Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Halloween II (1981)

At the heart of what continues to make Halloween II appealing to fans is The Shape, as "the embodiment of evil", came to its fruition.  The sequel was a continuation of the original and therefore was shot strictly at night during the remaining hours of Halloween, giving Myers an even more distinctive legend.  The killer, as animal, lurked in the shadows before attacking his victims.  With expert photography from Dean Cundey, Myers was solid in body yet silhouette in night's shade.  The photographer had even more film time to capture this vision.

It has been repeated that Dick Warlock had nowhere near the grace of the original Myers played by Nick Castle.  Myers is more robotic in his movements, and while agreeing with that, I think his portrayal works.  By being a methodological killer in pace, it brings out a single-minded determination in Myers that displays how the killer's only purpose in life is to kill his sister Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).  It creates even more menace to see this killer crash through a glass hospital entrance than to rip open the door.  There are no human characteristics left in him except to move from Point A to Point B.

Director John Carpenter had to "re-shoot" some of newcomer Rick Rosenthal's scenes as presumably the kills were not gorrific enough for its viewer base.  There's a nurse laying on an operating table being drained of her blood intravenously, or another nurse being scalded to death with her face in a hot tub. (I think the sickest has to be of a mother rushing her boy to the hospital after he bit into a piece of candy with a hook in it.)  Some of these kills add decoration but provide little consistency with who Myers is.

Another criticism is the lack of film time Laurie Strode has.  Producer/co-writer Deborah Hill even said as much.  However, Halloween II, as a continuation, makes sense.  Wouldn't Laurie have been treated at a hospital for injury and trauma?  What minimal time Curtis has is affective.  Why ME?!, regarding her lack of understanding as to why Myers is hunting her.  Or Don't let them put me to sleep!, when the last thing she needs from the doctor is to be put to sleep.  Her terrified expression says it all.  She's helpless in stopping Michael Myers.  Even worse, she's helpless from the people around her as they cannot see it (or refuse to).

Two of the penultimate moments that capture Myers as mythological legend are ironically in the sequel.  As a nurse enters the doctor's office she discovers to her horror he has a needle in his eye.  Taken aback with the glow of an aquarium in the background, the light dials up to show the featureless mask of Myers and her demise.

The other is the conclusion; after warning Myers by name, the killer tilts his head and drops his knife, as if just for a brief moment to remember who he was.  Then resume to proceed towards Laurie before being shot twice in the eyes.  Myer's is blinded yet still flailing with the knife with single-minded determination.  He is the ultimate unstoppable force, something that was never truly captured with Jason or Freddie Kruger.  Myers could be wounded by stabbing or slugs, but he didn't feel them.  He was stunned but didn't display the human characteristic of pain since there was nothing human left.  He just suddenly dropped.  During the conclusion when Myers was lit ablaze by the release of gases, he didn't drop from pain or a lack of will, but his internal organs couldn't withstand the damage the fires caused.  He was still pushing determinedly towards Laurie.  This, more than anything else, is why Michael Myers will always live on in the horror cannon.  John Carpenter understood this minimalism and took it to the ultimate level as a human only by form with powers beyond comprehension.



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