Release Date(s)1981 (September 18, 2012)
Studio(s)Universal (Scream Factory/Shout! Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
I discussed Universal’s Halloween II Blu-ray last year, so check out that review for my thoughts on the movie itself. The Scream Factory release corrects the mistakes of Universal’s disc, including the altered “Moustapha Akkad Presents” credit. The movie’s been given a new transfer that’s slightly more pleasing than Universal’s effort. I didn’t detect a world of difference but Scream Factory’s version is a bit cleaner and has a more natural, film-like quality than the previous release. On the audio front, you have your choice between a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix or the original 2.0, also in DTS-HD. The 5.1 mix is an improvement over Universal’s job, sounding better balanced and more fully fleshed out. If you want to stick with the 2.0, it sounds pretty much the same as it did before.
Of course, it’s the extras on the disc that are going to be the real attraction for fans. DVD producer Cliff MacMillan and director Michael Felsher hit the ball way out of the park, starting with the 45-minute documentary The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making of Halloween II. This is a fast-paced, comprehensive look at the film with a wide array of interviewees, including director Rick Rosenthal, executive producer Irwin Yablans, director of photography Dean Cundey, actors Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Leo Rossi, co-composer Alan Howarth, and many, many more. There are a lot of great stories here, making this a must-watch even if you don’t think you’re all that interested in the behind-the-scenes of a 30-year-old horror sequel. While it’s certainly regrettable that neither Jamie Lee Curtis nor John Carpenter agreed to participate, it’s a testament to the strength of the documentary that their absence is hardly noticeable.
The fun continues with another episode of Sean Clark’s Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, the series that tracks down and revisits shooting locations of beloved horror favorites. The series has occasionally popped up as a bonus feature on other discs and it’s surprisingly addictive. Sean Clark is a knowledgeable and charismatic host. I hope Scream Factory continues to utilize his services on future releases.
The Blu-ray also includes an extensive still gallery, three TV spots (including one touting the network television premiere), radio spots, the theatrical trailer and the alternate ending and deleted scenes with optional commentary by Rick Rosenthal. Rosenthal also contributes a feature commentary, joined by actor Leo Rossi, which is amiable enough but also a little low-key. Better is the second commentary by stunt coordinator and Shape-portrayer Dick Warlock, moderated by FEARNet’s Rob G. Warlock has a lot to say and keeps things fresh and interesting throughout. The set also includes a DVD featuring the complete TV version of Halloween II with additional footage and the original screenplay in PDF format. The set also boasts newly designed artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner with the original promotional art on the reverse, should you opt to flip it around for the more “classic” look.
You’ll still want to hang on to Universal’s Blu-ray for the 1984 documentary Terror In The Aisles, which seems unlikely to get another release any time soon. I’d suggest designing custom Terror artwork for the case, if for no other reason than to remind you why you’ve got it in the first place. Scream Factory’s version is the definitive Halloween II disc and the one you’ll be reaching for from now on. Accept no substitutes.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke