Welcome back to the final installment in our acclaimed “Halloween Production Diary”. As I am writing this the final release of Anchor Bay’s 2-disc box set of John Carpenters seminal stalker film is only 2 short weeks away and I am sure before long the first discs will appear at retail stores across the country. Not only does this mean that there’s nothing left for us to say than a final review of the release, but it also means that Anchor Bay have held the promise they gave me over a year ago!
“When we re-release Halloween, we want to make sure it will be the ultimate release. One that makes everything that came before redundant, ” Anchor Bay’s Jay Douglas told me back then candidly. It sounded like a huge task and commitment then, and looking back at what happened since then I can hardly believe through which strenuous efforts and elaborate stages this project went. It is hard to imagine how some less lucky circumstances made the project almost unachievable in the beginning and how certain other events allowed Anchor Bay to eclipse all previous presentations. Many people have been involved in the project and all have made sure they contributed to this release as good as they could. Bill Lustig was responsible for pulling all the strings and ultimately bringing it all together and from talking to him I know that it was not a walk in the park.
One of the lucky events that make this special edition very special is the fact that somewhere down the road, Bill Lustig found the original negative prints for “Halloween’s” television version which contain. Not only would this allow Anchor Bay to make a new transfer of the film, it turned out that these negative reels were in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio.
As you may recall from our previous explanation of this find, it was so unbelievable because this version of the film was believed to be available in a fullframe format only until then. John Carpenter had shot 12 minutes of additional footage for this particular version and it was always believed he had shot these scenes in a fullframe aspect ratio.
Without further ado I would now like to invite you to a world premiere at this point. For the first time ever, here are screenshots from the widescreen version of the broadcast version of “Halloween!”
As you can see, these scenes do not appear in the film’s theatrical cut.
The sequences John Carpenter added to the film simply fill in some minor backstory that was quite evident in the theatrical cut already. But since he needed to stretch the film slightly in order to accommodate TV stations’ time slots, these elements were fleshed out a little more for the boradcast version.
The material that is different from the theatrical cut are some scenes of Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis discussing Michael’s state of mind with psychiatrists, talking to Michael as a teenager and finally his detecting of Michael’s escape from the institution. All these scenes are presented in the same 2.35:1 aspect ratio as the actual film and look just as sharp.
The entire TV version of “Halloween” will be on the second disc of the 2-disc box set Anchor Bay is releasing and just like the other transfers of the package, this transfer is fully THX certified and features the original 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack. Apart from a circumstantial explanation of the TV version there are no other extras on this single-layer disc. We have prepared a few of the disc’s menu screens for your viewing pleasure as well, hoping it will get you as excited about this release as we are.
With this ends our “Halloween Production Diary” and all that is left to say it a big “Thank You” to Anchor Bay, Bill Lustig and everyone involved in this production. It is the perfect example how the love for a film can move mountains, how a concerted effort can create a package that manages to unveil new material and information even on “Halloween”, a film we all thought we had seen and heard everything about. The film was a milestone in John Carpenter’s career and with this 2-disc Collector’s Edition in my hands, I am sure it is also a milestone in Anchor Bay’s history. Not only has this release helped to convince film lovers around the world about the company’s commitment to DVD, but also how seriously they take their assets and the fans of those films.
Special thanks go out to Jay Douglas, Bill Lustig, Sue Procko, Michelle Rygiel, Flo Schultheiss, Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkhad who have all helped make this Production Diary possible, and of course to everyone else involved in this gigantic project that has finally come to fruition and will wow fans around the world.
Most importantly however, I feel we have to thank John Carpenter and Debra Hill for creating such a memorable film in the first place!