Michael Myer Is Not So Scary in 'Halloween II'

Halloween II is more about style than substance.

Halloween II

Director: Rick Rosenthal
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence
Distributor: Shout! Factory
Rated: R
Release date: 2012-09-18

By any means, John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) has proved to be an enduring classic of the horror genre. Over 30 years after its original release, Halloween continues to provide a beautifully frightening viewing experience. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Halloween II, the completely uninspired and misguided second entry in the series. But despite its many shortcomings, this is an enjoyable flick that may only be of interest to compulsive horror fans.

Most probably, Halloween II ended up being a disappointing film because Carpenter refused to return to the director’s chair for the sequel. Instead, Carpenter simply co-produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay, and contributed to the soundtrack. Taking the director reigns for Halloween II was newcomer Rick Rosenthal, who would eventually return to the franchise to direct Halloween: Resurrection (2002).

Halloween II begins right after the ending of the first film. Actually, the first couple of minutes recap the apparent demise of Michael Myers at the hands of the obsessed Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence). The rest of the film is straightforward mayhem and brainless violence. As Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed to the nearby hospital, the unstoppable Michael Myers (Dick Warlock) resumes his brutal killing spree.

As we find out in a plot twist that came out of thin air, Laurie is the sister of Michael. Therefore, the relentless monster will stop at nothing to kill his own sister, slaying everybody that crosses his path in the grim and forbidding hospital corridors. And really, there is not much else that can be said about the naïve and simpleminded narrative of Halloween II.

In an attempt to give Michael Myer a motivation for his insane obsession to kill Laurie, the filmmakers managed to destroy the key element that made Halloween such a successful and terrifying horror flick. Indeed, the first film of the series was scary because of the irrational, random, and indiscriminate violence exercised by Michael Myers.

By all means, the Michael Myers of Halloween is comparable to a force of nature. Everybody and anybody was a potential target for his murdering delirium. On the other hand, in Halloween II, Michael Myers has an objective, for as crazy as it may be, which gives him a sense of purpose and makes him more human.

As a consequence, Michael Myers is a far less scary presence in the sequel than in the original film. To compensate for this shortcoming, Halloween II introduces a substantial amount of blood and gore. This is also in strong contrast to Halloween, which did not have any real gruesome visual elements and mostly relied on mood and good storytelling to creep out audiences.

In this regard, it is perhaps ironic that the most squirming scene in Halloween II is not even related to Michael Myers. Indeed, the scene in the emergency room where a young kid arrives with a razor blade stuck in his mouth, after taking a bite at a Halloween treat from a disgruntled neighbor, is chilling to say the least. By far, because of its senseless and brutal violence, this is the most memorable scene in the entire flick.

As such, Halloween II is more about style than substance. The cinematography, for example, is as astounding as it was in the original film. This is not a surprise. After all, Dean Cundey was the director of photography in both films. Arguably, Cundey should be recognized for his substantial contributions to the incredible visual structure that characterizes the oeuvre of Carpenter. Indeed, Cundey photographed the best movies directed by Carpenter, including The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), and Big Trouble in Little China (1986).

In the particular case of Halloween II, the night and low-light conditions cinematography is truly amazing. But then again, the movie suffers from a terrible lack of originality. For example, the best-photographed scene in Halloween II is a plain and simple rehash of a scene that appeared in the original Halloween. I am talking about the moment in which Michael Myers is hidden in the shadows of a dark room, right behind an unsuspicious character. And then, his white mask slowly appears from the black background by a subtle change in the illumination conditions.

Another important asset of Halloween II is its minimalist soundtrack that has the exact same melodic and thematic structure as the score composed for the original Halloween. That is, four principal cues performed by a basic array of synthesized instruments which are repeated ad nauseam throughout the movie. But then again, both scores were composed and performed by Carpenter in association with Alan Howarth.

The well-known Halloween theme uses synthesized pianos and a string ensemble playing an ostinato and a three-note motif, followed by Herrmannesque step-down modulation. This theme also adds a frantic rhythm of an unusual 5-4 time signature (five beats per bar, one quarter note per beat). As most compositional rhythms rely on 2-4, 3-4, or 4-4 time signatures, this one sounds inexorable and unnatural, much like the unstoppable Michael Myers.

For such a mundane movie, it is quite incredible that Halloween II has already received two top-notch releases in the blu-ray format. Universal Studios released the 30th Anniversary Edition blu-ray disc back in September 2011. Besides of offering a high quality image and audio presentation, the disc included a few exciting extra features, including Terror in the Aisles, the enjoyable and long sought after documentary on the history of horror films.

Now, one year later, Shout! Factory has released the Collector’s Edition of Halloween II. The image and audio quality are equivalent to the Universal release, but both versions have different extra features. By far, the Shout! Factory release is the most impressive of the pair, including two audio commentaries, a documentary on the making of the movie, a visit to the original shooting locations of the film, and the television cut with some additional footage not found in the theatrical version.

Unfortunately, the Terror in the Aisles documentary is missing from this presentation. As such, hardcore fans of the genre and the franchise may be required to double dip on this one.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

Keep reading... Show less

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.