“I’ve been trick or treated to death tonight.”

“You don’t know what death is!”

To be honest, in my humble opinion, that single line of dialogue, barked by Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence) in the opening scenes of Halloween II, would almost single-handedly justify the existence of this sequel.

It made me laugh when I first heard it, and it still makes me laugh whenever I rewatch this movie.

But, that line apart, Halloween II has plenty going for it and is far, far better than the average horror sequel.

Upping the carnage and body count but still keeping the essence of the original, Rick Rosenthal’s flick really has stood the test of time, and looks an even better movie when compared to the shoddy sequels that followed.

Sure it doesn’t quite match the heights of John Carpenter’s original, but few films do.

That may be down to the fact that Carpenter’s paws are still all over this film, from him providing the story, producing the flick and also helming a few scenes himself when Universal demanded some gory reshoots.

Then there’s the iconic Halloween theme, morphed here by Alan Howarth, which still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it – even, I hate to admit it, in Halloween: Resurrection (which, let’s face it, was a truly disastrous movie).

The film picks up literally seconds after the original finished, and indeed we get a repeat of the closing scenes to open this flick.

But from then on it is ‘More Of The Night He Came Home’ (as the tagline put it), with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode being shipped to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, with Michael Myers tracking her down.

The hospital makes for a neat location, with darkened corridors and a lack of staff a nice playground for Myers and a scalpel.

To be honest, I always thought the deserted corridors were a bit ridiculous considering it is a hospital, but having spent a few late nights at hospital a couple of years back while my missus had our daughter, I can attest that things really are that bizarrely quiet during the night hours.

Back to the matter at hand, and while Myers is carving his way to the clinic, Dr Loomis is eagerly trying to put the pieces together about why the killer is doing what he is doing and where he may be heading.

All that allows a performance from Pleasence that is pure magic – all bug-eyes, swirling coat and an endless stream of shouty lines like ‘This man is not human’, ‘We are all afraid of the darkness inside us’ and so on.

In fact, it is undoubtedly Pleasence who makes Halloween II work, as Curtis is on-screen for less than half the running time and most of that is doped up in a hospital bed.

Knife fodder comes in the shape of a host of medical staff, including Lance Guest , who went on to star in another of my favourite flicks, Jaws: The Revenge (yes, I know it is truly shit, but I still love it).

As mentioned earlier, both the body count and the blood-letting is upped this time around, with death by hypodermic needle through the eye, death by boiling in a water tank and death by blood draining as well as the usual stabbing and slashing.

There are also a couple of moments that get me every time – an early sequence where a boombox carrying youth walks straight into Myers (complete with a soundtrack jar) and a truly magnificent ‘Myers emerging from the shadows’ moment in a doctor’s office.

Both these moments echo scenes in the first film, but they are done so well again here that hardly seems to matter.

Halloween II is not a perfect film by any stretch, and the whole ‘Strode is Michael’s sister’ storyline that gets thrown in at the end does seem a bit hackneyed.

But with solid direction, decent acting all round and a nice performance by Dick Warlock as the Shape/Myers, they are minor quibbles.

Even more impressively, the film does absolutely nothing to blacken the name of the original, and indeed is a quality movie in its own right, and that is high praise for a slasher sequel.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.