It’s the movie that launched a series, and loads of discussion about just where it should have stopped. It’s “Halloween,” and our friends out at Anchor Bay sent over a copy of the “Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition” on Blu-ray for us to review. This one will be in stores tomorrow, so for those who love the scary, this is a great opportunity for some new perspective on one of the all-time greats.
The plot of “Halloween” is likely familiar to many, but for those who haven’t yet had a go-round with the original–and some might say best–I’ll bring you up to speed. One night in 1963, a little boy by the name of Michael Myers, for no clear reason (despite what some re-interpretations might claim), took up a butcher knife and killed his sister on Halloween night. The killing did not go unnoticed, and Michael spent much of his life in an insane asylum under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis, who has largely given up on his young charge after decades of failed treatments. Fast forward fifteen years, and the town of Haddonfield is about to, in that grandest small-town tradition, celebrate Halloween. But these celebrations will be tragically cut short as Michael Myers comes home.
This is a story that has been imitated, re-envisioned, completely restructured, analyzed, and given a host of sequels, so regarding it as one of the biggest names in the horror field today is not at all out of line. But what is perhaps most shocking is that, despite the fact that this is 35 years old this year, it has aged extraordinarily well. Leaving aside some of the obvious issues in things like costume choices–this is 1978, after all; no one’s watching a plasma television or driving an SUV let alone wearing stuff that looks like it was produced this century–it looks like it could have been shot just yesterday. That’s likely owing to the impressive remastering that’s been engaged in here as part of the Blu-ray treatment, but it’s still a joy to watch. They’ve spread out the killings here so that nothing moves too quickly, and there’s not even that much blood to speak of going on either, odd, but almost refreshing, especially in light of much of the current stock of cinema where blood is often treated as a substitute for scares, good dialogue and even character development.
Oddly, things don’t really get exciting until the tail end, when the series-defining final battle gets underway in earnest. It’s still quite watchable up to that point, but some reared on more modern, action-packed fare may find this cut a bit underdone.
Special features, as you might expect, are absolutely huge, including a new audio commentary track from both Jamie Lee Curtis and the man himself, John Carpenter. But that’s just where it starts; there’s a new featurette featuring Jamie Lee Curtis going to a “Halloween” fan convention, a replay of the “25 Years Later” featurette, an original trailer, a set of old television and radio ad spots, and some additional footage for the television-specific airings. Also included are trailers for “The Lords of Salem,” your choice of Dolby TrueHD 7.1 or mono for that original audio experience, your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, and just to cap things off, an actual book included in the packaging providing some more insight on this classic title.
“Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition” will succeed on a variety of points. Not only has it successfully preserved a downright legendary experience in horror filmmaking, it’s also showing us a terrific slasher movie that really kicked off the genre, as well as showing us the roots of one of the biggest franchises in the field. There’s a lot to like here, even if you’re not one for horror history, and “Halloween”‘s latest edition will deliver on all fronts.