Release Date: August 14, 2007
Once again, Halloween has found it’s way on video shelves to keep all generations of DVD buyers aware that this is the one horror film that started it all. I think everyone remembers when they first saw the movie Halloween.
Halloween was different from other horror films of the day because it brought something fresh to the horror genre that wasn’t there before. Several other films in the 1970s shared a similar response because they brought surprises and advancements to cinema. Star Wars amazed people with its good pacing and special effects that were unlike any other Sci-Fi film. The film Alien used a small cast whose scares relied on the premise that seeing ‘less is more’ claustrophobia, hopelessness and horror to the big screen. It was unlike any creature film at the time that had a simple story and equalled big fear. Halloween was developed in the same manner only a year before and with just a fraction of the budget. Using his knowledge of what made a great horror film, writer/director John Carpenter’s Halloween is the film that spawned many sequels and rip-offs and revitalized the genre of horror films.
Michael Myers, the ultimate evil behind the mask, escapes from a mental institution fifteen years after he committed the murder of his sister at the ripe young age of six years old. Sporting a clown suit and a Halloween clown mask, Carpenter’s use of the then-new Panavision steadycam lets us look through Michael’s eyes as he puts in that sharp steely knife on Halloween, 1963. Because of this night, this little town of Haddonfield, Illinois will always have a story and an empty haunted house of where the murder took place.
The film jumps to 1978 and its Hallowe’en night again. The town now has an unexpected visitor and a few local teenage girls have a new admirer. One of the girls, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) sees this ‘shape’ appearing and disappearing before her eyes, but ignores it and insists that this boogieman isn’t real. Dr. Loomis, the doctor on pursuit, knows Michael very well. He is the only one who knows the horror behind his black eyes.
For Laurie, the plan for the night is to do some babysitting while her friends do some loving. Myers on the other hand has another plan in mind to let us experience his terror once again - on Halloween night. This is a true horror classic without the blood, guts, and ultra-violence that some might expect. Would this be rated PG-13 by today’s standards?
The first time I was introduced to the name of the film was when I was very young. I used to be the most frightened kid on earth and horror films were not my flavour of films at the time. My family trip to the video store consisted of bringing home family orientated films. I had a habit of wandering into the isles of films “not for my age”. Horror and Sci-Fi titles whose cover art depicted scenes of horror scared me to believing that what I saw was real. Looking at the reverse side of those Beta tapes (yes, we were Beta supporters) got my attention even more as pictures of scenes from the films were now spinning my imagination and haunting my dreams at night. Scared as hell, I’d never want to watch those movies – ever! Or did I?
Even though I had a frightened mind, I was very curious. At some point in life I was able to finally confront those fears and be determined to watch one of these horror movies. The movie I chose was Halloween.
Halloween will always be etched in my mind for introducing me to the horror genre, and for making it one of my favourites. I don’t think Halloween is a very scary film but it does play with your mind off-screen. It might make you fear the world a little more. It might not let you be alone in the dark. It might make you fear the evil that we like to associate with Halloween. This is a great movie and will always be remembered as the first film that spawned the millions of slasher films.
So what makes this release any different than the single disc and limited 2-disc collection in 1999 or the 2003 25th Anniversary Divimax edition? This edition comes with a new O-card cover with glowing jack-o-lantern eyes and nose artwork. But what about the video quality? Does it have the correct colour timing as intended by the filmmakers? Read on…
VIDEO QUALITY: 2.5/5
One of the first things that caught my attention was that the disc is THX certified. Most of us know by now that any THX certification on a DVD today is few and far between. If a disc has THX certification on a “new” release, we know that it’s based on an old transfer. Even though the packaging on the DVD claims this is a new transfer done by award-winning colourist Adam Adams, this is the same transfer used for the 1999 DVD. Thus, the claim of being “new” is bogus and disappointing because fans of this film were treated with an excellent Divimax transfer in 2003.
The Divimax 25th anniversary edition cleaned up the majority of print defects, had enhanced contrast and superior resolution. The only issue fans took with that release was that the colour timing was incorrect. That lushly colourful hi-def transfer did not have the look of autumn that the previous releases had. The skies are blue rather than orange, the grass and trees are bright green rather than dried yellow. You can easily compare these scenes in Chapter 7, 23m02s when Laurie, Annie and Lynda are walking home in the neighbourhood after school. Take a look at the warm sunset when Annie checks for the mysterious man behind the bushes – they aren’t even close to being the same.
Also, the stylized “night blue” of the moonlight that is commonly used in night scenes in film has returned for this release. Night shots of the house across the street in this 2007 edition (and 1999) appear totally blue (yes, totally). In the 2003 release, the house is white, I suppose as it was filmed. The result is the same for interior scenes when there are no lights on in the house. Even though the 2003 release had much more depth perception and definition, the stylizing was gone.
For those of you who missed out on the now discontinued 1999 release and only own the 25th Anniversary Divimax edition, this new 2007 release is your solution to see the film closer to what was intended. The drawback is that it’s an old transfer and is inferior in picture quality in terms of contrast, colour resolution, detail, print artefacts, and line twitter (take a look at the horizontal lines on the car in Laurie’s driveway in Chapter 4, 11m40s, or in the shingles and siding of the house in the same scene or at 13m13s – there is a definite loss of detail because of this).
Compression artefacts can be seen around small details but edge enhancement doesn’t seem to be a factor. I was really disappointed that nothing new was done and now I’m wondering what will be done for the upcoming Blu-ray high definition release in October.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3.5/5
This appears to be the same wonderful 5.1 remix encoded with Dolby Digital. The sense of space with the music is stunning with great soundstage depth. Each tap of the piano key is as chilling as I remembered. This is a remix from the original mono soundtrack.
The soundstage and music is primarily up front. There is little surround activity but when there is it does nicely to support the sounds in the front. Bass is limited in the LFE, but there is nothing really in this soundtrack to give it much to work with. Bass is prominent in the main channels with the music and is blended nicely. While not an aggressive soundtrack, this is a wonderful job done by the sound team and I can’t imagine it done any better.
TACTILE FUN!! /
TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF
Even though LFE isn’t that prominent in this film, I still think bass shakers are fun to use for horror films.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 1/5
This disc has the same features as the 1999 release: a full-screen 1.33:1 chopped version of the film (avoid). An almost 30-minute featurette, Halloween: Unmasked 2000 that talks about the success of the film on the horror movie industry. You’ll also find trailers and TV Spots as well as radio spots, talent bios and two photo galleries.
IN THE END...
I’m disappointed that this isn’t a “new” transfer as claimed, but rather a reissue of an old discontinued release. My hope is that work has begun long ago for high def authoring of a correctly color timed, high resolution, and artefact-free edition of this film. October is only two months away, so Starz Entertainment, please don’t let us down.
August 05, 2007.
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