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HALLOWEEN II: DIRECTOR'S CUT (BLU-RAY)
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Rob Zombie

Starring:
Tyler Mane
Brad Dourif
Malcolm McDowell
Scout Taylor-Compton

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

After the events of the first film, where Michael was seemingly shot dead by his sister Laurie, she is sent to the hospital while Michael is sent to the morgue. Unfortunately, the ambulance carrying Michael hits a bump in the road (namely a cow), and Michael escapes to do some wilderness survival. Flash forward two years later, and we find Laurie on the sauce, Loomis an opportunistic asshole bookpeddler, and Michael getting visions of white horses.

Is it good movie?

Oh, Rob Zombie. You're a hard guy to love and/or hate. I dug Rob's first two films, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, but when it came to his remake of the John Carpenter classic, I was at odds with myself. The film was brutal in its violence (and according to some, everything else) and fleshed out Michael a bit more than Carpenter's version did, as well as rightfully casting Malcolm McDowell in the role Donald Pleasance made famous. However, things weren't perfect (the leaked workprint and subsequent Director's Cut version made that certain), leaving me on the fence as to whether Zombie had effectively done the franchise proud. With the sequel, I'm leaning towards the negative.

One thing I have to say that got me going was Zombie's continued use of brutal violence in the vein of 70s exploitation. Michael's not exactly happy, and he was more than willing to let it be known to more than a few people. It was fun to see just how much Michael could dish out without resorting to some over-the-top move. This Blu-Ray being the Director's Cut of the film doesn't add anything more to the violence, but really, the film didn't need any more. Absurd, I know. But seriously, any more violence would be overkill for this film in place (no pun intended).

The other thing that stood out for me with this one was Brad Dourif. The Director's Cut allowed the Sheriff Brackett character more room to breathe, along with Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) and Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton). In fact, the relationship between the Bracketts is probably the highlight, with the deterioration of Laurie and Annie's friendship a close second. Laurie herself is an emotional wreck, even though at times she's kind of hard to warm up to. Still, Scout's job is a good one. It's also a good thing that the DC accomplishes these modifications, since the rest of the film isn't something you'd want to stick around for.

For every plus HALLOWEEN 2 had, it had a minus. The fun brutal violence is countered by the fact that the film blatantly sets folks up to get in the way of the Michael machine. Really, all this does is chew up screen time without advancing the plot. It turns into a case of violence for the sake of it. Sure, it's weird to have me write that, but having a method to the madness rather than just the madness would serve the film so much more. Even though Jason does it, he has at least a motive. I love the brutality, but without direction, any direction, it's aggravating.

Countering the Brackett's and Laurie as characters are Sam Loomis and Michael. Why Zombie decided to go the route of turning a character that everyone rooted for in Loomis into a backstabbing opportunist makes little sense. It's an unexpected swerve that's unexpected, but so would having Loomis go crazy and start shooting cops to get to Michael. That would be more in line with Loomis being consumed by his desire to stop Michael, rather than profit from him. As for Michael, what the hell is up with the 'white horse' visions? As soon as I saw clips of Sheri Moon Zombie in the trailer talking to Michael, I knew something was up. This supernatural shite is up there with the Thorn cult from the original sequels (and we know how well those went over). It's completely out of line with the HALLOWEEN realm (even with Zombie's original).

While the Director's Cut improves upon much of what the Theatrical Cut was missing, HALLOWEEN 2 is still not something I'd revisit anytime soon. Amidst all of the carnage and a couple of great characters, we have some character changes that are completely out of line and a script that still needed trimming. I'm still curious to see what Patrick Lussier comes up with in the sequel (whenever the Weinsteins pony up the money), but one has to wonder if we're heading down the same path as before: heading towards HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION quality.

Video / Audio

Video: Presented in a 1.85:1 1080p transfer, HALLOWEEN 2 is grainy. Really grainy. Top that off with an overall desaturated colour palette and overall dark look, you're not going to be getting much in the way of detail, although there are fine details such as scars to be seen. There are spots where the colour really pops (the strip club sequence comes to mind), which are really sharp and nicely contrast the other scenes.

Audio: The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is loud and aggressive, just as it should be. Effects such as rain and thunder are very immersive, knife stabs are accentuated with a nice thump from the bass, with the other sounds such as breaking glass and dialogue coming through crisp and clean. Tyler Bates' score is appropriately creepy and enjoyable with this track.

The Extras

First up is a commentary by director Rob Zombie, who once again is engaging and insightful. Not only does he point out the differences (thankfully) between the DC and the theatrical versions, he also offers up his opinions whenever he chooses, and pulls no punches while doing so. He's monotone in spots, but his wealth of information makes up for it, showing once again the guy can handle solo commentaries with ease.

Following that are a set of 23 deleted scenes presented in 1080p, which flesh out the story even more. These were rightfully cut, since they mostly consist of idle chatter and don't advance any of the characters or the plot. Plus, I don't think folks would be around for a HALLOWEEN film that would total over 2 hours in running time.

Next up is a blooper reel, which is missing the antics of Dourif and McDowell, but is something I feel that is almost necessary when dealing with a horror film in most cases. After that are seven audition reels for Chase Wright Vanek, Angela Trimbur, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Chris Hardwick, Mary Birdsong, Richard Brake, and Octavia Spencer, and three makeup tests for Michael and Deborah Myers, which are interesting but short.

Uncle Seymour Coffins' Stand-Up Routines starts out as being annoying and unfunny, but evolve into something sort of interesting, and show how much Zombie likes to develop his tertiary characters.

Finally, we get six music videos by Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures, which has the Zombie trademark of inserting clips from old horror movies intersperced with concert footage. Another interesting sort of extra that compliments the Uncle Seymour Coffins extra.

There's also BD-Live functionality, Sony's MovieIQ feature, and 1080p startup trailers for several films, none of which are HALLOWEEN 2 (which pisses me off for obvious reasons). There's also no feature-length documentary like the first film had (albeit later one), or a seamless branching option for the original theatrical cut of the film, but that's best left unseen, anyways.

Last Call

The theatrical cut of HALLOWEEN 2 wasn't perfect, and neither is the Director's Cut. While characters and story are rightfully fleshed out more in this extended cut, the other script problems largely remain. Overall, the new cut of the film is tolerable, but not one that you'd want to have repeated viewings of in a short amount of time. The extras, while interesting and informative, feel lacking in places, but you know that eventually it'll be rectified in a double-dip somewhere down the line.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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