Halloween II (1981) – Limited Edition (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: May 21, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Halloween II (1981) – Limited Edition (Blu-ray Review)


Rick Rosenthal

Release Date(s)

1981 (April 24, 2024)


Dino De Laurentiis Corporation/Universal Pictures (Via Vision Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: B-
  • Video Grade: B-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: A-

Halloween II (1981) (Blu-ray)



[Editor's Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray release.]

After the runaway success of 1978’s Halloween, financier Moustapha Akkad wanted a sequel almost right away. Director John Carpenter and producer Debra Hill had no interest in making one, but Dino De Laurentiis and Universal Pictures soon got involved to make it happen, with or without them. Carpenter chose co-writing and composer duties instead of directing, and the result, Halloween II, was released in October of 1981. It was a financial success, but controversial aspects of its storyline altered the core concept of Michael Myers, splitting fans forevermore on whether sequels should have been made in the first place.

Mere minutes after the first film ends, Michael is loose in Haddonfield as Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers), and the rest of the Haddonfield police continue to search for him. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), having survived her first encounter with Michael, has been taken to the hospital where the night staff, including the head nurse (Gloria Gifford), nurses Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop), Janet (Ana Alicia), and Jill (Tawny Moyer), Dr. Mixter (Ford Rainey), and paramedics Jimmy (Lance Guest) and Budd (Leo Rossi), are burning the midnight oil. Michael soon learns where Laurie is and makes his way to the hospital, leaving victims in his wake, and Dr. Loomis discovers the hidden truth behind what is truly driving Michael.

Even beloved as it is now, Halloween II has always had its fair share of issues, which were only amplified by the many sequels and reboots that came later. First and foremost, it bypasses much of the suspense of the original film, operating more as a slasher with jump scares and gore, which is where horror was at the time of its release. In the original film, Michael is an emotionless, motivation-less killer, with no rhyme or reason as to whom he kills or why. As Dr. Loomis explains, Michael is “purely and simply evil.” Halloween II throws that out the window and makes him less mysterious by giving him a familial motivation for his actions.

Matters aren’t helped that Halloween II was almost made by committee, in that many people outside and within the production had a hand in sculpting it into its final shape. Rick Rosenthal, who was essentially a director for hire, wasn’t given the opportunity to make his final cut of the film. After post-production wrapped and the film was assembled by editor Mark Goldblatt, John Carpenter was brought in to shoot additional scenes and re-edit sections of the film with a new editor, Skip Schoolnik, though Carpenter ultimately went uncredited. Various scenes were trimmed, the ending was simplified, and additional victims were added to the final body count, the latter of which was more of a producorial touch.

In the years since, many (including myself) have warmed up more to Halloween II, despite its flaws. It was always destined to be a lesser film than its predecessor no matter what, and the fact that anything iconic or interesting came out of it at all with so many hands in the pot is a miracle. The biggest controversy about it in recent years is how the 2018 Blumhouse reboot attempted to throw out the continuity of all of the Halloween sequels and start its own series after the events of the first film only. Though successful financially, that series wasn’t entirely received well by fans, particularly Halloween Kills. As a result, it’s given many the realization that, even if Halloween II has some problems that fundamentally altered the concept of the Michael Myers character and was more of a straightforward slasher, it was perhaps better than many realized in hindsight.

Halloween II was shot by returning director of photography Dean Cundey on 35 mm film with Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses, and finished photochemically at the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. After going back and forth between several releases, including the 2011 Universal Pictures 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray; the 2012 Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray; the 2014 Scream Factory Complete Collection boxed set Blu-ray; the 2018 Scream Factory Steelbook Blu-ray; and the 2021 Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD, it appears that Via Vision Entertainment (out of Australia) has been supplied with the master used by Scream Factory for their 2012 Blu-ray. It’s essentially a slightly cleaner version of the Universal Blu-ray presentation, but with less speckling and other wear and tear, though some still remains. Grain can be a bit erratic despite the encode, which hovers around 35Mbps and up for the most part, but compression issues are also evident in those earlier Blu-ray releases, so this is an inherited trait. The same goes for the rest of the presentation in terms of color and contrast. Both are good and shadow detail is impressive for the time, but the Scream Factory UHD widened that gamut with even more depth and color. Frames are stable throughout and there are no other issues, including unfortunate areas of pixelation (see my review of the UHD release for more information if you’re unfamiliar). For an older HD-sourced presentation, it’s fairly decent.

Audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. These appear to be the same standard audio options that most Blu-ray releases have carried over the years, though the 2021 Blu-ray and UHD features a Dolby Atmos track. Dialogue on both tracks is clean and discernible, and the 5.1 mix offers decent placement of sound effects and score with some spatial activity and ambience.

The Region-Free 2-Disc Blu-ray release of Halloween II from Via Vision Entertainment is a Limited Edition package of 1,500 units. Both discs sit in a blue Amaray case with stills from the film on the front cover and inner sleeve. Also included is a set of 6 photo cards featuring several promotional stills. Everything is housed in a thick, lenticular case featuring the film’s iconic skull pumpkin artwork. The following extras are included on each disc:


  • NEW Audio Commentary by Dustin McNeill
  • Audio Commentary by Rick Rosenthal and Leo Rossi
  • Audio Commentary by Dick Warlock and Rob Galluzzo
  • The Nightmare Isn’t Over! The Making of Halloween II (HD – 44:56)
  • Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II (HD and SD – 13:10)
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary by Rick Rosenthal (SD – 1:44)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Rick Rosenthal (SD – 5 in all – 8:07)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:18)
  • TV Spots (SD – 3 in all – 1:41)
  • Radio Spots (HD – 6 in all – 3:17)
  • Still Gallery (HD – 60 in all – 5:02)


  • HD Upscaled Version (Upscaled SD – 93:17)
  • Standard Definition Version (SD – 93:16)

New to this release is an audio commentary by Dustin McNeill, co-author of the books Taking Shape: Developing Halloween From Script to Scream and Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequels. It’s a reactionary track with gaps along the way, but the author provides plenty of contextual and screen-specific information about the making of the film. The other two commentaries were recorded for Scream Factory’s 2012 Blu-ray release. The first with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi is an enjoyable reminiscence about the film. The two men are clearly old friends and offer plenty of valuable insight into the making of the film, though they tend to go quiet sometimes and just watch. The second with actor and stuntman Dick Warlock, moderated by Rob Galluzzo, is a fun chat about the film. Galluzzo keeps the commentary moving with plenty of questions for Michael Myers himself, discussing various facets of the making of the film from his perspective.

The Nightmare Isn’t Over! is a great documentary on the making of the film by Red Shirt Pictures, featuring many members of the main cast and crew. In Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, Sean Clark returns to once again highlight the filming locations. Next is an Alternate Ending and a set of Deleted Scenes taken from the TV version, with optional commentary by director Rick Rosenthal. Last is the film’s main theatrical trailer, a series of TV and radio spots, and a Still Gallery containing 60 behind-the-scenes and promotional photos. The second disc offers both standard definition and upscaled presentations of the extended TV version of the film, though neither look that much better than the other quality-wise.

Because this film has been released multiple times over the years, Via Vision’s release is missing a few things. The Scream Factory 4K Ultra HD release includes a teaser trailer, some additional TV spots (5 total), a TV promo, a Newsprint Ad Gallery, a Posters and Lobby Cards gallery, a .PDF of the film’s script, and a pair of Easter eggs, which are a couple of ads for when the film aired on TV. The original Universal Pictures DVD release contained a set of production notes, while various worldwide releases include an additional audio commentary by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman. There’s also an extra scene in the TV version featuring Leo Rossi that still airs to this day that’s not included here, as well as a couple of infamous deleted scenes, including one involving a news reporters who suddenly disappears from the film, that have never seen the light of day and are presumed to be lost.

Die-hard fans and Australian customers are the aim of Via Vision’s Limited Edition Blu-ray release of Halloween II. Outside of the commentary, it doesn’t offer much new, but it’s still a very nice package overall and quite collectible.

- Tim Salmons

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