Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Hi-Def Blood Movie Review: Halloween

The classic film Halloween was one of the first horror movies to take the Blu ray dip by Starz Home Entertainment. The Blu ray release of Halloween was released in 2007, some 29 years after the original hit theaters. So how did this release hold up to the many different DVD releases already on the market? Well it really is a mixed bag. The picture quality has been upgraded significantly from previous releases. The exception to this is the Divimax edition that was previously released on DVD. This version originally had much better picture quality than the older DVD releases. The Blu ray transfer is a small step up from the re mastered Divimax DVD release. The print used for the transfer has been cleaned up a bit but is still not perfect. Specs of dirt can still be seen in certain scenes of the film. Considering that this film is 29 years old you really cannot be picky with small issues like dirt specs. The fan community was in uproar over the Blu ray release when it was discovered that neither Carpenter nor cinematographer Dean Cundey had any say with the new transfer. This film is a classic and should be given the upmost care when released on a high definition format such as Blu ray.
The audio has been given the 5.1 uncompressed PCM treatments which is a first for the film. While this does add to the original soundtrack, I found that the original source material really works best with the original mono mix. I almost always prefer a 5.1 mix but in cases where the source material was never made for surround sound you’re better off using the original mix that the director intended.
In the extras department we get an upgraded version of the previously released documentary “Halloween’: A Cut Above the Rest.” This has been included on previous releases but this time includes a 1080i transfer. The usual still galleries and trailers are included on the Blu ray as well. The disappointing thing about this release is the absence of many features that were on the Divimax and Criterion releases. Gone is the “Halloween On Location,” feature that was included on the Divimax edition. The “TV Cut,” which includes an additional 12 minutes of footage is also lost on the Blu ray edition. The Blu ray edition does receive the “Fast Film Facts,” treatment that Starz Home Entertainment has included on their other horror releases.

Final Verdict
While I would have to say that the picture does look great on a High Definition TV, I just cannot justify purchasing this release if you already own the Divimax edition. The mere fact that Carpenter was not involved with the Blu ray transfer alone can send fans packing. Another issue I have with this release is that Blu rays can hold much more data than your standard DVD. Thus the loss of special features that were already released on the DVD versions is inexcusable. Studios are notorious for re releasing films on DVD and now Blu ray so it’s only a matter of time before Starz Home Entertainment releases a “Super Duper Halloween,” Blu ray transfer. One can only hope that Carpenter is actually involved with the transfer. Hey if Blue Underground can get Dario Argento and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli to supervise the DVD re master of Suspiria, why can’t we get Carpenter involved?
One last note, watch any DVD or Blu ray release of the original Halloween before you watch the abortion of a film created by Rob Zombie.

--Steven Duarte