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Anchor Bay presents
Halloween: Extended Edition (1978)

"He's escaped! The evil has escaped!"
- Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 26, 2001

Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Nancy Kyes
Other Stars: P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards
Director: John Carpenter

Manufacturer: Grace & Wilde
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, nudity, some language)
Run Time: 01h:42m:54s
Release Date: August 07, 2001
UPC: 013131165494
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+C- C-

DVD Review

By now, John Carpenter's Halloween is practically an American institution. It's not only one of the most instrumental horror films ever made, it's also one of those iconic movies that never dies in the public conscious. I feel rather insignificant writing comments about a 23 year-old film that's already loved by millions—if not billions—of people, especiallysince I hadn't seen it until around 1990 or so. That aside, my thoughts on Halloween have always been quite positive. While John Carpenter has gone through mixed success since 1978, experimenting with various projects, I truly believe that at one point he was possessed by genius, and that genius gave us Michael Myers.

For those that came in late, Halloween details the story of Mike Myers, a rather twisted individual who kills his sister on Halloween night in 1963 while he's only 7-years-old. Institutionalized for the rest of his life, a certain Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) wants to seem him confined until he dies, as he is the only physician capable of actually seeing the evil within the soul of Myers. Unfortunately, Myers is kept in a minimum security hospital and in 1978, he manages to escape. He makes his way back to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois and once there, dons a strange, white costume mask and begins stalking a local teenage girl named Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). Myers goes on a rampage of killing as he pursues Laurie with the obvious hopes of killing her on Halloween night, just like his sister.

Halloween, in structure, managed to totally re-define much about the typical 'mad killer' film, and gave birth to the whole 'slasher' genre, though very few of the films would ever come close to this one. Carpenter seemed to be taking cues from the realms of Hitchcock and Italian giallo cinema, rather than the American school of bloody horror. As a result, Halloween is thoroughly refined and artistically crafted in a superb combination of suspense and intelligent arrangement. Carpenter was at his best with the dynamic camera work and clever audience manipulation, generating some of most enduring 'jumps' in thriller history. Added to that was the infamous, throbbing electronic score Carpenter composed with synthesizer expert Alan Howarth. Of course, nowadays, Halloween doesn't look as good, thanks to the endless imitators. Any teenager picked randomly off the street could probably predict the film and spot the spooky stuff, just from being numbed by modern duplications on the same theme, especially the recent Scream films. Like any true classic, though, one can watch Halloween and still appreciate the brilliance as if it were new.

The special aspect of this particular DVD release is that it is the extended, network television version of the film. As explained on the disc, when NBC premiered Halloween in 1980, they wanted to edit the movie for violence and other factors, but had slotted it for a two hour running time; even with commercials the time would be difficult to fill. So, John Carpenter assembled elements of the original cast and crew, and filmed roughly 12 minutes of extra footage to expand the running time, and help fill some of the minor gaps caused by the edits. Until Anchor Bay released their limited edition version of Halloween, this extended version could pretty much only be seen on TV. It is now available separately for those who never purchased the original set.

Now, I'm not a Halloween expert, and I haven't seen the movie enough times to really dissect the new cuts and such. I assumed that since this was the version created for network television, it would have been heavily edited, but it would seem that the DVD is literally just the original film with the extended footage added in, so I noticed no significant cuts. The ending is a little different from my memory, and there may be other slight changes, but you'll want to check with an authoritative source on that. All in all, though, I like the extended footage, as it seems to flesh out some portions of the film a bit better, making it feel more deliberate and built-up. Regardless, any cut of Halloween is a great, dynamic, thriller experience.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: I have a confession to make: I have never seen Halloween on DVD until now, so I honestly can't compare the Extended Version to the previous Anchor Bay disc, but I can definitely say this is an impressive transfer of a film I've personally never seen look quite as good. I was actually expecting a pretty awful transfer, because I figured the extended version (having been designed for television) would be some curiosity that wasn't even widescreened or properly preserved, but I was proven wrong. While the film is generally a bit grainy and soft, it still looks very clean. No artifacts or major issues with shimmer and pixelization are present. The widescreening nicely brings back the visual style of Carpenter's trademark spherical lens usage, and the colors are noticeably improved beyond the faded, dull versions I've seen. There's some slight damage to the source print, but none of it really effects the overall quality.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Disappointingly, the extended version uses a mono mix that, presumably, is the original sound mix rather than the new Dolby 5.1 track engineered by Alan Howarth for the original cut. While the track is functional, it's also a bit tinny and harsh, with dialogue often a bit hard to make out without turning up the volume. Some of the sound effects sound extraordinarily flat and lifeless, as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extra features on the disc at all. This doesn't really disappoint me, though, since Anchor Bay put together a special edition for the original Halloween cut. Presentation is up to their standards with nice menus and a cardstock keepcase insert replica of the theatrical poster and a chapter listing.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Halloween: Extended Version makes an interesting way to see an enduring classic. Certainly fans of the film should see it as another element to their collection as a curiousity and a missing piece of of John Carpenter's work.

 


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