I guess the way this sequel panned out is one of the more optimal situations that could have passed aside from not making it at all. The first's two leads are back along with the Carpenter/Hill combo screenplay scribing once again and other select cast/crew jumping on just two-or-so years after Halloween. Bad Boys (1983) and extensive television series director Rick Rosenthal is in the chair, but one wonders how much influence the man had with papa John lurking about writing, producing, and diddling his keyboards. Unfortunately, the results are a step above the future sequels, but it ain't no '78 lightning in a bottle.
A tiny part of the genius of Carpenter's Halloween is that it keeps the audience on edge with shifting anticipation. We know he will come home. We know Loomis will try his damndest to stop him before reaching Haddonfield. We also know people will die, Laurie's in trouble, and patient and doctor will eventually collide. Carpenter and cast pull each of these off gloriously crushing all initial expectations. The sequel's problem is that it attempts to transpose the exact same goals later the same night under different circumstances. This isn't anything new, a multitude of second sequels do this, and like H2 '81 just don't capture the freshness of their former no matter how well-intentioned.
It doesn't help Jamie Lee Curtis is near catatonic and looks to be yearning for a leading role future away from the horror genre. It's obvious Laurie would be traumatized and dead tired after her first tango with Michael, but c'mon, you'd hope she'd be intelligent enough not to hide in a car in the hospital's parking lot after experiencing the unstoppable Myers brickwall. Even Donald Pleasence seems uncomfortable back in his trademark character's skin. The learned conviction of Loomis isn't there; the psychiatrist with a snubnose now appears more beleaguered and fed up with tending to his burden. Charles Cyphers reprising Sheriff Brackett actually pulls off the slip back into tone with much more accuracy. The new cast additions aren't memorable, but it must be said Pamela Susan Shoop has stunning...errrmmm..."chest endowments."
According the IMDB's trivia page, Carpenter added several gory inserts thinking Rosenthal's version was too tame. I disagree with the pot smokin' cool dude of cult directors here. Most of Halloween's kills were slow, intimate, and devoid of graphic bits. Rosenthal was merely following the precedent began by Carpenter with this follow-up. The two best, Nurse Alves found tied down with a dastardly intravenous drip and Nurse Jill loosing her hospital slippers, adhere to this chilling standard. Also I know Michael is a monolithic representation of unrepentant evil, but his quick stabbing of the girl in her home at the beginning is uncalled for as it reduces the icon to some random thrill killer.
Yeah, this one isn't a bad slasher, but it proves Halloween is one of a kind. Carpenter didn't want a sequel and Myers was supposed to end for good here. Maybe that would have been for the best considering the waffling quality of subsequent sequels (minus Season of the Witch) and amateurish remakes in this one's wake.