It’s been 40 years since studios practically begged Carpenter for a sequel to his monumentally successful Halloween movie; and an unforgettable one at that. I realize this might be a hot take dubbing Dick Warlock King Myers over his amazing predecessor Nick Castle- but I’ll die on this hill. Warlock scared the ever-loving shit out of me as a kid in this simply fantastic sequel more so than the original.
John Carpenter’s Halloween was everything a perfectly effective horror slasher should look like without the heavy gore effects. The film used tension-building sequences paired with genius camera work and of course, the infamous score by Carpenter himself that practically made the movie what it is today. When Halloween II came around three years later, the film allowed Myers to continue his killing quest but in a much more sinister tone; if that were even possible but hey- here we are. The sequel was Halloween on steroids (by 1981 standards anyway), with both an angrier Myers and soundtrack to accompany him during his “walk”, and it made The Shape that much scarier.
Here me out but first, enjoy the greatest pumpkin intro of the franchise that breaks apart into a grim, grinning skull foreshadowing that is a lot more evil and death was built into this installment so hold onto your kitchen knives ladies- especially YOU Mrs. Elrod!
Now, after Loomis unloads all his bullets into Michael and he simply just walks away from the scene, he slinks into a neighboring home occupied by the Elrods who are winding down from the night with a couple of ham sandwiches and a viewing of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead; or at least they think they are. Michael, in a very ballsey fashion, opens up the back patio door to the kitchen where Mrs. Elrod is preparing her sleepy husband some food, and had her back not been turned, she would have been extra meat for those sandwiches for sure. Myers just grabs the knife sitting on the cutting board and walks out, and Mrs. Elrod lets out a blood-curdling scream that would wake the dead once she sees the missing knife and drips of blood all over the counter. This then grabs the attention of her own neighbor, Alice Martin, who unfortunately doesn’t get away so lucky; and that’s when we see that Myers really isn’t fucking around in the sequel. In the first film, Myers while it was at random, set his sights on a specific group and stayed the course. Even people getting in his way, by just basically being in his path, didn’t get the slash treatment. Marion Chambers, while he scared her goddamn good, he didn’t kill her. He just needed the car and he very well could have. Same for little Lonnie- Myers seemed to get off just as well in putting a good fright into his victims while maintaining his kill course targets. BUT, Alice performing her civic duty upon hearing her elderly neighbors’ screams, got her brutally murdered in a most vicious way and we get our first real jump scare in the sequel. Why? My best-educated horror guess is because she WAS simply in his path and now we know that absolutely NO ONE is safe this time around.
It did its job too. Scared the piss out of me when I first saw it.
Moving on to a now hysterical Loomis who in the first film kept his composure throughout quite well, damn near shoots a kid because he is wearing a similar mask to Michael’s. May as well have anyway since we all know how that scene worked out. The good doctor throughout the franchise sinks deeper into madness in his fight to stop Michael and in doing so, endangers those around him. Just look what happened to poor Ben Tramer and then the deputy at the end of the film. The guy was just doing his job- he certainly didn’t ask for this shit.
That’s just terrifying.
Even more horrifying is the scene with the razor blade in the apple. Good LAWD seeing that as a child was traumatizing almost even more so than Myers on a rampage itself. The lore and urban legends swirling around Halloween night of bastards putting arsenic and razor blades in candy for kids put the fear of GOD into a lot of parents and even some anxious kids as well. Well, in Halloween II they made it real and it was real disgusting at that. Fairly brilliant writing to add that little extra tidbit in there. Also full disclosure, for years as a kid I thought this was an ice cube in the kid’s mouth until my father corrected me; and that totally blew my mind and horrified me. I’m all about transparency here.
Now, aside from a crazy Loomis, laced candy, and an angrier score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, we have to discuss the biggest sell here as to why Halloween II is much scarier than its predesessor- and that everyone is DICK WARLOCK.
Nick Castle did an absolute bang-up job as The Shape in the original, but it was Warlock’s menacing force of nature that gave Myers a more evil presence. Kind of like what Kane Hodder did for Jason Voorhes, Dick did for Michael and he nailed it as what I think, is the perfect personification of Michael Myers. Many see his moves as robotic in nature, but I think that is precisely what makes The Shape slightly scarier. As stated earlier, Myers is more focused and determined to get the job done this time around sort of like a Terminator. And honestly, would there be anything more terrifying than Michael Myers as a goddamn Terminator?! I think not… The guy walked through a glass door without hesitation without any problem to get to Laurie for fucks’ sake. Just straight through the thing! Or the fact he’s walking down a steep set of stairs without looking at his feet or holding onto anything in that mask that you and I both know is obstructive somewhat in the very least.
That’s just gangster.
Stabbing down at empty pillows, getting his hand almost caught in an elevator door, and his quick- jolt-like movements without using all of his body parts are just nothing short of brilliance on Warlock’s end. Without ever saying a word, a grunt, or even having that heavy breathing as pronounced as it was in the first movie, Warlock managed to give us a more pissed-off Myers and execute it perfectly. I just wish we would have seen more of him in subsequent sequels. But hey, we’ll always have his robotic, malevolent force in Halloween II and Season of the Witch.
Happy 40th anniversary to the scariest installment of the Halloween franchise. If you haven’t already pick up this masterpiece from Amazon. I always prefer the 30th-anniversary edition Blu-Ray from Shout Factory as it contains the bonus feature of Terror In The Aisles! Can’t really beat it for $10!