For fans of the Halloween franchise the likelihood of ever seeing a complete series box set in the United States seemed like a pipe dream until Scream Factory and Anchor Bay joined forces. What they’ve managed to produce is one of the most comprehensive sets the Blu-ray format has ever seen.
Each title in the set merits its own review, and continuing the series, today we’re looking at Halloween II.
Part one of the series can be found here.
The Movie Itself (3.5/5)
Picking up the story from the previous installment, Halloween II opens with the final few minutes of the original before continuing what must be the longest night of Laurie Strode’s young life. Surviving what would have been the fatal shots fired by Dr. Loomis, Michael Myers simply gets up and walks the bullets off, getting his second wind and preying on the citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois.
The film, while strong enough to stand on its own as a worthy sequel, doesn’t manage to make it to the level of its predecessor. Part of that lies with the creative choice to continue the film from the conclusion of the first and leave out a lot of what made John Carpenter’s Halloween work. Specifically, Michael can’t be the patient stalker anymore because he’s spent the majority of the previous film doing that.
When the climax came for part one, he was murdering anyone who came in his path, and in order for this film to truly feel like more hours in the same night, he’s got to establish that same bloodlust right out of the gate. Which he does, by murdering the first teenage girl he encounters after getting shot. The timeline continuation also helps avoid the pratfall most horror sequels fall victim to…more elaborate death scenes and more gore. To continue with the aforementioned bloodlust, Michael has to ramp things up a few notches. He’s getting far more brutal as a killer, sticking syringes into eyeballs and scalding a pretty nurses’ face off.
This time around Haddonfield feels more populated. The police are actively helping Sam Loomis track down Michael, all his claims from the first film having been corroborated, and it even manages to convey points of information the audience has taken for granted. For example, Laurie is never told that the man trying to kill her is Michael Myers until midway though this film.
Of course, all this is leading to the big reveal that (Spoilers ahead for a 35 year old film) Laurie is Michael’s sister, and he’s been hunting her to finish what he started all those years ago on Halloween night when he was just a boy. It couldn’t have been because he’s simply a lunatic who still wants to off the one girl he couldn’t kill a few hours ago. This plot revelation is roughly the equivalent of Brody finding out the shark in Jaws is his mother-in-law, cross species breeding capabilities and ability to breathe underwater aside, of course. It doesn’t move anything forward! Michael still wants to kill Laurie, and Laurie doesn’t want to die! Loomis still feels responsible! It’s there to make you think the film is deeper than it is and in the end it does more harm than good. By giving motive to the force of nature that is Michael Myers, some of the mystique is stripped away and the impact of the film by proxy is less frightening.
Visuals/Picture Quality (4/5)
While not on the level of the previous release, Halloween II looks mighty fine on Blu-ray. It’s my understanding that this version has been cleaned up a bit from the 3oth Anniversary Edition, but I haven’t seen that to give a comparison. Taking place at night, the film uses the darkness to its advantage, and the presentation here compliments that style quite nicely. The colors pop, the blacks are great, and no other film anomalies were noticeable.
Again, even thought it wasn’t given the extensive remastering treatment of the original, Halloween II fits in very well as a continuation of the night Michael Myers came home. Without knowing of the five year gap between installments, a viewer could easily be convinced both films were shot back to back.
Score/Audio Quality (4/5)
The original theme for John Carpenter’s Halloween is iconic, and here they use a version that’s more up tempo and manic. In some ways I prefer this version, especially kicking in after the first scene, where Loomis screams at the neighbor in disbelief “You don’t know what Death is!” It properly evokes the mood and gets you amped up for the continued adventures of the Haddonfield gang. Music and sound are where I feel both John Carpenter’s Halloween and Halloween II stand on equal footing, both enhancing scenes and building tension through sonics when needed.
The audio presentation on the Blu-ray is rich and vibrant but doesn’t punish your home theater. Dialogue is crisp, the sound effects are jarring and disconcerting, and it’s everything you need a Halloween film to be.
Special Features (4/5)
Halloween II excels in the special features department, giving as complete a package of supplements as any fan could hope for. Presented as a two disc set, disc one offers the Blu-ray and the majority of the extras, while disc two is a DVD and gives us the TV version of Halloween II and a downloadable PDF of the script. Please note the TV version is presented in 4:3 with the nudity and most of the gore removed for broadcast, much like the original film, with several added scenes to pad out the runtime.
Back to the Blu-ray, we’re given two audio commentaries. The first features director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi, which is quite entertaining and offers a good amount of technical info regarding the film. The second is with stunt coordinator and Michael Myers himself, Dick Warlock, and even though it doesn’t say so on the packaging, this track is moderated by Robert Galluzzo. Warlock’s track ended up being my favorite and Galluzzo manages to keep him talking through most of the track. Definitely worth a listen for anecdotes about Warlock’s time in Hollywood.
The Nightmare Isn’t Over is a 45 minute ‘making of’ documentary. The nightmare may not have been over, but after ten minutes I found myself wishing this featurette was. If you’re a fan, you’re going to watch it though.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds is a look back at the shooting locations of Halloween II hosted by horror legend in his own right, Sean Clark. To me, none of the places visited had that iconic status to warrant a featurette like this, but hardcore fans will eat it up.
We’ve also got some deleted scenes and an alternate ending, both with optional commentary by director Rosenthal. Nothing amazing, but they’re needed for a complete package of the film.
Closing us out we’ve got the standard trailers, TV spots and radio ads.
- Standard two disc eco case, black.
Since this is part of a larger boxed set, images of the film being reviewed will be provided, and the final installment will give an overall packaging review.
- Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Theatrical)
- 1.33:1 (Television Cut)
- DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Theatrical)
- Dolby Digital Mono (Television Cut)
Runtime 93 Mins (Theatrical) 92 Mins (Television Cut)
Suffering from a very mild case of sequelitis, Halloween II still stands tall on its own thanks to this two disc set from Scream! Factory. The Limited Deluxe Edition can still be found for around $100 if you look hard enough, and the Halloween: The Complete Collection 10 disc set is still widely available. It should be noted, however, that the 10 disc set omits the second disc containing the TV cut from this set. Disc one is identical. Still a solid purchase overall, but will the trend continue with the third installment? Stay tuned to find out!