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Halloween II 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)

Cover art:

news/jun11/bluhalloween2b.jpg

Halloween II 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers

Directed by Rick Rosenthal

Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment


Christmas came early for The Horror Chick this year with Universal’s release (finally!) of both Halloween II and Terror in the Aisles (presented here as supplemental material for H2) in stunning high definition. The brand new 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of Halloween II is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and the fact that one of my favorite horror films of all time is being included as a bonus feature of all things is just like getting a ten-ton cherry on top of a Godzilla-size sundae; it’s an overload of awesomeness.

Most people around these parts should be pretty familiar with the premise of Halloween II, but just in case there are a few of you out there who may not have ever seen it for yourselves, let’s get you caught up with the rest of the class.

Directed by Rick Rosenthal (who was handpicked by John Carpenter himself to direct), Halloween II picks up right where the first film ends- Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) and Sheriff Brackett (Cyphers) are on the hunt for local madman Michael Myers (Dick Warlock) after he escaped Loomis’ clutches when the doctor found Laurie Strode (Curtis) being attacked in the Doyle House.

Injuredm but still alive and kicking, ol’ Mikey is undeterred in his quest to kill young Laurie and tracks the teenager to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where she’s been transferred to for treatment. Leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, Michael finally meets Laurie and Dr. Loomis in an explosive showdown where the doctor and the babysitter try to put a stop to Myers’ reign of terror.

Look, I love Halloween II unabashedly. It was always one of my favorite movies to watch during October on my local television station, and despite its flaws and Carpenter’s departure, it’s a rather solid sequel that carries on the legacy of its predecessor well and always delivered the scares for me as a kid. So rather than do my normal “what’s great, what’s not great” review, here are my five reasons why Halloween II kicks so much ass:

1. Dean Cundey’s Cinematography: The opening shot alone (after the inserted footage from the original) is enough to make film students cream their pants. There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about the legendary cinematographer’s work over the years so I’ll leave keep it short and sweet- nobody shot horror better in the 1980s than Dean Cundey.

2. An Ambitious Script: Where Carpenter’s original Halloween was simplicity at its best, Halloween II was a complete 180 from that storytelling approach. Not only did you have the slasher aspects of the story, but you also had a “buddy cop drama” storyline with both Loomis and Brackett searching for the elusive Myers throughout the neighborhood streets, a hospital drama brewing in the halls of Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, a sex romp heating up in the therapy room between horny EMT Budd (Leo Rossi) and equally horny nurse Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop), and a teenage romance blossoming between Laurie and wholesome EMT Jimmy (Lance Guest). It’s surprising since the script came from both Carpenter and Debra Hill (who produced Carpenter’s original Halloween, but I liked that it embraced the first film’s essence while trying to do something different and take things in a bit of a different direction as well.

3. LANCE GUEST!!: As a child of the 80s, one of my absolute favorite movies to watch on a rainy day was The Last Starfighter (which was directed, ironically enough, by Nick Castle, who played Michael Myers in Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978) so seeing Alex Rogan in a horror movie was (and still is) pretty freaking cool. And yes, I know he was also in Jaws: The Revenge, but I was never a huge fan of the Jaws sequels myself.

4. Michael Bleeds from the Eyes: Probably one of my favorite shots in Halloween II has always been when Michael starts bleeding after Laurie shoots him. Those two simple trickles of blood streaming down from the eye holes in Myers’ mask, and I always felt like it was reflective of his relationship with Laurie, almost like tears of pain. It was such disturbing visual to me as a kid and is an image that still has the power to resonate even 30 years later.

5. Gary and His Mouthful of Razors: Ahhh, who could forget poor young Gary (Ty Mitchell) being escorted into the hospital in Halloween II with a mouth full of razor blades. Looking like what has to be one of the most uncomfortable and goriest blood gags of Rosenthal’s flick, I loved how they inflicted that kind of suffering on a kid (whose brainless mom wants to make it all better by playing a few rounds of Monopoly after they check out of the ER)- it felt really savage and a little bit cruel. Which I kinda dug. Plus, it ensured I’d always check my Halloween candy from there on out.

So yes, Halloween II still stands the test of time in my book. Now, in terms of the transfer quality for Universal’s 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition, I have to say I’m pretty pleased. I won’t pretend I’m a huge tech geek or anything, but I watched Halloween II two ways: in the 60hz refresh rate format (which is the standard way most people will see it) and then with the 120hz refresh rate on, which definitely improved the image and gave the movie a much crisper screen quality and more fluidity to the motion throughout.

And while Halloween II looked pretty decent in 60hz, it still has a grainy look to it and there are some scratches here and there, but overall it’s still better than the quality presented in the 2001 DVD version (which is my only frame of reference here). In 120hz, it blew me away. Like I said, I’m no tech geek so all I will say is that if you have the capability to switch over to 120hz on your TV, I say take advantage of it and check out the difference for yourself- the quality improvement is astonishing between the two. But regardless, the quality of the Halloween II Blu-ray is still a vast improvement over what has been released on DVD until now, and most fans should be pleased with Universal’s efforts here.

Halloween II 30th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)In terms of bonus features that are Halloween II-specific, sadly there isn’t much presented on the 30th Anniversary Edition. I would have LOVED a commentary track (hell, I wouldn’t have cared if it was Curtis plugging Activia half the time- just SOMETHING would have been nice), but the alternate ending and deleted scenes sort of help take the sting out of the omission of commentary material on Halloween II.

What truly saves Halloween II in the special features department, though, is Universal’s absolutely brilliant decision to include one of my all-time favorite horror flicks of all time, Terror in the Aisles, as supplemental material to Rosenthal’s flick. While I am always the eternal optimist around these parts, even I could never have expected to see Terror in the Aisles released now, especially in high definition. We’ve never even had a proper DVD release of the title so being given a HD version of the movie included in the same price as you’re already paying for Halloween II makes this disc the must-buy Blu-ray of the month for die-hards out there.

In case you’re one of the uninitiated in terms of how much fun Terror in the Aisles is, the movie stars Donald Pleasance and Nancy Allen, who sit in a movie theater filled with patrons documentary-style describing to us, the viewers, just what makes horror movies so appealing to fans everywhere.

Released in 1984, Terror in the Aisles celebrates some of the biggest movies of the modern genre (in 1984 terms at least) including Jaws, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Carrie, Halloween I & II, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing and The Shining and pays homage to many of the early horror classics like The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula, The Fly, Phantom of the Opera and Night of the Living Dead.
Terror in the Aisles also introduced mainstream audiences to the world of cult horror classics including flicks like Cat People, Frogs, Konga, Food of the Gods, Alligator and Saturday the 14th and extensively honored Alfred Hitchcock and many of his films including Psycho, The Birds, Strangers on a Train and Dial M for Murder. In fact, Hitchock is the only director given any screen time at all in the documentary.

Part of what I loved so much about Terror in the Aisles as a kid is that it introduced me to all kinds of movies I wouldn’t probably have discovered otherwise during my younger years- like Nighthawks, The Brood, Videodrome, The Eyes of Laura Mars or Suspiria. What also warms my horror-loving cockles is seeing Pleasance being his hammy old self and just relishing in every word he’s speaking throughout the movie. When he leans in to ask a young couple in front of him if they’re scared, you can’t help but smile at his devilish delivery to the startled lovers.

The transfer of Terror in the Aisles is a step above the recent HD version I caught on cable a few weeks backm and again, like Halloween II, it looks decent in 60hz but absolutely stunning in 120hz. I couldn’t have hoped for anything better, and my proverbial hat is off to Universal for finally stepping up and giving the fans a little something extra this time around with their release of Terror in the Aisles with Halloween II.

At a reasonable asking price of around $13 bucks, Halloween II is absolutely worth picking up when it hits shelves everywhere this week.

Special Features

  • Alternate Ending
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Terror in the Aisles documentary

    Halloween II

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Terror in the Aisles

    4 out of 5

    Special Features (not including Terror in the Aisles)

    2 out of 5

    Discuss Halloween II 30th Anniversary Edition in our comments section below!

  • thehorrorchick

    • Genrewriter

      Sounds pretty good, I dig Terror in the Aisles as well.

    • The Buz

      Fuck this disc for taking out Akkad’s credit and replacing it with Universal’s.

      • Shambling_in_Bandages

        Yeah, just read about that last night. What on Earth have they done that for?

    • PelusaMG

      Is this the uncut version – where we actually see Michael inserting the syringe in the doctor’s eye and we see the entire face-burn sequence in the hot tub?

      • thehorrorchick

        I believe it is- both of those scenes you see very clearly and completely. Terror in the Aisles in not the uncut version- the one on the blu is 82 minutes and the original was 84…

        • Ultimo Franco

          Actually, you don’t see Dr. Mixter get stabbed in the eye with the needle, because it happens entirely off screen.

          • Uncle Creepy

            Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. I never remember seeing a cut with an eye stab scene.

            • PelusaMG

              I thought the original VHS version I saw many years ago showed you the syringe going into the eye… That’s what I remember anyway!

            • Ultimo Franco

              You probably have it mixed up with another movie.

              Just think about the scene where Nurse Janet discovers Doctor Mixter’s body. She enters his office and begins to talk to him. He’s sitting in a chair with his back to her. She asks him a question and he doesn’t respond. There’s a slow build up of suspense as she reaches out and swivels the chair to reveal the needle buried in his eye. It’s basically a replay of the Mrs. Bates scene from the climax of Psycho. Now, if we’d already seen Mixter get the needle stuck in his eye, the entire discovery scene would make no sense at all. It would give away the gag. The gag is about the unexpected reveal. The punctuation of the gag is when Janet gets the needle stuck in her temple.

              Maybe you’re getting it mixed up with the needle in the eye scene from Dead & Buried? Now there we actually see the stab to the eye!

    • kiddcapone

      Everywhere I tried to buy this is already backordered so I bought it off Ebay. I can’t wait to get this Blu-ray. Not only is Halloween II one of my all-time favorite movies, but Terror in the Aisles has been #1 on my list of movies that NEED to be officially released. I had the poster on my bedroom wall for years….Now I can finally throw away my shitty bootleg convention version and enjoy all the HD goodness…

      • thehorrorchick

        Did you try Amazon or is it already backordered there? It was only $13 (which is where I bought mine)…

        • kiddcapone

          Actually no, I tried Best Buy and Target because I have charge cards there…I only paid $16 on Ebay with free shipping so it wasn’t too bad.

    • ImTheMoon

      Wow, I may finally have to break down and get a Blu-ray player. I love Halloween 2, I’m glad it’s getting some love but I agree a commentary by someone (director, film/horror historian) would have been nice. At least there are the iRiffs and DVDcommentary.co.uk ones, better than nothing.

    • filmmisfit

      Awesome review – can’t wait to pick this up – but one minor correction: Gary doesn’t have a mouthful of glass, it’s a razor blade – as in a razor blade hidden in a candy apple (one of the nastier urban legends of Halloween). That being said, it’s just a nitpick on an otherwise good review!

      Thanks for checking this out – can’t wait to pick it up!

      • thehorrorchick

        I actually did a panel with Mitchell a few months back and he said it was a glass gag but he could have just misspoken though. Good eye nonetheless! :) Thanks for reading!!!

        • filmmisfit

          I’m so confused – I don’t want to obsess over such a small detail, and I’m only trying to figure it out because 1) I love this movie, and 2) I want to be sure that I know what I’m talking about.

          Here’s an image of the kid:
          http://media.photobucket.com/image/halloween%202%20razor%20blade/horrorgirl13/2010%20pics/halloween2.jpg

          I really feel as if it’s a razor blade. It just makes sense with the urban legend. Maybe the bag of ice his mother was holding on his face was a prop bag made of some sort of glass? Weird. Anyway, I don’t want to argue the point – Still a great movie, still a good review.

          Maybe we should both consult others and find a consensus? Or maybe I should just let it go… yeah, that’s it! Thanks for the discussion, and your patience with an obsessive fan!

          • Gus Bjork

            It’s been many many years since I saw Halloween 2 but I could swear that, back in the day, Fangoria had a photo of the kid with a razor blade in his mouth.

            ….which now see is in the very post I commented on. Sorry about that.

          • thehorrorchick

            Dude no worries…I just had the stories Ty was telling us in my head and I think I just included glass instead of the razor blade because that was freshest in my mind (and should teach me for taking a phone call while trying to watch the movie because that was about the time I looked away for a few moments…). I’m going to have it fixed but thanks for saying the review was good otherwise. :)