Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review
“I met him fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding, and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death; of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, with the blackest eyes…the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.”
After the opening credits—featuring orange text over black, a glowing jack-o’-lantern and a menacing score (which no doubt now becomes a hit ringtone every October)—we get a glimpse of that evil. He is Michael Myers and he’s going to be a clown for Halloween. After his sister’s boyfriend throws in a few cheap thrusts and heads home, Michael dons a mask, finds a knife and sends Judith to an early grave.
Years later, on Halloween, Michael emerges again in his small hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois (no matter what the license plates read). His sights are on high schooler Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, in the debut performance that would make her a “scream queen”) and, more or less because they’re in his way, her friends Annie (Nancy Kyes, who would turn up in THE FOG and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH) and Lynda (P.J. Soles, who had previously appeared in Brian De Palma’s CARRIE). As it happens, Laurie and Annie are both scheduled to babysit. Lynda and her boyfriend (John Michael Graham), meanwhile, will take advantage of an empty house. On Michael’s tail is Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence, who would reprise the role four more times in his career), Michael’s psychiatrist.
HALLOWEEN wasn’t the first slasher film (BLACK CHRISTMAS tends to get the credit there), but it did bring it the serial killer to suburbia, where most of the target audience lives. It’s easy to stay away from sorority houses (BLACK CHRISTMAS) and summer camps (FRIDAY THE 13TH), but you can’t avoid going home. It all feels so possible, and all of a sudden, it seemed plausible that a madman would rob the local hardware store of all necessary tools needed (a mask, rope, a couple of knives) to slay a batch of teenagers (and two dogs).
HALLOWEEN is a simple film—its style, plot and characters are very basic—and that’s what makes it so effective. It also got personal, and touched on fears we’ve all experienced (who hasn’t been afraid of The Boogeyman?) or created new ones (suddenly babysitting wasn’t about tucking the kid in on time; suddenly having sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend in mom and dad’s bed meant certain death).
Like most horror films of the time, John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN was done cheaply. The $325,000 budget limited what could be done and shown. There may be a low body count (there are only five human deaths), but HALLOWEEN is really about the prowl anyway. The scariest moments aren’t when Michael Myers is plunging a kitchen knife into his victims, but when he’s behind a bush or a full clothesline one second and then gone the next. This is a horror film made by a wild-haired man with a clear passion (the name Loomis derives from a character in PSYCHO; Laurie and Tommy watch THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD on TV) and who seemed to know just what the genre needed and just what fans wanted.
As a personal note, this reviewer calculates he’s seen HALLOWEEN no less than three dozen times. It’s the first horror movie I loved and studied. I’ve watched it with friends and by myself. I’ve watched it in the morning and at night. I’ve watched it in houses and in theaters. I’ve watched it in the spring and in the winter. It’s what I’ll be watching this Halloween and every one after.
HALLOWEEN 35TH ANNIVERSARY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This is HALLOWEEN’s second Blu-ray release and by far the better of the two. This all-new transfer (approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey) features an incredible video presentation that improves on the 2007 release in every way—the colors are accurate, the blacks are deep, the tones are natural, and the details are textured.
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Original Mono. Subtitles in English and Spanish. As with the video, the audio transfer has been significantly upgraded. The score is more frightening, the dialogue is crisper and the sound effects (from rainfall and a barking dog to knife slices and gunshots) are fuller.
Audio commentary with writer/director John Carpenter and actor Jamie Lee Curtis: This new commentary features Carpenter and Curtis delivering tidbits and factoids about the making of HALLOWEEN. The pair has a wonderful chemistry throughout that makes it feel like two comfortable friends chatting about one of their fondest memories.
The Night She Came Home!! (59:43): This extensive piece follows Jamie Lee Curtis as she attends a 2012 convention, signing autographs, posing for photos, fielding questions, and just enjoying and appreciating the devotion of HALLOWEEN fans.
On Location: 25 Years Later (10:25): This now-10-year-old featurette looks at the various locations (primarily in South Pasadena) where much of HALLOWEEN was shot.
TV Version Footage (10:46) collects a handful of scenes from the television edit of HALLOWEEN.