Halloween II doesn’t stack up well against its classic predecessor but it still holds some entertainment value thanks in part to Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dick Warlock’s interpretation of The Shape.
Shout Factory | R – 93 min. – $29.93 | September 18, 2012
Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Writer(s): John Carpenter and Debra Hill (written by)
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence
Theatrical Release Date: October 30, 1981
Features: 2 Feature Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, TV Spots, Theatrical Trailer, Television Version
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 41.2 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
“I’ve been trick-or-treated to death tonight.”
“You don’t know what death is!” – Dr. Sam Loomis
Plot Outline: Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Halloween II follows the same ill-fated characters as they once again encounter the knife-wielding maniac they thought had been left for dead. It seems the inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis (DONALD PLEASENCE) discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath’s actions.
Quick Hit Review: The first Halloween film was and still is a classic; scary as hell but with some genuine thrills to keep you on edge until the very end. It also was the star-making role for Jamie Lee Curtis and introduced a generation to veteran actor Donald Pleasance, who would in turn milk the role for all its worth appearing in 3 more sequels.
Where I thought the first movie was fantastic, I felt Halloween II was a bit… pedestrian. The kills are predictable, the characters are dumber as ever and the story itself seemed to be an afterthought and merely a cash-in after the success of its predecessor. Even so, some of the film is thrilling and Donald Pleasance is at least fun to watch.
For her part, Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t have a heck of a lot to do for a fair portion as she’s relegated to a hospital bed until the third act, at which point she plays hide and seek with a scalpel-wielding Michael as he easily dispatches with the (surprisingly short-staffed) hospital crew. However, I was somewhat surprised that Curtis didn’t have many lines; after the opening scene that was the end of the last film, she must’ve only said 20 words… total.
Directed by Rick Rosenthal and written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II certainly isn’t a bad film just more or less a serviceable one. It supplies some entertainment and thrills every so often but it’s too far and between. The script isn’t the greatest and the story is, at best, lazy and an easy way to cash in on the phenomenal success of its predecessor. Compared with other horror sequels, sadly it ranks pretty high on the list and it seems amongst fans, it even is right there with the original if not a notch below. For me, I found many parts of it to be downright boring and terribly predictable.
Of course, the movie is not all bad. First, I did like that it continues immediately after the events of the first film rather than one, two, five, etc years later. Second, the story and characters got some forward motion in relation to their development, specifically with Curtis’ Laurie Strode when it’s revealed why Michael is so obsessed with tracking and killing her (by now I assume you already know Michael is her brother). It’s a nice twist and seemed genuine rather than tacked on for the sake of surprising the audience.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. It should be noted that “Terror in the Aisles”, which is on the 30th Anniversary Universal Blu-ray release, is not on this disc so if you’re a completest, you’ll want that release if you don’t already own it.
Audio Commentaries – There are two tracks, the first is with Director Rick Rosenthal and Actor Leo Rossi (Budd) and the second with Actor/Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock. Both tracks aren’t bad though I prefer the two-person track as they are able to bounce recollections together about the filming. Warlock’s track, however, isn’t bad as he’s able to put his perspective playing The Shape and doing the stunt work for the movie.
The Nightmare Isn’t Over (44:55; HD) – This is a lengthy and well-made retrospective ‘making-of’ featurette and has new interviews with Director Rich Rosenthal, Actor/Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock (Michael Myers/The Shape), Actors Lance Guest (Jimmy), Leo Rossi (Budd), Nancy Stephens (Marion), Ana Alicia (Janet), Tawney Moyer (Jill), Executive Producer Irwin Yablans, Director of Photography Dean Cundey, Co-Composer Alan Howarth and others. It’s an honest assessment of the project in its early days before delving into the actual shooting of the movie and the problems that arose.
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds (13:10; HD) – Host Sean Clark takes viewers to the locations used in Halloween II. Never seen this show before but it’s quite cool to see what these places look like today.
Alternate Ending (1:44; SD) – This alt. ending features the survival of Jimmy as he sits up in the back of the ambulance much to the relief of Laurie. This comes with an optional commentary.
Deleted Scenes (8:06; HD) are a collection of a few scenes that didn’t make the cut or were trimmed back. There’s nothing substantial here and doesn’t really enhance the story or characters very much. Like with the alt. ending, this too has an optional commentary.
Also included is a Still Gallery which contains some on-set black and white publicity photos; a few TV Spots (1:41), some Radio Spots (3:17) and Theatrical Trailers (2:18).
On the second disc (DVD) is the Halloween II: The Television Version (1:33:11) which is the TV cut, presented in 1.33 full frame, and contains some additional scenes that were not in the theatrical version. As one would expect, it’s awkwardly cut but still interesting to watch at least. If interested, you can check out the full list of changes on the Halloween II page on IMDb’s “Alternate Versions” link.
Also on the disc is the ability to download the Film Script (a .pdf file).
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Shout! Factory releases Halloween II on Blu-ray with a (mostly) impressive 1080p high-definition transfer. The film, presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio, is fairly clean throughout showing no signs of damage and it seems the studio cleaned up the picture quite nicely without compromising the details. The black levels are pretty good although there are a couple of scenes that are littered with major grain. Even so, the color array, such as it is, is well balanced and the transfer itself doesn’t seem to have obvious artifacting going on.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track meanwhile greatly benefits from John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme and the creepy, albeit overused, score that runs throughout the picture. The dialogue levels at times do sound a tad soft but it’s not too bad. All in all, this lossless track will have you quivering in fear… or not. Either way, it’s a nice track.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Halloween II doesn’t stack up well against its classic predecessor but it still holds some entertainment value thanks in part to Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dick Warlock’s interpretation of The Shape. The Blu-ray is well done from the great audio/video transfers and a decent amount of features. Unfortunately the lack of “Terror in the Aisles” documentary doesn’t quite make this complete, so you’ll need the Universal BD release if you want it all.