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Old 06-13-2004, 12:34 PM
Scored: 10
Views: 11,075
Default Halloween: H20

Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: November 13, 1999
Released by: Dimension
Release date: 9/28/1999
MSRP: $19.99 (originally $39.99)
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: No

The sixth sequel in the Halloween franchise and the fifth based on Michael Myers nocturnal activities on Halloween. H20 was an effort by all involved to bring some closure to this very ailing sequence of bad sequels. Unfortunately, I don't think things turned out so well for this film. Now Dimension and Buena Vista have released H20 on DVD a year late and probably one of the biggest blunders in the history of the format.

The Story

inline Image 20 years after Laurie Strode's (Jamie Lee Curtis) ordeal on Halloween where her brother viciously stalked her and murdered her friends, Laurie is still tormented. She relives the experience when she sleeps and sees Michael wherever she goes. Having faked her death and gone into hiding Laurie tries to put these memories behind her and keep Michael, who's body was never recovered, from finding her.

inline Image Laurie's worst fears are about to come true as Michael returns and raids the home of Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), who has a file on Laurie Strode. Discovering the location of Laurie Strode, now the shape begins his journey to once again stalk his sister. Meanwhile Laurie, who is the headmistress of a private school, continues to fear for her life and passes these fears to her son John (Josh Hartnett), who is kept under strict provision. At first Laurie is reluctant to allow John to take a trip to Yosemite, but she finally gives in.

inline Image Unfortunately, John has other plans and decides to remain on campus and celebrate Halloween with his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams), his friend Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrid) and Charlie's girl Sarah (Jodi Lyn O'Keef). Laurie, who finally explains her history to boyfriend and school psychiatrist Will Brennan (Adam Arkin), realizes the frightening pattern to Michael's attacks. Now Laurie must confront Michael once more not only for her own life, but the life of her son.

inline Image I was disappointed with this sequel. I generally dislike sequels, but I had some hopes for this one as it was billed the reunion between Jamie Lee Curtis and the Shape. For the most part the acting from Jamie Lee is pretty good. She doesn't look very much like Laurie anymore, but still gives a convincing performance. I also enjoyed the scenes with Janet Leigh and the homage to Psycho.

inline Image That's about all I like in this film. The acting from the other characters is pretty sub par. Josh Hartnett is the biggest annoyance in the film and obviously comes from that breed of acting crop "looks over talent". Another thing I dislike about this film is the portrayal of the Shape. In the original the Shape is slow and methodical almost robotic displaying very little emotion. The Shape in H20 is the exact opposite; he moves fairly quickly and is too intent.

inline Image Not only that the new mask looks nothing like the one in the original and you can clearly see Michael's eyes, which kind of defeats the purpose of a blank face. These things to the average person probably would go unnoticed, but to fans of the original and the sequels this doesn't feel like the Michael Myers we know. There was obviously an attempt made to change the shape and mold him more like the slasher in films like Scream, and I don't think Halloween fans appreciate that. I certainly don't.

Also is it me or does the films setting feel nothing like Halloween? Anyway I had mixed feelings when I first saw this film and after seeing it on this DVD my views have turned somewhat negative. Halloween fans may dig this sequel, but you'll have to contend with the teenybopper actors and a poorly written script.

Image Quality

Mediocre at best. Buena Vista presents Halloween H20 letterboxed at 2.35:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen TVs. Overall the image is pretty soft and suffers from visible scanlines due to it being non anamorphic. Colors are a bit subdued and appear a bit orangish which may or may not be intentional. The image displays some mild grain, but nothing that becomes overly distracting. I did however expect the transfer to be a bit cleaner as H20 is a relatively new film.

Blacks are solid and nighttime scenes look good. I didn't notice any print damage during the duration of the film. I was very disappointed with this transfer. First it's non-anamorphic, second it honestly looks like a Laserdisc transfer (and I wouldn't be surprised if indeed it is the same transfer that was used on the LDs a year ago) and third Anchor Bay's Halloween Limited Edition blows this transfer away and Halloween is 20 years older than H20. Very disappointing.


Sound was very good. John Carpenters amazing Halloween score has been replaced by the usual Scream crap. Whatever is left from the original score is so mangled it's hardly noticeable. Still the DD 5.1 track sounded good; dialogue was clear. Of course, this disc was supposed to include a DTS soundtrack which it doesn't...boooo!

Supplemental Material

inline ImageAs you already probably know from all the reports this "Collector's Series" is missing half the features that were originally announced. Among the features axed are the commentary by Director Stephen Myer and Jamie Lee Curtis and the DTS soundtrack. What bothers me most about this screw-up is Buena Vista doesn't seem to care. The disc that retails at $39.99 (UPDATE: MSRP has been reduced to a much more reasonable $19.99) is a joke featuring only a short featurette, a music video and a trivia game. I get more supplements at half the price from studios like New Line, Colombia TriStar and Warner.

inline ImageFirst the menus are bland as can be. They are still menus and really have no resemblance to the film. Considering the quality of the disc it doesn't surprise me that the menus suck. The packaging is the same poster art I've always seen and of course at the top is the "collector series" logo which I guess gives Buena Vista the right to charge $40 (UPDATE: MSRP has been reduced to a much more reasonable $19.99) for this turd.

The featurette is, thankfully, short. It features interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephen Miner, Kevin (hack) Williamson, Adam Arkin, Wes Craven, Moustapha Akaad, LL Cool J and surprisingly John Carpenter. It's not that great they all talk about how they feel about the original Halloween and how H20 was conceived. John Carpenter expresses his delight at how the filmmakers tried to put an end to the series and concentrate on the relationship between Laurie and Michael.

inline ImageNext on this supplement packed extravaganza is the Creed music video "What's this life for". Oddly enough, it's not labeled anywhere what the music video is on the package or on the disc, so I'll properly credit it here. Of course BV can do no right so the word goddamn is cut out of the video.

Last and certainly least is a trivia game, which is about 10 questions long. Every time you answer one right it plays the scene were the Shape is breaking down a door and Laurie appears behind him and hits him over the head with a fire extinguisher - lame.

Buena Vista sucks and this is a good example why. In the DVD world where you have great studios like New Line, Colombia Tristar, Dreamworks, Warner, Universal and many others, studios like Buena Vista, Fox and Paramount look like crap in comparison. I gave this DVD an F in supplements and it deserves it for both the mislabeling of the package and the ridiculously high price. This DVD is worth no more than $19.98 at retail and even at that price studios like Warner still provide 16:9 transfers.

Final Thoughts

Luckily, Buena Vista doesn't have its paws on that many great horror films and that's good news for us. I made a prediction to myself that the H20 DVD would not be as good as Anchor Bay's restored version of Halloween, and wouldn't you know I was right on the money. If your looking for a great Halloween film pick up the Limited Edition of the original and forget this bum disc. Buena Vista's "Collector's Series" DVD of H20 is for die-hard Halloween fans only and barely worth a rental.


Image Quality - B-
Sound - A-
Supplements - F

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • "Unmasking The Horror" featurette
  • Music video
  • Trivia game

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