Good Times Home Video // 1981 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 19th, 2000
The nightmare isn't over...
After the success of John Carpenter's original Halloween, a sequel was inevitable...with, in fact, TONS of sequels made over a 20 year period (with more in the works. Oh boy). In 1981 Halloween II was released in theaters. Carpenter, however, did not return to the directing chair, opting instead to co-produce with Debra Hill and write this decent (but ultimately inferior) sequel. For the second Halloween outing, holdovers Jaime Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence reprise their roles as Laurie Strode and Dr. Sam Loomis, continuing the adventures of "the night HE came home." Goodtimes Home Video has released Halloween II for the first time in its original widescreen format. The REVIEW isn't over...
At the end of the original Halloween, Michael Myers (AKA The Shape) is shoot six times by Dr. Loomis ("Six times! I shot him six times!!") while chasing down Laurie Strode. After falling out a balcony, you'd think that would pretty much be end of the story. However, when Loomis goes to look for Michael's body, all that was left on the ground was a small pool of blood and a note saying "Went to the market, be home soon."
Just kidding. There was no note. But, Michael Myers IS loose again.
After the quick recap, Halloween II picks up with Dr. Loomis hot on the trail of Myers as Laurie is taken to the Haddonfield Memorial to bandage her wounds. Thus includes some tactful scenes of Michael killing people with large metal things, and the police bumbling around like the Keystone Kops ("Duh...where'd he go, Wilbur?" "He went thataway!"). Dr. Loomis is all over the place, spewing wacky pontifications about how Michael is pure evil and basically the poop smear on the underwear of life.
About half way through the movie, we learn a secret that connects Michael and Laurie, and the reason Michael wants Laurie dead! Suddenly it's a race against time as Michael once again stalks Laurie, and Dr. Loomis stalks Michael, and...who's stalking Dr. Loomis? Oh yeah, an over-acting coach.
A final showdown takes place at the local hospital between this love triangle, and it's anyone's guess who the victor will be (but I suppose you have a good idea...)
In this reviewer's humble opinion, Halloween II was the last time we'd see a decent movie in this series until the summer of 1998 (Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later). Like the James Whale sequel Bride Of Frankenstein, Halloween II picks up right at the end of the original film, seamlessly going from one film to the other. A well-done feat, considering there were a couple years in between the two films.
True, Halloween II does not come close to Carpenter's original masterpiece. But come on, that's a pretty tall order. You really have to judge Halloween II on its own merits, and when you do that it stacks up pretty well. Plenty of scares abound, and we're lucky to get return performances by Curtis and Pleasence. The rest of the cast does a good job, especially the police captain, sneering at Loomis as he quips "You let him OOUUUT!" Overacting at its finest.
Carpenter scripted this sequel, and he does a good job at putting a few twists and turns in the plot (even if a few are needless, such as the "secret" between the hero and the monster). I do remember hearing an interview with him (although I don't remember when) where he said that he had a real tough time coming up with this screenplay, making it fresh and original.
The one thing this film did manage to capture was the spirit and feel of the original Halloween. Maybe I have diluted, nostalgic memories about seeing the original Halloween, but after around 1988, there was something missing, some spirit of the good ol' horror films that has yet to be captured again (and we're moving farther and father away from that feel as each successive Scream clone is released). Taken as a whole, Halloween II makes a nice bookend to the original classic.
Halloween II is presented for the first time in its original 2.35:1 widescreen format, and looks surprisingly good. Goodtimes is given thanks for not putting out a cropped up version of this, as OTHER studios often do *CoughCoughWarnerBrothersCoughCough.* There were only the most minor specks of grain and digital artifacting, with colors looking bright and clear. The audio mix (Dolby 2.0) was also done well, without much distortion of dialogue. Music and effects were even and crisp, making for a nice sound experience for a horror film.
For a company that is really associated with cheap-o quickies, Goodtimes has put fourth a nice effort on a film with a rather large fan base. Well, except for extras...
Unfortunately, all we get on this disc are a few production notes. There are 3 pages of these, and they are semi-interesting, but nothing really new or fascinating about the making of Halloween II...WAIT, hold it...hold the phone, I forgot, we also get...
SCENE SELECTIONS! And the crowd...goes...WILD!!!
Well, the real snit fit here is the fact that we hardly get any extras. I mean, just production notes? What is THAT all about? I would have much rather had a theatrical trailer, or even some kind of "where are they now?" interviews. Something other than production notes would have been fine.
I guess I should just be happy that we get this film in widescreen format. But it would have really been nice to have had at least a trailer. Hopefully someday down the road maybe we'll be lucky and Anchor Bay will get their hands on Halloween II, doing some sort of a special edition. I would love to see a commentary track on this film.
My final complaint is that this is a snapper case. I really just like keep cases better. They don't damage as easily and look much better.
Okay, I'm done fussing.
For the price tag on Halloween II ($14.99-19.99) you won't be doing your wallet much harm, especially if you're a fan of the Halloween series. Even though there are no real extras on this disc, I can easily recommend this over Halloween III: Season of The Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, or Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers. I realize that many of you will disagree (and I know by the amount of letters I've received from some of you). But for my money, I think this will be your best buy. Good widescreen transfer, nice audio mix...even decent menus. A cheap, decent disc for any horror fans DVD collection.
A little disclaimer: 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years Later actually takes place AFTER the events of Halloween II. In Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, it assumes that Halloween parts 3 through 6 never actually happened. Apparently that was some other time line, or alternate reality, or something (I say dig a hole for yourself, you get yourself out of it...the makers of this series apparently didn't feel that way). Talk about a cop out.
Halloween II you're free to go, but when you come back to court someday, bring some extras with you, alright?
Review content copyright © 2000 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Good Times Home Video
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Production Notes