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I have to give Goodtimes Home Video credit for offering the first Letterboxed edition of HALLOWEEN II ($20) at a very reasonable price. With a screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, HALLOWEEN II picks up the story at the exact moment that John Carpenter's horror masterpiece ended. HALLOWEEN II is more of the night he came home with the seemingly indestructible Michael Myers continuing to slaughter teens and anyone else who gets in his way as he zeros in on his ultimate target- Laurie Strode.

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the role of Laurie Strode, the girl who eluded Michael Myers at the end of the first film. However, Curtis is given little to do except wait around until the film's climatic confrontation. Donald Pleasence fairs much better in the role of Dr. Sam Loomis- a character that he turned into his own cottage industry (Loomis relentlessly pursued Michael Myers across five HALLOWEEN movies). In HALLOWEEN II, Loomis desperately searches the town of Haddonfield, Illinois for his patient, whom he is convinced is the essence of pure evil. Despite his apparent death at the film’s conclusion, HALLOWEEN II is the film that changed Michael Myers from a homicidal maniac with a butcher's knife, to a supernatural bogeyman unable to be killed by normal means. But then again, it could just be greedy producers trying to turn a fast buck that has kept him alive for twenty years. The direction by Rick Rosenthal is competent, but lacks John Carpenter's virtuoso ability to sustain tension. HALLOWEEN II is also more graphic than its predecessor and the characters lack the dimension demonstrated in the original film. Still, HALLOWEEN II remains an entertaining entry in the series and contains a couple of good scares.

While it lacks the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions, Goodtimes Home Video's Letterboxed DVD edition of HALLOWEEN II is the finest home presentation of the film. Before the Letterboxed edition, fans were forced to endure a cropped presentation that chopped away half of the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The Letterboxed transfer places just about every bit of the Panavision image up on the screen. Overall, HALLOWEEN II looks pretty good, but since the film was shot at night, the prevailing darkness introduces film grain that even Dean Cundey's masterful cinematography cannot overcome. Sequences shot under controlled lighting lack grain and display the master's touch. Color reproduction was natural, without any sign of chroma noise or distortion. Digital compression artifacts were seldom problematic.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack decodes to standard matrixed surround and sounds just great. John Carpenter's eerie musical score is the highlight of the track. The track also features some pleasing directional effects and better than expected use of the surround channels. English captioning, in addition to French and Spanish subtitles have been encoded into the DVD.

The interactive menus feature a bit of animation and music. Through the menus one can access production notes, plus the scene selection feature that offers full motion previews.

All in all, HALLOWEEN II is a good little package that is certain to please horror fans at a relatively low price. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 19988 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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