Halloween II (2009)Overview -
Rob Zombie's Halloween II picks up at the exact moment that 2007's box-office smash, HALLOWEEN, stopped and follows the aftermath of Michael Myers's (Tyler Mane) murderous rampage through the eyes of heroine Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor Compton).
Evil has a new destiny. Michael Myers is back in this terrifying sequel to Rob Zombie's visionary re-imagining of Halloween which grossed almost $80 million worldwide. It is that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town's got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
I blame you, Michael Bay.
Forget your 'Pearl Harbor' abomination and your desecration of our beloved robots in disguise. Ever since you produced the 2003 remake of Tobe Hooper's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,' I've held you personally responsible for creating another monster -- one that's far more uglier than even Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger on their worst days combined. I'm referring to the latest fad in digging up practically every iconic horror classic and submitting it for a much unneeded makeover.
In fact by this point, we'd be pretty hard pressed to find one that hasn't already been "reimagined" by Hollywood, and for me the lowest of these lows has to be Rob Zombie's rape of John Carpenter's 'Halloween.' For those of you who thought that bastardized regurgitation was bad, wait till you get a steaming load of the sequel -- which sadly is neither trick nor treat.
The story continues following the aftermath of the events in the first film. After putting a bullet through the head of Michael Myers (Tyler Mane), a cold, wet, and disoriented Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is found wandering down the street by Sheriff Brackett (an always reliable Brad Dourif). Laurie is quickly rushed to the hospital along with the other survivors of the murderous rampage including her best friend/daughter of the sheriff -- Annie (Danielle Harris), and Michael's kooky psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell). Meanwhile, the body of Michael Myers is picked up by the coroner's office to be taken to the morgue, except (surprise, surprise) he never makes it there.
Two years later (fun fact: it's two in this Director's Cut and apparently only one in the theatrical version), things haven't quite returned to normal in the sleepy town of Haddonfield. Laurie has moved into the Brackett household, and although her physical scars have healed, she's still deep in therapy and has turned to partying to help her forget her past. Annie has become the mother hen in the roost, keeping a watchful eye on Laurie as well as her father, on top of trying to sort through her own problems. Dr. Loomis has hit it big with his new book, basking in the media as he makes the rounds promoting his future bestseller. And Michael is still alive--and under the guiding hand of his deceased mother (Sheri Moon Zombie), who is somehow acting as his own personal GPS system (not kidding), he's back on course for a bloody family reunion.
Rob Zombie does have a knack for creating a harsh world filled with gritty characters, I'll give him that much. And he does ramp up the brutality and gore in this sequel if you're into that sort of thing. But with the bulk of his attention fixated on these aspects, he's unfortunately overlooked other critical areas. 'Halloween II' isn't the least bit scary for one, mainly because most of the focus is spent on Michael savagely over-killing every one of his victims, instead of using his presence to generate tension and suspense. After the second or third multiple stabbing, the savagery starts to wear thin. Then Zombie bloats the movie with a few dream sequences and an attempt to put us inside Michael's head, though the lines between reality and imagination are so blurred it's hard to tell when something is real, and when it isn't. And strangely with all of this going on, not a whole lot happens in the two hour run time.
I also had the impression that Zombie himself may have grown bored with his own creation. Similar to how he gave his characters in 'Corpses' a complete makeover for 'Rejects,' he does the same again here -- only this time it isn't for the better. While I can understand that Laurie and Annie would have some issues, there isn't a minute that goes by where both of them don't treat everyone (including each other) like total shit. Really, Zombie paints them as so vile, it's virtually impossible to give a rat's ass whether they live or die. Likewise, McDowell's Loomis has now suddenly morphed into such an egotistical slimeball that we don't care what happens to him either. Not to mention his personality has veered so far off course that were it not for his mentioning of Michael Myers name on occasion, we'd probably have thought he picked up the wrong script. I can't imagine someone overlooking these details, especially Zombie since after all this is his second go around, so I'm inclined to believe these changes were made simply because he wanted them that way -- as a personal preference or for a matter of convenience.
Despite being slickly produced, 'Halloween II' just isn't a good film. If the characters had been tolerable and if there was actual suspense and scares, then maybe I'd be a little less unforgiving. But with Zombie's writing and direction clearly slipping here, this sequel actually ends up feeling more like one overly long deleted scene.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony brings Rob Zombie's 'Halloween II' to high-definition on a dual-layered BD-50 Blu-ray Disc inside a standard blue keepcase. Although the film is available in both its Theatrical (105 minutes) or Unrated Director's Cut (119 minutes) versions separately on DVD, only the Unrated Director's Cut is included on this Blu-ray. After a brief loading screen with Michael Myers' mask, the disc boots right up to the menu without any annoying promos. The Blu-ray disc is also reported to be region free and therefore should function properly in all PlayStation 3 and standalone players.
The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (1.85:1 aspect ratio) encode of this Blu-ray isn't exactly a pretty one, but in all fairness, it wasn't meant to be. Rob Zombie shot 'Halloween II' using 16mm film stock to deliver an overly gritty and grimy presentation.
The picture is dark and moody, featuring a subdued color palette to enhance the bleakness of the movie. Heavy grain infests many scenes, and the image itself offers little depth most of the time. Black levels are generally strong, but overpowering shadows often absorb fine detail in places. Even the brighter whites within the walls of the sanitarium have a dingy and gloomy appearance. Facial features can lack definition, although the occasional close-up, such as Michael Myers' eroding mask or Dr. Loomis' face during his press conference, have satisfactory detail rendering. In certain panning shots, there's a bit of motion blurring, too. Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of tampering or manipulation, though. Overall, the transfer is far from a stunner -- just as intended.
'Halloween II' sounds better than it looks, thanks to a solid lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.
The track is actually quite lively and dynamic. Surrounds are highly active, delivering a fair bit of ambience and atmosphere. The thunderstorm in the first act envelopes the viewer with falling rain and sporadic booms and rumbles, and although Zombie didn't find a way to work in John Carpenter's score this time around, Tyler Bates' music has a wide presence throughout the room. There's also a nice sense of movement and directionality, whether it's Michael Myers sliding open a chain link gate or vehicles passing by on the street. Dialogue comes through clear and is balanced sufficiently with the rest of the mix as well. All in all, most fans should be pleased with the sound design on this Blu-ray.
The disc also includes optional English and English SDH subtitles.
The Blu-ray includes all of the supplements found on the DVD release and most of the content is presented here in high-definition.
- Audio Commentary – First up is an audio commentary with writer/director Rob Zombie. I don't normally care for solo commentary tracks, but Zombie actually offers a rapid-fire stream of information and sure has the gift of gab. In fact, I found this track far more engaging than the actual film, particularly since Zombie reveals how many special effects were done and really provides insight as to what life was like on set in a very casual, down-to-earth manner. Without a doubt, this commentary is easily the best inclusion on the disc.
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes (HD, 25:14) – A collection of twenty-three deleted and alternate takes from the cutting room floor. Fans may find a few of them interesting, but most have been cut for good reason.
- Audition Footage (SD, 9:37) – Audition clips for a few of the actors are included here: Chase Wright Vanek as young Michael Myers, Angela Trimbur as Harley David, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips as Howard Bogg, Chris Hardwick and David Newman, Mary Birdsong as Nancy McDonald, Richard Brake as Gary Scott, and Octavia Spencer as Nurse Daniels.
- Make-up Test Footage (HD, 3:35) – Soundless make-up test footage for: Michael - Interior, Michael - Exterior, and Deborah Myers.
- Blooper Reel (HD, 4:26) – A rather bland collection of blown lines and other goof-ups. These may have been funnier if it weren't for the Honky-Tonk music playing in the background.
- Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures - Music Videos (HD, 19:11) – Six music videos from the band spliced with clips from the movie: "Zombie A Go Go," "Honky Tonk Halloween," "Redneck Vixen From Outer Space," "Dr. Demon & The Robot Girl," "Transylvania Terror Train," and "Macon County Morgue."
- Uncle Seymour Coffins' Stand-up Routines (HD, 8:40) – Four acts of "comedy" from the creepy clownish character hosting the Halloween party in the film. I guess Captain Spaulding was busy elsewhere.
- Previews (HD) – As usual with Sony, the last inclusion is a whole mess of trailers: 'The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day,' 'Universal Soldier: Regeneration,' 'Blood: The Last Vampire,' 'Zombieland,' 'District 9,' 'Moon,' '2012,' 'The Stepfather,' 'Michael Jackson's This is It,' and 'Black Dynamite.'
Rob Zombie's 'Halloween II' is infused with some of his signature style, but that still doesn't wash away the awfulness. The movie isn't scary, is far too long, and tediously meanders all over the place. This Blu-ray release is pretty decent, however, with adequate video faithful to Zombie's vision and solid lossless audio, along with a fair chunk of supplements -- the highlight of which being a commentary that is far more engaging than the film itself. Obviously those who loathed Zombie's first 'Halloween' will want to steer clear of the sequel, although fans may still want to give it a spin.
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