Halloween II (DVD)

The original Halloween II, released in 1981, was a so-so sequel to John Carpenter's brilliant original. And this sequel to Zombie's fairly decent remake of the Carpenter original is again a poor imitation.

Picking up where the first Halloween left off, Laurie Strode (Taylor-Compton) has survived her encounter with murderous maniac Michael Myers (Mane) and is rushed to hospital, only to once again be pursued by her demonic tormenter. But it's all a dream – as he did the first time, by compressing Carpenter's original story into the final 10 minutes of the film, here Zombie rehashes the first Halloween II into the opening 10 minutes, then he goes in an entirely new direction. And sadly, it seems, he lost the road map along the way. It's a year later, and almost Halloween again. Laurie is still coming to terms with the events of the year before; Loomis (McDowell) is on the publicity trail for his new book, The Devil Walks Among Us; and Michael, presumed dead, is on his way back to Haddonfield to finish wht he started.

Rob Zombie is a terrific director, but he's much better when directing someone else's script – when it comes to dialogue, he's ab out a good as writer as George Lucas. But for me, the main fault with H2 is that it simply isn't scary. Maybe the stronger, unrated Director's Cut – released only in the US – fixes that, but this UK release is pretty tame by gorehound standards. The other big problem with the film is trying to explain why Michael is the way he is. In the first film, Zombie spent much of the time on backstory, devling into Michael's time and treatment while locked away in the asylum. In this film, Michael constantly sees visions of his dead mother, accompanied by himself as a child, both encouraging him to keep on killing. What's the point? Michael is scarier when he's the unknown shape, when we don't know who he is or why he kills. Trying to explain him, and make us feel sympathy for him, just neuters him.

EXTRAS ** Eight minutes worth of Uncle Seymnour Coffin's Stand-Up Routines – some that made the final cut, some that didn't; seven deleted and alternate scenes; a four-minute blooper reel; and 17 minutes of music videos from Captain Clegg & The Night Creatures, including the songs Transylvania Terror Train, Redneck Vixen from Outer Space and Honkytonk Halloween.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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