HALLOWEEN II (Collector's Edition) (1981)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Shout! Factory/Scream Factory

Shout! Factory kicks off their line called Scream Factory with HALLOWEEN II in a loaded two-disc special edition with a second disc containing the TV edit with additional footage, so people can now finally throw away the old bare-bones Universal DVD.

HALLOWEEN II takes place exactly where HALLOWEEN left off; when Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, FANTASTIC VOYAGE) shoots Michael Myers and he falls off the balcony and onto the ground. But when Loomis comes out, Myers is nowhere to be found, but Loomis manages to sample some blood left over from his spot and tells a neighbor to call the police. An ambulance is called and it takes a shaken and distressed Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis, TRADING PLACES) to the hospital as she's forced to be put asleep when she arrives. Meanwhile, Loomis and local sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) patrol the neighborhood to see where Myers is and Loomis mistakes an adult trick-or-treater with a Michael Myers-like mask and plans to shoot him until another police car speeds over the person and pins him against a burning van, killing him. Back at the local hospital, we are introduced to the rather skeleton staff: slick womanizer Budd (Leo Rossi, FAST GETAWAY), Jimmy (Lance Guest, THE LAST STARFIGHTER), both paramedics, who takes a interest in the sedated Laurie, Graham (Jeffrey Kramer), Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop, EMPIRE OF THE ANTS), Jill (Tawny Moyer), head nurse Mrs. Alves (Gloria Gifford), Janet (Ana Alicia), Dr. Mixter (Ford Rainey), and bumbling security guard Mr. Garrett (Cliff Emmich, STINGRAY). When Brackett discovers Annie's (Nancy Loomis) body before it's taken to the hospital, he has fellow deputy Gary Hunt (Hunter Von Leer, THE STONE KILLER) take over his duties so he can recover from his shock. One by one, the hospital's employees get eliminated by Michael as he slashes his way through corridors.

Though most people weren't too crazy in making HALLOWEEN II, including most of the crew, it comes off as very enjoyable, special effects-wise, though the gore effects are pretty gruesome and were often dismissed by the executive producers Irwin Yablans and Joesph Wolf, since the original version, which concentrated on creative chills and scares, was turned into a predictable gory slasher flick. Rick Rosenthal does a good job directing and most of the cast including Rossi, Gifford and Shoop, were in his acting class at USC. Cyphers doesn't have much to do in the film, sadly, since he disappears from most of the remainder of the running time and Curtis doesn't do much either, until the climactic finale. Some fans may spot a young Dana Carvey as a news assistant, years before his career took off as part of the cast of SNL.

Previously available on DVD in 2003 by Universal with just a full-frame theatrical trailer as the only specific extra, Shout! Factory, under their new and highly publicized Scream Factory banner, has now reissued it in a loaded two-disc special edition (as well as Blu-ray) with stuff you always wanted to know about the film. First off, Shout! presents the film in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. It seems to be a HD master since the image is within a 1.85:1 (16x9) frame and I'm not too sure if it's the same master that was seen on the old Universal DVD since it looks pretty much the same. The print source does have nice detail with good colors and a fine coating of grain. The Dolby Digital mono audio is in good condition.

The extras kick off with an audio commentary by Rosenthal and Rossi, and though it has some dead spots on occasion, lots of behind-the-scenes stories are shared between the two good-natured men. A second commentary featuring stunt coordinator Dick Warlock, who portrayed Michael Myers in the film, moderated by Robert V. Galluzzo, creator of ICONS OF FRIGHT, is enjoyable too. One story that Warlock has talked about constantly is how he jokingly tortured Yablans in his office by dressing up as Michael Myers. A making-of documentary, lasting almost 45 minutes, has interviews with the cast and crew sharing behind-the-scenes info and some stuff you haven't heard until now. Yablans explains how he ended up suing John Carpenter when he decided to do THE FOG with a friend of Yablan's and Rossi talks about the hot tub scene where it was actually freezing cold and that he was the first to get out when the cameras stopped rolling. A short documentary, HORROR'S HALLOWED GROUNDS: THE LOCATION OF HALLOWEEN II, has Sean Clark revisiting the locations used in the film. Not very special, but worth a look. Eight minutes of deleted scenes (presented full frame) are included as well as an alternate ending that Rosenthal obviously cut from the finished film. The original trailer, two TV spots (both taken from a decades-old video source, as well as an early 1990s USA Network promo for the film), and six radio spots (the last two are Spanish ones) are included in the first disc. The second disc features the alternate TV cut with the deleted scenes and alternate ending. It's presented full-frame and was presumably from a cable broadcast, but it does look nice.

I'm very excited that Shout! has launched this new label and looking forward to more releases. (Kyle McElravy)