HORROR DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEWS

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HALLOWEEN (35TH ANNIVERSARY...
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: John Carpenter

Starring:
Jamie Lee Curtis
Donald Pleasence
P.J. Soles
Nancy Loomis

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister escapes and stalks a teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Is it good movie?
To review this movie for a site like this seems a bit foolish- if you haven't seen it, what the heck do you think you're doing on this site? Anyhow, this is the granddaddy of slasher movies- a true low budget masterpiece that combines an amazing atmosphere and an incredible score (one of horror's most iconic, this one is a huge part of this film's success) to make for a pretty chilling experience.

Some people take issue with the fact the Myers is a normal dude and that he shows up during the daytime to stalk his victims- I say, take it or leave it. It's kind of cool to see a killer in the middle of the day, which sort of enforces the idea that he's the embodiment of evil and you're never safe.

Admittedly, this is a film unlike many others that come after it. Carpenter uses light, darkness, sound and other small details to provoke fear in his viewers (awesome shadow play, too) . You don't know where Myers is going to turn up- he feels like he could be anywhere. The dude is always in the background somewhere, watching..waiting. There's a reason he is known as the Shape- he seems to simply come and go as he pleases, and is always lurking within the shadows.

You get some awesome POV stuff too, with the chilling clown mask to set up the film's tone. You get the obligatory sex-death scenes (got your ghost?), you get the Myers mask appearing for the first time (one of horror's most iconic masks, and props to Nick Castle, the first man to play the role), and it's all done without buckets of gore! Imagine! Hell, even the opening credits are unforgettable (that damned pumpkin scared the hell out of me as a kid).

Of course, the cast is really quite good as well- Jamie Lee Curtis endears herself to us as one of horror's most memorable scream queens, Laurie Strode. Her girl-next-door feeling is totally bankable (she's likable and vulnerable), and she's easy to root for. How could you not mention Donald Pleasance? He's a man on a mission who absolutely adds a true sense of terror and urgency to the situation presented here- he absolutely knows that evil is lurking within the town of Haddonfield.

I won't blather on anymore- if you're a horror fan, you likely own a few versions of this film already. If you haven't seen it, you must; it's an absolute classic, an amazingly influential low budget horror flick that brought us an unforgettable character and an entire franchise! Arguably John Carpenter's very best.
Video / Audio
Video: 2.35:1 widescreen with a 1080p transfer, with a whole new treatment from the last time it hit blu ray. I'm not an absolute nitpicker, but this one seems a bit duller, a bit more natural. Detail levels are impressive and sharp, and although it might be controversial to others because the track has been refined and tampered with, it looks pretty great to me. Fans who are looking for the definitive version..know that this one was supervised and approved by the film's original cinematographer, Dean Cundey!

Audio:  This release sports an all new Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack which is just fantastic. There's a ton of atmospheric sound in this one (besides the score of course), and it's impressive as all hell here. Some of the sound effects and screams sound a little off, but that may just be because of the ancient source material coupling with the modern technology of the new track. Great stuff though.
The Extras
Some old stuff got ported over from the old releases (all in SD, too):

On Location: 25 Years later runs about 10 minutes and travels to South Pasadena to take a look at the Myers house and the surrounding area. Neat commentary on Carpenter's style and the way the film was shot.

You get 11 minutes of bonus "TV Version" footage, which made the flick longer. I was never a fan of the longer version, as it just seemed to pad things out.

You also get a trailer, with three TV ads and some radio ads too.

New stuff:
The Night She Came Home!! Runs about an hour long, and features Jamie Lee Curtis as she travels the convention circuit to raise cash for charity. This is a blast as she shares candid thoughts, meets fans, sells props and mercy and all that stuff. Really endearing stuff, Curtis is awesome here.

A new Audio Commentary track brings Jamie Lee Curtis back together with John Carpenter and they discuss the film as if it were for the very first time. They're very conversational, honest, fun and full of commentary on both the technical aspects of the film and the resonance it has had on horror's legacy. A real must-listen.

Last Call
As of the time of this review, it's October- it's hard not to feel like this is a bit of a cash grab on the part of Anchor Bay, to just add a few new features and slap the flick out again (it's been released so many times). However, the added material is unquestionably of good quality. I can't help but feel that the "definitive" edition will arrive as a must buy someday, but who's to say if it'll be on Blu-Ray or another format. As it is, this is a beautiful looking and sounding version of one of horror's finest films. If you're holding out, I don't blame you (especially if you already own it and like your current copy), but if you don't own it yet or you're a completionist, I totally get that too! Happy Halloween!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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