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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - Halloween II

By Adam Ruhl

John Carpenter’s Halloween is a classic among the genre. It routinely tops number one lists and is generally credited with getting the ball rolling on the franchise monsters of the 80’s. Halloween 2 is lesser known, but should not be confused with any of the other sequels (certainly not Halloween 3 where Michael Myers doesn’t even appear). Unlike the later installments, Halloween 2 was written by Carpenter to form the second half of a larger story with his original.  There’s something charming and offbeat about this follow up that distinguishes it from its predecessor and over the years it’s become a guilty pleasure favorite of mine. I am tickled orange to be reviewing Scream Factory’s Halloween II Blu-ray Collector’s Edition. Let’s dive right in.


Halloween II

The Film:
Halloween II starts us right at the end of the first one; in fact actually several minutes before in case you forgot where you left off. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) shoots Michael who then falls off of a balcony. When the Doctor goes to look, Michael is gone. Loomis goes to find the Sheriff while Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), heroine of the first film, is taken to the hospital. Michael Myers then spends the film making his way slowly and violently across town after her.

This is the first peculiar element in Halloween II; Laurie spends a good portion of the film in a hospital bed. She’s the center of both films but she spends the bulk of this movie laid up and flirting with the star of The Last Starfighter.
It’s rare that a horror movie carries on the aftermath events of an earlier film just as they might occur in real life. The only other example I can think of off the top of my head is Friday the 13th – The Final Chapter where they cut Jason down from his noose and haul him off to the morgue. We see Haddonfield townsfolk just getting the news that a killer is loose and characters only mentioned in the first film finally come into play here.

Since Laurie is largely out of commission we follow Loomis a great deal more in this film. The story becomes something of a mystery tale as he uncovers the history behind why Michael chose to come home. This is also the first of many sequels for Pleasance and already you can see him start to run out of ways to give the same speech about how he knew Michael was evil in the mental hospital.

The Disc:
This Blu-ray is the best version of the film available. I like the grain and solid resolution of the picture. Often sequels aren’t given the attention on picture quality that the originals are, but the preservation here is excellent. There is some odd blurring around the edges of some shots and I attribute this to the widescreen lens used in the filming as it appears in all versions I own.

The Television Cut version of the movie comes on a DVD included along with the CE Blu-ray. For not being hi-def the picture quality is still pretty sharp with a lot of heavy grain. The TV cut is also full frame so there are large black bars on widescreen TV’s. It’s a minute shorter but has extra footage and alternate takes to replace violent content for TV airings. I only recommend this version as a basis of comparison with the Blu-ray.

The Features:
  • Theatrical and Television Cut versions of the film
  • Audio Commentary with Director Rick Rosenthal and Actor Leo Rossi
  • Audio Commentary with Actor/ Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock
  • The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making of Halloween 2
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds
  • Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary
  • Alternate Ending with Audio Commentary
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers

The Specs:
  • 1080p Hi-Def widescreen 2.35:1 / Television cut is full frame 1.33:1
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English-only Audio & Subtitles
  • Original Release: 1981
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rated R

Final Grades:
Story: B+ / Oddly paced, but tells its own story well.
Presentation quality: A / This is the edition to hold on to.
Scare factor: B / Pretty creepy the places Michael turns up.
Gore Factor: A / Carpenter is attributed some of the excessively gory moments and they’re great. .
Repeat view-ability: A / I’ve seen this movie over 200 times.  

Add Halloween II to your collection, click HERE!

Check out yesterday’s Scream Factory review, Scanners 2 & 3!

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