The original Halloween franchise continues its slow progress to Blu-ray with Anchor Bay’s latest set of reissues. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers were previously released on DVD by Anchor Bay and eventually released in a 2-pack together, although the new Blu-rays are sold separately. Are the new discs worth double-dipping? Well, for die-hard Halloween fans, the answer is pretty much a given. But is there enough here to entice more casual fans to pick up two mid-franchise entries in a long-running series?
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers picks up a decade after the events of the first two Halloween films. Despite going up in flames at the end of Halloween 2, Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is alive but catatonic and on life support, held in a dark hospital sub-basement. His orphaned niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris), lives in Haddonfield with a foster family. During a routine hospital transfer on the eve of Halloween, Michael escapes and heads back to Haddonfield. Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence), also looking rough after all the burning at the end of Halloween 2, discovers Michael has escaped and follows him to Haddonfield to protect Jamie. Can Loomis and the new sheriff save Jamie from Michael and prevent too many more teenagers from being slaughtered?
Encouraged by the box-office success of Halloween 4, production on Halloween 5 was quickly green-lit. Most of the surviving cast returns for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, released a year after Halloween 4. Taking place a year later, Halloween 5 finds traumatized Jamie (Danielle Harris reprising the role) in a children’s mental hospital. Once again, Michael (Don Shanks) returns from what looked like certain death at the end of the previous film in order to terrorize Jamie and murder anyone unfortunate enough to get in his way. This time, however, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) hopes to exploit the telepathic link between Jamie and Michael in order to bring about Michael’s final demise. Given that there are three more films in the original franchise, no points for guessing how that turns out.
Both films are presented in new HD transfers, and while they’re better than the previous “Divimax” special edition DVDs, these films are not exactly reference quality stuff. This is the best they’re likely to ever look, though, so fans looking for a straight upgrade should not be disappointed. The extras on each disc are a mix of carry-overs from the previous DVD editions and newer material: Halloween 4 retains the actors’ commentary with Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell and adds a commentary with director Dwight H. Little and author Justin Beahm (who is working on an exhaustive book on the Halloween franchise), but does not include the previous DVD’s writer’s commentary with Alan B. McElroy. Halloween 4 is also missing the “Making of” featurette from that release, so fans will likely want to hold on to the DVD for those extras. Halloween 5 retains its original commentary track (with director Dominique Othenin-Girard, Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman) and adds a new commentary with Don Shanks (who played Michael Myers in the film) and Justin Beahm. The previous release’s featurette “Inside Halloween 5” is not included on the Blu-ray.
These new Blu-ray releases are something of a mixed bag for hardcore Halloween fans. The new commentary tracks and HD transfers of the films are certainly attractive, but the missing material from the previous DVDs means these are far from definitive releases of these two films. Given the difficult release history of the films in the franchise, it seems unlikely that another upgrade may be in the works, which is certainly disappointing. However, casual Halloween and slasher film fans looking for HD thrills will probably find these releases preferable to the older releases on their technical merits alone.
Anchor Bay released Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 on Blu-ray on 21 August 2012.