For many including myself, Halloween is a holiday defined by movies. To us, October 1st isn’t merely one of twelve days a year we have to drop off a rent check. It marks the beginning of a 31-day horror movie free-for-all that culminates in All Hallow’s Eve! And in that annual 31-day stretch, I guarantee no movie is watched by more people than John Carpenter’s 1978 horror opus, Halloween. It is without a doubt the horror movie, an absolutely brilliantly-paced and impeccably-executed, low budget classic that is as much a part of October 31st as getting horribly sick eating fun-sized candy bars. And yet, since 2007, we’ve had to settle for viewing the film at home on either a sub-par Blu-ray release plagued by a now notorious array of issues including the inappropriately cheery color timing, or on our long outmoded DVDs.
With today’s release of the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment, however, all that changes. That’s right. Michael Myers is back again in HD and we at last have a Blu-ray we can be proud to own. It features an all-new HD transfer approved by the film’s cinematographer Dean Cundey, a transfer characterized by notably cooler colors than the previous Blu-ray that are at once more appropriately ominous and simply make it feel more like fall. It’s an all-around beautiful transfer that captures the subtle film grain of the original stock and is fraught with only minor blemishes including a single stray hair and the occasional, hardly noticeable white speck.
What makes this release a real must-own, however, is not merely the transfer. It is a spectacular package in almost every way. For starters, the first printing of this release is being made available in a book-style package with a built-in 20-page booklet featuring archival photos and an essay by Halloween historian Stef Hutchinson. And the artwork for this release, specially commissioned from artist Jay Shaw (and pictured above), is absolutely gorgeous. The 35th Anniversary Edition also includes some brand new special features including a commentary with Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis and the documentary, The Night She Came Home. The commentary, while nowhere near as funny as those featuring Carpenter and Kurt Russell, is terrifically entertaining as Curtis freaks out at every scare and argues with Carpenter over details of the production. The two have a wonderful rapport and it’s great to hear them reminisce about the time they spent together back in ’78. The Night She Came Home, a film by Curtis’ sister and brother-in-law, follows Curtis as she makes herself available to fans at a horror fan convention in order to raise money for charity. Her interactions with the fans are often quite wonderful, especially when she meets a woman at her hotel before the convention who is preparing for her wedding later that day. Additional features include the featurette “On Location: 25 Years Later,” the additional footage shot for the TV version of the film, as well as trailers and TV and radio spots.
It’s a wonderful package that I stress all fans of the film should pick up as soon as humanly possible, but this is not to say that it’s perfect of course. For example, I would have liked to have seen Anchor Bay retain all special features and commentaries included on previous DVD releases of Halloween, thereby making it unnecessary to keep them around. What’s more, although the extra footage from the TV version is included here, and looking better than ever, I would have loved to have been given the option to view the TV version with the newly transferred materials. Granted, the TV version is by no means superior to the film as it was released theatrically, but it is interesting nonetheless and something I do occasionally watch. So to me that seems quite an oversight. Still, the Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is without a doubt the most spectacular presentation of the movie to date, so as long as my DVD of the TV version holds out, I have to say that these are but minor complaints, and that you should just go ahead and order your copy of the film now! Do it.