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Halloween (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 1/15/2019

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/28/2018

If you've poked around this website a bit, you may have seen that John Carpenter's Halloween is my favorite movie. This classic introduced me to the idea of filmmaking, while also scaring my socks off. Of course, I've seen all of the sequels (seeing 1981's Halloween II in the theater is a very fond memory), which got worse and worse as time went on...and the less said about Rob Zombie's abominations, the better. But, it was with great interest to learn that uber-producer Jason Blum had gotten John Carpenter's seal of approval for a new take on the franchise. So, I actually got off of the couch and went to the theater to experience the new Halloween. And now, I can share my views on the home video release.

In 1978, the sleepy town of Haddonfield, Illinois was forever changed, as Michael Myers attacked and killed several people, leaving Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as the sole survivor of his rampage. Myers was capture by the authorities and has been incarcerated ever since. Forty years later, Laurie is still reeling from that night. She lives in an isolated house, which is essentially an armored fortress. Her obsession has created a rift between herself and her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), although she does try to maintain a relationship with her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Laurie's usual paranoia is heightened as Myers is being transferred to a new facility. During the transfer, the bus crashes and Myers escapes. Suddenly, Laurie's worst fears are realized and a killer is once again loose on the streets of Haddonfield. But, instead of just protecting herself, she has a family to oversee.

Again, when it was announced that Jason Blum and John Carpenter would be producing a new Halloween and that Jamie Lee Curtis was not only on-board, but excited, it was intriguing. However, it was also somewhat perplexing that David Gordon Green would be directing and that the hilarious Danny McBride would be writing. Were they the right people to be helming a return to the greatest horror movie ever? The answer, as it turns out, is no. Green, McBride and fellow co-writer Jeff Fradley take some questionable ideas and then go absolutely nowhere with them.

Let's start with one of Halloween's most radical notions. This film ignores all of the other sequels, including the Halloween II which original creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote and produced, and draws a straight-line directly from the end of the original film, although it negates to tell us how Myers was captured. This is admittedly an interesting idea, but here's where things get weird. Despite the fact that this movie wants to act as if the other Halloween films don't exist, it lifts whole scenes from Halloween II and Halloween 4, while also including a nod to the Myers-less Halloween III. There are also several visual call-backs to Carpenter's film, which are none too subtle. What does all of this mean? It means that Green has made the most expensive Halloween fan-film ever. This movie is so chock full of "Hey, do you recognize this?" moments that there isn't much left to the story. Oh, except for the parts where Laurie Strode has now become Sarah Connor from Terminator 2, complete with the paranoia, the weapons, and the social services involvement with her child. In short, Green and McBride's plan to take Halloween is a new direction led to an immediate u-turn into many other movies.

But, let's assume that one isn't as familiar with the franchise, or other movies, for that matter, how will Halloween play? Even with those things removed, it's not a very good movie. If anything, Green can be commended for not completely aping Carpenter's trademark style, and this becomes very evident in the first few minutes of the film, where we are treated to some needlessly artsy shots. This leads to a scene where podcaster Aaron (Jefferson Hall) attempts to show Michael Myers his famous mask by holding it up to his back. That's not how things work. Following this, we are treated to a series of scenes involving unlikable characters, who are doing a series of uninteresting things. There is simply no hook here to draw the audience into the story.

If nothing else, it's clear that Green and McBride do not understand the mantle which they are attempting to assume. Putting aside the fact that it's difficult to buy a 61-year old Michael Myers wreaking havoc, he's portrayed here as someone who simply kills everyone in sight, as opposed to the deliberate stalker seen in the original film. It's not surprising to see humor in a film written by McBride and there are two very funny moments here, but they come at the wrong times. Green admits that Carpenter's Halloween terrified him, but there's nothing remotely scary or creepy here, and there was far more suspense to be found in Vice Principals. While this project seemed promising at the outset, the result is further proof that the original should not be touched.

Halloween never explains why there's a giant bowl of pudding at the high school dance on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 60 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good during the daytime scenes, and the image is never overly bright or dark, even during the nighttime sequences. The level of detail is excellent, as we can see textures on objects, such as the cracks on the mask. The depth also works well, as the actors are clearly delineated from the background. The Disc carries a DTS-X audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 7.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The polish and power of this track comes into focus very quickly, as the end of the first scene offers a nice array of surround sound effects which then segue into the bass-pumping theme song. (Don't let the familiar strength of the song get you too excited about the movie to come.) The surround and bass effects continue to impress throughout, and we get nice stereo effects which highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The Halloween 4K UHD contains an assortment of extra features. We begin with seven DELETED/EXTENDED SCENES which run about 13 minutes. These don't contains any new characters or subplot, but one does give us a better idea of Aaron and Dana's relationship, while another contains one more homage to the original film. "Back in Haddonfield: Making Halloween" (6 minutes) is a brief featurette in which most every major person involved with the film, both cast and creative team, shares their thoughts on the movie's focus, while also discussing specific scenes. (We do learn that the fake shooting title was "Uncle Orange".) "The Original Scream Queen" (3 minutes) focuses on Curtis, showing her at work on-set and allowing others to praise her work. "The Sound of Fear" (3 minutes) allows Carpenter, along with his son Cody and Daniel A. Davies, to take us into the studio to see how the score was created. We see how the iconic Michael Myers mask was re-created in "Journey of the Mask" (3 minutes). "The Legacy of Halloween" (4 minutes) is a round-table discussion with Curtis, Carpenter, Green, and Jason Blum who talk about the origins of the project.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long