October Horrorthon 2012 – 31 – “Halloween II”

Aka – Halloween II – The Horror Continues, Halloween II – The Nightmare isn’t Over!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzOdUKVD8Ac

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Well, how else could I end the Horrorthon than with one of the Halloween flicks ? Specifically the newly released Shout Factory blu ray of “Halloween II”. You know, the GOOD Halloween II. I’d bought the Universal release of it on Blu last year, but I hadn’t opened it yet and heard this new one was much better in every respect. I sold mine and upgraded to this one for about a 5$ difference. What a deal !!

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This is one of those rare examples of a sequel picking up seconds after the first one had ended. Personally I love it when they do that, but it’s actually quite rare. In some ways the first two Halloween films are one long movie, in a good way. True, Carpenter didn’t direct this one, but he did write/produce/direct some re-shoots, so the tone is consistent. It may sound blasphemous, but I actually prefer this one to the original. Yeah, that’s right, I’m not un-saying it either !

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The cast from the original all return in this one, though Jamie Lee Curtis had to wear a wig as she had cut her hair between movies. The only exception to the original cast was Dick Warlock (great name) stepping in as Micheal Myers (aka – “The Shape”). He does a fine job (not that there were any lines) and the principal cast does a good job with the material.

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I really enjoy this movie. Obviously it couldn’t exist without the original, a certified classic, but it ups the ante in the gore department, not unlike the jump between Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 and 2. That’s not to say that gore makes a movie good, but it’s nice to have a similar looking sequel that develops on the first and sets itself apart by adding additional violence to the proceedings. I mean, he IS a murderer after all.

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The movie was fairly harshly reviewed upon release, not too surprising for a follow up to a classic. Much like other underrated sequels like “Psycho 2”, “Sleepaway Camp 2”, “TCM 2”, “Jaws 2” and “Blood Feast 2” it is more bloody but has found it’s audience over the years. Are these sequels “better” than their classic counterparts ? Not necessarily, but they all add new elements and more extreme content, a sign of the times and a welcome addition to the genre (for the most part).

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Shout Factory has indeed done a great job with this release. Not only is there newly released cover art (see bottom pic) but it also reverses to show the original poster art as well. The transfer is great, it includes deleted scenes, 2 commentary tracks, a documentary and probably the coolest addition – a second (DVD) disc of the TV cut of the film. This version takes out much of the gore and adds in many alternate scenes. Certainly not a “better” film, it’s an interesting curio and the first time it has ever been released legitimately.

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Director Rick Rosenthal was quite upset at Carpenters’ reshoots of his film. Carpenter found his initial cut to be “boring” and felt they needed to step up the gore to compete with modern films (released that same year were “Friday the 13th 3D”, “The Howling”, “The Omen 3” and “The Evil Dead”). As I said, I personally enjoy the amped up murders in the film, but I can see people being thrown off by the slight shift in tone.

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I was surprised at how much I dug this film upon re-watching it last year. It’s a very underrated slasher film, especially among sequels in long winded franchises. Had they just ended the Myers storyline after this film (as Carpenter intended) I think it works just fine. Then everyone hated (the underrated) “Halloween 3” and they inexplicably brought back Myers for parts 4-8 (+2 more).

Interestingly (for someone who seemingly got screwed over while shooting this) Rosenthal came back years later to shoot Halloween 8, which … frankly sucked ass. Also interesting is that Halloween 7 (aka – H20), which is considered a sequel to 2 and end of the storyline, was directed by Steve Miner, director of Friday the 13th 2+3. He went from directing a movie that went up against Halloween 2 to completing its story 17 years later. I guess it really is a small world after all.

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