Arguably the greatest slasher film ever made, and amongst the best examples of horror cinema in general, Halloween is the little movie that could. Made for just over $300 thousand dollars, the film went on to gross over ten times its budget, and kick-started the slasher boom of the eighties.
Haddonfield, Illinois; Halloween night. Young Michael Myers inexplicably murders his older sister, Judith, and spends the next ten years locked away in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, under the care of the passionate Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasence). After a decade of silence, Myers is scheduled to be transferred from Smith’s Grove, but escapes and returns to Haddonfield, where he stalks the shy Laurie Strode (Curtis), and makes preparations for a Halloween night this small town will never forget.
Halloween still scares the bejeesus out of me. I’ve seen this film more times than I have fingers and toes (and I assure you, I’ve not lost any of those…yet), yet, every time I see it, I am awestruck by how much tension and suspense Carpenter manages to squeeze out of a bone-white William Shatner mask, a dinky synthesizer score, and a whole lot o’ shadows, all without spilling nary a drop of blood. For me, this is the horror film by which all others must be judged, and, to date, nothing’s surpassed it.
So how does Halloween look in HD? In a word, astonishing.
I really don’t know how else to describe it. Halloween is tied with Jaws as my all-time favorite film, and to see it looking like this, well, it brings a tear to my eye. Lush blacks, vivid blues, perfectly balanced and with just the right amount of grain, and not a hint of artifacting; I swear, I hear people talk about the “3-D” look of BD all the time, but this is probably the first time that I really have felt the urge to reach into my television set to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. There’s the occasional scratch and flicker, but these are few and far between, and you’ll be too busy wiping up your drool to notice.
Equally droolworthy is the uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack that will have Carpenter’s minimalist score rattling your floorboards, while every musical “stab” sends you flying over your couch in retreat. The dialogue is crisp and clean as a whistle, and the screams…oh the screams.
Most of the extras here are carryovers from previous releases and standard definition, but are welcome nonetheless.
We get an audio commentary featuring Carpenter, Curtis, and the late Debra Hill that is fast, funny, and full of enlightening details and reminiscences. It’s not one for the tech-lovers, and there’s not a lot here that we haven’t heard before, but it’s still great to hear the principals involved chat it up.
“Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest” is a fantastic, feature-length documentary that was produced for the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD, and is an exhaustive look at the film from its inception to audience reaction. A combination of rare behind-the-scenes footage, interspersed with new interviews, this documentary is a Halloween fanatic's wet dream. From concept to execution to aftermath, no stone is left unturned.
Rounding out the extras are trailers, television, and radio spots, and the only “new” feature, Fast Film Facts, which offer text blurbs that pop up while watching the film, and, even thought it doesn’t say so on the packaging, English subtitles, which I know raised a lot of concerns over at the forums at Blu-ray.com. .
Fans of Halloween know that they can expect a new version of this film pretty much every year, oftentimes juiced up with new extras, documentaries, or footage, but this is the first time in a while where a version of Halloween has come out that I can truly call a MUST BUY. This is, quite simply, the best this film has ever looked or sounded. As I said, I've seen this movie so many times I've lost count, but, after watching it on Blu-ray, it was as if I was seeing it all for the very first time.