Directed by John Carpenter.  Starring  Donald Pleasence Jamie Lee Curtis. P.J. Soles and lacy Loomis. USA, 1978, 91 mins.   Released by Lionsgate. Out now.

 

I recently spent an enjoyable evening with a genre cinema classic, catching up with John Carpenter's 40-year-old slasher HALLOWEEN which has recently been updated to 4K and High Dynamic Range. (HDR)

 

I’m old enough to remember seeing HALLOWEEN in the cinema back in 1979 on its original release. It opened in America in 1978, but as par for the course in those days, the UK followed on a few months later.  Although I remember the film being projected from a copy that looked like it had been dumped on several projection room floors before it got to my sadly now long gone local Astoria flea pit, sorry cinema in Dundee, the film made a lasting impression. As the norms in Dundee back in the day, most people had their night for going to the pictures.  Mine was Monday. I would go regardless of what was on. Sorry, I digress, back to the point.

 

Most reading this review on Gore in the Store will surely have seen the film, and if you haven’t, not sure what I can say to you other than see it. This is the film that pretty much every other horror film is measured against establishing the rules that many still follow to this day. But just in case - young boy Michael (Myers) murders 17-year-old sister, Judith and is committed to an asylum.  Years later he escapes and returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield hence the film's tagline - 'The Night HE Came Home' - to wreak revenge on the teenagers living on his old street.

 

Perfectly cast featuring Donald Pleasence running around telling anybody that will listen that a maniac is loose and Jamie Lee Curtis starring in her first film role as the bookworm target of Michael’s revenge. From the opening point of view kill, it’s almost an hour before the next one.  Carpenter masterfully and patiently builds the tension setting the stage with his now iconic film score and economic now you see him now you don't glimpses of Laurie's blank-faced assailant ahead of the carnage to come.

 

The film was shot with a minuscule budget in Panavision (cinemascope) on 35mm film with a proper 17 consecutive day shoot. This was a huge jump up from Carpenters previous 16mm student expanded to a feature film DARK STAR that was years in the making.

 

Many fans were never pleased with the pan and scan and colour balance of the subsequent HALLOWEEN home entertainment releases. Attempts have been made to fix this in two recent Blu-ray releases including the 35th-anniversary release. This new 4K release takes the process further. I could go into a whole load of nerdy techie stuff, about the depths of the blacks and the details of the HDR restoration to convince you dear reader about the quality of this restoration. Suffice to say, that in my humble opinion the film has never looked better.

 

If I have a quibble, it’s on the sound. I caught a couple of big-title restorations last year, and I had the same issues. While the soundscape in the form of the new Dolby surround, that was added in the 35th-anniversary release and is again used for this version is an excellent addition from the original mono soundtrack, some of the dialogue to my ears anyway sounded thin and tinny. A minor quibble and in no way detracted from my enjoyment.

 

If you have a 4K tele, do yourself a favour and go buy this.

 

The extras on the 4K disc are nothing new which is a little disappointing. They are the same as the 35th Anniversary release.

 

Audio commentary with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis

The Night She Came Home!! (HD – 59:43)

On Location: 25 Years Later (SD – 11:03)

TV Version Footage (SD – 10:41)

TV Spots (SD – 3 spots)

Radio Spots (HD – 3 spots)

Trailer (SD – 2:33)

 

The release comes with a Blu-ray version on a second disc.  Unfortunately, this is the 2007 version, which to be frank, is pants, (too bright) but it does have the following extras.

 

Audio commentary with John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Debra Hill

Fast Film Facts (a subtitle trivia track option)

Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest (SD – 87:07)

TV Spots (SD – 3 spots)

Trailer (SD – 2:42)

Radio Spots (HD – 3 spots)

 

 

The extras on the 4K disc are nothing new, which is a little disappointing. They are the same as the 35th Anniversary release.

 

Audio commentary with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis

The Night She Came Home!! (HD – 59:43)

On Location: 25 Years Later (SD – 11:03)

TV Version Footage (SD – 10:41)

TV Spots (SD – 3 spots)

Radio Spots (HD – 3 spots)

Trailer (SD – 2:33)

 

The release comes with a Blu-ray version on a second disc.  Unfortunately, this is the 2007 version, which to be frank, is pants, (to bright) but it does have the following extras.

 

Audio commentary with John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Debra Hill

Fast Film Facts (a subtitle trivia track option)

Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest (SD – 87:07)

TV Spots (SD – 3 spots)

Trailer (SD – 2:42)

Radio Spots (HD – 3 spots)

 

Ian Rattray.

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