In 1978 it was enough to call Michael Myers pure evil. By the time of the inevitable sequel, the burden came to mythologize this monster. The 1980s had an obsession with satanic cults and pagan ritual. Paranoid suburbanites saw them in the dark corners of their own communities. John Carpenter’s script pegged this onto Michael Myers. Suddenly the man who spent 15 years mute in an insane asylum was versed in samhain and the ways of the druids. Carpenter may have been keeping in step with times or he may have been looking forward to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch where these themes would feature more prominently. Laurie too wasn’t spared from revisions. The seemingly random encounter that made her Myer’s target was now due to their being siblings. Whatever the reason, Michael Myers functioned much better as a cipher. This old world evil and secret family members would weigh down all the subsequent sequels.
There are too many logical lapses to completely excuse the picture. A fiery auto crash comes out of nowhere and an autopsy is undertaken that night! Loomis is recalled back to the asylum once word of Michael’s ramage spreads, but the first film established that was hours away from Haddonfield!
While John Carpenter and Debra Hill returned to write, Rick Rosenthal directs. Many of the motifs Carpenter establish are quickly abandoned. Michael’s heavy breathing is gone. The Shape also becomes a true phantom. Where the original got great mileage out of people seeing Michael Myers stalking about, this feature makes him all but invisible to his victims.
Halloween 2 is quite comfortable to play in the slasher sandbox, punishing its characters for substance abuse and sex. If anything it understands and respects that Michael Myers had ascended to being a classic Hollywood monster. In the years before Freddy Krueger’s first appearance and before Jason Vorhees started wearing the signature hockey mask, it may have seemed like Myers would remain the most iconic monster of the generation. Seeing him stalk the hospital halls is almost a victory lap in itself, the popularity of the character willing this whole franchise back to life and was enough to sustain it for the next twenty years despite greatly diminishing quality.
For all of its faults once Halloween 2 brings Michael, Loomis and Laurie together for a final hunt, it creates the best ten minutes of the series. When Laurie is able to blind Michael and his response is to wander from corner to corner of the room, stabbing through the air it’s more effective than all of the mythologizing the film clumsily shoveled beforehand.