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Halloween II (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/12/2010

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/10/2010

In 1981, my sister took me to see Halloween II. While I was probably too young to be seeing a movie like that in the theater, I'd love the first film, which I was probably too young to see, and it was truly a treat. I'm fairly sure that I realized that what I'd just seen wasn't a great movie, but it scared me nonetheless (again, due to my age) and I remember running the short distance from the car to the front door because I was so freaked out. Every second of that memory is 100 times scarier than anything in Rob Zombie's Halloween II, an unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary remake.

Halloween II opens just moments after the conclusion of Halloween. After having been attacked by escaped mental patient Michael Myers (Taylor Mane), and after having shot him in the head, Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is found wandering the streets of Haddonfield. The story then jumps ahead two years. Lauire, her parents having been murdered, is living with her friend Annie (Danielle Harris) and her father, Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif). She has become a dark, punk-rocker type, and she works in a hippie coffee shop. Meanwhile, Dr. Sam Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), Myers' doctor, has written a second book about the killer and he want as much media attention as possible. By the way, Michael Myers body was never recovered and he's roaming the countryside killing random people and making his way back to Haddonfield to kill Laurie, who is his sister.

I watched Halloween II on Friday, which, ironically, is trash day at my house. How fitting. I'm going to be honest, going into this movie, I expected to hate it, giving my views on the fact that this sequel to a remake shouldn't even exist. But, I never expected such a bad movie. I've looked over several "Worst Movies of 2009" list and I'm very surprised that this movie wasn't #1 on all of them, as not only is it the worst movie that I've seen from 2009, it's also one of the worst movies ever made.

Now, regular readers know that I always try to find something nice to say about a movie. For Halloween II, it's the fact that Zombie decided to veer nearly completely away from the premise of the 1981 film of the same name. After an opening sequence which mirrors the original sequel, the movie takes off into new territory. As Zombie is attempting to make his own film and not merely copy something which has come before, this is admirable. The highlight of the film (and thus the 1/2 star rating) comes from an awesome line from "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Other than that, I honestly got the feeling that Zombie has no idea what he is doing when it comes to writing. As a visual director, he has shown that he has some talent and each of his films has some sort of interesting visual. But, the story and tone of Halloween II are simply awful. First of all, none of the characters are likable. Laurie (who wasn't all that appealing in the first film) has turned into a foul-mouthed ball of anger who seeks to alienate everyone around her. (While this may be somewhat realistic/appropriate considering the trauma which she endured, it doesn't make for good cinema.) Loomis is an attention whore who doesn't care who he hurts. (Again, this may reflect reality, but it hurts the film.) Everyone else simply blends into the background. Zombie's biggest flaw with the characters comes with Michael Myers. This famous killer only dons his infamous mask in a few scenes. Otherwise, he's simply a very large man with long hair and a bushy beard. In most shots, we see Myers walking through fields, carrying a shoulder-bag. He looks like Sasquatch on vacation. This isn't scary, it's laughable.

Zombie's insistence on making his films dark and bringing the dregs of society to the forefront gets totally out of control in Halloween II. He clearly has no idea where to draw the line and just assumes that the audience wants to see brutal violence. However, brutal violence has a numbing effect and the killings here seem to go on forever. And why is Michael Myers grunting when he stabs people over and over? I assume that it's hard to work, but Michael Myers isn't supposed to make any sound. The movie reaches its nadir when Laurie and her friends go to some sort of horror-billy hoedown, where Zombie is able to shove his laugh for white-trash antics in our collective faces.

All of these things are simply icing on the cake of a script which contains little story. No one seems overly concerned that Michael Myers body has disappeared. We learn how Michael feeds in the wild, but we're never told how he survived what was presumably point-blank shots to the head in the first film. In the original films, Myers' refusal to die hinted at a supernatural force -- here, it's just glossed over. And when one of the major plot points hinges on a cow, you know that something has gone horribly wrong. Apparently convinced that he has to put his wife in every movie, Sherri Moon Zombie appears in a series of dream sequences which make no sense and only pad an already challenged movie. Speaking of padding, the Blu-ray Disc contains the "Unrated Director's Cut" which runs some 14 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Lucky us. Zombie has reportedly walked away from the Halloween franchise and this can only be taken as good news. Do yourself a favor and watch the original Halloween II instead. It may not be a good movie, but compared to this new film, it's a classic.

Halloween II is at least in focus on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. First of all, it most be noted that the image is grainy, but we're going to assume that this was done on purpose to achieve that gritty look which Zombie prefers. OK, given that, the image is sharp and clear, showing no defects from the source material. And while the grain is present, it's never distracting. The image is a tad dark at times, but, again, this is probably a stylistic choice. When colors appear, they look fine and the image contains a nice amount of detail. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good, most notably those which convey sounds off-screen. The surround sound effects are nearly constant and are well-placed, as they match the on-screen action. The subwoofer effects dominate the "shock" scenes and keep the subwoofer busy. Overall, great sound.

The Halloween II Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Rob Zombie. The Disc contains twenty-three DELETED AND ALTERANTE SCENES, which run about 25 minutes. Most of these are fairly brief and the bulk fall into the "alternate scene" category, as they play very similarly to scenes in the finished film. There is some extra gore here and a scene where a woman sees Michael Myers in her trash can and calls him "Bigfoot" is interesting. The Disc has a 4 minute BLOOPER REEL. "Audition Footage" (10 minutes) shows seven actors trying out for their parts. "Make-up Test Footage" (4 minutes) shows tests of Michael's mask, Michael unmasked, and Sherri Mooon. "Uncle Seymour Coffins' Stand-up Routines" (9 minutes) offers even more really bad horror comedy scenes which were cut from the movie...and now we know why they were cut. Finally, we get six MUSIC VIDEOS from Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures...so, those music critics from Rue Morgue magazine who love horror-billy should be happy.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long