Blu-ray Review: Halloween II

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Distributor: Shout Factory

Release Date: 18/Sept/2012

Region: Region A

Length: 93 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 29.09 Mbps)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz, 24-bit)
2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 2.35:1

Notes: The film is also available in a 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray from Universal and has been given a few DVD releases.

Dr. Loomis

“I didn’t want to direct it and I got forced into writing it.” –John Carpenter

Halloween II is perhaps the best sequel in the Halloween franchise. Its strength lies in the fact that it picks up right where the first film ended. Its weakness lies in the fact that it is simply unnecessary. It certainly doesn’t offer anything different and it pales compared to Carpenter’s original.

It is in Halloween II that introduces the idea that Myers is attempting to kill Laurie Strode because she is his sister. This idea grew into the idea that the shape is attempting to kill off his bloodline in Halloween 4.

The Elrod's

The film received mixed reviews. Janet Maslin liked the film:

“…Actually, Halloween II is good enough to deserve a sequel of its own. By the standards of most recent horror films, this – like its predecessor – is a class act. There’s some variety to the crimes, as there is to the characters, and an audience is likely to do more screaming at suspenseful moments than at scary ones. The gore, while very explicit and gruesome, won’t make you feel as if you’re watching major surgery. The direction and camera work are quite competent, and the actors don’t look like amateurs. That may not sound like much to ask of a horror film, but it’s more than many of them offer. And Halloween II, in addition to all this, has a quick pace and something like a sense of style.

John Carpenter, who directed the first film, is co-writer and co-producer (with Debra Hill) this time, and composed the repetitive, nerve-jangling music with Alan Howarth. He has assigned the directing chores to Rick Rosenthal, who follows ably in Mr. Carpenter’s footsteps. Mr. Rosenthal’s methods are sometimes familiar but almost always reliable…” – The New York Times (October 30, 1981)

Dr. Loomis & Sheriff Brackett

The staff writers at Variety were not as kind to the film:

“This uninspired version amounts to lukewarm sloppy seconds in comparison to the original film that made director John Carpenter a hot property.

There are incredibly almost never any really terrific scares in 92 minutes – just multiple shots of violence and gore that are more gruesome than anything else…

…Meanwhile the zombie-like masked killer makes his way through the town, wandering in and out of houses slashing unsuspecting residents. So many people wander through the proceedings that it becomes difficult to care who is getting sliced or why.” – Variety (December 31, 1980)

Bennet Tramer

Roger Ebert (who adored the original film) also seemed to hate the sequel. He wrote a two star review:

“It’s a little sad to witness a fall from greatness, and that’s what we get in Halloween II. John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween was one of the most effective horror films ever made, a scarifying fable of a mad-dog killer’s progress through a small Illinois town on Halloween. That movie inspired countless imitations, each one worse than the last, until the sight of a woman’s throat being slashed became ten times more common in the movies than the sight of a kiss…

…It is not a horror film but a geek show. It is technically a sequel, but it doesn’t even attempt to do justice to the original. Instead, it tries to outdo all the other violent Halloween rip-offs of the last several years. The movie does not have the artistry or the imagination of the original, but it does have new technology: For those like McCarty who keep records of such things, this movie has the first close-up I can remember of a hypodermic needle being inserted into an eyeball… But for the most part, Halloween II is a retread of Halloween without that movie’s craft, exquisite timing, and thorough understanding of horror…

…The plot of Halloween II absolutely depends, of course, on our old friend the Idiot Plot which requires that everyone in the movie behave at all times like an idiot. That’s necessary because if anyone were to use common sense, the problem would be solved and the movie would be over…” –The Chicago Sun Times (January 1, 1981)

Mixed reviews are common with sequels. Even series fanatics must admit that Rosenthal’s direction never equals Carpenter’s (even when he tries to emulate it). However, he does at least attempt to capture the tone and aesthetic of the first film. This is more than anyone can say about the other sequels.

Laurie Strode

The Presentation:

4 of 5 MacGuffins

ReverseCover

Shout Factory’s 2-disc release comes in the standard Blu-ray case with reversible artwork and a slipcover. The slipcover features new film related artwork from Shout Factory and one can choose this artwork or the original poster artwork for the actual case.

back slipcover

The animated menus feature scenes from the film and are easy to navigate.

Overall, this is a very nice presentation.

 Haddonfield

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 MacGuffins

Shout! Factory’s 1080phigh definition transfer is quite close to the one used for Universal’s 30th Anniversary edition. This new transfer seems to have less print damage than the previous release, making the image slightly superior than the one on Universal’s disc. The disc showcases a nice layer of film grain that adds a cinematic texture to one’s experience and the transfer seems to be free of any troublesome DNR. Compression issues and edge enhancement also seem non-existent. The film is quite dark, so it will please viewers that black levels are fine here. Colors are also reasonably represented.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 MacGuffins

Shout! Factory offers two DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The 5.1 remix is effective and will likely be the preferred track of all but the strictest purists. Dialogue is consistently clear and the music benefits slightly from this slightly more dynamic mix. There is the occasional sound effect that seems somewhat unnaturally mixed, but these are never distracting. The mix doesn’t stand up to more modern tracks, but this is to be expected.

The film’s original 2.0 track benefits from its lossless transfer and is a welcome alternative to the new 5.1 mix.

The Shape

Special Features:

4 of 5 MacGuffins

Audio Commentary with Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi:

The conversation between Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi is surprisingly short on production information and extremely heavy on back-patting. Fans will likely be delighted with the track, but most will find it slightly disappointing. There are long stretches of silence followed by moments of useless chatter. One does receive the random anecdote, but these are rare.

Audio Commentary with Dick Warlock:

This conversation with Dick Warlock should delight fans of the Halloween series. Warlock discusses the production and what his experiences were portraying Michael Myers in the film. He also talks about other aspects of his career.

The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making of Halloween II – (HD) – (45 minutes):

It is surprising to report that this “Making of” documentary is not only well produced, but also rather comprehensive (considering the subject being discussed). There are numerous interviews from those who worked on the film. The only two people noticeably absent are Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary – (HD) – (8 minutes)

This collection of deleted scenes is quite interesting and it is nice to see what was cut from the film. The optional commentary provided gives viewers background about the scenes and the reason that they were cut.

Alternate Ending – (SD) – (2 minutes)

The alternate ending included here is certainly interesting to see, but one sees why it was jettisoned for the ending included in the film. It simply doesn’t work. The “false scare” doesn’t scare and the sentiment seems false.

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II – (HD) – (13 minutes)

This short tour of the various locations (courtesy of Sean Clark) leads viewers on a tour of the various shooting locations used in Halloween II. It is an interesting little featurette that is done in a very tongue-in-cheek style.

Theatrical Trailer – (HD)

It is always nice to see how older films were marketed and this red-band trailer is one of the better horror sequel trailers.

TV Spots

These three television spots and broadcast promos are not quite as interesting as the trailer.

Radio Spots – (SD)

There are a handful of different radio spots in both English and Spanish.

Stills Gallery – (HD) – (5 minutes)

This slide show reel contains promotional stills and artwork created for the promotion of Halloween II.

Disc 2 (DVD):

The Television Version – (SD) – (92 minutes)

 This 1.33:1 television cut of the film is presented in standard definition. There is quite a bit of footage that was not included in the theatrical release and the film has been radically re-edited (sometimes using slightly different footage). The order of the events has been altered and some scenes have been cut altogether or shortened.

It is nice to have this version of the film as an extra, but most fans will prefer to watch the theatrical version in high definition.

Film Script

This DVD disc also contains a copy of the film’s script. One must insert the disc into their computer and explore the disc and simply copy the PDF file to their hard drive.

Blood Tears

Final Words:

If the slightly improved transfer doesn’t convince series fans that Shout Factory’s disc is the version to own, the generous collection of supplementary material should convince them.

Review by: Devon Powell

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