable.
Something else that became noticeable was the shift of portraying Michael Myers as a normal dude into this unstoppable force. Sure, in the first Halloween Laurie gets a few good licks in and Michael keeps on chugging, but in Halloween II he is legitimately invincible. And this once again marks the turn into slasher territory becasue it is no longer a wonder of if Michael is going to win, but a matter of when it is going to happen.
I said I had no problem with these changes, and I don’t in theory, but one thing Halloween II did wrong in my opinion was how the film was structured. Michael wants to kill Laurie, Laurie is at the hospital, Michael goes to the hospital. This is the first twenty minutes. Michael then spends the better part of an hour killing every single person in said hospital, not even trying to go for Laurie until they are all dead. I have no problem with senseless killing, but when there is an obvious goal and that goal is being ignored for just one more kill, it gets annoying. It felt to me like a lot of Halloween II was filler. It was fun to watch, but it was pointless.
One change I absolutely despised was the music. I get it, you want the sequel to stand on its own without relying on the original, but why the music? It was quite possibly the best part of the first movie, and arguably the most iconic part of the franchise, so why change it? You took what was unique and effective and turned it into something mellow and generic. It didn’t sit right with me.
Overall Halloween II had a lot of changes, but for the most part it kept a similar tone to the first film. This is where the franchise took a turn into ‘slasher’ territory, so I’m interested to see what the rest of the films bring.
I give Halloween II a B