October 13, 2005

Halloween (1978)
Anchor Bay Entertainment

92 mins. · R
Letterboxed · 2.35:1

Format
UMD

Audio
English - 2.0

Subtitles
None

Extras
None

Starring
Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence

Review by
John Carpenter


Rating



(1978)

"Halloween" is the first movie I ever remember seeing. I walked in on my parents watching the movie with friends during the 'closet scene' towards the end of the movie. The horrific image of Michael Myers' white mask stuck with me even after I was rushed out of the living room. After I got a little older, I finally saw the whole movie and absolutely loved it. The music was stuck in my head. The movie gave me nightmares. At my young age, I couldn't figure out why my name was in the movie. Sharing the name John Carpenter with the director has given me a direct link to "Halloween" all of my life. I have been asked if I was the one who made "Halloween" (even though I was only two when the movie was released) and always get into conversations about Carpenter's work. I guess it is some odd coincidence that had me find "Halloween" before "John Carpenter's Halloween" found me. Either way I love this movie and hold it high above other horror movies. I spent $125 on the Criterion laserdisc to get the (at the time) exclusive commentary track and isolated score. I have gotten the numerous DVD releases by Anchor Bay to gather a definitive presentation of the film and tons of extra features about a movie I love to love. Now there is the UMD. It may not have anything new to it; I was drawn to the UMD release of "Halloween" based on other movies I had seen on the PSP. They all looked so good. How great would "Halloween" look? How would Carpenter's score sound? Even today, after watching the movie countless times, I am giddy to watch this great horror classic.

What else can I say about his masterpiece? It is the father of slasher films. By mixing the tension of an Alfred Hitchcock movie with the edge of underrated horror gems like "Black Christmas", "Halloween" has inspired countless imitators in the horror genre. It is sad to see today's moviegoers frown upon "Halloween" for being too slow. In an age dominated by MTV editing and PG-13 rated horror movies, the classic terror generated by John Carpenter and Debra Hill is sometimes lost in the shuffle. I still find Michael Myers to be the scariest horror icon in history. An expressionless mask hides a man driven by hatred and motivated by evil. People forget the brother/sister relationship between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode wasn't introduced until "Halloween II". The first installment in the series portrays a homicidal maniac with no apparent motivation for his killings other than it being October 31st. It is never really explained why Myers kills, and honestly I don't really care. It is the randomness and unexplained that helps build the scares and continues to haunt viewers long after the movie has ended.

"Halloween" is presented in its intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It has been visited and revisited numerous times over the past twenty seven years with numerous releases on various formats. I have this movie on VHS, laserdisc, DVD, and now UMD. The quality of the UMD is excellent. Colors are vibrant and the detail on this release is top notch. The UMD is very comparable to the 25th Anniversary DVD release. Fans will notice the blue and purple hues missing from key scenes in the movie. While the claim is that Cinematographer Dean Cundey preferred the absence of the blue hues, fans felt the shades gave the film a stylized look that added to the viewing experience. Ultimately, the UMD release is the best release of "Halloween" to date. The 25th Anniversary DVD was a little too bright and that can be easily adjusted on the PSP with the touch of a button.

Sound is key in this movie. There have been scenes shown without the presence of music on featurettes in the past and the movie falls flat without Carpenter's score. I watched the movie primarily with i.Sound speakers and loved it. The music was full and defined. Sound effects like Myers breathing and the gunshots from Dr. Loomis are excellent. Considering it was never really intended for a 5.1 soundtrack, the two channels created a great soundstage. The only real dropout was in a rather meaningless scene. While Laurie is heading out for school, her father reminds her to drop off a key at the Myers house. His dialogue is very quiet, almost inaudible. It is a minor issue in the overall story, but noticeable to those watching the film.

There are no extras on the UMD. The menu is very limited as well, only providing an option to play the movie. There are numerous chapter stops, but no menu to skip to a favorite scene. Also, the packaging is a little misleading. The back cover was lifted from the Limited Edition DVD and boasts about the new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The UMD does not provide this soundtrack.

While it may not have the wealth of extras from the various DVD releases, "Halloween" looks and sounds great on the PSP. The UMD provides a crystal clear image that mirrors the look of the 25th Anniversary DVD release. Since the movie has been given four laserdisc releases, seven DVD releases (so far), and countless VHS/Beta releases, most fans probably have multiple copies of "Halloween". Some extra features or an isolated music track would have made this release more appealing to fans to spend twenty more dollars on the UMD. Regardless, PSP owners have the option to add another great horror title to add to their UMD collection.

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