- BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
- Region A Locked
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
- English SDH
- Audio Commentary
Exclusive HD Content
- Audio Commentary
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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (Blu-ray)
Starz/Anchor Bay / 1988 / 88 Minutes / Rated R
Street Date: August 21, 2012
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Reviewed by M. Enois Duarte
Thursday, August 16, 2012
After the weird, abrupt left turn that is 'Halloween III' -- considered by some to be the worst in the series -- film producer Moustapha Akkad bought all the rights to the name and brought the series back to basics. It says so in the title and promotional artwork, bringing back the "Shape" along with the iconic music. It took another six years for the newest entry to hit theaters, just in time for the first film's ten-year anniversary. And in the end, Mr. Akkad accomplished his goal, revisiting the town of Haddonfield while spawning a popular franchise, a legacy which continues today thanks to his son.
Part of the challenge was in figuring out how to reconcile the new movie with the events of the sequel, particularly an ending which clearly hinted at the demise of both Michael Myers and his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (the always enjoyable Donald Pleasence). After rejecting several script ideas, Akkad brought in Alan B. McElroy, a long-time fan of Carpenter's first two films, to finalize the story and write the screenplay. McElroy went on to ignite another horror franchise two decades later with 'Wrong Turn.'
The plot itself comes with a twist that craftily bridges part two with this one while completely ignoring number three altogether. Simply put, Myers and Loomis survived the fire, putting the homicidal boogeyman in a coma and scarring the poor doctor both physically and psychologically. Granted, that's not all that crafty, but mind you, this is as good as you can possibly imagine, given this is the third sequel to a slasher flick at a time when the genre was waning.
Director Dwight H. Little ('Marked for Death') does what he can with the material, as silly and nonsensical as it may be, turning it into a decently diverting return and addition to Carpenter's original vision. Although lacking the proper chops for generating suspense, Little puts much of his efforts at building, or should we say imitating, the atmosphere from the first movie. He gives us funny glimpses of the creepy white mask poking from the dark shadows, just moments before taking out a cop, the scantily-dressed Kelly Meeker (Kathleen Kinmont) or that two-timer Brady (Sasha Jenson). Best of all is seeing Myers do his slow menacing walk while conveniently always two steps ahead of his intended victim, his little niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) and her older foster sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell).
And come to think of it, is it just me or is it outrageously hilarious that no one in the entire story ever offers an actual explanation of how Jamie came to be and why her mother, Laurie Strode, abandoned her? Did ambulance medic Jimmy, whose last name is Lloyd by the way, get lucky soon after the massacre of the first sequel? It's a glaringly obvious goof in the continuity of the franchise, especially when 'Halloween H20' comes rolling in and tries to establish a whole new separate timeline. And yet, part four is weirdly fun, but still a tad on the silly side. As always, lots of love goes to Pleasance's stubbornly tenacious doctor with his single-minded warnings of Myers being the embodiment of evil. He brings a great deal of seriousness and gravity to a terrifically cheesy horror entry.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Starz and Anchor Bay Entertainment bring 'Halloween 4' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc inside a blue eco-vortex keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight a regular menu selection with full-motion clips and music.
Michael Myers returns to Blu-ray with a good but not very impressive 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. It's an improvement to its standard-def counterpart with better overall definition and clarity, but merely passable in high-def terms. Details in the background and foreground are sharper with pleasingly fine textures in the clothing and faces of actors. Daylight exteriors are decidedly best while several nighttime sequences are less satisfying and often poorly resolved. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture comes with a nice film-like quality thanks to a thinly-layered grain structure, but contrast is somewhat mediocre with noticeable blooming in the highlights and revealing a bit of noise in the whites. Black levels are adequate and deep in some spots, and the color palette is bold and accurately rendered.
Unfortunately, the audio is even less gratifying than the video, primarily because of a weak dynamic range. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack mostly sounds flat and even with very limited movement between the frequencies. Gunshots and the one moment of explosion lack acoustical detail in the upper ranges, like the signal just suddenly stops and can't go any further. The low-end exhibits much of the same and is practically non-existent, making most of the entire movie seem lifeless and generic. This is also takes its toll on the music and the iconic theme. The lossless mix keeps to the front soundstage, which is fine and as it should be, offering one of the few positives because it creates an appreciably broad image. Vocals, too, are nicely prioritized, but overall, the high-rez track is fairly average.
Anchor Bay ports over the supplements from previous DVD releases, minus "The Making of Halloween 4: Final Cut" and the commentary track with screenwriter Alan B. McElroy and Anthony Massey of Halloweenmovies.com.
- Audio Commentary — Actors Ellie Cornell (Rachel) and Danielle Harris (Jamie) have a delightful chat while watching the movie. Although spending much of their time reminiscing about the production and working with the cast & crew, the two ladies making for a fun listen, like have friends over and share amusing anecdotes while enjoying 'Halloween 4.'
- Halloween 4 & 5 Discussion Panel (SD, 18 min) — Originally recorded at the H25 Convention, Danielle Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, Sasha Jenson, and Jeffrey Landman of 'Halloween 5' answer audience questions about the making of both movies and their individual experiences.
- Trailer (SD) — The original theatrical preview is also included.
For this Blu-ray edition of 'Halloween 4,' Anchor Bay offers one high-def exclusive to entice fans.
- Audio Commentary — Director Dwight H. Little sits with and is pretty much interviewed by author Justin Beahm of Halloweenmovies.com. The recent conversation is worth a listen as Beahm asks several pertinent questions about the production, his involvement and his overall goal in this movie. Considering how rarely we get to hear Little's perspective, the commentary is greatly appreciated with many insightful remarks about the cast, the look and the director's approach in making a new sequel to a beloved horror movie.
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After 'Halloween III' ended with a thud, producer Moustapha Akkad took the series, returned to the basics in 'Halloween 4.' Starring Danielle Harris as Michael Myer's niece, the third sequel is a fun addition to the mythos and legacy of the Haddonfield massacre, igniting a popular and beloved horror franchise. Although the Blu-ray comes to town with improved audio and video, the presentation is still only a passable high-def transfer that will at least make fans happy. Bonus material is basically the same with one exclusive, making this worth the price for those hungering for more Michael Myers mayhem.
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