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Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later(1998)
After faking her death and changing her name to evade the murderous Michael Myers, Laurie Strode, now a teacher at a Southern California private school, is again targeted by her nemesis. Most of the school goes away on a trip, but her son John stays behind along with his girlfriend and a couple of other kids. John is now the age that Laurie was when Michael first attacked her friends, and she is scared and seemingly over- protective. But her fears are proved right when Michael returns to town, stalking first the teens and then Lauie herself.
For more about Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later and the Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray release, see Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 10, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe
Director: Steve Miner
» See full cast & crew
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray Review
A poor showing on a popular catalogue title.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 10, 2011
Everyone is entitled to one good scare.
Halloween H20 is a bold and fresh resurrection of a fledgeling franchise that had long since lost its way. A lean and mean Horror picture that sticks to formula and respects the franchise's roots, Director Steve Miner's (My Father the Hero) honest-to-goodness "conclusion" to the Halloween franchise is long-overdue, but with the long wait came a film worthy of closing out what most will probably see as the true successor to the earliest and best films in the series. Indeed, Halloween H20 is a fantastic closing chapter on what might be considered the "Laurie Strode Trilogy" that began way back in 1978 with Director John Carpenter's seminal, genre-defining classic Halloween, followed up soon thereafter by a sequel that picked up immediately where the original left off. The series lost its stride and became something of a hodgepodge of films of varying degrees of success, but H20 returns to the series's bread-and-butter storyline and indeed serves as a fitting finale, regardless of what came before it and what has and may since come after.
It's been twenty years since Michael Meyers terrorized Laurie Strode, murdered her friends, and was temporarily stopped by Dr. Loomis. Now, Michael is back and looking to finish what he started. He ransacks the Haddonfield, Illinois home of Loomis's nurse and discovers Laurie's new whereabouts. Laurie has since moved from the Prairie State, changed her name to Keri Tate (Jamie Lee Curtis, Trading Places), and is now headmistress at the prestigious and posh Hillcrest Academy, nestled in a serene little corner of California. She's still plagued by nightmares of Michael's killing spree, but she's making an honest go of regaining her life, even dating -- and trusting -- one of the school's faculty. She has a 17-year-old son named John (Josh Hartnett, 30 Days of Night) who's mature for his age but still something of a rebel. He's never properly celebrated Halloween for respect of his mother's trauma, but he and his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine) have plans to spend this Halloween on campus, alone with another young couple, when the rest of the school is on vacation to Yosemite. Unfortunately, Michael Meyers has tracked Laurie down, and just as she's starting to cope with the terrors of twenty years past, the unstoppable killer has plans to make this a Halloween she'll never forget.
Halloween has never been about copious amounts of bloodletting. It's always been about murder, yes, but the hallmark pictures within the series have smartly settled on emphasizing tone and style over gratuitous violence. Michael Myers is often called "The Shape," an adequate description because the hulking symbol of unstoppable terror seems always lurking in the shadows, seen only briefly or through some skewed perspective until he's ready to strike. John Carpenter's first films and now Steve Miner's excellent followup allow the terror to build through sudden reveals of the character appearing in the background, in essence forcing the shape of the killer and the mere threat of what's to come to settle into the audiences's collective subconscious but never really appear in full-on fear mode until the killings begin. Miner does right by the series in terms of retaining the style that made Halloween so effective. H20 is incredibly moody and intense. It's a no-nonsense picture that re-establishes its primary character and introduces a few more who may just be fodder, but such are necessary in a movie such as this. H20 gets down to business early enough, never timidly lingering around the periphery or wasting time with needless visual or structural nonsense. This is a Halloween film as it should be: to-the-point, tough-minded, no-frills, and bringing the franchise back full circle with a finale that's simple but highly effective and the perfect "end" to a wonderful "trilogy" of some of the best Horror to every grace the silver screen.
Halloween: H20 isn't just a success because of its smart direction, lean story, or retention of John Carpenter's seminal theme music. It works so well because it reunites the film's core antagonist with its core protagonist. Perhaps lost throughout the lengthy series is the wonderful dynamic between Laurie Strode Michael Myers; theirs is a relationship -- literally and figuratively -- quite unlike anything else the Horror genre has ever seen. The simplicity through which it all works out -- which is, oddly enough, through complex psychological underpinnings that seem to boil down to nothing but "madness," no more, no less -- is a great strength, and H20 carries on the series's tradition of the inhuman stalking the human, but the film comes back full circle and in its triumphant ending offers a glimmer of something beyond the mask and counter to everything that's come before it, but is it enough to alter one's perception of Michael Meyers? Chris Durand plays Michael in this go-round, and for a performance where not a single word is spoken, he gives an incredible effort at film's end that puts the character into a completely different perspective and challenges the finale to a degree that even Carpenter's films could not achieve. Jamie Lee Curtis is seamlessly strong in her return to the character that put her on the map, playing the part of a traumatized but functional adult in whom fear is always foremost in her mind and soul but not physically manifesting itself to the point of making her a de facto victim of emotional paralysis as if she truly had been suffering for twenty agonizing years. The Michael/Laurie relationship has always been the foundation of the series, and H20 proves a capable resurgence and a fitting "end" to their relationship by closing at least the most important chapter in the Halloween legacy with smarts and style.
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray, Video Quality
Well, there is indeed a picture, and it is indeed Halloween H20. That's a start, and the end, really, for this major disappointment of a transfer. Echo Bridge's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is a mess on every level. For starters, the disc presents the film in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio rather than the picture's 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Though a Super 35 film and not necessarily "cropped" to the point of losing information, the transfer fails to present the film in its director-intended theatrical aspect ratio and is enough reason alone to avoid the title on Blu-ray, but the image quality is just this side of atrocious on top of that. For those who thought From Dusk Till Dawn looked bad, Halloween H20 is substantially worse. This is a very dim, very lifeless image that sports dull, uninspired colors and features a fair bit of black crush. Detail is at its absolute best adequate; the opening title sequence doesn't look awful, but the rest of the film does. Quite a bit of blocking, poor color gradations, and banding are ever-present. Facial textures are nonexistent, instead appearing unnaturally smooth and pasty, pointing towards heavy noise reduction. Moderate edge enhancement is also a regular companion. Fortunately, there's not too much in the way of perceptible print damage, but there is certainly the stray scratch and errant speckle that pop in from time to time. Halloween H20 passes for "respectable" once or twice, but on the whole this is a disaster of a Blu-ray transfer, in some way earning a failing score in every general category.
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Halloween H20 features a DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack, not the "Dolby Digital" "stere" track advertised on the packaging. It fares just a smidgen better than the video transfer, but that's not saying much. This two-channel track is cramped and crunchy, never really extending beyond the center channel, and when it does so, it's when dialogue unnaturally bleeds off to the sides for no apparent reason. Music is listless; even the famed Halloween main theme fails to play with suitable clarity and robustness. On the plus side of the ledger, as small as it may be, there is a decent push at the low end, and a rumbling old truck engine spurts a little bit of perceptible life and energy into the proceedings. Otherwise, this is a very inconsequential, substandard track. Tinny, mushy, cramped; apply whatever negative adjective that could apply, and it will perfectly define the disappointing Halloween H20 listening experience.
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Halloween H20 frighteningly features no extra content.
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Halloween H20 is in every way the de facto definitive "conclusion" to the Halloween films that really count. Is it as great as John Carpenter's pictures? Absolutely not. Is it a worthy sucessor and in its own right a solid film? Absolutely. Halloween H20 brings the series full circle and with a logical twenty-year progression in between films (though one must wonder what Michael was up to in the meantime, maybe he had himself a long career as a power forward or devastating linebacker or tough guy hockey enforcer, or he just decided to go make a bunch of Halloween movies until Jamie Lee was ready for a third go-round). Anyway, the film was worth the wait. Halloween H20 ends with an exclamation point; really, the series couldn't have ended any better. Unfortunately, the film hasn't received the treatment it deserves on Blu-ray. Echo Bridge has plopped a poor transfer and messy soundtrack onto a 25GB disc, foregone any extras, and called it a release. Fans might need to wait twenty more years for a better product, sad to say. Skip it and hang onto the (superior!!!!) DVD.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later: Other Editions
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