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Sequels to Classic Horror Night

15th Oct 04

The sequel eh? Where does it all go wrong? Granted, there have been some great sequels to some classic films – just think The Godfather 2, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Excorcist 3, etc. Tonight, being Zombie Club, the theme had to be horror orientated (damn!), so we thought why not see the sequels to two bona fide horror classics – Halloween and The Hills Have Eyes.

Halloween was made in 1978, the sequel in 1981. The Hills Have Eyes came out in 1977 while the sequel opened in 1985. What we have here is not only a case of ‘sequel versus original’, but ‘70’s versus 80’s’. May the best decade win… which I know it will. It always does.

Halloween II The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 


Halloween II (1981)

Plot
Haddonfield-born charmer Michael Myers terrorises Jamie Lee Curtis on Halloween night, continuing on from where the first film ended.

Zomblee
Halloween 2 – Shatner is back. The film opens with Mr Sandman ("bring me a dream, make it the cutest that I’ve ever seen" - not the Metallica song) on the soundtrack before we see Laurie Strode telling the kids to run across the street to get help. Having just stabbed Michael Myers with a coat hanger, she seems to think the game is up for the white faced fucker who seems hell-bent on killing her until he attacks her one more time, they struggle, and then good old Donald (“I shot him six times!!!”) Pleasance turns up and…err…shoots him six times. Don’t worry, he doesn’t die and continues to chase, no, make that WALK VERY SLOWLY after Laurie around Haddonfield Hospital.

Director Rick Rosenthal does an ok job in making us believe that this is the same night even though there was a 4-year gap between productions. The mood is still very much there and he definitely knows how to shoot in a similar way to Carpenter, even though it comes off as someone TRYING to shoot like Carpenter. In 1981 this sequel must have seemed highly satisfactory, to say the least, and apparently it is one of the most highly praised horror sequels ever made. From childhood, I remember this being a much better film than it actually is. The truth is folks, it's not that great to watch as a grown-up. The music, while it played a prominent role - you could even call it a character - in the first film, has been given the 80’s electronic treatment by Alan Howarth and is so piercingly loud that it gets unbearable most of the time.

The sequel tries to give some depth to the Laurie / Michael angle, which, as a sequel, may be needed, but surely the idea of a completely motiveless killer (as Myers was in the first film) is so much more effective than a contrived subplot involving a victim / killer kinship. Similar to the lack of detail and character in Myers’ white visage, the specifics of any intent should also remain a mystery. THAT is scarier than this bullshit explanation for everything.

In terms of style, Rosenthal was never going to pull this one off. While he is adept at filling the entire frame, there is only one shot that impressed me - when Michael’s white mask slowly appears behind a nurse after she discovers the dead body of Dr Mixter (syringe in the eye, no less). This scene truly captured Carpenters spirit. The murders are more gory than in part one and there are also more of them, although if he’s trying to kill Laurie, why just pick off arbitrary staff in the hospital? Myers may be motiveless, but he’s not random. Its bodycount for bodycount’s sake.

“It’s time, Michael.”

Jim
You know, I'd completely forgotten all about that 'Michael Myers is Laurie's brother' business - how lame is that? Zomblee's right, the idea of a scary guy in a blue jumpsuit and Shatner mask (Zomblee - tell them your joke - go on...) is much more frightening if he has absolutely no motive whatsoever. Myer's being human and having - gasp - an agenda, is crap. All the best laid plans of mice and men gone to waste.

Still, the hospital setting is good, there are a couple of good deaths and good fun is had by all, I suppose. This is one of those films that must have appeared wicked when it came out, some 22 years ago, but with Halloween firmly cementing itself into the 'classics' chapter of every horror movie book ever write, the first sequel is just looking weaker and weaker. Inappropriate use of music, inappropriate use of bizarre weaponry (syringe? hot tub? very out of character to the Myers of the first film) and very little suspense in general. Michael doesn't sneak up on you any more, he just kind of stands behind you - in shot but out of your line of sight. And he stands there for ages, killing the mood. For the first time ever, I found myself wanting the Shatner faced freak to just get on with it.

Great early role for Lance Guest as Laurie's love interest, though. Lance went on to find international super stardom in the amazing The Last Starfighter, which bizarrely was directed by Nick Castle, who played Myers in the original Halloween. He was also the beach ball farting alien in Dark Star. Small world.

"Ask y'self, is it human?"

Rawshark
"Previously on Halloween…"

Opening as the first film finishes (indeed using footage from the first film to ‘connect’ the two), Halloween 2 slots into the sequel sub-genre known as ‘same-as-before-but-more’, otherwise known as a cheap rush-job production in the chase aof a quick buck. We have Mikey Myers, still on his mission to murderlise his ‘sister’, a remix of the classic plink-plonk Carpenter melody, Donald Pleasance effortlessly stealing the limelight (again), creepy steadicam shots and lots of deaths. In fact quite a few more deaths than the original. And yes, there’s a lot more blood.

I’ve never really been a big fan of the Mikey Myers franchise, I guess I never really found him to be that scary, but I’ve got to say I quite enjoyed this film, despite it’s one or two shortcomings. Rick Rosenthal’s no Carpenter, but some shots look fantastic, and there are enough great moments scattered in amongst the set-pieces (Zomblee’s already mentioned the murder of the nurse, but the death of the ‘is-he-Mike-Myers?’ innocent trick or treater who gets hit by a truck which promptly explodes is pure gold) to keep proceedings skipping merrily along.

Having said that there are also quite a few moments that are pure pants. At one point Myers kills a nurse with the ‘Strongest Scalpel in the World’ as he lifts her off the ground with the blade in her back, and as the film tumbles towards a bland stalk’n’slash finale, Jaime Lee Curtis amazingly only needs two shots (with her eyes shut no less) to shoot out both of Myers’ eyes in the finale. Er.. quite.

Still, it’s not all that bad, and if you liked the first you could do far worse than check this out. Halloween 4 for instance. Or Halloween 5. Or that bloody Halloween Resurrection one.

"Amazing Grace, come sit on my face"

Halloween II

Director
Rick Rosenthal

Cast
Jamie Lee Curtis
Donald Pleasance
Cahrles Cyphers
Lance Guest
Hunter Von Leer
Nancy Stevens
Tawny Moyer
Ana Alicia
Pamela Susan Shoop

Rating
Zomblee
Jim
Rawshark

Runtime
92mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 (1985)

Plot
The Hills Have Eyes but with ‘crazy young pranksters’. And nowhere near as good.

Zomblee
Wes Craven, the Zombie Club Court finds you GUILTY AS CHARGED! The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 is one dog’s mess of a movie. Craven obviously has no shame and churned this one out by the numbers just for the money. To say this was a let-down is the understatement of the year – when compared to the original its actually an insult to have to endure. But endure we did, and everyone is still recovering from a bad dose of sequelitis.

Bobby Carter, survivor from the first film, is suffering from what looks like post-traumatic stress disorder. Ruby (the semi-normal clan member) is now called Rachel and is a normal member of society. It just so happens they have some crazy young friends who either a). want to go dirt-biking in them there hills. Yep, them hills that have eyes, or b) just break down and go dirt-biking anyway. I couldn’t care less why they’re there and trust me, there are better things to do with a few minutes of your life than trying to work out what the hell is going on in this waste of celluloid.

We have Pluto (Michael Berryman) from the first film, and a thoroughly nasty colleague called Reaper, who are attacking the rowdy kids. Reaper was not in the first film however, so where he came from is anyone’s guess. He's rubbish too. If you can tear your eyes away from this review, look at the film poster image on the left and have a look at the guy on the top right - that's him. Shit, isn't he. God, this film is so bad and the kids so annoying that in theory, you should really want to endure the painful running time just to see them getting killed but the truth is, you don’t. You just want it to be all over.

Someone should have kept the device of flashbacks a secret from Wes Craven. About 15% of this film is in flashback, and yes, the flashbacks are from the first film. In fact, the flashbacks are all the best bits of the first film and are the only parts of THHE 2 that are worth sitting through. Bobby Carter has flashbacks, then Ruby / Rachel has flashbacks. Then Beast the dog has a flashback. I’m not kidding. A dog has a flashback to the first film. It’s time to leave the theatre now folks. Oh, i see you’re all gone anyway...

The Hills Have Eyes part 2 is 86 minutes too long.

"Gonna rip you up, girl!"

Rawshark
I remember the fact that I had seen this film before, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about it other than the terrible dog flashback sequence that Zomblee has mentioned. Obviously I’d heard that it was a bad film, but surely it couldn’t really be that bad? I mean, it’s Craven in charge, who is usually interesting even when he’s having an off day, and the first film was such a terror mind-fuck trip into the arse-end middle of nowhere, that it’s sequel should retain at least some of the same (mean) spirit. Surely?

Make no mistake about it; this is indeed one of the worst movies ever made. It’s bollocks. It’s rubbish. At one point, Jen turned to us and asked why were we watching this utter tripe, and for the first time ever while watching a horror movie, I had no answer. This film made me ashamed to be a fan of this genre. People are ‘crushed’ by polystyrene rocks, there’s no logical continuity from the first film (what the hell is Ruby doing there? Why is Bobby Carter in it? Why? What?), the ‘cannibals’ suddenly have more engineering skills than NASA, and I honestly can’t tell you who survived at the end (if indeed anyone did). But worst of all, it made Beast, the mega-hero dog from the first film, appear like an effeminate poodle. And that to me is unforgivable.

Now I remember why I didn’t remember any of this film at all. Time to forget about it all over again, and pray that my curiosity never tries to tempt me to watch it one more time.

"Puke Eater. Piss Licker!"

Jim
Um, yeah...

You know, Rawshark's new house, where we watched this monstrosity, is a pretty cool digs. The darkened oak wooden flooring in the living room, mixed with the wicker lampshade thing he's got going on, makes for a very bohemian effect. I like that.

Also, they've got this cool big wooden box thing in the corner of the room that's actually an antique record player. They found it on a skip somewhere apparently and him and Matt (I believe) dragged it back. It doesn't work, but it looks nice all the same. In fact it made me quite jealous - I've got loads of records from my late 80s indie pop kid phase but no record player to play them on.

Oh well.

"That's no moon..."

The Hills Have Eyes Part 2

Director
Wes Craven, believe it or not.

Cast
Tamara Stafford
Kevin Spiritas
John Bloom
Colleen Riley
Michael Berryman
Penny Johnson
Janus Blythe
John Laughlin

Rating
Zomblee
Rawshark
Jim

Runtime
86mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Conclusion
And so it came to pass that the Zombies of this Club were wiser, more sequel-educated, and drained of any lifeforce to make it back home successfully. Halloween 2 is not, as Rawshark says, anywhere near as bad as other later entries in the franchise, but a mini masterpiece it ain't. The word masterpiece and the title The Hills have Eyes Part 2 don't often appear in the same sentence, so why not take the time to this sentence again because its the only time you're ever likely to see it.

I'm pleased to be able to say that my undead colleagues - Rawshark ("arse...bollocks...rubbish...why...what...unforgivable..") and Jim (who instead of talking about this celluloid abomination provides us with an interesting, detailed description of Rawshark's new pad) were right with me on this one. A word of advice to you all - DO NOT WATCH THE HILLS HAVE EYES - PART 2 UNLESS YOU WANT TO LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE.

Why does Laurie Strode stink?

Because Michael Myers Shatner.


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