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Halloween II and the harrowing tale of corporate greed

Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

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INTERIOR OFFICE. Los Angeles, California. 1979. A talentless MOVIE PRODUCER sits with his head in his hands, surrounded by crumpled papers. He looks exhausted, clearly drained from a long day of trying to find a movie treatment satisfactory for his sleazy boss. He turns his gaze to the window, at a loss. That’s when he sees it: two silhouettes tearing down the poster for the 1978 blockbuster Halloween, from the up-and-coming genius JOHN CARPENTER. MOVIE PRODUCER knows that Carpenter has no interest in doing a sequel, and is already underway with his next collaboration with JAMIE LEE CURTIS (The Fog), but MOVIE PRODUCER is desperate, and this is his only option. His job is on the line. He frantically punches numbers into the phone.

 

MOVIE PRODUCER:

Hey, Jimmy, could you get John on the line? I’ve got an idea.

 

I have no idea how Halloween II was conceived, but I imagine it went something like this. John Carpenter succumbed to this hypothetical MOVIE PRODUCER’s call for a new film, going as far to write the screenplay because he felt he wasn’t well compensated enough for his work on the first film. (He turned down directing duties in favor of his next cult classic, Escape From New York.) This anecdote seems to perfectly encapsulate the film’s entire existence: a corporate cash grab.

 

OFFICE. The next day. MOVIE PRODUCER is scrambling to explain Carpenter’s treatment for a sequel to his boss.

MOVIE PRODUCER:

Our heroine Laurie has been hospitalized. Dr., uh, Loomis is trying to find Michael Myers, who is roaming the streets of Handonfield. But Michael is slowly closing in on Laura–what? Yeah, Laurie, that’s what I said–and he’s going to, uh, plow through a whole medical team before he gets to her.

As our hypothetical MOVIE PRODUCER explained, we essentially have the same film as last time, but in a hospital. Being told the storyline alone, one would think it was a pretty bad movie. The original, groundbreaking though it was, wasn’t exactly begging for a sequel. However, the poor conception of the film can’t quite manage to drag the quality of the film down with it. This is mostly a result of the return of a number of collaborators from the last film; among them screenwriters John Carpenter and Debra Hill, cinematographer Dean Cundey, stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance and co-editor Rick Rosenthal slipping into the director’s chair for this go round. And, of course, John Carpenter returns to utilize his now-famous score. (It is worth noting, though, that Nick Castle does not return for this film, as he was well into production on his directorial debut.)

The creative pressures of Hollywood still left a prominent mark on the finished product, though. Despite being Halloween being the first (unless one counts The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which though historically important did not have near the same success) of its kind, the sequel still found itself having to adapt to the ever-changing form of slasher flicks that followed it, most notably Friday the 13th. As a result, scenes featuring nudity and more grisly violence (earning it a harder R-rating) were added to more aptly fit the mold, tarnishing both Carpenter and Rosenthal’s true vision for the film.

But, somehow, this doesn’t quite ruin the experience as a whole. The kills are cleverly horrifying (if one likes that sort of thing), and some solid camerawork and effects keep the viewer at least superficially engaged. At this point in time, the franchise still knew how to give us a good scare, at the very least, and at most Halloween II can be considered a pale shadow of Carpenter at the height of his powers.

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Trey McCabe, Memorial Staff Writer

Trey McCabe is a senior this year at Edmond Memorial, and this is his second year on staff at Ruff Draft. He has won two first-place awards at OSSA for...

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Halloween II and the harrowing tale of corporate greed