Based On: Halloween II (1981) Film – Sequel to Halloween (1978)
Screenplay: John Carpenter & Debra Hill
Author: Jack Martin (Dennis Etchison)
Release Date: November 1st, 1981
My Rating: A-
“It was that time of year when the days are short and the shadows are long, when the earth tilts still further on its axis and the seasons hang suspended between autumn and winter.”
– Opening line of prologue.
From the opening, Dennis Etchison thrusts the reader ino the world of Halloween (AKA Samhain). The author excels at illustrating the pageantry and atmosphere of that dark, murderous night in Haddonfield in 1978.
For the most part, the novel adheres closely to the plot and dialogue of the film, but tune-in as I expound on the additional info and scenes that were crammed inside this adaptation to intensify the mayhem.
Just like in the film, a brief recap of the ending to Halloween is included early on. After firing six bullets into the Shape, Loomis discovers he has fled the scene, back into the dark streets of Haddonfield.
Throughout the book, Etchison refers to Michael Myers’ as The Shape. We never get to hear his thoughts, but he’s extremely creepy and perpetually lurking in the darkest shadows of most every scene. In fact, there isn’t much introspection into any of the characters’ thoughts, save for the traumatic episodes that jolt Laurie throughout.
The death scenes are painted graphically with a macabre, creative hand. You can even argue that more blood saturates the pages of this haunting tome than the first two films combined. But we must remember that the original film features only a modicum of gore in Its death scenes. Each kill is elaborately described to crave gore-fiends, and you can tell Etchison had fun writing them.
By far, the most riveting scenes involve a panicky Dr. Loomis roaming the bleak streets amid hideous glowing Jack-‘o-Lanterns. Trick-r-Treaters and other lively denizens of Haddonfield flesh-out the authenticity of the holiday, as they trek the iridescent lawns blanketed by candy wrappers and withered leaves.
The longest additional scene has a female reporter sent on assignment to Haddonfield to cover the murders and try and get an interview with Laurie Strode. On her way to Haddonfield Hospital, she fell into a series of mishaps–pulled over by the cops, flat-tire incident, and sexually harrassed by a hick on the side of the road. After the series of ill-fickled fortune, she incurs her own death by lifting up a sheet in her trunk. Myers slashed her to death before hijacking her car to drive the rest of the way to the hospital. Logically, this scene doesn’t make much sense and is ultimately extraneous to the story, so i can see why it was expunged from the film. The woman came from rather far away and Myers was already stalking between bare shrubs and moldering pumpkins in Haddonfield
Personally, I think the set of hospital characters in the story are bovine and weak. By creating a suspensful and dark tone in the hospital, Etchison still keeps the reader engrossed. Unfortunately, a gigantic chunk of the script takes place there, neglecting Loomis’ hunt while doing so. The Bud character is made even more obnoxious and oafish in the book.
Early on in a flashback, a few paragraphs are dedicated to a trio of boys–Richie, Keith, and Lonnie–partaking in pranks late into the night. While Loomis is skulking in the bushes, Lonnie tries to break into the old Myers house. Loomis scares the boys away. Loomis then thought about Halloween and why Michael chose this night. He knew the bloodlust addiction of Myers was that of an ancient pagan curse wreaked upon his soul epochs ago in the age of Celtic Druids and reverence for nature. Loomis is confident he can thwart ‘The Lord of Samhain’ because his vessel is that of a mortal human. He even quotes a Shakespearean phrase: ‘If you cut him, does he not bleed?’ — while fingering the cold metal of his pistol. Also, he claims Michael’s father dwells in Hell, and vows to repress The Shape’s terror spree.
The ONLY enthralling shred of Laurie Strode’s inner misery occured about 85% of the way through the book. Emotionally, Laurie’s mind ventures way back to a time when she was four years old. While the Strode’s babysat her, her parents had visited Michael that day.
I don’t know if this is official canon but that was the day the Myers parents died in the Car crash. Laurie theorizes Michael influenced the events of that tragedy; Her logic being that Mr. Myers was a superb driver.
How she was qualified to judge a person’s driving skills at the age of four is incomprehensible. Anyway, she slips in and out of an illusory realm of trauma, which was engendered by medication administered by the Hospital.
As for the Finale, there came an incredible Shocker!!!
Ignited by airborne Chemicals and an Efflivium release triggered by the inaccurate bullet of Laurie’s shot lodging into the pipes, Loomis torches himself and Myers in a double pyre, mirroring the ancient fire sacrifices of Samhains long ago.
Myers collapses after being wrapped in a wave of orange flames.
In the final scene, One of the bodies was carted out and described as being “Burnt to a french fry.” The other body was said to have been “Blown to Kingdom Come.” Furthermore, not a single body fragment was found of the second victim. It isn’t established as to which one is which.
In conclusion, I’ll touch on the prose of the Novelist: Etchison’s adeptness with obscure metaphors and complex analogies enriches the simplicity of the film. After rewatching the film, the story seemed to have flown by without elaborating on the storyline. Because the film was released in the heart of the slasher boom of 1981, a strong emphasis was placed on the body count to satisfy newborn voracious slasher fans. Also, I hail Etchison for his innate skill of dropping in the perfect adjective when necessary.
P.S. Hands down, the highlight of the book was the fiery death of Ben Tramer. The prose in that scene was so potent, you could feel the blaze of the deadly conflagration.