'Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition)' [Blu-ray]
(Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis, et al / Blu ray / R / (1978) 2013 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Overview: 'Halloween' stars Jamie Lee Curtis (A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies) in her debut role. Anyone who's ever watched a horror film in the last 35 years knows the story of Michael Myers, who as a child, butchered his sister with a kitchen knife. Committed to a mental institution and watched over by Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, Halloween II, IV & V, Fantastic Voyage), he engineers his escape!
Blu ray Verdict: Getting the big new fact out of the way, for this very special release, Anchor Bay and Trancas went back to the vaults to present this legendary terror classic as never before. It now includes a specially-created all-new HD transfer personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer, Academy-Award® nominee Dean Cundey ('Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' 'Apollo 13,' and the 'Back to the Future' trilogy).
In truth, I've owned a number of different releases of 'Halloween' since the mid 1990's - VHS cassette, DVD, the first Blu-Ray release, and now this 35th Anniversary Edition. The film is still the same classic shocker from 1978 that introduced us to Michael Myers, the six year old boy who murders his sister on October 31st, 1963, and then escapes from a mental institution nearly fifteen years to the day of that killing, returning to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois with the intent of picking up where he left off.
Phew! Anyway, on his trail is Dr. Sam Loomis (the iconic Donald Pleasance), who spent eight years trying to rehabilitate Myers, then seven trying to keep him locked up after coming to the realization that Myers was a soulless, unresponsive monster. Aided by one of the most memorable theme scores in the history of horror cinema (by the film's director, John Carpenter), 'Halloween' essentially ushered in the "slasher movie" genre that was imitated to no end throughout the 1980's.
The audio upgrade to 7.1 Dolby is welcome, though for the true enthusiast, the original mono sound is available. While the film itself still receives the highest grade, it's the extras in this latest version that I found to be a significant disappointment. When I learned that the bonus footage filmed for the NBC airing of 'Halloween' in 1980 was going to be included in this package, I had expected that both the original film and the film with the additional scenes would be available.
Sadly, the additional film work is left separate, as only part of the bonus features. Also, there is a documentary with Jamie Lee Curtis attending a horror convention, raising money for Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. I didn't really find it that interesting, aside from a quick gathering of the actors who have played "The Shape" through the franchise's long run of sequels.
The trailers, TV ads, and radio spots that have been available on past releases are included here as well. I was expecting considerably more, for such a significant milestone in the film's history, truthfully.
And with that all said, a lot of people just collect the releases due to their new packaging. Well, oh dear! The packaging is particularly bad. The "book" has some cool pics but the disc is stored in a glued-in paper sleeve in the back. It's cheap and can potentially damage the disc. What were they thinking using glue?!
Conclusion: If you don't have this film (and, er, why the hell not?) and want it for the film itself, I would recommend it. Hey, gotta start somewhere and this is the newest incarnation, after all! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Digibook with embossed cover and foil accents. Booklet inside featuring 20 pages of photos along with an essay about the film
All-new audio commentary with writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis
All-new featurette entitled “The Night She Came Home” – a documentary-style piece showing Jamie Lee Curtis attending a fan convention
We also included selected extra features from previous releases:
On Location: 25 Years Later featurette
Old TV and radio spots
TV version footage - footage added in for the film’s TV airings