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  • Theatrical trailer
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus

Halloween II

Force Entertainment/Infogrames . R4 . COLOR . 88 mins . R . PAL


The original Halloween was as dramatic a moment for independent cinema as Night Of The Living Dead was back in 1968. Stunningly successful, both financially and critically, it is still held up as one of the finest pieces of celluloid terror to date.

In contrast, this sequel is about as frightening as a carefully stacked pile of dry Weet Bix.

Following directly on from the plot of the first film (give or take a few continuity errors and the fact that Jamie Lee Curtis is wearing a wig to recreate her hairstyle), teen babysitter Laurie Strode is taken to hospital for treatment after Dr Sam Loomis has shot escaped mental patient Michael Myers six times with a window and watched him fall out a window. Of course, Myers isn't dead, and proceeds to spend the rest of the film coming across unknown actors and dispatching them. He stomps around the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital after Laurie like the original Universal Mummy.

The original works so well because it took the time to set up characters and back story, and because none of the Haddonfield residents knew Myers was back in town. The sequel doesn't have this luxury, the viewer has no chance to empathise with the victims, and the film soon becomes tedious. In fact, because Myers never moves faster than a walk, the plot becomes laughable. You're tempted to shout, "Hey, anonymous boring girl! Try power-walking! He'll never catch up!"

John Carpenter, who wrote and directed the first film, realised when scripting the sequel that he'd already written the script once. He promptly (and wisely) effectively dumped the project, handing the director's reins over to newcomer Rick Rosenthal, who proceeded to do more butcher work than Myers himself. Rosenthal obviously hadn't learned how to guide actors yet if Donald Pleasence's embarrassingly hammy acting is any indication.

You name the cliche, this dog has it. Yes, even down to the old 'cat jumping out of an opened object for no logical reason' chestnut. It's as bad as any of the Halloween ripoffs of the 80's, and the fact that it shares a name with such a great work makes its wretchedness even less forgiveable.


While at least maintaining the original aspect ratio, the video quality disappoints on virtually every level. It looks to be taken from a theatrical print, given the presence of reelchange marks. This would certainly explain the mediocre shadow detail and flat colours, as release prints are more rugged than interpositives and camera negatives (they do have to resist the heat of the projector bulb, which is quite substantial). Telecine machines traditionally have trouble making a theatrical print look as nice as a good negative.

Sharpness is unimpressive, and the lack of 16:9-enhancement does the image no favours. I would suspect that the master was an old laserdisc master, but I'm led to believe that this is the first time Halloween II has been released in widescreen. For such an old print, the filmstock is very free of damage, but the overall impression is of a drab, tawdry image.

Looking at any scene in isolation, the image isn't terrible for a print of this age, but I feel I've stumbled onto a new DVD Reviewing Law - namely, that a terrible film affects the viewer's subjective impression of the transfer quality. I knew this worked the other way around, or I could never have enjoyed films on TV or VHS, but I wasn't expecting to look back on a bad film and think of nothing but negative points. This, my friends, is a first. I must be vigilant.


Even for a mono mix, the audio on offer isn't good. Compared to the first film, it's downright horrid. Supposedly a surround-encoded mix, my test disc clung resolutely to the centre channel through the entire viewing.

Dynamically, this soundtrack is extremely flat, like watching a film on TV, with no significant changes in volume level at all. This makes the sound quite uninvolving, and really takes any chance of being afraid away from the viewer. Adding to this is some troubling distortion in several places, and a woeful soundtrack that reduces the majestically-chilling score of the original to a twee, synthesized DX-7 nightmare.


Apart from some brief production notes and animated menus, the only extra on offer here is a full-screen theatrical trailer of extremely poor visual and sound quality.


Overall, I wouldn't recommend this disc to my most hated enemy's rabid pitbull. It would almost certainly turn on one of my loved ones.

The film itself is a turgid, non-stop stinkfest, and the transfer is average at best. To cap things off, Pleasence's name is misspelt on the cover! My suggestion is to skip this disc entirely, wipe all thought of the film from your mind and enjoy the original Halloween.

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