Every Scene John Carpenter Directed In 1981’s Halloween 2
John Carpenter didn’t direct 1981’s Halloween 2, but the horror helmer did drop into the director’s seat for a few of the sequel’s sequences.
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Original Halloween helmer John Carpenter may not have directed 1981’s Halloween 2, but which scenes did the legendary filmmaker have a hand in during reshoots? Released in 1978, Halloween was a sleeper hit that made the careers of creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill. The duo was famously not so keen on making a sequel, but they signed on after learning it would happen with or without their involvement.
The result was 1981’s Halloween 2, which Carpenter wrote and co-produced alongside Hill, which picks up right from the ending of the original with Michael Myers still stalking Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie. The sequel is now a fan favorite but while it was a success upon release, it received mixed reviews for its increase in gore and violence. When they were approached about yet another sequel Hill and Carpenter felt an anthology series set on the titular night was the way to go instead of another outing with Michael. Alas, this ambitious vision was canned after the relative failure of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.
Despite his disinterest in the Halloween franchise’s continuation of the Michael saga, Carpenter wasn’t particularly happy with his replacement Rick Rosenthal’s first cut of Halloween 2. Watching the rough cut, Carpenter decided Rosenthal’s sequel simply wasn’t scary or gory enough, leading him to step back behind the camera to shoot three additional scenes. The first of his additional scenes was the gruesome opening murder of teenager Alice, whose tense action almost matches the original Halloween’s iconic opening.
An unimpressed Carpenter compared the initial cut of Halloween 2 to an episode of medical drama Quincy, so the addition of Alice’s brutal death right at the start was a clear attempt to up the terror factor. To this same end, Carpenter also added insert shots of extra blood to murder scenes directed by Rosenthal so he could heighten the gore quotient a bit to keep up with other slashers of the era. These minor additions included a close-up shot of Nurse Janet getting stabbed in the temple with a needle and the creepy image of Michael’s mask burning at the end of the movie.
The second major scene added to Halloween 2 is peak Carpenter, an ambitious and atmospheric long tracking shot that first follows Nurse Karen as she worries about being late to work, and the sequence then switches to following Michael as he hears from a radio Laurie was brought to the hospital. This clarifies how he knew where to look for the first film’s final girl, information that was absent in the original edit (it also features a cute cameo, as the boy Michael bumps into is the son of Myers’ actor Dick Warlock). Finally, the death of security guard Mr. Garrett was added to up the body count of this Halloween sequel, as this character’s body was originally only found by Laurie during a chase scene in the finale. It’s easy to see how much Carpenter’s additions upped the movie’s gore quotient, but the slick camerawork of the helmer’s additions also made Halloween 2 a more artful follow-up.
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