Halloween 2 (Scream Factory Blu-ray)
Directors - Rick Rosenthal
Cast - Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance
Country of Origin - USA
Discs - 1
MSRP - 29.83
Distributor - Shout Factory
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (2.5/5)
John Carpenter's Halloween is an undisputed classic masterpiece of the horror genre. Even now 35 years past it's original release date it is still an effective chiller. With Halloween John Carpenter made a subtle, yet effective entry into the burgeoning slasher sub-genre. It was a film grounded by a damn near perfect cast, unforgettable soundtrack, and suspenseful direction right out of the Alfred Hitchcock playbook. It was also the most successful independently produced horror film of it's time. So needless to say Halloween was going to get a sequel, and it did with 1981's Halloween 2.
I remember seeing Halloween 2 for the first time when I was about 12 years old, and having my pre-teen mind blown that the sequel took directly off from the last one. Most sequels tend to follow the same timeline, but in the slasher genre they rarely follow the same characters, most of the time you end up with a whole new batch of machete fodder for the killer to dissect with no regard for the last cast of characters, if there are any survivors they are dispatched within minutes of the start.
Admittedly the Tommy Jarvis trilogy (IV, V, VI) in the middle of the Friday the 13th series dealt with the same character, and a few of the middle Nightmare on Elm Streets do take off from one another, but never in quite so close a proximity. In Halloween 2 it's revealed that Michael Myers walked off from those bullet wounds that he suffered at the hands of Doctor Loomis in the closing of the original, and is still a threat to Haddonfield. Laurie Strode has been injured in her confrontation with the Shape, and is now being taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital to be treated for those injuries, and Dr. Loomis played by the immortal Donald Pleasance (Phenomena), is out with Sheriff Brackett trying to locate Michael Myers before he can do any more damage. Unfortunately, for all parties involved he still has his eyes out for Laurie Strode, and has tracked her down to Haddonfield Memorial, and will kill anyone who gets between his blade, and her.
The first Halloween had a few major plotlines running through the film namely Loomis searching for Myers before he could kill again, and Laurie and Co. babysitting while Myers stalks Haddonfield. In the original Carpenter handles the direction of these intersecting plotlines well, and still manages to keep the whole film simple, which made the film more effective in the end. Halloween 2 attempts to maintain the same dynamic, the events occur on the same night, Loomis still searches for Myers, Laurie still tries to avoid/stop him, and yet the film tends to drag.
Halloween 2 in comparison to Halloween does what most sequels are supposed to do, and enlarges the scope of the film. The Myers murders have been discovered in the hours since Laurie was brought to the hospital, and news crews, and angry teenagers have descended upon the Myers house, and other Haddonfield locales. This takes the story from something more personal and intimate, and opens it up on a much more grand scale, and unfortunately it also helps separate the audience from the chills.
The thing about John Carpenter's original film was that, even though it wasn't the original slasher film. We had Bob Clark's Black Christmas, and Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre ushering in the floodgates a bit prior to Halloween. It is considered by many to be the birth of the modern slasher movement that would take hold of the 80's horror scene, and yet it was diametrically different than those films. Carpenter as I stated previously took a more Hitchcockian approach to the material, yes there was violence inflicted upon sexually active teenagers, but there was also a great deal of suspense. Carpenter had his camera linger upon miniscule things like Jamie Lee Curtis walking across a suburban street, and this combined with his minimalist score helped to heighten the atmosphere.
In contrast Halloween 2 feels much more like the 80's slasher films that had started to pop up in the years since Halloween's release. There was no suspense, and the kills while interesting on a surface level, do not offer much beyond quick slightly gory thrills. Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis are great as always. Pleasance is always a pleasure to watch, and he really goes over the top in this role, it's no wonder he returned to it 4 more times in the coming decades (well that and the money). Jamie Lee ended up playing Laurie Strode 4 times in her career, and each time it seemed to fit her like a glove. Even in sub-par sequels like H20 (7), and Resurrection (8) she was a bright star amongst the dreck.
The other issue I have to take with this film is the fact that it chose to directly connect Myers and Laurie Strode in blood. She is his sister. Sorry for the spoiler, but it's 31 years old, if you've missed it by now you shouldn't be reading. I guess they needed a reason why she is still being stalked, but I felt that this was a horribly cheesy way to do it, and this plot line has become the major plot point in every Myers-Halloween sequel through 7.
Overall, Halloween 2 is a decent throwaway slasher film. It's fun to see where the night continued on, but the pacing drags, and that hurts it quite a bit. Still, it is always fun to see Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis on screen together, and you get some interesting kill scenes, you could do much worse.
OK, enough with the hating, now let's get down to the praising. I have owned Halloween 2 on VHS, DVD, and now on this glorious looking Blu-ray from Scream Factory. Halloween 2 has always been a very dark film, and the prior releases were almost so dark it was at times almost too difficult to discern the full range of actions in certain scenes. That is no longer an issue, as the film has been presented by Scream Factory in a truly fantastic 2:39:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. This transfer is absolutely fantastic, the colors pop where they need to, and the black levels are nice, dark, and deep. The flesh tones are accurate, and the level of detail is VASTLY increased from prior releases.
The audio has been presented in a similarly excellent manner with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track in English for the theatrical version, and a Dolby Digital mono track in English for the TV version. The dialogue throughout is clean and clear, music pounds from the speakers, and the effects are mixed very well. I did not detect any instances of pops, cracks, hissing, or any other audio anomalies on the track.
Remember that Universal Disc that came out last year with only an unrelated to Halloween 2 documentary (the horror documentary Terror in the Aisles), and the wrong producer title card. Yeah, this isn't that release. This is the Criterion Blu-ray of Halloween 2 releases. For starters you get the Halloween 2 TV version that includes alternate footage that was shot specifically for a TV broadcast of the film. This is followed up by a pair of commentary tracks the first with Halloween 2 directory Rick Rosenthal, the 2nd with Michael Myers actor/stunt coordinator Dick Warlock. We then get the Nightmare Isn't Over: The Making of Halloween 2, another entry in the Horror's Hallowed Grounds series which revisits the original locations ofr the film. The disc is rounded off by a stills gallery, theatrical trailer, tv, and radio spots.
When I was younger, Halloween 2 was my favorite of the Halloween sequels. The fact that it continued directly on from the first blew my mind, coupled with the hospital setting, and some interesting kills made for a fairly good time. Nowadays I don't find more to pick at that enjoy, but it is still a decent little slasher film if that's what you're looking for. The Blu-ray release from Scream Factory, however, is nothing short of stunning. The A/V restoration is fantastic, and the sheer volume of extras (and the TV version) make this a truly must buy package for fans of Halloween 2. This movie comes Recommended to slasher films, the package comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to fans of the film.