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

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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.

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

Overall, this is a very nice presentation.

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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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Blu-ray Review: Halloween Resurrection

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Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 17/April/2012

Region: Region Free

Length: 89 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 19Mbps)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

5.1 English Dolby Digital Audio

2.0 English LPCM Stereo

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 2.35:1

Notes: There is also a DVD release of the film.

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“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

To say that Halloween Resurrection doesn’t live up to the original film is an understatement. Most fans seem to be in agreement that the film is a major disappointment. There are many reasons for this. The most important of these is likely the fact that there simply wasn’t any real reason to make another sequel.

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork.

The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme. 

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Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Echo Bridge’s image transfer is decent (especially when compared to a few of their other transfers). The picture is usually sharp with nice detail, but the quality varies quite a bit from moment to moment. Some moments are extremely sharp, while others are more on par with a quality DVD transfer. Black levels also vary a great deal. The color seems fairly accurate and skin tones always appear natural. There are a few transfer related problems to report. At times film grain appears normal and natural, while at other times it can be a bit overwhelming. Aliasing is a major issue with the transfer and noise becomes a problem on occasion (especially in darker scenes). These issues are sometimes complicated by occasional edge enhancement.

Keep in mind that part of the film was shot with webcams and these moments were never very pristine. This is certainly the best the film has looked on home video, but with proper handling and a better transfer, it could look a lot better. 

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Screams

The sound is actually very nice on this disc. Echo Bridge includes a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix that sounds nice and rather dynamic. The music is especially strong in this mix. There are moments when dialogue is overwhelmed by the score, but it remains intelligible throughout the track. The music is certainly the most dynamic element of the mix, but sound effects are also quite effective in this track.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Screams

Most of the special features that were included on the DVD were ported over to this Blu-ray.

Commentary with Director Rick Rosenthal and Editor Robert A. Ferretti

This commentary will be of interest to fans of the series. Rosenthal carries the bulk of the commentary and discusses returning to the series after a twenty year absence (he directed the second installment in the series). Most interesting is the discussion of the film’s gimmick. (Actors were wearing webcams on their heads and the footage was used in the film.) While this probably will not interest anyone other than fans of the series, it seems unlikely that people who aren’t fans of the series will be purchasing this disc.

Alternate Ending with Deleted Scenes – (SD, 11 min.)

It is always interesting to see scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut of a film. Fans should be happy that these scenes are included. [Note:The DVD included an optional commentary track for these scenes. This track is not included on this disc.]

Tour Set with Production Designer – (SD, 7 min.)

Fans are given a tour of the set as it is being constructed. The set is essentially the Myer’s house.

On the Set with Jamie Lee Curtis – (SD, 4 min.)

This featurette is made up of obligatory publicity interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and other cast and crew involved with the production. It discusses Curtis’ appearance in the film.

Head Cam Featurette – (SD, 4 min.)

The film’s actors and crew discuss shooting live digital footage using “head cams” on the actors. Fans are shown some ‘behind the scenes’ footage to illustrate points being made in the interviews.

Storyboard (Splitscreen) – (SD, 4 min.)

Footage from the film is played along with storyboard drawings.

Missing on this disk is a supplement entitled Web Cam Special, which was a re-editing of part of the film using only the footage shot on the digital webcams. This feature included optional commentary with the film’s director and editor. The deleted scenes and alternate endings also included optional director’s commentary on the DVD release and the commentary for these scenes are not on the Blu-ray. The only other feature included on the DVD that is absent is a Photo Gallery.

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Final Words:

Halloween Resurrection isn’t the most loved sequel in the Halloween franchise, but it was given a serviceable Blu-ray release that improves on the DVD in terms of image and sound quality. Many of the special features were ported over to this disc, but there are a few supplements that were not included here. Fans of the series will want to upgrade to Blu-ray and hold on to their DVD as well.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

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Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 03/May/2011

Region: A & B

Length: 86 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 25 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 1.6Mbps)

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 1.78:1

Note: There is also a non-anamorphic DVD release of this film.

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H20_original ratio

“I stopped watching and caring after three. I just thought that there really shouldn’t have been another movie. That was enough. Far be it for me to say. They pay me every time they make another, so… [Laughs].” -John Carpenter

John Carpenter was asked to write and direct this film, but he turned down the offer. The film was eventually directed by Steve Minor, and the result is often debated by genre fans. There are those who believe it to be one of the better sequels of the series. Others see the film as a pointless attempt to cash in on the teen horror craze. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the film’s success at the box office cannot be debated.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork.

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The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme.

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H20Bluray-originalss2

Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams 

This release has gotten a lot of criticism and much of the negativity is due to the altered aspect ratio. I was originally very disappointed that the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio was changed to 1.78:1 in order to fit widescreen television screens. The natural assumption is that they cropped the sides of the image in order to accommodate the new ratio. I was slightly surprised to discover that we are actually seeing more information at the top and the bottom of the screen. While this might not be Steve Minor’s original vision, it does not alter the atmosphere of the film. [Note: Examples of each version are included throughout this review for comparison.]

The transfer isn’t very inspired. There is adequate detail, but there is also a bit of edge enhancement. Banding also becomes an issue on occasion and there are some compression artifacts. Luckily, none of these issues become distracting. This is certainly an improvement over the DVD release of the film.

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Sound Quality:

2 of 5 Screams

This Blu-ray contains a lossless 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It seems rather unfortunate to not include a 5.1 track when one was included on the DVD release. The 2.0 track included on the disc is rather lifeless, but extremely clear and quite adequate. The trouble is that there is a better track available and it isn’t included here.

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Special Features:

0 of 5 Screams

The DVD release of the film included a music video (“What’s This Life For” by Creed) and Unmasking the Horror, which was a 19 minute promotional “making of” featurette. Neither of these supplements is included on this Blu-ray disc.

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Final Words:

Halloween H20 is one of the more financially successful films in the Halloween series and the Blu-ray release is a disappointment. Fans will likely want to upgrade for the discs slightly superior image transfer and hold on to their DVDs for its supplemental material.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

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Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 10/May/2011

Region: Region Free

Length: 88 min

Video: 1080i (MPEG-4, AVC, 20Mbps)

Main Audio: 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 1.8 Mbps)

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 1.78:1

Note: There is also a non-anamorphic DVD release of this title.

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“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is perhaps the worst film in the entire series. Joe Chappelle seems almost completely inept in his direction of a script that really didn’t deserve anything better than Chappelle was able to give it.

The story is terrible on a number of levels. The attempt to provide a reason behind Michael Myer’s quest to kill off his bloodline is misguided and the reason provided is beyond ridiculous. There are fans who champion the film, but the reason isn’t evident to this reviewer.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with the film’s original poster artwork. The case itself is very nice.

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The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme.

Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams

While the image transfer isn’t exactly wonderful, it is a large enough improvement over the non-anamorphic DVD release. Fans might be disappointed that the film is not released in its original 1.85:1 ratio, but the 1.78:1 transfer doesn’t seem to noticeably alter the impact of the cinematography. The print is rather clean with no noticeable damage and grain never seems to overwhelm the image. Colors seem to be rendered accurately and blacks rarely seem to be crushed. There are occasional issues with banding and compression artifacts are occasionally evident. These issues are never terribly distracting and seem worse in the DVD release of the film.

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Sound Quality:

2 of 5 Screams

The disc’s 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is rather unimpressive. This completely lifeless track does contain decent clarity with well prioritized dialogue that is always intelligible. It is probably an improvement over the DVD’s audio, but fans will likely be disappointed with the track.

Special Features:

0 of 5 Screams

There are no extras.

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Final Words:

This is a surprisingly adequate Blu-ray release of the film. The disc’s lack of extras and the lossless 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track might disappoint a few fans, but I doubt if the film will ever be given a better release than this one. It is certainly a substantial upgrade from the DVD release.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

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Distributor: Anchor Bay / Starz

Release Date: 21/Aug/2012

Region: A

Length: 97 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 30 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (48 kHz, 1.5 Mbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: The film has also been given a few DVD releases.

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“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

Focus is certainly lacking in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The previous entry set up many interesting possibilities for the fifth installment, but the creators of Halloween 5 failed to take advantage of them. The film is considered by many fans to be one of the weaker entries in the series and they may very well be right. Few will argue that this is a wonderful film.

The script simply threw away too many opportunities. Rachel (Jamie’s stepsister and a Halloween 4 survivor) is killed in the first act of the film and is replaced with a new character named Tina. Tina carries much of the action in the film and even sacrifices herself in order to save Jamie. Wouldn’t it have worked better to allow Rachel to carry this action and sacrifice herself for her stepsister? Also, why complicate the story with a mysterious man in black? His presence doesn’t serve any reasonable purpose and only manages to distract the audience. Most of the ideas in the film simply don’t work. It is usually not advisable to change or add to the established lore of a series and this entry is a good example of what can happen when this basic rule is ignored.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Anchor Bay packages the discs in a standard Blu-ray case with reasonably attractive artwork.

H5 back cover 

The animated menu showcases the Halloween theme with footage from the film and is nice enough. 

Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The discs transfer is slightly better than the one that Halloween 4 received and is a significant improvement over the film’s DVD transfer. The transfer offers much improved resolution and the detail is a vast improvement. Colors are vibrant and skin tones are even and well balanced. Posterization becomes an issue in a few places, but not to a distracting degree. Blacks can look washed out at times, but shadow detail is usually nice with deep blacks. Contrast is also reasonably rendered on most occasions. Grain is evident throughout, but is never overbearing (and would be inherent in its source material). There is an overall softness to the image that likely stems from the source, but does make for a slightly less impressive image in high definition.

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Sound Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The lossless 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also better than the one on the Halloween 4 Blu-ray. The sound has better dynamic range and is spread throughout the channels in a more natural and engaging manner. The mix includes a few directional effects that are well realized and the overall sound seems well balanced. Dialogue is consistent and clear throughout the track. While the mix will not compare to more recent releases (or even to more expensive re-masters of older films), it is certainly more than adequate.

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The “making of” featurette (which was included on DVD editions of the film) was not ported over to this Blu-ray disc, but fans are given more supplemental material than one might expect to find on such a release.

Audio Commentary with Don Shanks (moderated by Justin Beahm) – [Blu-ray Exclusive] 

Don Shanks discusses his experience playing Michael Myers in this interesting commentary that covers a variety of topics.

Audio Commentary with Dominique Othenin-Girad, Danielle Harris, and Jeffrey Landman

Director Dominique Othenin-Girad discusses the production with actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman in this interesting commentary. This is the perfect track for fans because listeners hear first hand about some of the questionable story choices. Discussed are such issues as the Meyers house, the man in black, the infamous tattoo, and the psychic connection between Jamie and the shape. While Dominique Othenin-Girad’s reasoning might not be very sound, it is at least nice to know why certain story choices were made. This is probably the stronger of the two commentaries.

Halloween 5: On the Set – (16:16) – (480p)

This vintage VHS gives viewers a glimpse of the cast and crew as they were shooting the film. There are also a few short interviews with some of the cast members. The footage should delight series fans.

Halloween 5: Original Promo – (5:50) – (480p)

This is a standard EPK promotional featurette, but it is interesting to see a few vintage interviews with key cast members.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (0:36) – (480p)

This is an unusually short theatrical trailer for the film. It is interesting to see how the film was marketed to audiences.

Final Words:

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is not the most loved entry of the series, but fans will be glad that this Blu-ray release is a significant upgrade and should enjoy the supplemental material provided.

 Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

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 Distributor: Anchor Bay / Starz

Release Date: 21/Aug/2012

Region: A

Length: 88 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 30 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (48 kHz, 1.5 Mbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Note: The film has also been given a few DVD releases.

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“I stopped watching and caring after three. I just thought that there really shouldn’t have been another movie. That was enough. Far be it for me to say. They pay me every time they make another, so… [laughs].” -John Carpenter

They didn’t stop. The late 1980s brought with it a renewed slasher craze and Moustapha Akkad knew that there was money in further sequels. His idea was simple enough; “Go back to the basics.” Unfortunately, this simply meant “bring back Michael Myers.” (The third entry of the series had nothing to do with the Myers storyline.)

The basics” should have meant a simple story focusing on suspense to be shot using wonderfully atmospheric photography. Some claim that this is exactly what the filmmakers achieved. One wonders if these people bothered to actually watch the original film before they made such a claim. Gone are the haunting point of view shots and the meticulous reveals of the shape lurking (the constant reminders that characters are being stalked). The original film also saved the infamous mask’s close up until the end of the film. He was kept in the shadows prior to this. The effect was quite menacing.

In Halloween 4, fluid camera motion is traded in for a less distinguished style. While one could argue that the cinematography employs similar blueish nighttime lighting, the camera work is radically different and less effective. The film is also too busy. There are too many convoluted story elements that take away from one’s sense of dread. The most detrimental of these elements is probably the redneck lynch mob. Are there really that many rednecks in Illinois? This story thread was distracting and killed the atmosphere and mood of the film. The murders were closer to the style of the Friday 13th films than to Carpenter’s masterpiece. The original film focused on building the audiences anticipation of the murders and not on the murders themselves. Perhaps the director made an earnest attempt at replicating this approach, but he wasn’t very successful.

However, this film has its good points. The character of Jamie is certainly sympathetic enough to carry us through to the end of the film and the part is well acted by Danielle Harris. The ending is also creepy and extremely chilling. It could have been built up more effectively, but it is perhaps one of the best things about the film. (Unfortunately, the ending is a cheat and is explained away in part 5.)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is one of the better sequels in the series and is a fan favorite. One can look upon it as a guilty pleasure (even if it isn’t a great film). 

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The Presentation: 

3.5 of 5 Screams

Anchor Bay packages the discs in a standard Blu-ray case with reasonably attractive artwork.

 H4 back cover

The animated menu showcases the Halloween theme with footage from the film and is nice enough. 

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Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams 

While fans are given a serviceable Blu-ray transfer that improves on previous releases due to its added resolution, the transfer might disappoint some of the more discriminating viewers. Detail seems to be rather flat and shadows are sometimes a bit washed out. Grain seems to overwhelm the picture at times and there are scratches evident on the print (though, these issues are never distracting). When one compares it to a DVD release of the film, it is evident that the picture is a significant improvement over the standard definition releases. It is perhaps not fair to expect anything more than this. After all, the disk is vastly superior to many back catalog Blu-ray releases.

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Sound Quality: 

3 of 5 Screams

The disc’s 5.1 TrueHD soundtrack is also serviceable but unremarkable. The lossless mix has more fidelity than the standard definition releases of the film. The dynamic range of the track is minimal but has decent spacing. Dialogue is mixed a bit low, but one can always understand what the characters are saying. The music comes through nicely, but is not as dynamic as one might hope. The mix keeps to the front channels, which is due to the film’s source elements. This is not a bad mix and is on par with what one might expect for such a release. Most of the complaints here are likely due to the source elements (and are forgivable).

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Earlier DVD releases included a commentary track with screenwriter Alan B. McElory and a nice 17 minute “making of” featurette and neither one of these supplements were ported over for this Blu-ray release. This is a shame, because both of these extras were nice and would have added value to this disc. Luckily, fans are given more supplemental material than might be expected for such a release (including a brand new commentary track with the film’s director).

Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little & Justin Beahm

The commentary with director Dwight H. Little offers more actual information than the actor’s commentary and is consistently interesting and always engaging. Fans will welcome this addition to the disc.

Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris

This track is extremely conversational. There is the occasional ‘behind the scenes’ anecdote, but there really isn’t a lot of information contained in this commentary. It still manages to remain charming and engaging and should therefore delight die-hard fans of the series.

Halloween 4/5 Discussion Panel – (18:28) – (480p)

This excerpt of footage from the H25 Convention has Jeffrey Landman moderating a question and answer panel with Danielle Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, and Sasha Jenson. Daniel Harris seems to dominate the footage and speaks candidly about her opinions on the films and the experience that she had shooting them.

Theatrical Trailer – (1:36) – (480p)  

The film’s theatrical trailer is interesting and better than average. It is nice to have it included on the disc.

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Final Words:

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is considered one of the better sequels in the series and has an extremely strong cult following. Fans will be happy that the film is available in high definition and that it is an improvement over the DVD transfer. Many will be disappointed that the transfer isn’t better than it is, but die-hard fans will find the improvement to be substantial enough to warrant an upgrade.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition

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 Distributor: Starz / Anchor Bay

Release Date: 24/Sept/2013

Region: A

Length: 91 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG4 AVC, 36.20 Mbps)

Main Audio:

English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD

English 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono (192kbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 2.35.1

Notes: Halloween has had many DVD releases and two Blu-ray releases (counting this one). Special features are never consistent and these releases contain several different transfers. This review focuses on the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the film.

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“I guess the original slasher film was Psycho. That was the film that all of these things are kind of based on… Psycho was the big daddy of them all. And it had a literal slashing scene in it! The famous shower scene…” –John Carpenter

It is evident from watching Halloween that John Carpenter had learned a few lessons from the master of suspense. Roger Ebert’s 1979 review of Halloween began with a quote from Alfred Hitchcock. He then compares the film to Psycho:

“I enjoy playing the audience like a piano.” –Alfred Hitchcock

So does John Carpenter. “Halloween” is an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to ‘Psycho’ (1960). It’s a terrifying and creepy film about what one of the characters calls Evil Personified.”

The Psycho comparison is debatable (even if Dr. Sam Loomis was named after one of the film’s characters), but it is evident that Carpenter had studied the basic rules of suspense that Hitchcock was fond of articulating in interviews. In Halloween, Carpenter makes the audience wait for the violence. He shows the audience that something terrible is about to happen and then slowly builds the viewer’s anticipation until the suspense is nearly intolerable. The actual deaths contain little violence and relatively little blood. It isn’t needed. Fear has nothing to do with gore.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Screams

The 35th Anniversary Edition features a Digibook case with some wonderful artwork by Jay Shaw and 11 pages of fantastic ‘behind the scenes’ photography and an essay by Stef Hutchinson. It is a truly beautiful package. Some people might have a slight problem with cases that hold discs in a folder-like style (as is the case here). Discs are much more likely to become scratched and it isn’t uncommon for glue to get on the disc. These people would likely prefer to a standard case for protection. However, few will find fault with the beautiful packaging.

35th Menu

The menu is static and contains the same artwork used for the Digibook case. The iconic Halloween theme by John Carpenter is heard over the image.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Screams

The 35th Anniversary Edition offers consumers a different transfer than the film’s previous Blu-ray release that was supervised by the film’s cinematographer, Dean Cundey.

A lot of the previous editions had just been made from a print or a previous digital version or whatever. I was very impressed by the fact that they wanted to make this sort of the definitive copy. Obviously, Blu-ray is, at the moment, state-of-the-art, and the fact that they went back to original materials, the camera negative and IP, and brought John and myself in to sort of approve the work and make sure it looked like our original intention, was highly commendable, I think. Yes, they did take advantage of all the latest technology, with scratch and dirt removal, things like that, so it is a very pristine example of the movie we made.” –Dean Cundey 

Obviously, this transfer is superior to the previous Blu-ray release on a number of levels. This transfer feels a bit more moody and cinematic. The differences range from subtle to extremely noticeable. The early exterior scenes are vastly improved and exhibit less vibrant colors and more natural skin tones. While the previous transfer tended to be overly warm, this transfer is cooler. The image is crisp and with slightly sharper (and more impressive) detail. Some scenes appear a bit on the soft side, but this is inherent in the source. Edges are also slightly less defined as a result of the production methods that Carpenter employed. Shadow detail is wonderfully rendered with nice solid blacks where appropriate. The overall clarity is amazing as well. While there is the occasional speckle, these are never distracting. This is certainly closer to Carpenter’s vision than previously seen on home video. The transfer retains the texture of the film print and offers a cinematic presentation that should please even the most discriminating Halloween fans.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Screams

The disc employs a TrueHD 7.1 lossless mix that is an obvious upgrade from the previous disc. The film’s iconic score has never sounded more dynamic and the dialogue is noticeably clearer than in the previous Blu-ray edition. This is especially clear in an early car scene where Dr. Loomis and Marion Chambers are driving in the storm. In the previous release, the dialogue seemed to be swallowed by the sounds of the storm. Here it seems to be balanced at a more acceptable level. The track has decent range and clarity making for a solid listening experience. It would be unreasonable to believe that a 7.1 mix on an older low budget film could sound any better than it does on this disc. For purists, a 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono mix is included. I am assuming that this is the original mix, but it could very well be a mono version of the 7.1 mix.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Screams

The supplemental material included on the disc is a slight letdown. The only features that were ported over for this release are the trailer, television spots, and radio spots. Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest (which was included on the previous Blu-ray) was quite comprehensive and wonderful. It is a shame that this wasn’t ported over.

Fans are given a few all-new goodies.

Commentary Track with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis

People will likely feel that this new commentary is superior in some ways to the track on the previous Blu-ray edition of the film (which included John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Debra Hill). The difference is that this commentary has both participants in the same room with one another and is therefore more conversational.

Additional TV Version Scenes – (10:46) – (HD)

This collection of scenes is actually my favorite supplement on the disc. They were shot in order to extend the film’s length for its original television broadcast. John Carpenter feels that he sold out when he agreed to shoot the scenes and doesn’t particularly care for them.

On Location: 25 Years Later – (10:25) – (SD)

This feature is ported over from one of the film’s many DVD editions and is a look at the various South Pasadena locations as they appeared on the film’s 25th anniversary.

The Night She Came Home (59:43) – (HD)

This featurette gives fans a glimpse of Jamie Lee Curtis as she attends a horror convention in order to monetize her horror celebrity for charity. She is shown signing autographs, talking to her fans, taking photos, and even hanging out with other Halloween alumni. Fans should find it extremely interesting.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (2:42)

TV Spots

This is a collection of three television ads for the film.

Radio Spots

This is a collection of three radio ads for the film (which play over a graphic of the infamous poster logo for the film).

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Final Words:

The new 35th Anniversary transfer of the film is exceptional and certainly a significant improvement on the previous Blu-ray release of the film. Fans will likely want to upgrade and hold on to their old disc for its wonderful documentary. Those who haven’t seen this classic horror gem should also pick up this edition. There is no better way to see it on home video.

 Review by: Devon Powell