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Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition Review

Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition

Only three years after Halloween swept the world up in the antics of Michael Myers, John Carpenter reluctantly returned to write the follow up, after pressure from Akkad and especially producer Irwin Yablans. Halloween 2 would be financed, written, filmed and released in 1981. They didn’t mess around back then.

"could have been a lot better with the talent attached."


So what we got was a sequel that immediately follows on from the first film. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is still out in the Haddonfield streets, searching for Michael, and screaming like a mad man. Laurie Strode is on her way to hospital. Michael is still in the burbs, quickly defeating his kill toll before the end of the first act. Carpenter has all but disowned this story, summarising it as ‘silly’. He admits he had no idea what to do for the follow up. Nevertheless, he and Debra Hill did deliver a tethered sequel that, to this reviewer, doesn’t suck.

Most of the surviving cast returned, with its two stars and Charles Cyphers’s ‘Sherriff Bracket’ of note (Or maybe not. I’ll quantify this in a moment). A whole new bevy of Myer’s victims joined them, including future The Last Starfighter star, Lance Guest. Renowned stuntman, Dick Warlock would play Michael in this one, after Nick Castle didn’t return. They all play their parts with competency, but for the most part are notches on Myer’s kill belt.

Gore and violence, as many films from 1980’s Friday the 13th onward, is turned up full volume in this one. Michael uses everything from hydrotherapy baths to needles in this outing. There are buckets (or floors full) of blood and grotesque and unsettling deaths throughout. Compared to 21st century offerings this will seem tamer, but in the context of its progenitor it’s a marked difference and a pandering of the era’s expectations.

The last repeat contributor for this film was cinematographer Dean Cundey. As a result this film very much looks similar to the original film.Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition

Rick Rosenthal would take the director’s chair for this one, after Carpenter definitively passed (there were limits to what he would do for a follow up and the director’s chair was too far). According to him, he was going for a thriller type film. What his eye delivered was a weaker copy of the first film. While his use of the hospital setting, with its abandoned narrow halls and dungeon-like basement floors, was a setting rife with possibility, it rarely is used to full efficacy. When it is, it’s great.

The characterisations in this film are even worse than the first. Laurie is relegated to a whimpering bed ridden role for the most part. Loomis is given monologues, but between his character’s ranting, and unbelievable ordering about of law enforcement, they are lost and have none of the subtext and gravitas of the first film. Brackett is inexplicably removed after news of his daughter’s murder, never to return. For Brackett: realistic? Maybe. Entertaining or fulfilling, no on all three returning characters’ behalf. The other parts are lamb to the slaughter roles that are infused with some pretty talented actor’s personalities. These aren’t adults, pretending to be teenagers this time, so thankless roles, where they are there solely to meet their ends, are at least less cringey.

A lot of criticism coming out of me, I know. I think the bones of a fine sequel are there. I think all the participants brought their all. I think the end product (which lands on Carpenter, not Rosenthal, as Carpenter took over in the editing room and pandered to 80s tastes by shooting more gore) is a competent follow up. It just could have been a lot better with the talent attached. It’s still the best sequel in my opinion. But none of them, including this one, are a patch on that lightning in a bottle first Halloween.

Supposedly this was to end the story of Michael Myers… A neatly wrapped up duology. Well that idea worked about as well as the film’s story.

3/5 stars

Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition

4k details divider

Collector's Edition / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray  |  Collector's Edition

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- October 5, 2021
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A

VIDEO

The original film (understandably) has been given more times at the new transfer bat than any of the other films. Halloween 2 has been lumbered with some truly awful scans in the past, but I’m please to tell you that Shout’s new DOLBY Vision/HDR10 native scan of the original camera negatives is BEAUTIFUL! This notoriously dark picture, susceptible to crush in previous transfers, shows none. It’s delineation between the predominant blacks and the rest of the spectrum is razor sharp and immersive. Detail shows off stuff never before captured, and the colour timing this time: WOW! Halloween 2 has always seemed a little washed out to me on modern flatscreens. This disc and its HDR makes the reds, and especially the hallway inferno in the finale, blaze off the screen. A truly spectacular presentation.

AUDIO

There’s a spectacular new DOLBY Atmos 7.1 track on this disc that outdoes Halloween’s mix, especially in the overhead channels. Environmental sounds, like walking deserted corridors, or basement dwelling echoes, are constant and immersive. Dialogue is centred and clean. The amped up Carpenter theme also translates well to all speakers in the room. A real uptick from the DTS-HD 5.1 mix (which is also included) and the DTS 2.0 stereo mix.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

Again, I don’t want to underplay how packed to the gills these releases are. There is an exhaustive amount of supplementary material crammed into the three included discs. But it’s all archival, previously released stuff, not new, not UHD quality. The back slipcase cover claims to have a new interview with Production Manager Jeffrey Chernov, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

I think this is a must have regardless. It’s quality packaging, to the amazing new transfer and the Atmos mix, is enough.

4k rating divider

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
107 mins
Director
: Rick Rosenthal
Writer:
John Carpenter; Debra Hill
Cast:
Jamie Lee Curtis; Donald Pleasence; Charles Cyphers
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
More of the night he came.
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's time, Michael."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 30, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 5, 2021.
Synopsis: The inhuman Michael Myers is still very much alive and out for more revenge as he stalks the deserted halls of the Haddonfield hospital. As he gets closer to his main target, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) discovers the chilling mystery behind the crazed psychopath's actions. Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, Halloween II is a spine-tingling dark ride into the scariest night of the year.

Art

Halloween II (1981) - 4K UHD Collector's Edition

 

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