Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition - Criticize This!

It used to be just one day, but it seems like the entire month of October is now dedicated to those things that go bump in the night so it only felt appropriate to kick off a month of all things horror with one of the most revered classics of the genre. John Carpenter’s Halloween works as a straight-up chilling tale and has now been reissued in a special Blu-ray Book for its 35th Anniversary Edition.

Fifteen years ago, Michael Myers brutally murdered his sister. Now, after escaping from a mental hospital, he’s back home to relive his grisly crime again, and again…and again. No one in town wants to believe the terror, and only his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), along with bookish teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) understand that the night Michael Myers came home is one they won’t soon forget.

Halloween shows absolutely no mercy as it is a film that relentlessly goes for the jugular and never lets go. With his third feature outing, writer/director John Carpenter earned his chops as one of the genuine masters of suspense, as what is such a simple setup is executed to near goddamn perfection. The narrative sets up the action effortlessly as the chase begins and leads to the final confrontation between Laurie and Michael Myers. Carpenter borrows from some of the best before him to craft such an effective thrill ride. From the camera work to Carpenter’s often underrated work as a composer, the tension just soars sky high and that is saying something considering the fact that the film hardly has any blood or gore in it at all.

In her feature film debut, Jamie Lee Curtis was really the birth of the strong horror heroine who wasn’t just a victim. Carpenter, who has always written very strong parts for women over the years, imbued Curtis’ Laurie with a real no nonsense attitude which worked perfectly in the crux of the narrative giving our villain a believable foil to play off of in the film’s final act.

Donald Pleasance brings his trademark manic and nervous energy as the doctor trying to track down this dangerous creature who he dubs the living embodiment of the Boogeyman. Some other familiar faces, like PJ Soles and Charles Cyphers, also turn up in the ensemble, but this film truly comes down to the chase between Laurie and Michael, which plays out so very well.

Just shut off all the lights and invite a few people over to watch this and marvel at how effectively we can get a fright out of this film, even after 35 years.

The picture and sound quality on this Blu-ray release are simply first rate as the HD transfer was approved and supervised by original cinematographer Dean Cundey. Special features include a brand new feature length audio commentary track with writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis, a new featurette called The Night She Came Home, which is nearly an hour long and interesting look at the series and the impact it had on Jamie Lee Curtis. There’s also the 25 Years Later featurette, footage from the TV version of the film, the original trailer along with original TV and radio spots.

Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)


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