on 10 November 2013
Being a fan of a particular band, album or film means that at some point you will find yourself faced with the dilemma as to whether to buy a new special edition of an album or DVD you already own.
For this reviewer, the moment came with the release of Halloween 35th Anniversary Blu Ray. I already own two versions of Halloween on DVD (double disc from 2001 and 25 Years of Terror from 2008) so it became a real head vs heart debate between the joy of owning Halloween on blu ray with JLC/JC commentary (heart) and spending more money on a film that JC has already done a commentary on before and I probably know as much as I need to know from every extra before (head).
And so it came to pass that I was in the DVD section of my supermarket and I came across the blu ray. It wasn't exactly beckoning me to buy but it might just as well have. So my heart told my head to go get the coffees in whilst my heart and me went and bought it.
So what do you get? I'm not clever enough to describe the technical advantages of blu ray so all I can say is that it looks and sounds great. I could even see that the great Nancy Loomis had some teenage spots which I never noticed in my VHS edition. I don't need to describe the film, you all know how amazing it is and how it never fails to hit the spot.
The extras are limited to a JLC/JC commentary which is absolutely brilliant. To listen to the double heart and soul of the movie bickering, reminiscing and generally talking over each other is just amazing. Witness when JC starts grumbling when JLC starts talking technically about the film. The only sad part was that the brilliant underrated Debra Hill was not there to act as referee but her spirit lives on in this film.
The other main extra is JLC at a fans convention which is considered a big deal as it's the first time she's ever attended one. Whether it warranted a 1 hour doc is highly debatable and it is only saved by the fact that it was all done for a children's hospital charity and that so many Halloween fans were interviewed/featured which means they will be forever part of the legacy of this blu ray.
So from one fan to another, go and buy this film for two reasons. Firstly, because the JLC/JC commentary will have you grinning from ear to ear for the entire 90 minutes. And secondly, because frankly, the head isn't always right about everything.
on 26 October 2013
There's nothing I can add about the quality of "Halloween"; it's a classic horror film and deservedly so. Most viewers, like me, know the film frame for frame so the fright factor has faded but it's so athmospheric in it's buildup and it simply transports you to a state of mind few horror films manage to do. That's at least why I can watch it endlessly, it seems.
This Blu-ray is great I thought. I already had the 2001 DVD release (with a big THX advert on it) and I remember that edition blew me away back then. It was a huge leap compared to the VHS I had just about worn out. This Blu-ray image is superb and is easily an improvement over any DVD edition; but I didn't purchase the initial Blu-ray release a few years back so I can't comment on that. I have done a bit of research at Blu-ray review sites and, incredibly enough, a few of them have had negative comments concerning the visual image. I can't see anything wrong with it; simply beautiful to look at.
Audio wise I thought the mono track sounded a bit off.
Extras are fine but a little underwhelming. The new commentary is a fun listen and Jamie Lee Curtis's feature; "The Night She Came Home" is better than I thought. The Television scenes are wisely presented as a bonus feature rather then inserted into the film but they're fun to go through.
Potential buyers should know that the film has English subtitles but there's no mention of it anywhere. Also, there's no second disc as is listed on the site.
Great film and a great edition; and the Steelbook is nice.
on 13 October 2003
Halloween is the best horror series to date. And the original just about sums up what we should be proud of. Obviously, not everyone is a fan of horror and suspense movies such as this one, but it's not just that. This film was relased in 1978, and is still, 25 years on, one of the if not the best slasher movie of all time. This fim isn't just blood and guts, actually theres not much graphic violence in it, its got a good script, and the filming is the best i've ever seen. The plot isn't spectacular, but what John Carpenter has greated here is a masterpiece. That is a good excuse to put away the plot (which i have to admit is quite rubbish). Basically the story is that Michael Myres is a sad deranged 26 year old masked killer who is stalking a young teenage girl called Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). as he tries to get his hands on her and cut her to shredds, he leaves behind a trail of dead bodies. When i first saw this film i thought, where's the blood and the guts and the gore i was promised? Well there isn't much really. In fact only 4 people die, and you only see 3 of the killings, which arn't graphic at all. But whats important is the way Michael presents himself which beats the blood and guts. the way he never runs after his prey, but still manages to slice there neck open. That's what this film has to offer. Some mild violence, combined with some strong horror. Even if you don't like horror films, this might be the one to set off the faze. But if your looking for a Halloween with just the decapitations and gut rentchings, watch halloween 2 or halloween H20, which offer just that. But please take my advice, No matter how hard you try and beat it, the original halloween will always be best.
Whether or not you feel that, excluding Psycho, this was the first of its genre- it is definitely the most influential (for better or worse) and easily the most famous. John Carpenter's Halloween, like Romero's NOTD before it came out of low-budget nowhere land, and paralysed audiences around the world upon it's release, turning it's cast into stars and ensuring that horror movies would never be the same again. Almost thirty years on, even though horror movies have become much darker and more grotesque, this still stands at the top of the pile as a timeless, chilling and effective film which will have you reaching for the light switch, or knife, when you hear a creaking at the top of the stairs.
A boy who killed his sister many years ago escapes from his asylum, and from the care of Dr. Loomis, the only person who remotely understands him, and decides to go on a kill crazy rampage in the town he was born, seeking and killing his relatives, and any other fool who gets in his way. So begins the legacy of Michael Myers. The film follows Laurie, the virgin teenager and mother of all modern scream queens, dateless and forced to babysit on Halloween night as she tries to escape Myers.
While the plot is hardly outstanding, it is Carpenter's direction which makes this a classic. He knows how to create and build tension, to get the most from his cast, and for any wannabe directors this is essential viewing, as it was all done on a low budget. Employing original camera angles, effective use of the hand-held, and a memorable score all help create an atmosphere that most modern horror movies cannot reach. Everything in this movie is designed around ensuring that the tension is unrelenting. This was also one of the first 'modern' movies that showed youth that the world was not as safe as they had been led to believe, that our parents are not as reliable or trustworthy as we thought. The scene where Laurie is turned away from a neighbors house by a simple flick of a light switch underlines this. Suburbia is not sanctuary, and sometimes we can only rely on ourselves. However, it is when Laurie is pushed, that her strong character and instinct to survive and protectc comes out.
Jamie Lee Curtis is of course outstanding in her role, but the supporting cast are all strong. Pleasance creates a legend opposite to Myers with only a few scenes and not much dialogue, and Loomis and Cyphers in smaller roles are effective as always. The film seems ageless even now, looking past the hair and fashion largely because the themes of being threatened and scared by an unseen force, and being held under seige by the same force when it presents itself are still relevant today. Something as simple as Myers peaking out from behind a bush can still send shivers, and yet there is a beauty in the cinematography- like Assault On Precinct 13, sunsets lend a reflective, emotive force, but it is after the sun has set that the fun really begins.
This 2 disc edition is a must for all horror fans, with lots of extra features which compliment the film.
on 15 January 2007
This film is the founding father of the new modern generation of horror films. No poetry, no mysticism, no ideology, in one word postmodern to the core. The only objective is both to horrify and to terrify the audience and nothing else. John Carpenter uses the technology at his disposal in each film to create the atmosphere and to bring up the elements that are going to do what he wants to do : make the audience shake in convulsions of fear. In this early film he uses the new steadycam to make long travelling sequences that can be more natural because the camera is carried by a person walking the way it is supposed to travel. We then really have the impression of looking at the scene through the eyes of a living person. We are then inside the characters and their fear, whereas the criminal is a lot more steady, immobile, even still. Then the theme is supposed to bring up all our deep dark fears : a child of six kills his own sister who has just had sex, hence sex as the disrupting element that makes people crazy, insanity as the utmost strangeness that turns someone into something that is no longer human, a little touch of satanic evil, knives and Halloween of course. And it works particularly well when we can see the face of this criminal who is wearing a mask, a mask that is expressionless and absolutely colourless. We have it all and we know we would be frightened ****less if we had to meet him in the dark around some lonely street corner.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Paris Dauphine & University of Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
on 12 September 2004
As well as being the scariest film of all time, as well as spawning the entire "Slasher" sub-genre, as well as providing the basis for Jason Vorhees, Ghostface, and a whole plethora of other one time appearence silent masked killers. That's right, without Hallloween and Michael Myers there'd be no Friday the 13th, no Scream, probably no Nightmare On Elmstreet....The fact some of those franchises exist is probably the only negative point of this movie.
Halloween proves to the world that the only things needed in order to create a timeless cinema masterpiece are good use of shadow and light, an orignal idea and a score that heightens the feeling the director wants to convey.
It also displays the perfect ingredients to create something really frightening, the place a lot of slasher films fail is that they lack these and try to compensate with splashes of gore, nudity and a large body count. This film is practically bloodless, it has a total body count of just 5, (one of the killings doesn't even happen on screen) and there is no real nudity as such yet it frightens and compels ten times more than even the closest competitor in the slasher movie stakes.
The plot: Man escapes from secure hospital and returns to his home town to murder girls, persued by his doctor. That's about it, and it's perfect. The first half of the film builds tension as the basic characters are introduced and "The Shape" lays in wait for nightfall and his moment to strike.
Then the second half begins as night begins, and...wow! Halloween succeeds so well because it bases itself on a fear that almost everyone has felt, particularly when they were younger: That of the dark and of an unstoppable force that nothing can protect you from.
The music ia perhaps the thing that makes what would be a scary movie into THE scary movie, the first time i watched it with a friend, she covered her ears rather than her eyes because the piano theme is just SO haunting.
The acting and direction are superb, Jamie Lee Curtis got her break from this movie as did John Carpenter, who although going on to make some other fine works, (as well as some stinkers) never quite recaptured the magic that emnanates from every aspect of this masterpiece.
The sequels let the original down somewhat, as the series continues more and more of a mythos is built up around Michael Myers and the franchise's quality generally detiriorates. If you want to see more of this series i would only reccomend numbers 2 and 7, as they are the direct follow ups to this film whereas several of the others veer off in some SERIOUSLY strange and un satisfying directions.
Also this special edition contains the alternate version of the movie shown on American TV as well as a documentary on the film from genesis to completion.
on 22 July 2004
It's easy to pick apart this DVD for what it DOESN'T have: the director's uncut version, the "original" shades of certain colors in the picture, etc. But the truth remains that John Carpenter's "Halloween" is still the slasher film to beat. Unlike the not-so-subtle "Friday the 13th" movies, "Halloween" relies less on gore and more on suspense to terrify an audience. Jamie Lee Curtis, then barely out of her teens, rightfully earned her title as the "scream queen" as Laurie Strode, the babysitter who comes face-to-face with Mike Myers, a psychotic masked killer who just escaped a psychiatric ward. The DVD has been re-released for its 25th anniversary, with a decent 5.1 soundtrack (Carpenter also composed the music). Many pick apart the picture because the colors are "off." This didn't bother me, and it didn't lessen the viewing experience. I was just happy that the picture is clear with hardly any print flaws. The second disc includes a detailed documentary that runs for almost 90 minutes and has interviews with the filmmakers and the cast. This documentary is almost worth the price of the DVD, in my opinion. We also have the spooky original trailer as well as a few TV and radio shots. It would have been nice if this disc also had the TV version of the movie so I could compare the two, but that's just a small gripe. "Halloween" spawned several sequels (none were directed by Carpenter, thankfully), and none of them come even close to topping the original. No questions asked, "Halloween" is a must-have for any movie buff.
on 12 July 2000
Like I said in the title, for me, this is THE film that sets the standard that all others follow.
After you've watched it, you will see how many ideas have been copied by countless amounts of other films. The recent "Scream" (which was pretty good for suspense) used H-W as an example of a SUPERB horror film. Pretty good compliment huh ?
Right at the beginning when the camera is shot from behind the mask & heaving breathing to throughout the film when the killer quickly walks past the camera, to seeing the killers shadow or reflection or the CLASSIC of a fridge door being opened (with no-one there) then being closed (with the killer there) to the end where it suggests that there will be a sequel, this is defining horror at its best !
As always, no horror film would be complete without the appropriate "scary" music. H-W surely must (& does ! ) win with the so recognisable piano tune.
But last but not least a BIG SHOUT OUT to the 3 main characters. From a (very ! ) young J-L-C who is the "woman teenager being stalked", the cop D-P who "must get his killer at all costs" and of course MM who is the "killer that keeps on killing".
From the 1st time I saw it to this day, the film STILL manages to send a shiver down my spine.
To me, a classic film is one that u can see a million times & you know EXACTLY what happens yet when it's over, you'll want to see it again.
Halloween IS one of those films.....
on 8 July 2004
I have been a keen DVD collector now for quite some time, yet no DVD in my collection is as impressive as this feature packed Anchor Bay edition of Halloween. The film itself has a straight-forward storyline you will probably already know; a psychopath who killed his older sister when he was six years old escapes from the authorities and heads to Haddonfield, Illinois on one Halloween night 15 years later. Jamie Lee Curtis, in her first major film role, plays 'scream queen' Laurie Stode, a shy American teenager who babysits children. Little do her and her friends know, but a certain Michael Myers looms in the shadows of their neighbourhood...
There is fantastic support from British actor Donald Pleasance, portraying Myers' doctor who heads to Haddonfield to stop his crazed patient at all costs.
Halloween has already been released several times on various editions of 'Special Edition' DVD. This however is the most recent update, and is the most comprehensive DVD to buy for this classic. It contains a very impressive 80 minute long documentary, which goes into extreme detail on how the picture was made (for $320000 and over a 21 day period to be exact!). It has interviews with director John Carpenter, producer Debra Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis and many more of the Halloween team. There is also a seperate featurette which goes back to the actual film locations, which is really fascinating as most are now unrecognizable. Commentary from John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, theartical trailers and much more cram the second disc full.
I can not praise this film highly enough. Not only is it the most nerve-wracking and scariest film ever made, yet it comes in a delicious package which is a must for fans of cinema. No DVD collection in the world would be deemed 'complete' without this remarkable film. Just do not watch it alone.
on 27 June 2004
Halloween is one of those horror films that keeps getting scary the more you watch it underlining how good a director John Carpenter is. Made in 1978 Halloween is a movie "made" for the cinema due to Carpenter shooting in widescreen, one of the first directors to do so, most viewers of Halloween therefore have only seen two thirds of it.
Its a simple story babysitter Laurie Strode(Jamie Lee Curtis)is stalked by Micheal Myers with Dr. Sam Loomis(Donald Pleasance) quickly behind him trying to find this madman who is on the loose after breaking out of a mental institute. Since then the movie has opened the floodgates for the "boogeyman flicks" which we all see and cring at today.
Theres no doubt Halloween is one of the greatest horror movies ever made that goes without saying but it is also one of the most important climbing the table with classics like Dracula and Frankenstein. The movie is full of sudden sharp shocks and the use of colour and setting is awesome. The theme music also gives enough power to scare alone which is always played just when you think your safe behind the pillow.
This two-disc special is crammed with extras including a 87 minute documentary with interviews etc. This film is a must buy for the horror fan forget all the dismal sequels and remember "It's Halloween. Everyones entitled to one scare."