Review: Halloween II (Blu-ray)

2012/10/26 15:25:36 +00:00 | Derek Botelho

In 1978, John Carpenter’s now classic Halloween became a surprisingly big moneymaker on a fairly small budget. A few years later, a sequel, directed by first time feature director Rick Rosenthal was concocted. It was decided the film would pick up where the first left off, yet in the intervening years, much had changed in the horror genre due to the popularity of the first Halloween film.

Trying to recapture the essence of the first film, yet appeal to an audience who seemed to demand an increasingly more violent and sexual product, it became an issue of the sequel trying to be too many things for too many people.

In a continuation of the action from the first film, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been sent to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital after being attacked by Michael Myers on Halloween night. It is there she is drugged and remains under the care of an ever-decreasing staff, as Michael finds his way to his original prey. An all new supporting cast, sans Donald Pleasance returning as Dr. Loomis, fill in for Laurie’s friends this time around. Jimmy (Lance Guest) is an EMT who takes a shine to Laurie, and brings her out the doldrums momentarily, and gives the film some unexpected romance. Budd (Leo Rossi) is another EMT who is perpetually horny, and beds Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) so they can both be murdered and give the film some nudity.

Much like its predecessor, the film is almost plot free, which makes the characters that much more important. We need to know them, and care about them, leading to empathy when things go bad. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know anyone much at all. It seems since Laurie Strode was introduced in the first film, whoever did the final pass on the script didn’t think to include any time for us to know anyone. Yet, with the paper-thin characters, the actors all portray them well. There isn’t a bad performance to be seen, merely too little to play. Curtis, this time around plays Laurie in an alternating mellowed out one minute, frantic the next mode, and I don’t know if it’s the drugs in the character’s system, but she makes some very odd decisions. Donald Pleasance is back and does a fine job as Loomis, naturally, even during the drier exposition heavy bits. Some of his finest moments are just watching his face register reaction. The man doesn't need to say anything; his eyes do all the talking.

Much like the Halloween III: Season of the Witch release, Shout! Factory has hit another home run. The quality of this transfer is stunning. Not a scratch or defect to be found, the film grain looks completely natural, and detail and colors are fantastic. Dean Cundey’s colorful at times lighting really leaps off the screen. The disc offers two audio tracks, both in English: the original two channel stereo and a 5.1 track.

Kicking off the bonus features is the television cut of the film, with some scene variations included to pad out the run time for broadcast. It’s presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio and looks amazing! Comparing the two film edits, I couldn’t spot any variation in quality. Each cut of the film has its own commentary: the theatrical version has director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi discussing the film, while the television cut has Dick Warlock, stunt coordinator and the man who plays “the shape” chiming in. The Nightmare isn’t Over! is another nice documentary courtesy of Red Shirt Pictures that covers the making of the film with director Rick Rosenthal, Dick Warlock, Lance Guest, Leo Rossi and others commenting on the creation of the film. Another installment of Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds takes a tour of some of the locations. Rounding things out are deleted scenes, and alternate ending both with optional director’s commentary, the theatrical trailer, TV and radio spots, and a still gallery.

As far as sequels go, it’s not as bad as most, but the end result is a bit scattered: the sequel retains Dean Cundey’s great cinematography and Jamie Lee Curtis’ plucky heroine, Laurie Strode, but panders to the more gore crowd at the expense of logic and character development. Yet, it’s still a necessary bridge into the films that followed it. For those who love the franchise, of course it’s a must have, and Shout! Factory has done an amazing service to the horror community with their outstanding presentation. The nice array of bonus features make it even more appealing still. For slasher and horror fans, it’s a nice way to spend an hour and a half.

Film Score: 2.5/5 Disc Score: 4/5