Blu-ray Review: Halloween (1978) – 35th Anniversary Edition

Halloween BR CoverDistributor: Anchor Bay

BBFC Classification: 18

Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Tony Moran, Nancy Loomis

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when John Carpenter’s seminal horror film Halloween didn’t exist, but there was and it was over 35 years ago. Before that moment the slasher film wasn’t even a genre; Hitchcock’s Psycho and Bob Clark’s Black Christmas paved the way but Carpenter’s vision and pioneering filmmaking techniques defined what would become known as the slasher film and would go on to spawn a seemingly unending number of imitators, the most notable being Friday the 13th. But although there would be more gruesome and gorier masked killer films, Halloween always seemed to stand alone as a ‘perfect’ film – that mythical creation that really means there’s nothing you would change about it – and Anchor Bay have re-released that cinematic perfection in a rather lovely Steelbook edition Blu-ray.

Is a plot description necessary? Probably not but here’s one anyway: In the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois in 1963, six-year-old Michael Myers stabs his teenage sister to death. 15 years later Myers escapes the institution that has held him since childhood and returns to Haddonfield, with his doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence – You Only Live Twice/From Beyond the Grave) in hot pursuit. But Michael has set his sights on babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis – Trading Places/Prom Night) and her friends as Halloween 1978 turns into a night of sheer terror for the innocent residents of Haddonfield.

As with The Wicker Man, Halloween is a film that has been dissected and discussed at length with regards to technical details and cultural significance, and there are plenty of documentaries and interviews with cast and crew members floating around out there to give you all the background information you could ever need, but this edition – as well as giving you a superb HD transfer and audio mix that were overseen by Director of Photography Dean Cundey and John Carpenter himself – has something that none of the previous releases has and that is a brand new 59-minute featurette covering Jamie Lee Curtis’ exclusive appearance at HorrorHound Weekend last year, where she signed hundreds of autographs and spoke about Halloween in a bid to raise money for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles charity. There is also a brand new audio commentary from John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, On Location: 25 Years Later featurette, trailers and radio spots so there’s plenty to please the faithful.

Despite there being numerous DVD and Blu-ray editions already out there this new transfer is certainly the best looking of the bunch, showing off Carpenter’s visual tricks and expert use of shadow – techniques that are still used today – but still with a bit of grain to keep the film’s ’70′s character. The film itself still holds up as an exercise in sheer terror without the blood and guts that would come later in the series, and watching Donald Pleasence become increasingly more desperate in his pursuit of The Shape is still joyous, although it isn’t until the end of part two that he really goes off the deep end. So is this edition worth parting with your hard earned cash for if you already own the film on another format? Oh yes, and if you don’t already own this film on any edition then you really ought to have a word with yourself and put it right immediately.

Halloween

Special Features: Audio commentary with John Carpenter & Jamie Lee Curtis, The Night She Came Home!! featurette covering Jamie Lee Curtis’ appearance at Horrorhound Weekend, On Location: 25 Years Later featurette, TV version footage, trailer, TV & radio spots.

UK Release Date: 21st October 2013

Anchor Bay – Website

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9 thoughts on “Blu-ray Review: Halloween (1978) – 35th Anniversary Edition

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