For the legions of Halloween fans, the Deluxe Edition boasts 15 discs and contains all the Halloween feature films – Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II. The set includes the NEVER BEFORE RELEASED producers cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as well as the ultra-rare network TV version of the original Halloween, the network TV version of Halloween II, plus the unrated versions of Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II. It is packed with hours of BRAND NEW bonus features including new interviews with cast and crew from the entire franchise! In response to years of fan feedback, the first Halloween will now also include the original mono audio track and the set will include both versions of the original Halloween-the original Blu-ray™ release and the recently remastered 35th Anniversary version with the mono track added back in! It also comes with a limited edition 40-page book written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria Magazine. The collectible packaging will include a newly commissioned illustration on the outer case and each film will be in its own black Blu-ray™ case with the original theatrical one sheet as the key art.
When it comes to the icons of modern horror — Leatherface, Michael, Jason and Freddy — genre fans tend to favor one over the rest. The unstoppable monster of lustful, misbehaving teens has made some significant impressions in his life, something that has captured their imagination since childhood and converted thm into devoted followers of the character. Personally, and although I love each franchise in their own right and for different reasons, I'm a loyal disciple of Michael Myers' reign of terror. I've always gravitated more towards the 'Halloween' series above the rest, ever since I first experienced The Shape's creepily imposing figure standing motionless on someone's yard. Or, his equally eerie march towards his next victim, a calm and patient stride that seemed self-assured and unworried his intended prey would escape. Or better still, the way he coolly skulks from behind the shadows like it were part of him.
When it comes down to it, it's ultimately the style and atmosphere of the franchise that draws my attention, allowing each filmmaker of every installment to create a sense of foreboding rather than jumps scares or cleverly one-liners and to make Michael Myers a literal scary shape of the shadows. My initial experience with the first three movies was on television, something that was a fun tradition every year in October as All Hallows' Eve approached and for many, was the perfect way for setting the season. In the first two, the POV shots are really the selling points, placing audiences in the perspective and identity of the masked maniac, making each scene all the creepier. Then, after killing someone, Michael macabrely stands there and stares with a bizarre animal-like curiosity that's rather unsettling. Although Leatherface released five years earlier, 'Halloween' is really the film that started it all, the 1980s "slasher" craze, and in my book remains the best thing to come of that short-live period.
Of course, once we get into sequel territory, the franchise grows rather sketchy, which is true of all the horror franchises from the 1980s. However — and I'm sure this is also true of the most hardened fans — the third entry may be the oddball, black-sheep of the bunch, but 'Season of the Witch' is surprisingly entertaining in its own quirky way and appreciated because of what it originally aspired to be over its failures. And frankly, the story of corporate corruption and their Silver Shamrock masks is weirdly creepy, another traditional TV watch perfect for celebrating the spooky season. When 'Return' and 'Revenge' finally hit theaters, I was giddy at the opportunity of enjoying the series on the big screen, which I did with a few friends. Although the story of Jamie Lloyd and Rachel was not very compelling, I remember digging the fact that filmmakers expanded on the Myers universe and touched on a couple supernatural ideas.
Sadly, things don't improve much when going into 'Curse,' and in fact, the series more or less starts somewhat going downhill in this entry. Directed by Joe Chappelle and scripted by Daniel Farrands, the movie does have some redeeming qualities, however, especially as it expands on the mystical, supernatural elements explaining Myers indestructibility and maniacal drive to kill his family. Granted, the revelation is also a bit on the corny side and frankly, takes away, just a little, from Myers' scariness. But part of the film's enjoyment is the controversy surrounding a troubled production and the fact that this was Donald Pleasance's final role as the awesome Dr. Loomis. The behind-the-scenes issues lead to two versions of the film, the Theatrical Version and the Producer's Cut. And amazingly, the latter is superior to the former with better pacing, even when clocking in a 95 minutes. There are also a few changes in the dialogue and scenes that finish with a completely different and more satisfying conclusion.
Some years later, what was original planned as a direct-to-video installment quickly evolved into a theatrical release to commemorate John Carpenter and Debra Hill's original masterpiece. And personally, there are a few reasons why I actually this entry and feel as though the filmmakers redeemed, or perhaps saved, the franchise from ending on a sour note. The thought was to bring back Carpenter to direct and Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise her seminal role as Laurie Strode. Although the mastermind behind the series declined to return, Curtis's come-back is very much welcomed appearance for loyal, hardened fans, especially when seeing the character decide to make this a final showdown against her disturbed brother. Written by Matt Greenberg and Robert Zappia, the plot brilliantly ignores previous story lines, picking up literally twenty years later from the events of the first two films. Director Steve Miner ('Friday the 13th,' 'House,' 'Lake Placid') is great behind the camera, bathing an engaging story with moody atmosphere and several awesomely clever references, like Curtis's real-life mom Janet Leigh and subtle hints to 'Psycho.'
Unfortunately, the filmmakers fail to maintain the momentum when entering 'Resurrection,' which frankly is an abysmal failure from the same helmer, Rick Rosenthal, who gave fans the first sequel. A questionable and ultimately terrible opening that supposedly wraps up some loose ends from the last movie quickly establishes a pace and tone that's clunky and awkward. The plot is just plain dumb with forgettable and pretty grating characters, decidedly making it the worst film of the series. In 2007, horror-themed shock rocker Rob Zombie tried to reboot the franchise with a remake of Carpenter's now classic film, one which not only modernized the original concept but also re-imagined it. Although making it his own and to his preference, the movie is, quite honestly, not that much better than the last entry, especially when giving Michael a more detailed background and history that essentially ruins everything that makes the character scary in the first place. Things improve stylistically ever so slightly in a follow-up that, personally, wrecks the franchise worse than any previous entries.
Thankfully, Zombie's versions don't take away or even come close to the greatness that is John Carpenter's 'Halloween,' a "slasher" horror flick that remains just as effective today as it did in 1978.
For more in-depth reviews of each film in the franchise, please click on the links below:
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Theatrical Version: 2/5)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer's Cut: 3/5)
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (3.5/5)
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment and Shout/Scream Factory join forces to bring fans the definitive collection of the 'Halloween' franchise to Blu-ray. Dubbed "The Complete Collection," fans have two box sets from which to choose, either the 10-Disc package or the ultimate 15-Disc Deluxe Edition. For this review, we look at the latter, which is packed with several goodies. Arriving in a sturdy and quite attractive box, each film comes in individual black, eco-cutout cases with a 42-page, photo booklet that features a terrifically insightful essay on the franchise by Michael Gingold of Fangoria magazine.
The first film is a two-disc BD50 package showing two different transfers while part two is the same two-disc (one BD50; the other a DVD-9) collector's set from Scream Factory, and part three is a single-disc BD50. 'Return' arrives on a BD25 while 'Revenge,' 'Curse,' 'H20' and 'Resurrection' are pressed on five BD50 discs. All are Region A locked. Zombie's re-imaginings are spread across three Region Free, BD50s, and the Bonus Disc is a BD50 disc containing a wealth of supplements and the 101-minute extended version of John Carpenter's 'Halloween,' presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. Each disc goes straight to an animated menu with full-motion clips and music.
For a more detailed description of each film's picture quality, please click on the links below:
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (3.5/5)
The Shape returns home with a great-looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1) that decidedly surpasses any previous home video editions, especially the Echo Bridge and Alliance Blu-ray releases. Of the two versions, the Producer's Cut is superior to the Theatrical Cut, which is softer and less resolved with weaker clarity and bland contrast. Although a couple scenes in the former also fall on the soft side, the overall presentation is highly-detailed with clean, distinct lines and revealing facial complexions. Colors are boldly rendered with primaries looking particularly bright. Contrast is a tad dull, but for the most part, spot-on and well-balanced while blacks are accurate with excellent shadow delineation.
Theatrical Version: 3/5, Producer's Cut: 4/5
Halloween H20 (3/5)
First and foremost, this AVC-encoded transfer of 'H20' is an improvement over the previous Echo Bridge and Alliance releases, but unfortunately, it's not by much. It seems as though producers have simply recycled an old, dated DVD master, which essentially amounts to a small upgrade. Granted, the 2.35:1 image offers better definition and resolution with appreciable detailing throughout and strong fine lines in the healthy facial complexions. But overall, it's softer than what would be expected with several blurry moments and contrast that tends to run hot, creating a tad of blooming and clipping in the highlights with very mild posterization. The color palette benefits most with bold primaries and full-bodied secondary hues. Black levels are often rich and true with excellent delineation, but in the end, the presentation wavers between very good and average.
For a more detailed description of each disc's audio quality, please click on the links below:
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (3.5/5)
Giving fans two listening options, the sixth chapter in the series arrives with an equally excellent DTS-HD Master Audio. Whether in 2.0 or 5.1 configurations, the soundtrack delivers a wide sense of presence with a clean, distinct mid-range and sharping detailing in the orchestration. The latter option, of course, employs the surrounds with a variety of subtle atmospherics and strong panning effects. Low bass is not very impressive but provides some decently powerful moments that are appreciated without seeming artificial or boomy. Only nagging issue worth mentioning is dialogue coming in a hair lower than the rest, but thankfully, it's not entirely drowned by the action or music, making this a good lossless mix.
Halloween H20 (3/5)
As with the video, so too goes the audio, and as per Scream's custom, fans have the option between stereo and 5.1 surround sound. Either track sounds good, but the latter option is personally favored for this particular film. The results are quite strong with great clarity and distinction in the mid-range, generating a wide and welcoming soundstage. Imaging delivers plenty of background activity with very good channel separation and balance, and dialogue reproduction is distinct and pristine in the center. Although mostly a front-heavy mix, rears are occasionally employed with mild ambient effects and subtle bleeds from the score. The low-end is rather disappointing and surprisingly lackluster, providing little depth and weight to an otherwise strong lossless presentation.
For more in-depth description of supplements, please click on the links above. What follows is a brief overview of bonus features:
As long-time fan of the franchise and one of the most famous iconic horror villains, I'm thrilled and excited to see Starz/Anchor Bay and Shout/Scream Factory come together to bring the entire 'Halloween' collection to Blu-ray in a box set pouring with supplemental goodies. Although many are basically recycled audio and video presentations from previous releases, the overall package offers strong quality, and each film arrives in individual cases, which is greatly appreciated. Hardened, loyal fans will definitely be purchasing the 15-Disc Complete Collection, but others will be equally content with the smaller 10-Disc box set. Recommended.