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(Unrated Directors Cut)

I really think writer/director Rob Zombie was on to something with the first portion of his remake to John Carpenter’s classic HALLOWEEN. The reinvented and expanded back-story of Michael Myers was a mesmerizing trip into the world and mind of a ten-year-old psychopath, who then unleashes his homicidal rage into an uncaring world. Of course, the film become less successful, when it begins following the path laid down by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. As for HALLOWEEN II ($39), I am unsure what Zombie was intending, because in some respected, this movie seems to be trashing everything he accomplished with the first film. Zombie’s screenplay for HALLOWEEN II is problematic, to say the very least- I really think he could have used a collaborator here, to save him from his own worst excesses. Of course, I am willing to give Zombie credit as a director, because he definitely knows how to make films visually interesting.

HALLOWEEN II begins with an homage to the original sequel to HALLOWEEN, with Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) being taken to the hospital after surviving her encounter Michael Myers, only to be stalked by him through the corridors of said hospital, as he butchers everyone he encounters along the way. HALLOWEEN II then does a complete 180, for what we have witnessed is only another in a series of horrifying nightmares that continue to plague Laurie for nearly a year since her ordeal. Laurie’s psychological scars are worse than her physical scars, with neither therapy nor drugs, preventing her downward spiral. Making matters worse is the fact that Laurie is now living with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie (Danielle Harris), a situation that forces her to face another severely damaged example of Michael’s handiwork on a daily basis. As for Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), surviving Michael’s wrath has turned him into little more than an opportunistic scavenger- profiteering on the corpses of everyone Michael killed. The biggest problem with HALLOWEEN II is that is a film populated with unlikable characters, who would seem better served by the release that death offers them, instead of the torment of their continued existence. Of course, this isn’t to say that Rob Zombie’s screenplay is devoid of any interesting morsels. I did find the notion that some strange, psychic, shared psychosis binding Laurie and Michael together to be an interesting story conceit. The cast of HALLOWEEN II also features Sheri Moon Zombie, Chase Wright Vanek, Caroline Williams, Tyler Mane, Dayton Callie, Richard Brake, Octavia Spencer, Richard Riehle, Mary Birdsong, Brea Grant and Margot Kidder.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made HALLOWEEN II available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. HALLOWEEN II was shot in Super 16mm to make it a gritty, ugly visual nightmare, and the 1080p presentation does an admirable job of respecting the filmmaker’s intentions. Since HALLOWEEN II originated on a 16mm negative, the image is never quite as sharp as a film originating on 35mm or even anything produced digitally with higher resolution cameras. There are some fine details in the image, but never a strong amount. Dimensionality is limited, with the films visuals providing a claustrophobic quality much of the time. Colors tend to favor a more subdued palette, but there are splashes of color. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast has been manipulated for effect. Shadow detail is usually decent. The film elements from which HALLOWEEN II has been mastered are free from unintentional defects. HALLOWEEN II is purposely very grainy, which makes the presentation organic looking.

HALLOWEEN II is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design is rather aggressive, with plenty of active sound effects emanating from all over the soundstage. Additionally, the soundtrack is rather dimensional, and well suited to creating believable acoustic spaces. Plus, there are there are the usual complement odd sound effects thrown in to heighten the suspense factor. Fidelity is also pretty terrific; music has a full-bodied, in your face quality, while the sound effects have a terrific sense of weight, thanks to the track’s strong bass component. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with writer/director Rob Zombie. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Audition Footage (ten minutes), Make-Up Test Footage (four minutes), Captain Clegg And The Night Creatures Music Videos (twenty minutes) and Uncle Seymour Coffins' Stand-Up Routines (ten minutes). Deleted/Alternate Scenes, a Blooper Reel and Bonus Trailers close out the standard extras. HALLOWEEN II is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Sony’s MovieIQ feature is available through BD-Live, which provides the viewer access to a continuously updated database of additional information about the film, its cast, crew and soundtrack, as well as other trivia.

I am not going to lie to you. HALLOWEEN II is a problematic film that needed help with its less than cohesive screenplay. There are a number of interesting ideas, but they are never fully realized. Still, Zombie is an interesting filmmaker, in the visual sense, and he sure knows how to put over the gore. The Blu-ray does a great job rendering the film’s intentionally gritty and ugly look, plus the sound is terrific.



Halloween II [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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