Granted they’re hardly candidates for the AFI Top 100 Horror Films Of All Time (well, I’d argue III is…), but it’s painful how poorly the majority of the Halloween sequels have been treated on DVD, most of them given lousy transfers and/or bare-bones presentations. H20, for example, promises an audio commentary that doesn’t actually appear on the disc, and the recent Blu-ray release from Echo Bridge isn’t even at the right aspect ratio. Well, Universal owns the first two sequels, and this fall they will be released on Blu-ray – however they will once again be sans bonus material. The real crime, however, is that this time, brand new bonus material ALREADY EXISTS. Read on for details…
Last fall, A&E’s Bio channel aired “Halloween: The Inside Story”, which assembled pretty much every living principal from the original Halloween, plus some sequel personnel and experts like BadAssDigest’s Devin Faraci and, er, me (billed as a “Film Historian”!). Director Phil Nobile intended to cover the sequels in a bit more depth than ended up in the final cut, and thus he got a lot of lengthy interviews SPECIFICALLY on Halloween II and III from Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, Dean Cundey, Rick Rosenthal and Tommy Lee Wallace. Not only is it rare to get these folks on camera discussing Halloween at all (especially Carpenter, who’s just plain talked out on the subject after 30 years), but you have to go back to the time of their release to get ANY of them talking about the sequels in more than passing. So obviously, these interviews – which again, are already shot and edited – would be a true blessing for fans.
In addition to these interviews, there’s a lot of footage of Wallace (and myself) doing a Q&A at the New Beverly Cinema at last fall’s screening of Halloween III, as well as separate interviews with fans that were in attendance, talking about the film’s unusual place in the Halloween series and how it’s finally starting to gain appreciation. Plus, Wallace had also agreed to record a new audio commentary for the film. However, when Nobile brought all of this material to Universal for possible inclusion on their planned new Blu-ray discs, they gave him a polite “no thanks”. According to Nobile, “their priority is upping picture and sound and ‘carrying over’ existing bonus features”, even though there ARE no existing bonus features. These two films have been released on disc 2-3 times already and there’s never been anything beyond some minor “production notes” and the trailers. Halloween II in fact has a different cut of the film that sometimes airs on television (it includes a happier ending in which Jimmy the ambulance driver survives), but none of that material has ever been included on a legitimate release of the film.
So once again, the fans lose out. Nobile says it best: “Though parts of these interviews turned up on Bio’s website as 2-minute “webisodes,” as a fan it’s kind of heartbreaking to know that the full interviews won’t be preserved with the films, let alone ever seen by fans.” And Universal loses out too; with disc sales ever dwindling due to Netflix streaming and similar options, providing interesting and NEW bonus material is the only surefire way to sell a decent amount of discs. Granted, the improved picture and sound will be nice, but are the majority of fans going to drop 20-30 bucks on a new disc just for an improved transfer? Especially when they’ve probably already bought these films a couple times before? I know I sure as hell won’t; I’ll wait until the used DVD store is having a “Buy 2 get 1 free” sale, activity that doesn’t put any coin into Universal’s pockets.
Hopefully it won’t come to that. October is a long way off, so maybe they will come to their senses and realize that including material that already exists (they don’t even have to do anything!!! It’s already there!) will translate into bigger sales for their discs. If you’d like, send a POLITE email HERE and tell them that you want to see proper special editions for Halloween II and III.