Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis
Extras: Commentatry Track, Fast Film Facts, Featurette, Trailer, TV Spots, Radio Spots
Even after almost 30 years, "Halloween" is still one of the most impressive horror films that never seems to lose its appeal, and is widely considered John Carpenters best film to date – although I have to admit that I personally prefer some of his later films over "Halloween" for their visual qualities.
Anchor Bay Entertainment has released countless incarnations of the film on DVD over the years and now for the first time in high definition, we have a Blu-Ray version of the initial antics of one of cinema's most lasting and most terrifying of predators – Michael Myers.
Originally titled "The Babysitter Murders" but renamed before its release in 1978, "Halloween" is the primordial of all slasher flicks. No matter which stalker film you watch today, each and every one of them builds upon the recipe established by Carpenter's film, although I certainly do not wish to diminish Tobe Hooper's impact on the genre with his "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" from 1974 here.
The film starts with a young boy, Michael Myers, killing his sister in a state of mental disorder. In this sequence look out for Carpenter's phenomenal use of the steadycam and the music that greatly enhances the ominously approaching menace directly from the boy's point of view. The scene when he puts on the mask is as simple as it is brilliantly effective.
As a result of the murder Michael is put in to a mental institute under the observation of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance). After years of therapy Loomis gives up on the now teenage Michael Myers and wants to make sure he is never in his lifetime released from the institution, due to the threat he poses to human society. One night however, Michael manages to break free from the high security mental prison hospital. When arriving on the scene Dr. Loomis fears for the worst and makes his way to Haddonfield, the place where Michael grew up – but Michael has already targeted a new victim and slowly stalks his prey.
Much has been said about "Halloween" and it almost feels as is any additional word would be superficial. It is one of the most relentless and intense horror films ever made, and it carries many of Carpenter's stylistic trademarks that make him such an iconic filmmaker.
However, I doubt that you ever have seen "Halloween" quite like on this Blu-Ray Disc from Anchor Bay Entertainment. While the DVD versions did a great job in terms of color reproduction and overall clarity, this high definition transfer adds an entire new dimension of detail to the presentation. It is safe to say that the look removes all signs of age from the movie, making it look as if it were shot yesterday. I swear, if you give it its first look you will not believe that you are watching a film that is close to 30 years old!
The transfer is incredibly sharp and holds every bit of detail, even in murky and underlit conditions. I thought the restored DVD version was amazing – until I saw this Blu-Ray version. Prepare yourself to count the lines on the wallpaper in the Myers house, for example, as every bit of the wallpaper pattern and texture is clearly visible. You will single blades of grass in the shots of Laurie walking home from school and you can count the leaves on the trees. Unbelievably, this transfer adds another level of detail to the presentation that you thought was pristine before. I can't even put into words, how fans of the movie will enjoy this!
To perfectly complement the video presentation, Anchor Bay has put a 5.1 channel PCM track on the disc. Just to reiterate, PCM audio is as good as it gets. This is master quality sound, exactly as it has been mixed down by the sound engineers. Most of you are by now familiar with the 5.1 remix that Anchor Bay did on the film a few years ago, but let me assure you that you will want to here this PCM presentation. It will give you goose bumps.
Since this a release from Anchor Bay's first Blu-Ray batch, let me point out a few things about the studio's philosophy and high definition approach in general. Upon inserting the disc you will be taken through the now-standard FBI warning screen, the studio disclaimer, the Starz logo and the Blu-Ray logo. With the exception of the Blu-Ray logo, none of the can be skipped, but fortunately after the boot-up they are out of the way, and pressing "Play" on the main menu will instantaneously launch you into the movie without further delay.
The menu itself is standard fare, but it does have quite a bit of atmosphere. Set to the infamous, ostinato music theme by John Carpenter, the menu makes use of subtle sound effects that perfectly blend with the atmosphere. For some reason, despite its simplicity, the whole thing had a very coherent "Halloween" feel to it that I greatly enjoyed.
As extras, Anchor Bay has included the commentary track featuring John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis and Debra Hill that was found on a previous DVD version. The disc also features a trivia track that is chock full of information and tidbits. The guys at Anchor Bay know "Halloween" inside out, having worked so many times on the film, and you'll find lots and lots of interesting tidbits and information here.
Also included is the featurette "Halloween: A Cut Above The Rest," culled also from the previous 25th Anniversary DVD version. The featurette is in standard definition, which is in part explained by the fact that it was originally produced and shot in standard definition.
The movie's trailer and TV Spots, as well as Radio Spots are also included on the disc.
If you're a fan of the film, clearly, there is no way for you to avoid the high definition version of John Carpenter's seminal slasher flick. While it may sound like a stereotype, "Halloween" has never looked better. I bet not even during its theatrical run did it look as beautiful as on this disc. The release may be a little thin on the supplements, but hey, this is Anchor Bay's first high definition foray and as such it is an exemplary release. "Halloween" is a must-have Blu-Ray release, hands down.