Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles

A psychopath escapes and stalks the quiet town he grew up in.

Touted as the ultimate presentation of John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece, Anchor Bay's limited edition Region 0 two-disc DVD offered a completely re-mastered version that simultaneously preserved and renovated the 1979 film. The transfer was supervised by Lucasfilm’s THX Digital Mastering Services division. Award-winning colourist Adam Adams worked from a new 35mm interpositive (one step down from the original negative), and original cinematographer Dean Cundey approved the 2.35:1 transfer, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs.

The disc features a new 5.1 Dolby Digital sound mix created by Chace Productions, working with Alan Howarth’s original 16-track music master tapes, and a rediscovered 35mm magnetic dialogue and sound effects tracks. The new mix is commendably subtle, shifting what were background ambient noises around the room to create a new sense of space. The new mix heightens the dramatic tension of the film, and greatly increases the potency of Carpenter’s score. (For purists, the original mono mix is also available).

There are two versions of the film in the package. The first is the theatrical version, in either 2.35:1 or pan-and-scan formats. The second is a substantially re-edited version of the movie, which adds several scenes that Carpenter shot during the filming of Halloween II for the film’s American network TV premiere. (Twelve minutes of gore and nudity were cut, and so Carpenter shot extra material to restore the running time to fill a two-hour timeslot). This amounts to about eleven minutes of extra material, which adds a little more information about Michael Myers’ relationship with Loomis. These were previously available on Criterion’s excellent laserdisc version, but the entire TV variant – the theatrical version with the added TV scenes - is presented here for the first time in widescreen ratio.

The commentary track on the laserdisc is not on the DVD, sadly, but Anchor Bay’s package does contains a number of supplementary materials, including a stills and posters gallery, and a plethora of theatrical trailers, radio and TV commercials. There’s also a new thirty-minute documentary, Halloween Unmasked 2000, which features new interviews with key contributors. The net result is a stunning 21st anniversary edition, fit for the 21st century.

Not surprisingly, the two-disc Limited Edition version is out of print, and a collector's item. Anchor Bay has subsequently released several versions of Halloween (basically spltting the two versions offered in the box set, and issuing them separately), but this set is still very desirable. A similar package was issued in the UK, and is more widely available.






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