Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween II



I always find the opening of Halloween II rather neat in that it uses POV, returning to the technique (absent the clown face mask), of the first film as Michael Myers tries to hide away within suburbia until it’s safe to pursue Laurie Strode, both brother and sister worse for wear after their confrontation, in Haddonfield’s Medical Hospital. A bad fractured ankle makes her a vulnerable prey so there’s suspense to wring here, and director Rick Rosenthal does so towards the hour or so mark. Again, Rosenthal does what he can, certainly thanks to the expertise of Dean Cundy (more on him in a moment), to mimic Carpenter’s style so that the sequel seamlessly aligns with the first film.

While Cundy perhaps returns out of respect to John and doesn’t necessarily desire to shoot a slasher sequel, he brings his A-game, impressively photographing action and characters, establishing foreground and background, capturing so much on screen. Notice Myers in the old couple’s kitchen as their attention is diverted elsewhere, taking the meat knife to use later to kill someone? I think this reiterates what John was going for in his film: The Shape is in your house, at your door, in your neighborhood. Evil is not in the big city but walking across the lawn and up the drive way.
There are a number of moments in the hospital where Michael is noticeable to us but not the graveyard shift staff attending to their daily duties (or in the case of smart aleck paramedic Leo Rossi and criminally late nurse Pamela Sue Shoop, attending to themselves in the hot tub normally used for therapeutic purposes)

This is indeed such the slasher film. When the cat flies out onto the security guard who gets the hammer to his skull, it seemed to say that desperate attempts were taken to get tension from the long scene that felt so familiar to Friday the 13th. Like Jason Voorhies, you have the guard’s demise prolonged, wondering when in the hell Michael would startle him from behind when his back is turned. The element of surprise. It's what the slasher genre lives and dies by. The potential victim isn’t expecting to die but will because the killer has one leg up on him. That’s why the poor nurses staff, security guard, doc on duty, all fall to The Shape throughout the night shift, they have jobs to do and aren’t counting on a killer being in their midst. Meanwhile, Haddonfield is coming apart thanks to Myers’ murdering high school girls, taking their own for no reason but because of his escape from a Smith’s Grove institution’s carelessness and mishandling of him.

The media is out in force trying to get the big story of the town, the sure topic worth covering because of its relevance in regards to the danger to the citizenry, the fact that one of the victims was the sheriff’s daughter, and where the murders took place (where peace and tranquility are status quo, doors (as shown in the early going while Michael was still making his rounds in the neighborhood, taking advantage of houses unafraid and, more importantly, unaware of his presence) are unlocked), trick-or-treaters still roaming the streets because news of a psycho on the loose has yet to reach the parents. Like the neighborhoods where Michael walked, the hospital has plenty of places to hide, area to move about, and rooms, rooms, rooms.

He came back. He waited with extraordinary patience. There was a force inside him biding its time. The staff grew accustomed to his immobility and silence. In many ways he was the ideal patient. He didn’t talk. He didn’t cry. He didn’t even move. He just waited. The staff was unprepared. They didn’t know what he was.

This sequel as continuation to me does actually work. Like how it ties Ben Tramer (the kid Laurie liked, as mentioned in Halloween) to the previous film, his tragic fate ruining the possibility that a victim hit by a police car into a moving van, an explosion burning him alive was Myers.

What further adds to Myers’ mythos is the school scene, although it also humanizes him in that it provides an image that illustrates a motivation for his desire to kill Laurie. Samhain spelled in Michael’s blood on the chalk board and a child’s picture of his/her family, with a steak knife stuck in the image of a little girl to a desk, both convey a purpose behind the actions of The Shape.

The debate is always on regarding whether or not you like the added back story of Laurie and Michael as brother and sister. The Halloween movie Television Version does provide details that anticipate this sequel, but, for me personally, it does feel forced (maybe it is just tonight’s viewing, but I’ve never really found this to be a problem before, until now where it feels rather desperate.). Learning of how this was thought up by Carpenter as he was fishing for anything creative to give the film some extra oomph does make sense. I think without this additional detail, the film could have worked. If anything, what motivates his rage towards Laurie is “she got away.”

Let’s talk shop, though. The death scenes. I personally prefer Rossi’s unique-looking murder compared to the ridiculous herculean effort lifting a nurse off her feet with a simple scalpel (the nurse’s shoes falling from her feet after her head teeters forward to a still, their sound of knocking at they beat the floor, is a nice touch, though). While Shoop is toweling off (after Michael turned up the heat on the therapeutic hot tub), we see Rossi suffering a strangling from The Shape in the controls room, their figures obscured because of the steam, while spending time with her. While Rossi struggles in the room as his life is deteriorating, Shoop hasn’t a clue (this is all quiet; many filmmakers would have instead opted to shoot inside the room where the murder happens, but I think it is even more effective because we realize what awaits Shoop, this nasty death happening right behind her and in silence).

After the first hour, I find Halloween II hard to swallow. How slow is Michael when “chasing” after Laurie (not to mention, she has a bum ankle and the elevator door stands open for an eternity yet he keeps the same exact stilted walk, even his hand blocks the closing door and still fails to catch her; it’s preposterous instead of tense because it is so far-fetched)? And, when Laurie in pulling herself across the parking lot, faintly calling to Loomis for help before he and the nurse (and a police officer by order of the Illinois governor to bring Loomis back to the institution and away from Haddonfield) enter the hospital yet screaming mighty fucking loud once their ears are out of her trajectory. There’s also the scene where Myers walks right through the glass door (it just shatters into pieces!) and takes another round of bullets to his torso. 

You can’t have it both ways. Is he or is he not human? You establish he might be more at the end of Halloween, yet the sequel does try to establish him as a maniac brother trying to catch his sister as to bury a scalpel in her tummy, only to feature supernatural feats that could not be accurately performed by anyone human, flesh and blood and bones and organs.

Yeah, I go on and on about The Shape, how he seems to exist in the first film as a ghost, or at least that’s how he’s framed, but still portrayed for the most part as an evil psychopath who escaped an institution. Halloween II seems torn between portraying him as human yet able to withstand bullets and an explosion. He’s even shot in the face (twice) by Laurie (this is that rockin’ moment where Michael cocks his head back, his eyes glazed from the jolt, “tears of blood” stringing down his mask) yet keeps going.

So, I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? He’s superhuman, an “it” not a person. A manifestation of evil on two legs. I’m not sure where I stand on this. I like the idea that he exists as something beyond the 21 year old kid who broke free from the asylum, peeping on those he plans to bury a blade deep inside (or strangle, or poke a hypodermic into the temple of a head, or a scalpel into an eye or back). Loomis certainly judges him as something beyond human. Perhaps he is just a boogeyman, the evil presence that haunts from the closet or under the bed?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Battlestar Galactica - And So It Begins

I couldn’t help but think of the unease with AI and ongoing development of cybernetic beings created by man, improvements in the field o...

Ahs

Ahs

Edc

Edc
Blog's Dead all Over
"... perhaps we invent artificial terrors to cope with the real ones."

--host, Donald Pleasence, Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Sbut

Sbut
Snip. Snip

Hal

Hal
There are many things under the sun
---Dr. Werdegast, The Black Cat

hal1

It's Halloween, everyone's entitled to one good scare.

Jtm 2

Jtm 2

Rave

Rave

Mrub

Mrub

Gb

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

--Ghostbusters

sm6

sm6

Rv1

Rv1

Nas

Nas

nos3

nos3

Lok

Lok

Po

Po

Ra6

Ra6

dawn

dawn

Dracula's Daughter ('36)

Countess Zaleska: Be thou exorcised oh Dracula, and thy body long undead find destruction throughout eternity in the name of thy dark unholy Master.

mh2

mh2

z2

z2

Hiii

Hiii

Fred

Fred

Ghspo

Ghspo
Movie, so-so, but poster, cool

Enl

Enl

nos4

nos4

gm

To a new world of gods and monsters!


No 2

No 2
Jason Lives

clothes line

clothes line

Ahorr

Ahorr

Cbi1

Cbi1
Case of the bloody iris

Wsha

Wsha

Mouth3

Mouth3
In the Mouth of Madness

Fdfn2

Fdfn2
Freddy's Dead '91

Vyr

Vyr
Vampyres 1974

Sh fr

Sh fr
Friday the 13th Part 2

Vlov

Vlov
Carmilla's kiss

f133

f133

Edpos

Edpos

Ttf2

Ttf2

Jm2

Jm2
El Hombre Lobo

Psycho '60

It's sad, when a mother has to speak the words that condemn her own son. But I couldn't allow them to believe that I would commit murder. They'll put him away now, as I should have years ago. He was always bad, and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man... as if I could do anything but just sit and stare, like one of his stuffed birds. They know I can't move a finger, and I won't. I'll just sit here and be quiet, just in case they do... suspect me. They're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Kife

Kife
Knife is calling, Psycho 2

Meg

Meg
Meg Tilly, Psycho II

ring 2

ring 2
the ring 2002, "the tape"

poster

poster

exor1

exor1
"the visitor" The Exorcist (1973)

Conj

Conj

Tz1

Tz1
"Masks", Twilight Zone

In the kitchen, The Shape

In the kitchen, The Shape
In the kitchen, The Shape

exc4

exc4

Ps56

Ps56

Hun

Hun
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

Ps89

Ps89

Cof

Cof
Victor and Paul, with their Monster

pcushig

pcushig

His

His

Efny

Efny

sus

sus
I'm going to grind you down to blood and screams.

--Innocent Blood 1992
Rest in Peace, Robert Loggia

wb

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

WZ

WZ

Edfen

Edfen
"Do not enter the city...It belongs to the dead now."

h1

h1
Look behind you!

Bs

Bs
"There is no terror in the bang, only the anticipation of it."
--Alfred Hitchcock

linnea

linnea

Amer

Amer
Taste of metal

The h gang

The h gang

Nlc

Nlc
Old Skool Nostalgia

Hp

Hp

Smoke

Smoke
Got a smoke?

Strek

Strek
Live long and prosper

Hill

Hill

Castle

Castle

SRW

"This seems to be the place where the plot begins to thicken..."
--Spooks Run Wild (1941)

Frere and dummy

Frere and dummy

Mlove

Mlove

Alone/dark

"There are no crazy people, doctor. We're all just on vacation."

--Alone in the Dark (1982)

Lips

Lips

Fhz

Fhz

Ph

Ph

Vestron

Vestron
Vintage VHS

sm 3

sm 3

Monique parent

Monique parent
Erotique in Review

Were5

Were5

f13

f13
November 2015

Bmate

Bmate

--Wes Craven

I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

Ms45 w

Ms45 w

Churcvh

Churcvh
The Church 1989

Ww

Ww
The Whip and the Body 1963

Lsho

"Now, no novacaine....it dulls the senses"

--Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Christopher Lee

Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.

Vampyros lesbos

You are one of us now. The Queen of the Night will bear you up on her black wings

The Unknown 1927

No....not sick. But I have lost some flesh.

Alonzo, the Armless.

Ckvh

Ckvh

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)

Glen: We'd like to speak to the Townsends, please.

The Butler: They are not available till after sunset.

Bw5

Bw5

Jill

Jill

Mad Love 1935

Doctor Gogol: Did you ever hear of Galatea?

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: Gala - who? Not wanting a statue of him, are you?

Doctor Gogol: I don't want a statue of Galatea. You see, she was a statue herself. Pygmalion formed her. Out of marble, not wax. And then she came to life in his arms.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [calling to his assistant] Start the motor, Henry. There's queer people on the streets of Montmartre at this time of night.

Doctor Gogol: [handing him his card] Here, a hundred francs if you deliver the statue to my house.

Lavin - Waxworks Proprietor: [reading card] It's a go, Dr. Go... gol. First thing in the morning.