John Carpenter’s Halloween needs no introduction. The 1978 classic could easily be considered my generation’s Gone With the Wind (or some other landmark film). To review the 35th Anniversary Blu-ray is actually quite an honor.
Known for its subtlety, Carpenter’s simply fantastic tale of Michael Myers – a young boy who brutally murders his sister on Halloween night in 1963 – remains a horror staple to this day. Locked up in an institution under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis, Michael breaks out 15 years later only to return to his home of Haddonfield – to kill again.
Even with multiple viewings each year, there are moments within Halloween that I have never noticed until this Blu-ray transfer. I set up the 1999 Limited Edition THX DVD to play simultaneously with Blu-ray, and I was astonished by the picture quality. Immediately, the compression on the DVD is evident. In comparison, pits and scratches on the pumpkin are the first noticeable difference in the title sequence on the Blu-ray. From here, it continues to stun with details of things like leaves and wallpaper that become intricate versus just outlines. Landscapes are heavily sharpened, and scenes almost appear to take place at a different time of day between the two mediums. Everything that happens in the dark of night isn’t muted and bland, the scenery is there. Colors pop, like the green sleeve of young Michael’s costume that also has a sheen to it, while adult Michael’s coveralls are dirty and have holes. And a huge detail I noticed that the boys will love – good girl Laurie is definitely not wearing a bra under that ribbed turtleneck – and it is far more noticeable now. The sound on the Blu-ray is quite superior to the DVD. Compared to the muffled audio, the crisp mix is much clearer. There are the little things like Annie wiping the fogged windshield or Michael’s breathing that are balanced and amplified in the right way. The crunch of the knitting needle makes the right amount of impact.
Of course, the special features on the disc are almost as equally important as the film. The Night She Came Home is a documentary following Jamie Lee Curtis as she attends the one and only convention she has ever done (it was for charity) and it is a good watch. As stated by a few of the fans in the feature, far different than a lot of celebrities these days, Jamie is courteous, appreciative and engaging. The documentary itself is well made, however, the audio at times sounds like it is coming from a tin can. It also runs a bit too long, unless you are interested in hearing fan’s personal accounts and stories of why they love Halloween and horror. There were multiple times it seemed to be the end and it wasn’t. Still, a nice piece and, again, it is great to see that Jamie Lee Curtis can appreciate the fanbase and understand the impact Halloween has made on so many people.
On Location: 25 Years Later is a 10 minute feature showing where the movie was filmed. This feature is extra special because it focuses on the details of the filming process by interviewing Debra Hill. Debra was incredibly intelligent and knew what she was doing, right down to writing the dialogue of the characters she helped create. It is a shame there aren’t many women like her left in the horror genre. Watching this piece – and thinking about the prominent female names in the genre today – just shows how greatly she is missed.
The TV version footage is included on the disc, as well. The footage looks great, but isn’t quite as spectacular as the main film. It’s a cross between the DVD and Blu-ray. No option is included to insert the footage or watch the TV version on its own. There is also a trailer, which interestingly shows all of the highlights of the film. Rounding out the special features are three TV spots and three radio spots. I haven’t listened to the radio for years, so hearing the radio spots was definitely interesting and a reminder of old times.
For those who love commentaries, the new disc includes one with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis. It is fun to hear the two banter back and forth about what they remember – starting with the entire cast and crew white washing the Myers house together in order to shoot the first scene. The disc is enclosed in a beautiful, embossed hardcover booklet. Inside the booklet are twelve pages of reflection on the film written by Stef Hutchinson. Almost an academic paper on the subject, the information chosen and presented reflects the intelligence of the film and its depth. For average everyday fans, reading this should blow their minds.
While there are omissions from previous releases, this new definitive Halloween Blu-ray release includes so many great features, and the film itself is in such incredible shape, that it is definitely a must have and probably the greatest release of 2013 so far.