Halloween (US - DVD R1)
Gabe reviews a favourite, and hopes none of you will be fooled by this release
After brutally murdering his sister fifteen years ago, Michael Myers has returned to his home town of Haddonfield. It's Halloween night and Michael is hungry for the blood of the town's teenagers, left alone to watch over the children. But he hasn't come to Haddonfield alone; his former psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, is hot on his trail and determined to stop him.
So Anchor Bay studios is releasing Halloween... again. Optimists might say that this isn’t the fifth time the Bay has released the seminal horror classic, but the first time new parent company Starz has released the film. Sure, that’s it. But why release the film now to an already saturated and slowly declining DVD market? The 30th anniversary is still a year away, and there are plenty of other Anchor Bay titles that haven’t seen half a dozen releases already. John Carpenter hasn’t died, and neither has Jamie Lee Curtis. What could it be?
Oh yeah, Rob Zombie’s ill-advised (but not yet proven worthless) remake/reimagining/retelling/rebooting/re-whatever. There’s the angle. I knew it was there somewhere.
So then, money grubbing corporations aside, why don’t you own one of the many copies of Halloween already available? Is it because you don’t like expertly crafted, taught and streamlined stories? Perhaps you disapprove of solid acting in a genre piece. Maybe you have something against John Carpenter’s elegant use of the widescreen frame. Or could it be you just don’t like movies?
I kid, but only slightly. Halloween really is one of the most important films of the last half century. It’s been consistently carbon copied and studied by a varying troop of filmmakers young and old. It’s been a consistent subject of homage and worship for nearly three decades. It birthed a genre (with a little help from Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Tobe Hooper, and Bob Clark), a genre that has suddenly become again relevant and topical. It stood as the most successful independently produced movie until the release of Pulp Fiction (or The Blair Witch Project, depending on who’s story you read), and was instrumental in the success of Independent films in the post- Jaws era.
I've got to say this is a nice new slipcover. It features the original poster image, with a shiny rainbow hologram knife, title, and pumpkin face. The image itself is also raised. I wonder what's beneath this cardboard shell. Why, it’s the original 1999 Anchor Bay release! Right down to the packaging! How about that?
The video quality is identical to the original 1999 THX release because this is the exact same disc. In 2005 Anchor Bay released a 25th anniversary version under their quickly defunct 'Divimax' series. The 2005 release was hated by some fans because of its colour correction, which was made without input from Dean Cundey. This release, the 1999 version, was supervised by Cundey, but is a lot dirtier, and somewhat darker. I personally can't decide which transfer I prefer, because I actually kind of like the bluish tint on the 2005 release. Halloween is also one of the few movies of the era that works when cleaned to modern crispness (sometimes too much digital cleansing actually hurts a gritty horror flick, but Halloween is slicker than most).
And because this is a re-release of the '99 release, people who hate movies can also watch Halloween is full-screen mode. In this mode the viewer can wonder with wild abandon as to why the music has suddenly become scary when they don't see Michael Myers enter stage right.
The quality of video between the '99 and '05 releases is very much up for debate, the audio comparison is not. Those that want to see Halloween in 5.1 surround sound will find little contest, the 25th anniversary release is a much better in terms of fidelity and structure. This disc was remixed by Chance Digital when 5.1 remixes were still something new, and it uses a whole bunch of additional sound effects to fill the channels. It sounds artificial, and I don't last very long before I'm switching over to the original Mono track.
In the disc's defence, the soundtrack is very clean, and both the remixed and Mono tracks feature crisp versions of Carpenter's impossibly ingenious electronic score. In 1999, this really was Halloween as we'd never heard it before, and at the time we were thankful for a version of the film in widescreen, with a digital soundtrack.
Remember that awesome commentary on the 25th anniversary release (which may have been the same as the Criterion laserdisc, I can't remember)? Well it's not here. Remember the extra scenes for the TV version that adorned the limited edition '99 release? They aren't here either. But fear not, there are plenty of trailers, TV spots, radio spots, still galleries, and bios to hold you over.
In all fairness, the original documentary ‘Halloween Unmasked 2000’ is here, and it's not too bad, it's just not as good as ‘Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest’ or ‘Halloween: 25 Years of Terror’. This older doc isn't very long, but it covers all the bases: inception, pre-production, casting, filming, release, etc. All the important and guilty parties are rounded up for their anecdotes, and they all seem more than happy to share. Outdated but pretty good.
If you don't own the film on DVD at all, this is an okay release. If you got rid of your '99 release when the '05 release came out and regret your decision in the face of all that blue, here's your chance to get it back (though I see it used all the time). Everyone else, don't be fooled by the slipcover. There's no mistaking the absolute classic status of the film itself, and you all really should own a copy, but Starz/Anchor Bay's underhandedness is a major deterrent. Seriously, if you're going to re-release a DVD to cash in on a theatrical release at least release the most recent version.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 14th August 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1English, Dolby Mono English
Extras: Halloween Unmasked 2000, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots, Talent Bios, Galleries
Easter Egg: No
Director: John Carpenter
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis, Donald Pleasence
Length: 92 minutes
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