Production Diary: Halloween

The Beginning

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Time for a new update in our “Halloween Production Diary”. Things are moving rather fast these days, as the disc is coming closer to a final candidate. As a result we actually receive more tangible—or should I say visible—information and details on the release. The groundwork is coming to an end and problems turn out to be more technical in nature these days.

We had shown you one menu screen in our last update already. It was one erroneous trivia screen from the disc’s supplements. Today then, we are proud to present some more menu screens from the disc. Anchor Bay and the folks at Crest have created some stunning animated menus for this release. Jay Douglas felt strongly that the menus need to serve two purposes. Especially the opening sequence of the disc should immediately establish a feel that makes you shiver in anticipation. On the other hand he also wanted to make sure that navigation through the menus is simple, clear and fast. The result are some in-your-face menus that get your heart pounding in anticipation and set the right “Halloween” mood from the second you insert the disc in your player. Here are some samples of menu screens directly from Anchor Bay’s disc.

AudioSetupMenuSmallChaptersMenuSmallOne thing that is very nice about the menus on the “Halloween” disc is that they are rather intelligent. Unlike the lengthy menus on many other releases, you don’t have to sit through the entire animation sequences every single time you navigate through the disc. Only when you start up the disc for the first time an extended version will be shown and once it has played, the menus use much shorter transitions to take you from one area to another. Everyone who was forced to sit through the lengthy transitions of some other discs will certainly appreciate this. While some menus look really cool the first time around, sometimes they become a little cumbersome to navigate, especially after seeing the same sequence over and over again.Well, let me tell you this won’t happen on the “Halloween” special edition. The other thing that’s very impressive is the wide and immersive soundstage created by the music and sound effects of the menus. When the footage starts rolling, you know you are about to experience something special, but when the music starts with a bang, making even your subwoofer jump, you know Michael Myers is finally coming home for good. Never has the Halloween theme sounded more transparent and never did it sound so ExtraMenuSmallmenacing! As you certainly remember from our previous installments, Alan Howarth has actually gone back and create a new brand 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, as well as a Dolby Stereo audio track for this release. With the music starting to play in the main menu, I bet you will get antsy and can’t wait to hear what the actual film sounds like. This area has actually been prone to problems during the production of the DVD. In the version of the disc we have had access to the music that underscored the menus was substantially louder than the actual soundtrack in the film. As a result you usually jumped to grab the remote control as soon as the menus came up to turn down the volume.

MenuAnimation“We’ve lowered the music on the menu so that you will not have to adjust the volume,” producer Bill Lustig tells me when I bring up the issue on the phone. And once again one thing less to worry about. Especially these days Bill and the folks at Crest spend a lot of time checking their test discs, carving out the last problems, making sure it’s running properly on all players—a procedure that can be quite tedious.

In their headquarter in Michigan, Anchor Bay have in the meanwhile been busy working on the print materials that will accompany the new “Halloween Special Edition”. There will be an all-round new release of “Halloween” this August, not only on DVD and not only in the form of the limited box set. Anchor Bay is also preparing a VHS re-release of the new, restored THX-approved transfer in two separate versions. The pan & scan version will be released on tape as well as a widescreen presentation, both titled “Restored Collector’s Edition” on the packaging. As we pointed out in the beginning of this Production Diary, on the DVD side there will also be two separate releases. One will be the box set containing the film in a 16×9 enhanced widescreen transfer, a pan & scan version and the fully restored letterboxed TV version of the film, also enhanced for 16×9 television sets. All transfers are THX approved and will be released in a limited 2-disc box set. At the same time, Anchor Bay will also release the widescreen and the pan & scan version on one disc only, to cater to people more interested in the movie and less inclined to pay the extra money for the Collector’s Edition box set. Exclusively are we able to unveil the cover art for both versions of the DVD here. Check out the subtle differences between versions. While the key art is the same, the “Halloween” lettering has a different coloring and the box set contains the words “Limited Edition”.

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Thanks to Anchor Bay for giving us access to all these fascinating images. After all these still photographs, menu screens and packaging art, it is time to check out the transfers themselves. In our next update we will give you an up-close look at the new Halloween. Halloween the way you haven’t seen it before with a direct comparison to the previous release, so make sure to stop by again for our next update in our acclaimed “Halloween Production Diary”.

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