Review

Halloween II Review

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Aug 27, 2009 | 1:55pm EDT

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A year has passed since Michael Myers escaped from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and embarked on a murderous rampage through the town of Haddonfield on Halloween night. With the anniversary of the tragedy approaching survivor Laurie Strode still traumatized after her climactic encounter with Michael is plagued by nightmares that seem to foreshadow his deadly return.

Laurie’s therapist and friends dismiss her anxiety as the inevitable by-product of the trauma she experienced insisting that Michael is dead while ignoring the unpleasant reality that his body was never found. And wouldn’t you know it – the crazy chick is on to something. Far from deceased Michael’s been lying low in the days since Laurie put an end to his grisly escapade quietly convalescing in the place where most folks suffering from multiple gunshot wounds go to recover: a dirty wood shack in the middle of a sparsely-populated rural area.

Not that he’s been alone. Bathed in angelic white garments and accompanied by a similarly alabaster horse (its significance is explained in the opening credits) Michael’s mother Deborah has been paying regular visits to her son from beyond the grave appearing in visions to provide guidance to her deranged offspring. According to his nutty imaginary mum Michael’s tortured psyche will never be at peace until he’s reunited with his baby sister Laurie. And so Michael returns to Haddonfield for a second attempt at a family reunion slicing to ribbons anyone stupid enough to cross his path.

WHO’S IN IT?

After swearing up and down that he’d never make a sequel to his 2007 Halloween reboot Rob Zombie is back in the director’s chair for Halloween II. Also returning are most of the cast members including Tyler Mane (Michael Myers) Scout Taylor-Compton (Laurie Strode) Brad Dourif (Sheriff Lee Brackett)  Sheri Moon Zombie (Deborah Myers) Malcolm McDowell (Dr. Samuel Loomis) and Danielle Harris (Annie Brackett). Leading the newcomers is Margot Kidder (Superman Black Christmas) in the role of Laurie’s barely competent therapist.

WHAT’S GOOD?

Given greater freedom to pursue his own twisted vision Zombie departs further from the canon of the original franchise while still keeping the essential elements intact. Michael Myers is still a quiet guy who wears a scary mask and butchers people and Laurie Strode is still the primary object of his desire but apart from that Halloween II bears little resemblance to the 1981 follow-up to John Carpenter’s original Halloween.

The character of Loomis in particular is miles apart from the Donald Pleasance version – and far more interesting. Zombie’s Loomis is an ambitious media whore who cravenly cashes in on the tragic events of the previous film by penning a memoir of his relationship with Michael then mounting a nationwide book tour to promote it. As portrayed by an amusingly acerbic pompous McDowell he’s easily the most appealing part of the film.

WHAT’S BAD?

The tone of Halloween II is very much in line with Zombie’s previous works: gritty and grisly more disturbing than scary more uncomfortable than suspenseful. Characters make lots of stupid decisions (why didn’t Laurie leave Haddonfield and move to a town where her friends and family members weren’t massacred by a psychopath?) most of which can be forgiven for the sake of horror.

Other decisions aren’t so easily excused. As he did with the 2007 film Zombie seeks to portray Michael as a multi-dimensional villain in Halloween II and not the bloodthirsty automaton of the franchise’s previous iteration. Admittedly it’s a significant challenge adding depth to a solitary character that essentially never speaks but Zombie’s solution – summoning Michael’s mom and the aforementioned white steed at various points in the story to give him his next bloody assignment – comes off as contrived at best laughable at worst.

PARTING SHOT

Comic legend Weird Al Yankovic makes a surprisingly funny cameo as a guest on a talk show in which Loomis appears to pimp his book belittling the doctor with verbal jabs until he stomps off enraged. (Click here for Zombie's explanation of how Weird Al's cameo came about.)

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