This is a step-up from Halloween 4.
Again we find a 1.85:1 frame whose image has been encoded from AVC. The cinematography this time around has a bit more variety to it, but this is still a huge rein-back on the majesty of what Dean Cundey could have delivered with similar set-pieces and settings. DOP Robert Draper isn’t restricted to the shadows of suburbia, and the film can feel quite opened-up. Daylight scenes are bright and sunny, and the interiors, even at night, are atmospherically lit, especially the Myers House and the massacred cop-shop.
The print used here is strong and in pretty good nick, with only a smattering of pops and flecks. When we first get reacquainted with Jamie and Rachel, there is a very odd little “thing” that drops down vertically in front of camera. I’d never noticed this before. Plus there are some curious reflections in the image during this scene, once Tina and Max the Doberman have joined them, almost as though we are looking at them through a pane of glass, rather like when Indy first met the cobra in the Well of Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark.These aren’t lens-flares. Grain is present and does not appear to have been molested in any way, but it does have that late-80’s mushiness of low-budget fare. It looks light. The image does not sparkle with any impressive depth, and can still look quite flat, but this is par for the course with the source elements.
This one also benefits from better contrast, stronger blacks and more vivid colours. It is a more colourful film all round. The palette is suffused with the autumnal orange glow of lamps and jack o’ lanterns, so the image has a much warmer cast than the more austere, midnight-swathed Part 4. Even the barn, in which we spend far too much time, is welcoming, with the red dress and stockings of Tamara Glynn’s sexy Samantha providing a delicious punctuation in the frame. Blood, what little of it we see, is also quite bold. Skin-tones are healthy, though hardly realistic. But even if the colours are bright and cheery, but I don’t think that the heightened contrast does them any special favours. They can look quite hazy at times and a touch too fuzzy. This isn’t the transfer’s fault, of course – it is just how the film was shot. Contrast, as I’ve said, is actually quite reasonable in the main, with the headlights of the Mad Michael Myers Mobile cutting through the night with sublime aggression, and objectivity in the likes of the clinic basement, the cellar of the Myers house and old man’s shack all happily counterpointed against the shadowy murk.
Once you have seen Part 4, you will also welcome the added level of detail on show in this image. Whilst hardly challenging the likes of Lawrence of Arabia, or even the original Halloween, you should still feel rewarded with facial texture that has been smoothed-over previously and mid to background elements gaining greater stability and definition. We can even see how unpleasant Tina's teeth are! When Michael is playing voyeur behind the bushes, there is lots of extra detail available across the road, and the wider street scenes all benefit. Leaves and branches and knick-knack-analia in the sets and locations have a cleaner, crisper appearance. Even the few wounds that we are privileged to see, such as the little puncture-marks in the throat of a slain cop (is Michael a vampire now?), are clearer.
Black levels aren’t the best around, but if they waver a little, they are okay. This is not so much a problem that the transfer has made, but more of a casualty of Draper’s lighting. There is no crushing going on within them.
Finally, I encountered no aliasing, artificial sharpening, banding or smearing.
Well, once again we find Michael’s murder-spree has been given a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 remix … but, unlike before, it does not sound as dated, as dry, or as rather flat. Well, to be fair, it is hardly going to wow you, but this does sound a bit more energised than Part 4.
The surround mix does not feel as redundant. There is a wider soundfield, and the rears come into play more often. This still isn’t exactly a full-on wraparound experience. Far from it, actually. But the ambience is carried across a richer, more detailed environment, and elements do reach around the back of the room. There is far greater punch to the action scenes and the overall mix is brighter and more aggressive.
There is a nice guttural edge to the barking from Max the Doberman. The rock coming through the window of Jamie’s room in the clinic doesn’t sound convincing but it does provide a bit of a bass wallop that flops andcrashes into the middle of the soundfield. The slamming back of a cell-door has some clout and solid movement to it. A car thudding into a tree and bursting into flames adds a bit of acoustic colour. The gunshots don’t sound so contained and “safe”. They still won’t challenge The Expendables for “Take cover!” bombast, or The Hunter for ballistic detail, but they should satisfy, just the same.This is certainly a meatier track than its predecessor’s. All the impacts and the copious musical stingers are more jarring and pumped-through with a deeper bass extension. The film was only shot and released the year after Return, but the design was far more ambitious.
I didn’t notice any particular lip-synch issues this time, and I would say that dialogue is crisper and more detailed across the board. Pleasance’s voice is now incredibly raspy and crinkled, like the rustle of crepe-paper. This comes across quite accurately, with a wheeze and a sense of genuine pain. There is even some degree of authentic echo captured during his talk with Sheriff Meeker down in the cell-block.
Don’t go thinking that is great stuff here. It is better than anticipated, given the poor effort that went into Part 4, but still a limited mix. However, Anchor Bay’s transfer certainly imbues it with more energy than it has ever had before.
We have another two commentary tracks, a little making-of and a promotional piece from the time of the film’s release.
The first Commentary Track lets us hear from Michael Myers, himself, Don Shanks as he reminisces with author Justin Beahm, who also yakked over Part 4 and once again acts the questions for us. This is great fun. Shanks discusses the earlier version of the film with Doctor Death nursing Michael back to health and tattooing him with the Druidic Thorn symbol. He talks about the weaponry and the kills and stunts, particularly the car chases and the time he was almost incinerated. The second Commentary Track brings the director, Dominique Othenin-Girard, back together with two of his cast members, the great Danielle Harris and, bizarrely enough, Jeffrey Landman, who plays little Billy Hill, Jamie’s friend from the clinic. This is another good track. I may not be impressed with the movie on its own terms, and only like it as part of the overall Myers mythos, but Othenin-Girard gives a fine account of how he handled it and why he made certain decisions. He provides plenty of technical information and remains enthusiastic about certain aspects – like the killings. All three are amiable and chat quite breezily about their time together in make-believe Haddonfield.
Halloween 5: On the Set is merely a quarter-of-an-hour of behind the scenes footage and cast interviews done between takes. Not very illuminating.
We get some more of the same in an Original Promo for the movie that runs for almost six minutes. This is even less illuminating and merely fluff.
The film’s Theatrical Trailer is also thrown in.
Halloween 5 should perhaps have stuck with being merely a pure genre sequel in the sense that it takes the same lead characters and the same plot and then trots out the same scenarios and conventions, just with a little bit more invention and gore. I can imagine that most fans would have been happier with the result had that been the case. But the problem with Dominique Othenin-Girard’s outing is that he attempts to give the hoary old tale some new tangents to play with, such as a pathetic and irrelevant telepathy link and a mysterious man in black. Ordinarily, I would praise this sort of ingenuity in a by-the-numbers franchise entry, but the screenplay is so stupid, leaving far too many questions unanswered and failing to deliver upon any of its fresh conceits, that such endeavours can only end up working against it.
Both Donald Pleasance and Danielle Harris provide the backbone for the narrative, and they are the glue that holds this slog together. Otherwise, this is shorn of shocks and suspense, and minus all the menace that we had come to expect from a Michael Myers massacre.
Anchor Bay’s UK Blu has a decent image for what is a poorly regarded catalogue title, much better-looking than its immediate predecessor, and an audio track that offers another clear improvement, with some occasional meat supplied to the Myers madness. The extras are perfunctory but the commentaries are good value, and the release is unmistakably one for those within the devout Myers tribe and for the series completists.
Even as much as I would love to admire this more, being the out-and-out Halloween devotee that I am, I cannot deny that The Revenge of Michael Myers is a shoddy film that is comparable with the worst of the Friday the 13th sequels.
But, if you’ve got the rest … then you need this too.
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