Halloween II (1981): Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Oct 26, 2021
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Halloween II (1981): Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

Director

Rick Rosenthal

Release Date(s)

1981 (October 5, 2021)

Studio(s)

Dino De Laurentiis Corporation/Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A-

Halloween II: Collector's Edition (4K Ultra HD Disc)

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Review

[Editor’s Note: It appears that 4K Ultra HD copies of Halloween II are causing some disc players to have blocky pixelization during a particular scene—which we note in the video portion of this review. After speaking directly with Shout! Factory, they've confirmed that they aren’t able to reproduce the issue, and it never occurred during their quality control session in multiple players. For reference, we’re running an OPPO UDP-203 to do this review and we definitely experienced the issue. As of this writing, we don’t know why this is occurring in random players, but we’re assured that it’s not a widespread occurence. If you plan on purchasing this release, be sure to check your disc as soon as it arrives to make sure this isn’t a problem for you. We’ll post additional updates as we learn more from Shout.]

After the success of 1978’s Halloween, financier Moustapha Akkad wanted a sequel. Director John Carpenter had no interest in making one, but Dino De Laurentiis and Universal Pictures soon got involved. Carpenter chose co-writing and composer duties instead, and Halloween II was released in October of 1981. It was a financial success, but controversial aspects of its story altered the core concept of Michael Myers. In the first film, Michael was considered an emotionless, motivation-less killer. As Dr. Loomis explained it, “purely and simply evil.” The sequel changes that by giving him familial motivation for his actions. It also bypasses much of the suspense of the original film, operating more as a slasher—a subgenre that was just getting its feet wet. Rick Rosenthal, who was essentially a director for hire, was not given final cut and Carpenter was later brought in to direct reshoots and re-edit sections of the film. The result was a lesser product in the eyes of many, including some of its creators. Despite its problems, Halloween II is a mostly beloved sequel. It’s also gaining more favor in light of the new reboot series, which at the time of this writing, is not well-liked by the many fans of the franchise.

Mere minutes after the first film ends, Michael Myers is still loose in Haddonfield, having killed three teenagers. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers), and the rest of the Haddonfield police are out looking for him. Meanwhile, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), having survived an encounter with Michael, has been taken to the hospital where the night staff, including head nurse (Gloria Gifford), nurses Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop), Janet (Ana Alicia), Jill (Tawny Moyer), Dr. Mixter (Ford Rainey), and paramedics Jimmy (Lance Guest) and Budd (Leo Rossi), are burning the late night oil. Avoiding detection, Michael soon learns where Laurie is and makes his way to the hospital, leaving victims in his wake. As he does, Loomis learns what’s driving him, a revelation about Laurie’s past that will soon to come to light.

Halloween II was shot by director of photography Dean Cundey on 35 mm photochemical film, using Panavision Panaflex Gold cameras with C- and E-Series anamorphic lenses, and was finished on film at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Scream Factory’s Ultra HD was sourced from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, framed at the correct ratio, and has been graded for High Dynamic Range (Dolby Vision and HDR10 options are both available) with the final approval of Cundey. The majority of this release is quite good, even great. Overall image detail is notably improved. Higher grain levels than its predecessor tend to stand out, though the encoding here handles them well enough. Deeper blacks with improved shadow detail are apparent too. The new HDR grade offers good color reproduction, widening the gamut over the previous Blu-ray release, and the presentation delivers crisp, stable images. The biggest issue appears during Karen and Budd’s hot water rendezvous. Several random frames exhibit severely blocky pixelation at around the 48:53 mark. (Unfortunately, we can’t provide a photo as an example since the shot contains nudity.) Astute readers will no doubt be aware that 4K Ultra HD releases of Dune and The Thing were reportedly experiencing the same issue. No one seems to be able to pin down exactly what the cause of this is, at least not yet. We’ll provide more information about it as we get it, but be aware when purchasing this release to double check the scene in question and see if you’re having the same issue. As it is, Halloween II is still a fine presentation overall, but it slips in comparison to the first film on UHD.

Audio is included in a new English Dolby Atmos mix (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), as well as the previous English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes. Subtitles are available in English SDH. The new Atmos track widens the film’s soundstage, allowing for moments of speaker to speaker movement when cars pass by the frame, but also allows Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s score more breathing room. Dialogue is mostly relegated to the front, aside from random crowd noises. Sound effects have decent impact, and low end activity kicks in from time to time, especially during the score in the opening and closing titles. With the previous 5.1 and 2.0 tracks in tow, this is a nice selection of audio options to choose from.

Scream Factory’s 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition release of Halloween II is a 3-Disc set, featuring the film on Ultra HD on Disc One, on Blu-ray on Disc Two, and on DVD on Disc Three. The second disc is sourced from the same new 4K transfer and features all of the Ultra HD’s audio and subtitle options, while the third disc features the TV version of the film only. It also includes the film’s script, which is accessible as a .PDF file via DVD-ROM. The first two discs feature the following extras:

DISC ONE (UHD)

  • Audio Commentary by Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi
  • Audio Commentary by Dick Warlock and Rob Galluzzo

Both audio commentaries were recorded for Scream Factory’s original Blu-ray release of the film in 2012. The audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi is an enjoyable reminiscence about the film. The men are clearly old friends and offer plenty of valuable insight into the making of the film, though they tend to go quiet sometimes and just watch. The second audio commentary with actor and stuntman Dick Warlock, moderated by Rob Galluzzo, is a fun chat about the film. Galluzzo keeps the commentary moving with plenty of questions for Michael Myers himself, discussing various facets of the making of the film from his perspective.

DISC TWO (BD)

  • Audio Commentary by Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi
  • Audio Commentary by Dick Warlock and Rob Galluzzo
  • The Nightmare Isn’t Over! The Making of Halloween II (HD – 44:55)
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II (HD and SD – 13:11)
  • Deleted Scenes (SD – 5 in all – 8:06)
  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Rick Rosenthal (SD – 5 in all – 8:06)
  • Alternate Ending (SD – 1:44)
  • Alternate Ending with Commentary by Rick Rosenthal (SD – 1:44)
  • Teaser Trailer (HD – 1:04)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:18)
  • TV Spots (SD – 5 in all – 2:31)
  • Radio Spots (HD – 6 in all – 3:17)
  • TV Promo (HD – :27)
  • Newsprint Ad Gallery (HD – 19 in all – 2:20)
  • Still Gallery (HD – 59 in all – 5:04)
  • Posters and Lobby Cards (HD – 82 in all – 6:58)
  • Easter Egg #1 (SD – :36)
  • Easter Egg #2 (SD – :18)

The Nightmare Isn’t Over! is a great documentary on the making of the film by Red Shirt Pictures, featuring many members of the main cast and crew. In Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, Sean Clark returns to highlight the filming locations. Five deleted scenes and an alternate ending taken from the TV version of the film follow with optional audio commentary by Rick Rosenthal. Next is a series TV and radio spots, as well as an HD recreation of a promo for a TV airing of the film. The Newsprint Ad Gallery features local newspaper clippings from the film’s theatrical engagements and TV airings. The Still Gallery features 59 images of behind-the-scenes and promotional photos. The Posters and Lobby Cards gallery features 82 images of posters, lobby cards, promotional photos, and newspaper clippings. Easter egg #1 can be found by pressing up when Play Film is highlighted, which will highlight Halloween II above it. Pressing enter will play a recreation of an ad for an HBO TV airing. Easter egg #2 can be found by pressing up when The Nightmare Isn’t Over! is highlighted. Pressing enter will play another ad for a TV airing of the film.

The three discs sit inside a black amaray case featuring new artwork by Joel Robinson on the front and the original US theatrical artwork on the reverse. This is housed in a rigid slipcase featuring the same new artwork. The back cover states that there’s a new interview with production manager Jeffrey Chernov, but that’s nowhere to be found. The only extras that didn’t carry over from previous releases are the film’s production notes from the Universal Pictures DVD release, and an audio commentary with authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman from a couple of overseas releases. There are also a couple of infamous deleted scenes that have never seen the light of day involving one of the reporters, who in the film cut of the film disappears. There’s also an extra scene in the TV version of the film featuring Leo Rossi that still airs to this day.

Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Ultra HD release of Halloween II offers a more complete package than its predecessor, particularly with regard to its bonus materials. Apart from the potential video issue mentioned above, the overall A/V quality makes this a fine upgrade.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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