In September 1998 a company by the name of Goodtimes released Halloween II onto DVD for the first time. Although it was a bare bones DVD, fans were content just getting a widescreen release of Halloween II for the first time. Flash forward nearly 3 years later, Universal plans on releasing a special edition DVD of Halloween II that will contain a commentary track by director Rick Rosenthal. Ultimately the special edition was canned and Universal ended up announcing the DVD as a bare bones release. Fan reaction was was poor, of course, and soon an on-line petition sprang up to try and get Universal to do the special edition.
The petition failed, obviously, since the DVD review you're now reading is for the Universal bare bones DVD release of Halloween II. This leaves fans with a difficult choice. Many fans already own the Goodtimes DVD, and though it's now out of print, many places are still selling it for dirt cheap (I saw it for $6.99 at a local Walmart). Really the only thing this Universal DVD can offer to entice fans into buying a new copy would be superior audio/video. Lets take a look and see how this Universal DVD holds up.
Halloween II begins were the original Halloween left off. After being shot in the chest several times by Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Michael Myers (now played by Dick Warlock) falls off a balcony and lands on the ground below. Loomis runs outside to verify Michael is dead, only to discover that Michael is gone. Loomis rushes off to find the sheriff, and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is rushed to the hospital by an ambulance.
At the hospital, Laurie meets Jimmy (Lance Guest), the ambulance driver that brought her to the hospital. Jimmy is obviously attracted to Laurie, as he keeps showing up in her room to keep her company. Each time he is kicked out by the head nurse. Meanwhile, Loomis and the sheriff are patrolling the town in hopes of finding Myers. What they don't know is that Michael's intentions are to find Laurie and kill her once and for all.
Michael path of killing continues as he travels to the hospital. Once he arrives, Michael slowly begins picking off nurses and doctors one by one. When Laurie finally realizes what's happening, the drugs she's been given nearly paralyze her, narrowing her chances of escaping Michael this time around. Jimmy is of no help either, having suffered a blow to the head that ends up knocking him unconscious. Laurie's one hope comes when Dr. Loomis discovers the secret bond between Laurie and Michael. It is then when Dr. Loomis realizes that Michael is after Laurie, and that he's bound to go exactly where Laurie is. Armed with a handgun and a state trooper by his side, Dr. Loomis heads to the hospital for a final deadly confrontation with Michael.
Like many fans, I find Halloween II to be great for a sequel, but also think that it falls short of reaching the classic status of the original. Part of this is because much of the ideas and style from Halloween II are simply rehashed from the original. There's no originality in the sequel, which shouldn't be a surprise; it is a sequel after all. Simply placing the rehashed ideas and style in a different location (i.e. a hospital) doesn't give the movie any originality. Halloween II shows gore whereas the original really didn't, and that's mostly what is used to help build the environment of suspense and fear in this sequel. Many label Halloween II as more of a standard type slasher, and I believe the added use of gore is part of the reason why. The original relies on the viewer's mind to create the scares and suspense, which is part of the reason it's such a classic. After all, it is ones own imagination that does the best job of creating fear and suspense.
I do like how Halloween II continues right where the original left off. It's implemented nicely in the sequel and ends up being fairly seamless. It is cool to see what happens immediately after the the events of the original, instead of flash forwarding to ten years later and having Michael resurrected by a bolt of lightning (wrong series, but you get the point). Donald Pleasence always gives a great performance as Dr. Loomis, and I have to admit loving Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. It seems she was born to play the part. Can you imagine anyone else playing such a role? I know I can't.
Halloween II is a good horror movie. I'll always have a soft spot for Halloween movies and Michael Myers in general, since he was a big part of the reason I became so interested in horror movies. I have to admit that I enjoy all of the sequels. Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and for me it's the Halloween movies. But make no mistake, Halloween II really is a good horror movie. It has suspense, gore, and an effectively creepy score. It shouldn't be missed by fans of the original.
Halloween II is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer on this DVD is a mixed bag. The image is sharp and detailed, boasting strong, nicely saturated colors and accurate flesh tones. Much of the transfer is nice and clean, but many of the darker scenes, and there are quite a few, contain light to heavy grain that is fairly persistent. What's interesting about this is that the various reviews I've read on Goodtimes DVD of Halloween II (I don't own it, nor have I ever seen it) claim that grain is minimal. Perhaps I'm more picky than others, or perhaps this Universal DVD has more grain due to the 16x9 enhancement. What I do know is that it's there and to be it's definitely distracting at times. I wouldn't label this grain as minor or extreme, instead I'd label it as moderate.
The sound is in Dolby Stereo. Standard stereo mix for an older movie, meaning there's very little in terms of channel separation. The track is nice and clear, however, and the score sounds terrific as always. No distortion or back noises are evident.
Again, this DVD was supposed to be a special edition with directory commentary, but it was ultimately announced as a bare bones DVD. All that's present for extras is a theatrical trailer, production notes, and cast and filmmakers bios. There are also plugs for a Universal DVD newsletter and recommendations for other Universal DVDs, but those don't really count as extras.
A/V presentation is good overall, though I wish the image had less grain in it. From the reviews I've read, it sounds like this DVD is just about equal to that of the old Goodtimes DVD released in 1998. Unless the 16x9 enhancement on this Universal DVD is beneficial to your home theater, it's probably best to stick with the Goodtimes DVD if you already own it. Even if you don't, many fans will probably prefer the Goodtimes DVD lower price tag. Universal really should have dug up some more extras as an incentive to purchase their release.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B
Sound - B+
Supplements - C
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