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HALLOWEEN: 25 YEARS OF TERROR

Review by Michael Jacobson

Narrator:  P. J. Soles
Director:  Stefan Hutchinson
Audio:  Dolby Surround 2.0
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Anchor Bay
Features:  See Review
Length:  84 Minutes
Release Date:  July 25, 2006

Film ***

Halloween: 25 Years of Terror might mark a DVD first…it seems to be the only title ever released that was all special features.

Of course, the highlight is the now three-year-old retrospective documentary on the fabled horror franchise.  It’s narrated by P. J. Soles, and features interviews galore with those involved in the movies (John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle) and those who, like us, loved the films (Clive Barker and Rob Zombie, to name a couple).

Perhaps the fact that it comes from Anchor Bay, a studio known for assembling great new documentaries for classic horror films in their own right, that makes this whole disc seem like an extras collection.  The only drawback is I’ve seen so many solid Anchor Bay takes on Halloween on previous releases that I didn’t learn much new this time around.  And it kind of made me want to see the original movie, which isn’t included.

But it’s still a fun look back for fans of the series, of which I am definitely one.  Halloween was the little indie film that became a horror sensation: the movie that spread by word of mouth to become one of the most successful fright flicks of all time.  That story is chronicled here, but it also goes much further.

It tells of Halloween II, a film that seemed necessary before there were really runaway sequels in the world of horror.  And of Halloween III, the bizarre de-railing installment that left bad tastes in the mouths of many.  And of Halloween 4, which brought both Michael Myers and the series back to life.  And Halloween 5, which almost killed it again.  And so on.

It’s a tale of ups and downs, of successes and failures, of high hopes and shattered dreams, much like the franchise itself.  And it’s really only the first step in this comprehensive double disc set…more on that further down.

The documentary itself would have made a nice supplement, but the problem is, I don’t know who would want to watch this in lieu of the original movie.  I kept missing the real Halloween.  Fortunately, Anchor Bay has delivered the goods with that film on another disc, so I didn’t have to go far to quench my thirst.

Yes, this is definitely for the fans…but if you’re one of them, like me, you’ll find more than a few things to enjoy with this presentation.

Video ***

The full frame offering is perfectly decent…nothing too demanding, and the original film clips look quite good.  A lot of the modern interview footage was taken on video, but it translates pretty well…no complaints.

Audio **

The audio likewise is good enough, but by nature, unspectacular.  There’s not too much demand on your rear stage with what is essentially a documentary.

Features ****

Anchor Bay definitely locked and loaded on this double disc set…it’s packed with goodies!

The first disc, in addition to the feature, has a tour of Halloween filming locations, extended celebrity interviews, extended interviews for II and III, on-set footage of 5, a convention montage, and collections of props and memorabilia.

The second disc has panel discussions of the original film, II, 6, Ellie Cornell, Michael Myers, Dean Cundey, and the producers of the films.  There’s also a location stills gallery, an artwork gallery, and a behind-the-scenes of the conventions gallery.  Plus the package includes a collectible comic book.

Summary:

25 years is a long time, and for Halloween, it was a long, strange, frightening, and mostly glorious trip.  This DVD release chronicles the highs and lows, and for better or for worse, will make you ready to relieve the films in all their original gory.

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