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STUDIO: Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
• Includes Theatrical Version and Television Cut
• Commentary with Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi
• Commentary with Dick Warlock and FearNet’s Rob G
• ”The Nightmare Isn’t Over!” The Making of Halloween II
• Halloween’s Hallowed Grounds locations tour
• Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
• TV and Radio Spots, Trailer, Stills
The slasherific sequel gets a well-deserved Blu-ray package with a wealth of extras!
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Dick Warlock, Lance Guest, and Pamela Susan Shoop.
Michael Myers aint dead! Picking up where Halloween left off, Halloween II sees Michael continuing his hunt for Laurie on Halloween night, 1978.
Fans of the Halloween franchise series were let down last year when Universal put out Halloween II on Blu-ray for the first time – the “30th Anniversary Edition.” The studio included no special features that weren’t already available (on YouTube) nor did they produce any new ones. Thankfully Shout! Factory’s glorious new horror branch Scream! Factory moved in to remedy Universal’s mistake with a tremendous special edition Blu-ray worthy of your money.
Halloween II picks up right where Carpenter’s Halloween left off. They even use a few minutes of recycled footage in the beginning to seamlessly interweave the two films. After Dr. Loomis shoots Michael out the window he vanishes. Laurie is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital where she’s sedated and looked over by her psuedo-love interest, paramedic Jimmy. Michael tracks Laurie to the hospital and following a bloodbath of nurses, Michael is destroyed in a ball of flame.
The big twist of Halloween II is that Laurie is the younger sister of Michael. After he was sent away for murdering their older sister (as seen in the beginning of Halloween), their parents died and Laurie was sent into foster care. She was adopted by the Strodes and her “records” were “sealed” by the Governor of Illinois so no one could connect Laurie to Michael. Eventually she forgot all about the Myers family and her brother.
This twist is used to explain why Michael was insatiably hunting Laurie. While this shocking Myers family history is being revealed to Loomis, he bafflingly interrupts Marion to talk about Samhain and pagan rituals. Just straight up changes the subject. I like to think that Loomis doesn’t care about the details and all that matters to him at this point is killing Michael for good, but his dismissal of Marion’s revelatory tale is hilarious.
While he was a powerful force in the first film, Donald Pleasance gets to play with the Loomis character some more – leading to a memorably bonkers performance. He gets some fantastic one-liners, including my favorite, “You don’t know what death is.” Unfortunately, the character of Laurie is diminished to a crawling, whimpering wimp in II. She was a brave, strongly maternal heroine in Halloween, but in part II she’s mostly sedated and barely used. She fires the two infamous shots into Michael’s face at the end and that’s about it. The blood pouring from Michael’s mask is a classic image though.
Speaking of blood, there’s a lot of it spilled in II, which is one of the points made by detractors of the film. Halloween seeped its characters and locations in mood with a consistently chilling atmosphere – a “creeping death” vibe permeates the entire film. Legendary DP Dean Cundey’s photography contributes some fantastic widescreen terror to II, but for the most part the film relies on shock more than atmosphere giving it more of a traditional slasher vibe. I happen not to mind the bloody bits. They never feel overly excessive and some of them are really fun: the nurse’s clogs falling to the floor, the needle to the eye, and Jimmy slipping on a massive puddle of blood like a horror-movie banana peel.
I like II a lot and I think it naturally escalates the stakes of . We’ve already seen Michael sneak around Haddonfield, constantly standing across the street like a creep, so seeing him tear through a confined hospital full of attractive people (beautifully shot by Dean Cundy, of course) is okay in my book.
If you purchased the Halloween II Universal Blu-ray last year and are sweating over whether to get this Scream Factory release or not, read on and drool over the bounty of special features…
Halloween II is presented in 1080p in 2.35:1 aspect ration and it looks superb. The package features badass new cover art (bloody tears!) that’s reversible with the original art.
TELEVISION CUT: The package features a DVD of the “Television Cut” of the film. The first noticeable difference is the absence of the nasty shot of the little boy with the razor blade embedded in his mouth! This version cuts out many of the kills, including the deaths of Janet, Alice, and Mrs. Alves. Cutting out gore for television is an inescapable requirement, but these characters simply disappear from the film. The SAMHAIN scene is cut out too, which isn’t that much of a loss.
This cut does restore two key scenes cut from the theatrical version: Michael cutting the hospital’s power and Laurie being sedated a second time. These scenes make sense for the story, especially explaining why Laurie’s so damn groggy the entire time. There’s also more dialogue between the hospital staff and Rosenthal’s original ending, in which one more scare is thrown in at the end.
Overall, I prefer the theatrical cut of the film. The TV cut does provide more characterization for the hospital crew, but the shitty voice dubbing and bizarre cuts make for some clunky moments. Why would Michael go into the Elrod’s kitchen and not steal the knife?
Also included on the “Television Cut” DVD is a downloadable copy of the shooting script.
AUDIO COMMENTARY: Two commentaries are included: Rosenthal with Leo Rossi (Budd) and Dick Warlock (Michael) with FearNet’s Rob G. The Rosenthal/Leo one isn’t too insightful but it’s damn fun to listen to. Both men, especially Leo, have so much enthusiasm for the film even the most dull fact sounds interesting. Warlock also gives great commentary and Rob G. does a fantastic job moderating. Warlock addresses some of the criticism he’s received for his “Michael walk,” but he never bad mouths anyone.
MAKING OF: Nearly everyone involved with the film is featured in this great retrospective. The usual behind the scenes info is covered, including how producer Irwin Yablans sued Carpenter over The Fog and Halloween II. There’s no bad blood though and everyone delivers wonderfully candid insight.
HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS: Host Sean Clark tours many of the film’s key shooting locations, although the hospital used for interiors has since been torn down.
DELETED SCENES: There’s a lot of footage here from the “Television Cut,” including Laurie getting sedated again and quality time with the hospital staff. Features optional commentary by Rosenthal.
ALTERNATE ENDING: This is the ending of the “Television Cut” in which Jimmy scares the shit out of Laurie in the ambulance then they hold hands. Features optional commentary by Rosenthal.
TV and RADIO SPOTS, TRAILERS, STILL GALLERY help top off a pretty damn exhaustive package.
This package from Scream! Factory is an absolute must for Halloween fans, hardcore and casual alike.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars