Monday, January 16, 2012

Halloween II

On Saturday, January 16th, 1982, I went to see Halloween II for the second time.

And I have no memory of it.

So last week I went to the library--something I had mentioned in a previous post I might do--to look up old movie listings in the local papers.

It was a lot of fun! I didn't have time to look every movie up I need to, so I'll be going back, which is fine by me. It's kind of cool utilizing a clunky old medium in this digital age: All their newspapers are on microfilm, so you have to load each roll up on the machine, get it centered, and zoooooom through to the date you want. You can print out from the machines, but I just chose to take notes. (And one photo.)

So, according to the Chronicle's movie listings for that day, Halloween II--which had come out in October of '81, was playing at the Royal Theater on Polk Street, and at the Spruce Drive-In. (You can see a picture of the Spruce at this article about old S.F. theaters.) I can't be sure, but I would guess I saw it at the Royal.

I also have no memories of where I saw it the first time, which I imagine was right after it came out, since I was a big fan of the first Halloween (which I had only seen on VHS, at that point). But I do remember being a tad disappointed by it. For one, I was forever distracted by Jamie Lee Curtis's incredibly bad wig. For another, it just felt like another of the countless rip-offs the first movie had spawned.

And there was also the whole "She's his sister!" plot point that was thrown in. I think at the time, I wasn't that bothered by it, and probably kind of liked that it "made sense;" that there was a reason Michael Myers was so relentless in his pursuit.

But I realized on later viewings that it actually harms the first film. It's much scarier to think that this guy is just randomly killing women in his home town, and there is no rational reasoning to it.

Ironically, some of the biggest criticisms the sequel got was that it was too gory and gratuitous; that it threw out everything that made the first film memorable, and was just another dumb slasher movie with a higher body count.

This is ironic because, if you are to believe the following article from "Cinefantastique" magazine, which I saved a copy of, all of these gory additions were the work of John Carpenter himself, who wasn't actually the film's director. (Click image for a larger view.)

Maybe it's true. Maybe it isn't. Perhaps Carpenter just thought he was adding what the audience would want, seeing as how gorier ripoffs were making money at the time. But there's a lot more wrong with the movie than the added gore, including a lack of compelling characters; the fact that the hospital Laurie's trapped in doesn't appear to have any other patients (aside from a ward full of babies); and a real meanness at the (spoiler alert!) killing of a guy who Laurie obviously likes, and who seems to like her, too.

As for this last point, interestingly, when the movie is shown on TV, it sometimes has a different ending, one that's a little more upbeat (albeit pretty silly)...

I'll end this post with two reviews of the movie I found saved in my book. Neither are mine, (I guess I wasn't compelled to write one at the time), but one is, I believe, also from "Cinefantastique" magazine, and the other is from an issue of "Trashola."

Halloween II is definitely a failure, as far as sequels goes. But it's still a hell of a lot better than the many sequels and remakes that followed, including the only other one to star Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween H20. (And which I saw opening weekend at the AMC on Van Ness. Just for the record.)

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