Halloween II Is Better Than the Original and Here’s Why

Talk to anyone—and I mean anyone—and they’ve probably seen John Carpenter’s Halloween. The movie has been ubiquitously praised since its initial release in 1978 and has been a key influence on countless other films such as Friday the 13th and, most recently, It Follows. Halloween showed everyone that you didn’t need crazy special effects, a huge budget, and mainstream A-list actors to create a quality movie—all it took was a unique idea and talent.

But this isn’t an article about Halloween, it’s an article on why I believe Halloween II actually trumps its predecessor. That’s right, the sequel that will soon be forgotten canon-wise thanks to the John Carpenter-produced 2018 sequel to the original is, in my humble opinion, not only the best movie in the Halloween universe but also one of the best horror movies ever. If you haven’t clicked off the article in disgust or written me an angry comment yet, allow me to beg your indulgence for the next little while and I’ll try to explain why I have this rather unpopular opinion.


Halloween II was released in 1981, three years after Halloween took the cinema world by storm, but conveniently takes place on the very same night as the original, acting as a sort of direct continuation of the first movie. John Carpenter also gave up the director’s chair to Rick Rosenthal, though Carpenter and Debra Hill would return to writing the screenplay just as they did for the first one. These three would prove to be a proverbial Trinity if you will in regards to the quality of the movie, and to be honest, most of that is a combination of a bigger budget and Rick Rosenthal in his directorial duties.

First, let me say that I’m the biggest John Carpenter fan you will ever meet. I’ve loved almost everything he’s directed, from Assault on Precinct 13 to They Live, and I will argue endlessly that his take on The Thing is better than Alien. And yes, you can compare the two because they are both horror movies with sci-fi alien creatures and a body count, even though one takes place in space and the other…you know what, let’s not get into that (that’s a future article in and of itself). The point I’m trying to make here is that John Carpenter is an AMAZING director—one of my favorites of all-time really—but Rick Rosenthal fine-tunes the initial idea behind Halloween and churns out a damn near perfect horror movie when it’s all said and done. Not that the first movie isn’t a damn near perfect horror movie as well, but Halloween II reinvents the wheel so to speak, and in my opinion does it just a little bit better. I have read that Carpenter changed a few scenes in post-production to the dismay of Rosenthal, so maybe clashing visions is why I prefer Halloween II. Two heads are better than one is an old adage for a reason.

So…let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. One of the reasons I find Halloween II to be such a stellar film is its consistency and logic. As I stated earlier, the film takes place minutes after the ending of the original and continues on late into Halloween night. If you watch Halloween I & II in succession, it truly feels like an extension rather than a sequel. In the first film, Dr. Loomis is trying to save the town of Haddonfield from a bloodbath. In the second film, he’s damn near hysterical, and at one point almost shoots a trick-or-treater just because he was wearing a similar outfit to Michael’s! Loomis is quite simply unhinged now, and it makes perfect sense—he just shot Michael SIX TIMES in the chest only for Mr. Myers to get up seconds later like one would after achieving a good night’s rest. The cinematography is also superb, with many scenes being dark enough to make the viewer uneasy about what may be lurking in the shadows, but not so dark that you can’t see anything. There’s a lot of great half-shadowed shots of faces—particularly Michael’s—and some aesthetically pleasing, poster-quality shots like the one below that have something going on in the foreground, middle ground, and background. Overall it is a gorgeous film to look at, especially if you’re a horror fan.

an older couple are oblivious to Michael Myers standing behind them with a knife

But one of the defining reasons I prefer Halloween II to the original is Dick Warlock’s portrayal of Michael Myers, also known as The Shape, also known as the boogeyman. Before Kane Hodder played the perfect Jason Voorhees, Dick Warlock played the perfect Michael Myers. Nick Castle starred as Michael in the first film, and while he did a fine job, Warlock takes the character to a whole new level all without ever speaking a word. The man’s movements and mannerisms are like some sort of robotic force of nature. Dr. Loomis is constantly telling everyone within earshot that Michael Myers isn’t human and is pure evil, and Warlock personifies that. It goes back to the consistency I talked about previously, where at the end of the first film Michael had been bested so to speak, at least temporarily. Now he’s back with more poise, focus, and determination—he’s got a job to do, and he’s going to see it through.

Here’s just one example of Warlock’s brilliance: there’s a scene where Michael Myers is descending a flight of steps and…well, he’s just not walking like a human being would. Normally, any given person would be holding onto a rail or a sidewall and be looking at their feet, making sure not to trip. Michael’s descent is like that of a cyborg, looking straight ahead as if he had x-ray vision and can see his target through the walls. It hearkens back to Dr. Loomis in the first Halloween saying, “I watched him for 15 years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall; not seeing the wall, looking past the wall; looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off.” It’s poignant, masterful acting through just body language.

michael myers stands on the stairs

There’s a bit more I could write about in regards to the film, but that would involve me spoiling some key plot points and I could never forgive myself if you actually haven’t seen Halloween II, or hell, even the first Halloween for that matter. It’s okay if you’ve watched both and still prefer the first one even after reading this little analysis of mine, but I hope you’ve garnered a new appreciation for this outstanding sophomore effort or at the very least look at it in a slightly different light. While I’m looking forward to Carpenter’s new installment in the Halloween franchise which opens in just one week, I’m a bit sad that Halloween II will not be the “real” sequel anymore. But hey, if the new Halloween is good I don’t think any of us will be angry, and if it sucks we can just pretend it never happened and keep watching Halloween I & II for the rest of eternity. It’s a win-win situation in my book.

The awesome artwork at the top of the article is from the Shout! Factory limited edition Blu-ray release of Halloween II, sourced from a new remastered 4K scan. If you’re as big of a fan of Halloween II as I am, pick it up. When the weather gets chilly and the leaves start to fall, pop it in, turn the lights off, and smash the play button. And if you get too frightened, just keep telling yourself that there’s no such thing as the boogeyman. Just note that that phrase never really works for folks in horror movies, though.


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  1. I believe that Halloween is objectively the better film, however I subjectively prefer Halloween II.

    Dick Warlock’s portrayal of the shape, the inadvertent changes to the mask, the all nighttime setting, the quiet hospital location, the perfectly balanced cinematography, the at the time definitive ending to this story, the stabbing and lifting of the night nurse, the chase scene in the hospital, Michael descending the stairs, the chase scene in the parking lot with the red light, Laurie shooting Michael in the face, Michael “crying” blood, Loomis’ heroic and noble sacrifice, Michael still chasing Laurie while on fire, and personal nostalgia of seeing it all for the first time on a memorable Halloween night all play a factor in this opinion.

  2. Excellent outlook! I’ve always thought the 2nd was better as well, just because Michael was more aggressive and had a much bigger body count

  3. Couldn’t have said it better. Me and a couple other guys I knew thought part two was pretty much the best horror movie. Everything is better here. Music, cast, atmosphere, kills, and excitement. I say this as someone who’s first exposure to the series was catching Michael swinging the knife around in the operating room while flipping channels.

    The way music and sound fx are used here is just phenomenal. Almost up there with Empire Strikes Back and Rambo 2. The sound aspect is really overlooked by people.

    The movie feels like an exciting finale. Halloween 4 feels like a whole new series. Michael is suddenly much bigger. I love Halloween 4-6 , but they really shouldn’t exist. I’m not even sure those guys survive if there’s a sprinkler system kicking in right away.

    I’ve never understood people who deride Dick Warlock as Michael. Your observations are spot on. He’s very intimidating in this one. Much scarier than in any of the others.

    There’s some things I don’t like about the first one. The driving. The unmasked scenes. Wearing the bedsheet. A lot of Linda’s dialogue. I’ve always felt it was overrated. They humanized Michael too much from the get go to complain about Laurie being the sister.

    The sister angle enhanced the character for me. He didn’t choose her at random in the first movie. She was at his house, she was playing the sister role whether they made it official or not.

    These new movies have shown that continuing to involve Laurie without the sister angle just doesn’t work. There’s no reason for random victim Laurie Steode to be a focal point in one movie after another.

    Halloween Kills is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It’s like a parody of Halloween. They made Michael and the whole thing look more ridiculous than anything in Halloween Resurrection or Halloween 5. James Jude plays the character all wrong too. He said he wanted him to kill more like a real person or something like that. He moves way too fast. It’s like his Michael puts no thought into what he does.

    Ah well, I’m just glad to see someone else understands Halloween 2 the way I do.

  4. Talk about clueless. It takes a gross misunderstanding of the original film to arrive at this conclusion. This is an unpopular opinion for a very good reason.
    I don’t even have the time to explain why this makes no sense

  5. Yes! I’m glad to see some love for this criminally under-appreciated movie — it’s my favorite in the series as well as the slasher genre. Thanks for the article!

  6. Great breakdown Anthony. With that stated, I respectfully disagree. The original in my eyes will always be the superior film. In my opinion, the first had way more suspense and wasn’t as gory as the second. It actually made you think. Michael was scary in both films, but I think he was more terrifying in the first because, you really did not see him that much(well maybe the end) he was more of a phantom in the shadows waiting to strike where as the second film, I feel he had more exposure.

    Also Dick Warlock was AWESOME in the role of The Shape. His robotic movements were extremely erie, though I have to go with Nick Castle in the first. Michael in the first seemed human by his movements but underneath it all, something is wrong. I will say one thing about Halloween 2 and that is while I feel it’s underneath the original, it blows away every Halloween that comes after including the 2018 film in my opinion.

  7. I have always been a big fan of the first 2 Original Halloween movies and especially the 2nd part just like what you were saying!!I totally agree with you and I have been saying that all of these years myself like how they made the film look!! The way the guy made Michael move and then that muisc!! LIKE OMG!! That music was like the icicing on the cake!!This movie was just put together so well!! AMAZING!! And then that infamous scene where Michael comes up behind the nurse and that music starts after it!! There had never been nothing else like this film ever again!! I’m a big John Carpenter fan too but I want Rick Rosenthal to do one more Halloween movie and work with John Carpenter like they did on this one!! Classic Terrifying Horror Sequel!!

  8. I agree with you 100 %. I have always beleived that 1 and 2 and H20 would be a complete trilogy. Now If they would have shown Laurie and Billie in the ambulance at the end of H2 for the start of H20 fast forward as they are now married , this would have been a great 3rd part… Michael being Laurie’s brother makes sense, a serial killer coming after a total stranger after being shot 6 times is stupid…

  9. Halloween II is best in the whole series hands down! The new one is just a remake, and destroys Laurie Strode’s character! If this is what she’s lived for, then she should have ended years ago! She doesn’t even get the revenge she wanted! She clearly loses! I will only watch Halloween I and II on Halloween night!

    If they let Ricks real movie see day light, then there would be a better version of Halloween II. (The TV version is not Ricks). There is even more-more extra footage shot. It explains all the stuff we never got answer on. (exp. lights and phones, how michael got the clinic before Karen, Janets walkie talkie problems, Mrs Alves with the reporters, more of Laurie’s flashbacks with drunk mother, the reporters death, Michael with the clown mask, Laurie looking for Annie and Lynda.)

    Great article bro!!!!

  10. I agree for the most part, the way I’ve always explained it to people is “Halloween 1978 IS the better film but Halloween 2 is my favorite of the franchise, simply because it explains more of Michael’s motive/history and he is damn near unstoppable in part 2”. Personally though I prefer Nick Castle to Dick Warlock portrayal of Myers BUT Dick Warlock’s performance comes in a strong second for me! Nobody else has come close to capturing the nuances/mannerisms of Michael like Castle and Warlock.

  11. Loved….Loved Halloween II…never went to a Hospital afterwards and wasn’t scared of the Halls. Great movie!!

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