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More Merriment

Halloween II Directed by Rick Rosenthal At the Pi Alley and the suburbs

By David B. Edelstern

WOMEN CAN BE VERY FRIGHTENING. Sometimes I panic in the middle of talking to them, sometimes I can't even get that far. Sex is too complicated, relationships too difficult. I'm losing touch with my fellow man; I have an urge that creeps like chocolate syrup up my pant legs when I see a woman I can't have: to take out a big bowie knife and cut and cut. I go to the movies instead. I loved Halloween. That was a hell of a good movie, all the aggression at the heart of every horror film distilled into this pale, clean little engine, its camera gliding from baby-sitter to baby-sister while director John Carpenter applied the organ music like an expert masseur.

The plot was silly, but on its deepest level the movie made sense. I heard someone complain when "the Shape" wrapped that telephone cord around P.J. Soles' throat and squeezed and squeezed that it made no sense, the guy had no motive. As if a man with an adolescent mind needs a motive to kill attractive baby-sitters!

Halloween II is in Dolby Stereo, and it's a lavish, epic hack'em-up, the Deer Hunter of the horror genre. The Shape, Michael Meyers, has become a mythic Bogeyman, and he's practically indestructible. He's also a one-man charnel-house--there wasn't a drop of blood in the original, but the sequel ladles on the gore like Chef Boy-ar-dee. Most of the movie takes place in a hospital where Jamie Lee's been hauled after her first bout with the Shape. The targets are mostly nurses. I've always hated nurses. They flash you a frigid smile and when you're not looking they stick a needle in your arm or a tube up your ass. And they're always balling the doctors, particularly when you're in pain and you need them. Used to lie in my hospital bed and wish I had a big bowie knife....

So here we are in this empty, greenish clinic with the camera gliding up and down empty corridors and suddenly it picks up this nurse and fastens on her behind as she sashays down the hall, her dress taking little hops up the back of her thighs: and we sit back and smile, because it's only a matter of time....

The Shape gets her when she's balling this orderly in a therapeutic bath. The guy's killed off-screen as the camera fixes on her naked body, loosely wrapped in a sheet, her firm, ripe breasts erect and eager. She thinks the clammy hands caressing her are her lover's--Poetic Justice!--but the Shape adjusts the bath water to scalding and repeatedly shoves her head in it, holding it out of the water long enough for us to see the flesh peeling off and the red and white blobby pulp beneath. Hot stuff! Then the Shape drills a cute little blonde nurse in the back with a scalpel, picking her up and holding her aloft as she wriggles on the end until the last, sad sigh when her feet relax and shoes pop off, and the audience laughs blissfully as her body crumples on top of them. Then there's the conscientious, independent nurse who gets a needle gently inserted into her eye. I'm tired of chicken-shit directors discreetly cutting away from stuff like this: but Rick Rosenthal, directing his first film (from John Carpenter's script) cuts to a close-up of the needle sliding through the jelly all the way to the back of the skull. Then he drops the nurse in a heap. The men are dispatched quickly and unceremoniously, but Rosenthal lingers on the women to the last twitch and beyond. About time.

WHAT AN OUTRAGEOUSLY FUNNY movie this is! There's so much blood that a guy cracks his head open when he slips in an immense puddle of it, the product of the poor woman supervisor whose arteries the Shape has skillfully tapped. He just keeps coming, walking through thick glass doors, bullet after bullet pumped into him. On his way to the hospital he spies a buxom cheerleader type on her porch and takes a quick detour: the slaughter in this movie is Pavlovian.

Jamie Lee Curtis is sedated for most of Halloween II, but she hobbles out of bed, ultimately, in a bouncy hospital gown that shows a lot of leg as she rolls around in trash heaps trying to stay a couple feet ahead of the Bogevman. She's really cute, the best screamer since Fay Wray and in a class by herself as a whiner. Donald Pleasance is back too as the flip side of the Shape, a nubby, sexless, shapeless little fanatic, certainly a speed freak, killing innocent people in pursuit of his alter-ego. He gets offed too in the big La Traviata finale. They must have had a blast making this movie!

Halloween II has been photographed colorfully, the splatter effects are outasight and Carpenter has supplied a couple of key changes to spice up the old score. But what is particularly heartening is the purity of the writer and director's vision. This is a deliciously bold and uncompromising movie. It made me feel like a kid again.

Don't write me nasty letters, dear women readers. I'm just reporting what I saw, and what I feel I'm supposed to feel. Someone's actually spent millions and millions of dollars to make Halloween II and it doesn't go to the bump-and-grind houses; for a couple of weeks it was the highest-grossing film in the country. The theatre was filled when I saw it, but not densely packed: generally the single men keep a few seats between them, the better to maintain their reverie.

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