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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/31/00

Halloween II
1981 (1998) - Goodtimes

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Halloween II Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/C/F

Specs and Features

93 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1) single-layered, Snapper case packaging, production notes, film-themed menu screens with sound and animation, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Spanish and French, Closed Captioned

When it comes to horror sequels, Halloween II has to have been one of the more highly anticipated follow-ups. John Carpenter's Halloween was, up until recently, the highest grossing independent film of all time and the ending left itself wide open for a sequel. This film definitely has its weak points and it stretches plausibility to the breaking point, but I still enjoy this movie when I'm in the mood for a mindless diversion.

Though Halloween II was filmed three years after the first film, it picks up directly where the first left off. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is whisked off to the hospital after being chased all night by the knife-happy Michael Myers. Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) continues his search for Myers, spouting out one corny line after another. Of course, when Myers learns that Laurie is in the hospital, he heads there to finish what he started.

Once in the hospital, mayhem ensues as one hospital staffer after another is killed. These cast members are almost all dispensable, and little effort is put forth to make them seem multi-dimensional. They serve a very specific function - to get in the way of Michael Myers as he tries to kill Laurie. That they do, and with each consecutive killing, the manner in which they are killed is bloodier and more creative than the next. That, essentially, is the film. There's not a whole lot to it. Gone is the simplicity of the original and, try as he may, first-time director Rick Rosenthal cannot recreate what Carpenter did in the first.

In this installment of the series, we learn Myers' secret. The secret, for those who have been living under a costume-drama rock for the past twenty years, is that Myers is actually Laurie's brother. They give you a whole timeline for the sequence of events that led to the splitting of the Myers family, but give me a break! This part of the story provided some ammo for future releases and assigned a highly unnecessary motive for Myers' actions, but the whole idea is beyond believability if you think about it. John Carpenter himself has said that this idea came to hime while he was awake way past his bedtime with a severe case of writer's block.

If you watch this movie in hopes of seeing more of Jamie Lee Curtis, you will inevitably be disappointed. Her role is essentially a cameo, and she has gone on record to voice her dissatisfaction about being lured back for the sequel only to spend most of the film lying in bed with little dialogue. She is merely the excuse to give Myers a reason to kill anyone who gets in his way. Without her, there would be no movie, but there is no space in this sort of movie for her to show any shred of talent.

Halloween II is presented on DVD for the first time ever in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It had previously been released in a 1.85:1 ratio laserdisc in Japan, but never in the United States. Truth be told, this isn't a half-bad non-anamorphic picture. The film takes place completely at night, so there's quite a bit of black in the picture. Black levels are mostly satisfying, with only sporadic graininess and adequate shadow detailing. The film does look just a tad bit washed out, but otherwise the picture is completely acceptable. The print used is in great shape with only a few scratches prevalent. The sound leaves something to be desired, however. It's the original Dolby 2.0 Surround track, but my old VHS copy sounds quite a bit better, believe it or not. This just isn't a very accurate representation of the film's soundtrack. There just isn't a whole lot of depth to this mix. It's acceptable, but could certainly have been much better.

Sadly, there are no extras. Many faithful fans know that there is a separate cut used for broadcast television that incorporates several deleted scenes and a slightly different ending. None of that is included here. You also get no theatrical trailer. My understanding is that Anchor Bay is supposedly looking to license this title for future release. Perhaps then we'll see some real bonus material. As if the lack of extras wasn't bad enough, we get an absolutely horrendous piece of DVD cover artwork, that consists of three still images from the film and a really cheap looking title font. What happened to the jack-o'-lantern?

As far as slasher sequels go, Halloween II is a pretty satisfactory release. There's tons more blood here than there was in the original film. It's a little less suspenseful, but it seems like a pretty logical (though shallow) follow-up to the ending of the first movie. There's no way in hell that Myers can catch these people as slow as he walks in this film, but what can I say? It entertained me. This DVD is kinda lame, but if you want it on disc, here you go.

Dan Kelly
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