Most long-running horror franchises have that one installment which was legitimately supposed to but hilariously did not end the franchise. Some have several of them. Few, however, have tried to ends things as quickly as Halloween. Halloween II, i.e., the one set in the hospital, truly was supposed to be it. By the end, Michael and Dr. Loomis get blown up real nice, and Laurie and her love interest survive to see another day. End of franchise. Let’s move on. I dunno, maybe try witches and melting pumpkin heads next time.

But what’s that expression about God laughing when you try to make plans? In Hollywood, it’s more like producers (and sometimes audiences) laughing in your face if you ever dare to leave money on the table. Michael would be back.

Not that anyone knew that in 1981. Instead, all Moustapha Akkad, Irwin Yablans, John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to do was to make a little more money off of the slasher gold rush they’d inadvertently started, and then bow out. Doing so, though, meant making some controversial story decisions and going over the director’s’ head. The resulting sequel they produced is inferior to the original, but it’s still among the best in the franchise.

Here are 9 things you may not know about Halloween II:

1. They never intended to make a sequel

H2-12.jpg

One odd commonality between the three biggest slasher franchises – Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street – is they were never intended to be franchises even though their first films all feature endings which seem designed to set up a sequel. Michael gets up and walks away at the end of Halloween. Something, possibly a somehow still-alive Jason Vorhees, attacks Alice at the end of Friday the 13th. Freddy possesses Glen’s car and probably kills Nancy’s mom at the end of Elm Street.

To modern eyes, oh, obviously they were leaving the door open for further installments. However, the film industry was far less sequel and franchise-prone back then. Filmmakers didn’t think in those terms because sequels were still very rare and almost always critical and financial failures. So, Friday’s ending was less about sequel table-setting and more about ripping off Carrie’s one final scare. Elm Street’s ending was a case of Wes Craven throwing a bone to the producer who hated the original idea to have a happy ending.

Halloween’s ending was purely an “evil never dies” affectation, always scripted to end on the Laurie/Loomis “Was that the bogeyman?” exchange, but prolonged in the editing room. As the film’s editor Tommy Lee Wallace told Reel Terror:

Almost as an afterthought we had him get up and walk away and shot some extra footage of the blank ground. Then the other empty shots were stolen from other sequences. That was not planned on film. I think it was just a good way of drawing the curtain and saying, “This was just a story, but now it’s in your face, it’s on your street, it’s everywhere. That’s a nice way to end a horror movie.”

It’s also, as it turns out, a nice way to leave audiences wanting more.

2. Turning Laurie into Michael’s sister was the result of sleep deprivation, too much alcohol, and writer’s block

As a standalone horror movie, Halloween is simply the story of an unknowable and oddly unkillable escaped mental patient wreaking havoc on a couple of teenagers in small-town suburbia for no apparent reason other than, um, he’s evil? As part of a double feature with Halloween II, though, it’s the story of a boy who killed his older sister and then returned home years later to kill his younger sister, stalking her where she lived and then following her to the hospital after she managed to repel his first attack. This pragmatic story decision regrettably set the franchise up for a series of sequels in which Michael instinctively hunts his bloodline.

They’d accidentally given their monster an actual motive beyond simply to scare and maim and sacrificed Michael’s power as a cinematic bogeyman in the process. Carpenter, who co-wrote the script with Debra Hill, has long maintained this was simply the result of late nights, too many cans of beer and a mad case of writer’s block. He didn’t know what else to do with the sequel, mostly because he didn’t want to make the sequel in the first place, as he told Deadline in 2014:

I didn’t think there was any more story, and I didn’t want to do it again. All of my ideas were for the first Halloween – there shouldn’t have been any more! […] Michael Myers was an absence of character. And yet all the sequels are trying to explain that. That’s silliness – it just misses the whole point of the first movie, to me. He’s part person, part supernatural force. The sequels rooted around in motivation. I thought that was a mistake. However, I couldn’t stop them from making sequels. So my agents said, ‘Why don’t you become an executive producer and you can share the revenue?’ But I had to write the second movie, and every night I sat there and wrote with a six pack of beer trying to get through this thing. And I didn’t do a very good job.

With Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis reuniting and teaming with Blumhouse for a new Halloween movie (due in 2018) which will reportedly ignore all of the sequels, including Halloween II, the “Laurie is Michael’s sister” plot reveal might just be retconned out of existence, for better or worse.

3. Additional story ideas included setting it years later in a high rise apartment building and/or maybe doing it in 3D

A horror movie in a high-rise apartment building? Pfft. That’ll never work. What’s that? Poltergeist 3 did it 7 years later? Well, shut my mouth.

Three years had passed in-between movies. So, their natural impulse was to build that into the script and set the entire film inside a high rise apartment building Laurie would have moved to. From “The Night He Came Home” to “The Night He Was Buzzed Up,” I guess. However, this idea was dropped during story meetings in favor a direct sequel picking up literally a minute after the first film.

As for 3D, Debra Hill told Fangoria, “We investigated a number of 3-D processes for Halloween, but they were far too expensive for this particular project. Also, most of the projects we do involve a lot of night shooting – evil lurks at night. It’s hard to do that in 3-D.” Friday the 13th Part 3 found that out the hard way a year later.

4. Blame the gore on John Carpenter, not the film’s actual director

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By the time Halloween II arrived in 1981, theaters had become overrun with low-budget, low-quality slasher fare like The Burning, New Years Eve, Prom Night, Christmas Evil, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, Graduation Day, Terror Train, Final Exam, and, most blatantly, Friday the 13th Part 1 & 2. As Tommy Lee Wallace told 25 Years of Terror, “Other movies, sort of imitators, had come along and got their business off of sheer gore. John felt the pressures of the marketplace. So, he wrote Halloween II to that marketplace.”

However, it was a case of the original imitating the imitators, like if Pearl Jam wrote songs to sound more like Creed in the late 90s or if Stephen King wrote a new novel that blatantly rips off Stranger Things. It’s just not a good look, and both Wallace (who was approached to direct Halloween II but turned it down, preferring instead to later direct Halloween III) and Rick Rosenthal (who actually did direct Halloween II) felt favoring gore over suspense in the sequel sacrificed what was so great about the largely bloodless original.

Carpenter, of course, could have just directed the dang thing himself, but he had no interest in doing that. Halloween II was mostly a cash grab for him tailored to and sometimes even exceeding the slasher norms of the day, and he hired the mostly unproven Rosenthal to execute that vision. But Rosenthal made a movie which was more in the spirit of the first Halloween. That’s the version anyone who first discovered Halloween II through old Halloween TV marathons saw. The theatrical version, though, is quite a bit more graphic, and Rosenthal has always said Carpenter went over his head and shot most of those scenes himself.

Here’s how Carpenter responded to that accusation in a 1982 interview:

That’s a long, long story. That was a project I got involved in as a result of several different kinds of pressure. I had no influence over the direction of the film. I had an influence in the post-production. I saw a rough cut of Halloween II, and it wasn’t scary. It was about as scary as Quincy. So we had to do some post-production work to bring it at least up to par with the competition.

The softer TV edit of Halloween II remained commercially unavailable for years, but has recently been included as an extra feature in Shout! Factory’s Halloween II Blu-Ray and in Anchor Bay’s Limited Edition Halloween Box Set.

5. While making Halloween II they also filmed extra scenes for the TV version of Halloween

Sticking with the “theatrical versus TV version” theme, those who grew up watching the original Halloween on TV were treated to several scenes which were actually shot during the production of Halloween II. That’s because when Halloween made its TV debut on NBC in 1980 the censors forced them to remove practically everything that made it a horror movie. Carpenter and Hill felt this was ridiculous. So, they used Halloween II’s 1981 production as an opportunity to film new scenes designed to pad Halloween’s TV running time. These scenes include:

  • Dr. Loomis meeting with Smith’s Grove officials about Michael in 1963, aka., the infamous “You’ve fooled them, haven’t you Michael? But not me.” scene
  • Dr. Loomis inspecting Michael’s abandoned cell before departing for Haddonfield, aka, when the camera reveals Michael has scratched the word “Sister” into the door.
  • Lynda visiting Laurie at her house before departing to babysit.
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Found at Halloweenmovies.com

Bonus fact: Curtis wore a towel in the new scene with Lynda and a wig throughout Halloween II because she’d cut her hair much shorter by that point in 1981.

6. Pamela Susan Shoop cried on the drive to the set when she had to film her nude scene

Here’s how she explained it on Halloweenmovies.com:

When the producers wanted to cast me, they had numerous discussions with my agent about what could be seen and not seen. I agreed to be naked only from the waist up. But when we were shooting, the director said he needed me to disrobe to get into the hot tub. He said that it wouldn’t be seen on screen, but the camera angle was too difficult to get the shot otherwise.

I understood what he meant; however, it was not in my contract to do that and I was afraid the discarded footage would appear somewhere, so I refused. Debra Hill was on-set and agreed with me. She stuck by me, and in the end – after calls back and forth with my agent – I wore a sort of mold-skin and was not naked. I can tell you that the scene took two days to shoot…and I cried all the way to work the second day. It was hard.

7. They cast a black woman in her 20s to play a character who was written to be a white woman in her 50s

Gloria Gifford’s Mrs. Alves is the no-nonsense charge nurse of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, and, sadly, like most black people in horror movies she doesn’t make it to the end. However, she wasn’t even supposed to be there in the first place. According to Gifford, “The director, Rick Rosenthal, was in my acting class and recommended me for the audition. Although, I was more than 25 years too young, he felt that I was authoritative enough to pull it off. I auditioned and they felt I was too young, but eventually they came around (they being Debra Hill and Nancy Jacoby).”

Bonus fact: Post-Halloween II, Gifford went on to become a well-known acting coach and American Film Institute instructor, teaching, among so many others, Jenna Elfman and Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins.

8. Is that…no, it can’t be, but I’d swear that’s Dana Carvey in the background. Hold On. That is Dana Carvey!

We’ve all gotta start somewhere, and for Dana Carvey, the future SNL and Wayne’s World star, that meant standing and silently shaking his head in response to a reporter’s orders during the above scene. Well, isn’t that, um, not so special.

9. Sadly, life imitated art when a murderer claimed to have been influenced by Halloween II

Richard Delmer murdered an elderly couple in Fullerton, California on December 7, 1982, stabbing them 43 times. During the trial, he claimed to have been suffering from hallucinations brought on by viewing Halloween II while under the influence of PCP, marijuana, and alcohol. Since this was a central part of his defense, the entire film was screened for the jury, marking the first time a film had been used as evidence in a trial like that. Delmer was found guilty and sentenced to death, and was later re-tried (and again found guilty) multiple times for procedural reasons. At the time of this writing, he seems to still be living on Death Row.

Delmer in ‘82 on left, Delmer in ‘07 on right

  • BOX OFFICE: $25 million domestic
  • BUDGET: $2.5 million
  • CONTEXT: That’s barely over half the domestic total of the first Halloween, but in those days sequels weren’t supposed to surpass their predecessors. Friday the 13th Part 2 came out the same year and it posted a similar film-to-sequel fall-off. So, no one was expecting another history-setting performance from Halloween II. All they really wanted was extreme profitability (which they got) and maybe some bragging rights by making more than any other horror movie that year (which is exactly what happened).
  • INFLATION: With the benefit of 2017 ticket prices, Halloween II would have grossed $82 million domestic, which is Don’t Breathe ($89m)/The Purge: Election Year ($79m) territory for today’s horror movies.

Next time, I’ll look at the noble (?) failure that is Halloween 3, aka, the one without Michael Myers.

Sources: HalloweenMovies.com, Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, David Konow’s Reel Terror: The Scary, Bloody, Gory, Hundred-Year History of Classic Horror Films, Deadline

If you liked this also check out my Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street trivia lists, and you can always circle back around to see my other Halloween trivia articles.

Corrections? Questions? Something in-between? Let me know in the comments.

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

17 Comments

  1. Interesting and adequately timed article KK. Coincidently I was reading then watching a doc about Halloween 4 5 and 6. 6 in particular which is clearly one of the weakest (next to that Buster ryhmes starring nonsense aka Halloween whatever comes after h20 which confused the numerical order). Anyway aside from it being poor. Aside from it being 6 years from parts 4 and 5 due to legal issues and disappointment with 5 and despite the part 6 setup in part 5 with this mysterious man in black, I did find the story about the producers cut fascinating. Particularly as i cant think of another film that exists to buy where there is also an alternative version so significantly different. Highlander 2 and Bladerunner can all go home. Equally critics cant agree which version is better. My own view is the producers cut as the story makes more sense but the versiin that screened was changed because the other cut really wasnt in the spirit of Halloween which is risky when you are on number 6 of your sequels

    Reply

    1. I probably watched the same 4,5,6 doc as you. It’s what I’ll be leaning on for my trivia lists about those movies. BTW, at the moment I am planning on going up to Resurrection and then stopping, with the lists, because I have zero interest in ever re-watching or learning anything more about the Rob Zombie Halloween movies.

      As for Halloween 6, I agree; it’s strange to have two different versions of the same movie that are so radically different. However, if forced to pick between the producers cut or Miramax cut I’d pick neither since I don’t believe either makes for a particulalry good movie. The producers cut, obviously, makes more sense, but I don’t know that added coherency actually helps it all that much. I’ll see what I think when I make my way to it for my Hallowen 6 trivia list.

      Reply

  2. […] Next time, I’ll get into [spoiler] why, oh why they decided to make her his sister in Halloween 2. […]

    Reply

  3. What do you think about a new sequel that brings back Jaime Lee Curtis and ignores all the sequels apart from 2? That sounds like a cash in if ever I heard of one esp given H20 was all about that.

    Reply

    1. I actually didn’t know they were planning to ignore the sequels until researching it for this article. Prior to that, I had been curiously optimistic. Jason Blum has his track record. Carpenter’s on board. Ditto for JLC. And they have some story idea from Danny McBride and is writing partner, which sounds like a weird match at first but after Get Out I don’t want to pre-judge.

      But once I read about the plan to ignore the sequels my optimism plummeted. They already did that with H20, which pretends Halloween 4-6 never happened. To do it yet again after we’ve already had those two Rob Zombie movies…I dunno. It doesn’t sit well with me. I get the impulse to right the wrong and do away with a story idea Carpenter never liked, but I was never a huge fan of the now-abandoned plan to make a new Alien movie that pretended everything after Aliens didn’t happen. Same case here.

      I was far more excited for this when I thought it was going to be a reboot that just happened to feature John Carpenter consulting and providing new music. And after H20 and Scream Queens I’m kind of over seeing Curtis revisit her slasher movie roots.

      Reply

      1. Ditto and everything you just said also fits for any WMIF article on james cameron’s nee terminator

      2. “WMIF article on james cameron’s nee terminator”

        At least I’m consistent 🙂

  4. Zero interest in the rob zombie films? Why? Everyone knows that the best horror movies is when they focus mostly on the mysterious killer as a child and witness suffering, abuse, bullying and red neck behaviour. Oh and its even more scarier when every character he kills is unlikeable and generally an a#seh#le. Seriously. Watchbit again. All the victims are tools. I was rooting for myers to off all of them in the remake.

    Reply

    1. I just don’t really care for Rob Zombie’s white trash horror aesthetic. Certain filmmakers have that narrow, signature lens through which they view the world. Wes Anderson has his love of symmetrical framing, patterns, pastels and 60s rock. Zombie has his white trash lens where everything he makes generally looks the same and is less about the characters and more an extension of him, his worldview and upbringing. It’s not really for me, even in his films which are fairly effective, like The Devil’s Rejects. Plus, I just don’t find it particularly interesting to see Michael Myers re-contextualized as a white trash kid with all of the standard serial killer triggers. That being said, Malcolm McDowell is great as a vain version of Dr. Loomis, and he played well off of Brad Dourif’s sheriff.

      Reply

      1. Very very true and plausable points kk. The whole prequel story deminishes the mystery of the shape. Still it is better than Halloween Buster Rhymes/big brother house nonsense.

      2. Sadly true. Resurrection is such a low point.

  5. Awesome post! I love this idea! Sadly and surprisingly, I hadn’t seen “Halloween” until last year! I know, right? I haven’t seen any of the movies following…should I even bother? Have you seen “It Follows”? They do a nice homage scene to Halloween that I thought was done very well.

    Reply

    1. “should I even bother?”

      I actually think Halloween II is okay. It’s a direct sequel and finishes the story they started in the first movie. Of course, it’s not as clever and a big plot reveal it throws out is a bit unfortunate, so much so that Carpenter has been apologizing for it ever since. But if you liked the first then Halloween II is at least a reteaming of the original creative team just 3 years later, and it’s a pretty decent attempt at the slasher-in-a-hospital format.

      After that, though, I dunno. It just depends on how much you like slasher movies or how much of a completist you are. Because, really, even though Halloween 4 and H20 have their moments they’re not quite mandatory viewing. Halloweens 5-6 and then 8 are just embarrassing. The Rob Zombie Halloween movies provide a clean starting point, but you have to really like Zombie’s white trash horror aesthetic to get into his version of Halloween. I never could.

      Plus, obviously, Halloween 3 isn’t even really a Halloween movie. It’s a standalone story about witchcraft and haunted masks threatening to kill all the kids in the world on Halloween night, but to be honest I’ve actually never seen it. I’m about to rectify that today.

      My favorites in the franchise are Halloween 1, 2, 4, H20 and then that’s it. The other ones (other than 3) are just movies I’ve seen at some point and will probably never re-watch.

      I have seen “It Follows.” Which homage? Do you mean when they’re at the school and the camera does the 360 pan sorta, kinda like when Laurie sees Michael outside her classroom?

      Reply

      1. Oh wow…you’re basically like a Halloween expert! And yes @ the It Follows reference.

      2. Not so much expert as someone who grew up watching Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street marathons on TV. Between the three, Halloween was always the one I paid the least attention to, which is actually making these trivia articles kind of fun because I’m learning lots of new things about all of the films.

      3. Friday has the more interesting history of the three and actually more fun to watch as a franchise marathon. More interesting the difderent directions they took and budget constraints as well as film rating board disputes.

    2. Yes u shoukd watch them all bar part 3. Also IT Follows is really good

      Reply

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