While John Carpenter's 1978 horror classic Halloween irrevocably changed the style of horror cinema with its simple but relentlessly tense story, it triggered more than a decade's worth of uninspired, exploitative knock-offs, and one could easily list Halloween II among these failures. As with its predecessor, this film was written and produced by Carpenter and Debra Hill, but the terse style and unbearable suspense of the first film are missing, replaced by a more simplistic stalk-and-slash scenario. Directorial duties were handed over to Rick Rosenthal, whose lack of expertise is quite evident (though he managed to hit his stride two years later with the prison actioner Bad Boys). The plot picks up exactly where the original left off: Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), shaken and injured from her battle with unkillable psycho Michael Myers, is taken to the Haddonfield Hospital for observation, while Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) continues his desperate search for his monstrous patient. An interesting plot twist has Loomis' investigations revealing Michael's true identity (some of these sequences incorporate footage of young Michael originally shot for the television version of Halloween, which contained scenes hinting at the link between Michael and Laurie).
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After slashing his way through the town, Myers manages to track Laurie to the hospital, where the remainder of the action takes place. Numerous night-shift employees are slaughtered in a variety of gruesome ways before Loomis catches up with his quarry, leading to an explosive -- and seemingly conclusive -- confrontation. Pleasence is compelling as usual, but Curtis, who made an auspicious debut in the original, is sadly wasted here, her character reduced to shuffling half-drugged through darkened hospital corridors and screaming helplessly. Carpenter's active involvement in the Halloween franchise continued to dwindle steadily from one sequel to the next, getting scarcely a mention by the time producers Hill, Moustapha Akkad and Irwin Yablans revived the series in 1988 for three more sequels. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi