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Starting right off from the original classic "Halloween", Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Brackett are again searching the dark streets for Micheal Myers but meanwhile Laurie Strode is taken to the Haddenfield Hospital where she is still not safe. Micheal, being shot by Dr. Loomis six times, is also still looming in the shadows hunting for her yet this time, there is a reason why he is after her.
For more about Halloween II and the Halloween II Blu-ray release, see the Halloween II Blu-ray Review
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Pamela Susan Shoop
Director: Rick Rosenthal
» See full cast & crew
Halloween II Blu-ray Review
"Samhain isn't evil spirits. It's the unconscious mind. We're all afraid of the dark inside ourselves."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 28, 2012
Halloween II has earned a bum rap over the years. Among the many, many ill-fated horror franchise sequels that lumbered out of the shadows in the '80s, director Rick Rosenthal's 1981 followup to John Carpenter's 1978 slasher classic stands, severed head and bloody shoulders, above the rest. How much of Halloween II's success as a film and as a sequel should be credited to Rosenthal, though, remains a bit of a mystery, even after digging through Shout Factory's otherwise excellent supplemental package. Carpenter, who originally declined to fill the sequel's director's chair, stepped in at the eleventh hour to shoot additional sequences after the studio declared Rosenthal's cut tame and bloodless. Distancing himself from the final film as much as possible, Carpenter has made his role in the production abundantly clear: "I had no influence over the direction of the film. I had an influence in the post-production. I saw a rough cut of Halloween II and it wasn't scary. It was about as scary as Quincy." Ouch. Rosenthal, of course, countered that Carpenter's changes ruined his "carefully paced film," and their tit-for-tat was never really settled. Be that as it may, I suppose there's little value in digging up a thirty-one-year-old corpse. Whether Halloween II is Rosenthal's baby, Carpenter's hellspawn, or some hellish hybrid, it works; flaws and all. And sometimes that's all that matters.
I'm guessing "ruined" is too harsh a word when it comes to the changes Carpenter made to the sequel, but Rosenthal had one thing right: Halloween II is carefully paced, regardless of what sequences were added in post-production. Picking up where Halloween left off -- with Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) staring at an empty patch of grass where serial killer Michael Myers' dead body should be lying -- Halloween II hits the ground running. Myers stalks from house to house in Haddonfield, Illinois, stealing knives, stabbing helpless young women... you know, another day in the life. Elsewhere, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed to the hospital, where she learns Michael was hit by a car, set ablaze and charred to a crisp. Or not. Turns out Myers isn't the poor trick-or-treater in the morgue, seeing as he shows up at the hospital and begins slicing, dicing and, of all things, scalding nurses and staff members, one by one, in true slasher -- sometimes splatter -- fashion. It isn't all The Laurie and Mike Variety Hour, though. A paramedic named Jimmy (Lance Guest) takes a liking to the hospital's newest female patient, the police prove to be no help whatsoever, and dearly devoted Dr. Loomis, ever on the hunt, discovers a shocking secret about the Myers family.
Rosenthal does a fine job replicating the tone and decisiveness of Halloween, and it isn't hard to go from one to the next without so much as a break in stride. At least initially. Setting the sequel in a hospital requires less absurd decision making from its characters, and in some regards -- I stress some -- Halloween II is a more sinewy film than its predecessor. That said, removing Laurie from her smalltown life, even with a trip to the local hospital, robs the sequel of some of its this could happen in my neighborhood chill. While we're on it, casting an entire ward of wooden supporting actors takes a toll, dialing up the gore undermines the real horror of the on-screen murders, and turning Myers into a near-inhuman killing machine seems a bit misguided (Carpenter's masked madman takes multiple slugs to the chest, not to mention a few to the brain-pan, and still has enough fight in him to stagger out of an explosion soon after). But these familiar trends, while rather new to budding slasher aficionados in 1981, don't spoil the proceedings as much as they might in a lesser sequel. Curtis and Pleasance's performances are a large part of the film's edge, sure, but Rosenthal does his part too. He not only has a handle on suspense, he has a tight grip on the tension Carpenter infused in Halloween. Don't misunderstand; the original is a more effective slashes and, without a doubt, the only genre classic in the Halloween franchise. That said, Halloween II has a string of devious jolts, gory shocks and creepy encounters tucked up its tattered sleeve; enough to lift it above the horror-sequel muck and, if nothing else, win the critically panned followup some overdue respect.
The Devil is the details and, for once, He's welcome there. Michael Myers lingers in the shadows as a woman looks right past the killer standing less than twenty yards away; the shoes of a nurse clatter to the floor as the maniac lifts her into the air; a needle slides, oh so slowly, into the temple of another nurse after Myers materializes from the darkness like a demon; childlike moans and wails escape his throat after being blinded; on and on and on. Rosenthal -- or Carpenter, or perhaps both -- favor slow, deliberate chills over gotcha scares. There are missteps along the way (a young boy with a razor blade jammed in his mouth, a victim being severely burned by scalding water while Myer's hand remains unscathed, and Michael's ability to sneak up on anyone and everyone except Laurie), with a different breed of devil presiding over the film's lesser qualities. But it's all in good, schlocky fun and it doesn't derail Rosenthal's later-that-same-night extension of Carpenter's original classic. And thirty years later, Michael's logic-defying invulnerability doesn't distract as much as it once did. If anything, it should be applauded for inspiring the unstoppable runs and sequel-to-sequel reigns of other horror icons. Jason. Freddy. Pinhead. Killers and otherworldly creatures had been skirting death at the last minute, lunging out of lakes as the credits rolled, and haunting the dreams of lone survivors years before Halloween II shambled onto the scene, but Rosenthal and Carpenter's Michael Myers 2.0, in whole or in part, influenced the genre juggernauts that followed. Bullets no longer put down the baddie, blades no longer felled the beast, and the madman would just... keep... coming... no matter what weapon his helpless victims happened to grab. Michael suddenly didn't seem so human. He had become a true movie monster.
(Note: the film's original "Moustapha Akkad Presents" opening credit, missing from the 2011 Universal release, is present and accounted for in the Shout Factory release.)
Halloween II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shout Factory's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer was minted from the same master Universal used in 2011 for its 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release of the film. However, the new version of Halloween II isn't the same. At least not entirely. Unwilling to simply re-purpose Universal's transfer and call it a day, and unable to create an all-new master from the original negative (due to the prohibitive cost of a ground-up overhaul), Shout Factory has taken the previous presentation, carefully retained all of its finer qualities, and alleviated or, in most cases, eliminated many of its issues. The 2011 Universal transfer, impressive as it was in its own right, was plagued by minor but persistent damage inherited from the film elements: white specks, dark pocks, tiny burns, split-second squiggles, faint horizontal splotches, and other nicks and scratches. No single blemish emerged as a problem; it was the sheer volume of blemishes that became a problem.
The Shout Factory transfer? The highs no longer outnumber the lows, as I wrote in my review of the Universal presentation; the highs far outnumber the lows. The vast majority of the aforementioned bumps and bruises that scuff up the 2011 transfer have either been removed or, at the very least, minimized, and without the use of the kind of invasive or detrimental digital manipulation that might have resulted in equally disheartening issues. Digital techniques were obviously utilized; we're not dealing with a photochemical restoration here. But the fact that you can't tell digital techniques were utilized is the real testament to Shout Factory's efforts. It's still important to note, though, not every fleck of print damage has been scattered to the winds. You'll still take note of a fleeting nick or scratch, see a white speck here or there, or catch sight of something sinister in the darkness. It's just as important to note that that only so much can be done with Dean Cundey's intermittently soft, shadow-slathered photography. It's a thirty-one-year-old horror sequel, and it's wise to come to such a film with appropriate expectations. That said, the new Blu-ray presentation represents a marked and welcome improvement, even if that subtle improvement will go unnoticed by many.
Elsewhere, little has changed. Colors and skintones remain as pleasing and well-saturated as before, the ol' red sticky stuff packs particular punch, black levels are satisfying throughout, and fine detail is, by and large, surprisingly crisp, clean and precisely resolved. Again, there are a variety of shots and less-exacting sequences that will no doubt disappoint those hoping for a razor-sharp image from start to finish, but those willing to accept the inherent limitations of the film's source -- limitations no amount of responsible remastering or restoration could correct -- won't be left with much to criticize. Better still, artifacting, banding, aliasing and other unsightly encoding anomalies are nowhere to be found, grain is consistent and rarely a distraction, and aberrant noise and troubling crush are kept to a bare minimum. I also didn't notice any signs of worrisome smearing, significant halos, overzealous noise reduction or glaring edge enhancement.
Not so long ago I wrote "this is most likely the best Halloween II will ever look." Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. This is most likely the best Halloween II will ever look. If you've been wondering why a second release of Halloween II was on any studio's docket, how does a new and improved transfer sound? And a pair of DTS-HD Master Audio tracks... and a slew of exclusive special features... and a... well, read on, horror hounds. Read on.
Halloween II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The new Shout Factory release of Halloween II also includes something the 2011 Universal release did not: lossless audio. Or to be more specific, two DTS-HD Master Audio tracks; a killer 5.1 remix and a decidedly decent lossless stereo mix. (Actually, four. Even the disc's audio commentaries are presented via DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.) The 5.1 remix will be the choice of all but the most hardened horror purists, and there isn't much room for improvement. Voices are clean and clear on the whole, and only sound a touch thin, flat or tinny on occasion. (And most always due to the age of the film, not the quality of the dialogue reproduction.) LFE output ranges from weighty to jarring, just as low-end effects in a horror movie should. The rear speakers, meanwhile, are used subtly in regards to everything except the film's pulsing-then-pounding score, which creeps up from behind, leaps out of the darkness, and stabs at anyone and everyone within earshot. Too loud? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely. Chirping crickets, approaching cars, leaping cats, hospital ambience and even the echo of voices in smaller rooms play a role too; perhaps too much of a role at times, as some effects seem unnaturally represented in every speaker. Video and now audio; Shout Factory's release of Halloween II stands out, yet again, as the release of the sequel to have in your collection.
Halloween II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Halloween II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Shout Factory's release of Halloween II is the definitive Blu-ray edition of the still viable '80s sequel. With a more able-bodied video transfer, two DTS-HD Master Audio mixes, and a generous helping of supplemental content, the new Collector's Edition bests its 2011 30th Anniversary Edition Universal counterpart in almost every way. Almost. Terror in the Aisles, an 82-minute theatrical documentary originally released in 1984, is exclusive to the Universal release. Michael Myers completists will want to hang onto both; faced with a choice, though, most fans will be best served by picking up Shout Factory's version, even at its slightly higher price point.
Halloween II: Other Editions
Halloween II Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Shout Factory Launches Scream Factory Brand - May 31, 2012
Earlier today, independent film distributor Shout Factory announced the launch of its Scream Factory offshoot, which will specialize in horror and science-fiction cult favorites. Beginning in the fall, Scream Factory will offer Blu-rays of Halloween 2 & 3, John ...
Halloween II Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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