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March 17, 2013

Movie Review: Halloween II (Collector's Edition, Scream Factory)

When John Carpenter’s classic Halloween premiered in 1978 to overwhelming praise from the press and a not too shabby take at the box office for an independent horror feature it was inevitable that production of a sequel would go into full swing not long after. There was a catch though, Carpenter and writing/producing partner Debra Hill would return, but Carpenter would pass the directing duties to the capable eye of Rick Rosenthal. Would it suffer with Carpenter’s absence behind the camera?

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, Terror Train, and Halloween) has just been taken by an ambulance from the house where her brother, Michael Myers (Dick Warlock) savagely attacked her. Michael's wounded too, but he’s such a tough hombre that Dr. Loomis’ pea shooter, and 20 foot fall onto his back wasn't quite enough to put him deep in the depths of hell.

Michael’s mission to kill his sister is still on target, it’s just a little more difficult being that she will be in a hospital room with the high security of an obese cop. Halloween II takes the franchise into a much bloodier realm – it’s a legitimate body count film. People perish savagely in creative fashion that includes blood transfusion machines, needles to the temple and even a hospital therapy bathtub which shows shades of Dario Argento’s Deep Red.

The always amazing Donald Pleasance reprises his role as Dr. Loomis, really the only line of defense for the injured, bed-ridden Strode. Curtis and Pleasance are great in their roles with Leo Rossi adding a little comic relief as the sleazy medic, “Budd”. Dean Cundey also returns with his masterful eye. Cundey is often overlooked with all the other talents (Debra Hill, Carpenter, Curtis etc.) that one often forgets how important his camera work was to making the early Halloween films truly unsettling.

Scream Factory has gone all out with the extra features by including a commentary, interviews with cast and crew and even an alternate TV Cut is included on a second disc. The commentary with Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi is quite fun. Rosenthal points out certain scenes that Carpenter directed. Amazingly, it was Carpenter who added much of the extra bloodshed to the film. The best interview on featurettes for me was Leo Rossi. The guys genuinely funny and has a wonderful story about his scene in the hot tub.

Halloween II is another one of those no-brainer buys. The transfer is great, the extras will keep you busy for hours and it even has a sweet looking cover. I have to give props to artist Nathan Thomas Milliner for making this alternate cover as it surely will display nicely in your library. Highly Recommended.