• Halloween (Universal Studios) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: January 15th, 2019.
    Director: David Gordon Green
    Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, Jefferson Hall, Rhian Rees
    Year: 2018
    Purchase From Amazon

    Halloween – Movie Review:

    When it was announced that David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, the guys behind stoner comedies like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, were spearheading a new Halloween film, horror fans quite understandably were quite skeptical. It was hard to imagine these guys, who are admittedly quite good at comedy, would treat the series properly, even if a genre studio like Blumhouse was going to be involved. That said, when the first trailer hit, expectations understandably started to rise and when the film hit theaters in the fall of 2018, it proved an unexpected box office hit. Now, a lot of box office hits still suck, right? But Halloween doesn’t suck. Like a lot of slasher films, there are times where it will ask you to suspend your disbelief but more often than not the film delivers.

    Ignoring everything that happened after the end of John Carpenter’s original 1978 film, the picture opens at the Smith Grove Sanitarium where Michael Myers has been locked away for the last forty years under the care of Dr. Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), a protégé of the late Dr. Samuel Loomis. Here two podcasters, Aaron Korey (Jefferson Hall) and Dana Haines (Rhian Rees), have arrived in hopes of getting Myers to speak to them. It’s an intense scene where Korey thrusts Myers’ original mask in his face, attempting to bait him into speaking, but it doesn’t work and they leave with nothing more than they came with.

    Their next stop? The home of one Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), although home is a less accurate description than military compound. She begrudgingly lets them in and, even more begrudgingly, talks to them a bit about her experiences with Michael Myers. She’s estranged from her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), has gone through two divorces and occasionally falls inside a bottle – but she’s spent four decades preparing for Myers’ return, an inevitably that only she seems to believe is possible.

    Of course, when Myers is transferred to a new facility the night before Halloween, he manages to escape and make his way back to Haddonfield to finish what he started years ago. And this time he’s not just after Laurie, but her family as well. When the bodies start piling up, Laurie quickly figures out what’s happening and tries to warn Karen and her husband Ray (Toby Huss), but they dismiss her warnings as the rantings of a madwoman – until Michael actually shows up and proves her right.

    While some of the humor that Green and McBride are known for does come through at times, it never pulls us out of the film or takes away from the suspense that they manage to conjure up during the film’s hour-and-forty-five-minute running time. The cinematography from Michael Simmonds is slick and polished, there are some really impressively lensed set pieces here, and the score, composed by John Carpenter himself with help from his son Cody and regular Carpenter collaborator Daniel A. Davies uses some familiar motifs mixed in with some decidedly new sounds to create an altogether impressive selection of music. Production values are quite strong across the board, and we get some solid gore effects here as well (though the movie never goes completely over the top in that department).

    As to the performances? Curtis is the one that you’ll leave the film talking about. It’s great to see her return to the role that made her an icon. Her character is obviously forty-years older at this point, and the movie does a good job of making her look like she’s led a rough life, but underneath her hardened exteriors there’s a likeable character doing what she does for all the right reasons. It might be a bit tough to swallow her turning her home into a veritable fortress the way that she does, but her work in front of the camera is definitely one of the film’s strongest assets. The rest of the cast are also quite good. Judy Greer, who was genuinely annoying in Arrested Development (though, to be fair to her, that’s how her character was written!) is quite believable here, we understand why she might want to distance her daughter from her mother. Andi Matichak, whose character in many ways mirrors Curtis’ own from the first film, delivers a good performance and crafts a likeable character and Toby Huss steals a couple of scenes as her genuinely funny father. Haluk Bilginer is no Donald Pleasence but he’s fine in his part and Jefferson Hall and Rhian Rees are also fine as the podcasters that inadvertently prove to be the impetus for all of this.

    Halloween – Blu-ray Review:

    Universal brings the 2018 version of Halloween to Blu-ray to Blu-ray framed at 2.39.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc with 29.5GBs of space given to the feature. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation is taken from a digital source and as such, there’s no such thing as print damage here, nor is there any grain to talk about. Detail is generally really, really strong – frequently very impressive and at times, reference quality. You can make out some of the dust on the red and white tiles in the opening scene, you can count the fibers in the bullet ridden mannequins (if that’s your thing) and you can almost feel the dirt caked onto Myer’s grubby old Shatner mask. The colors are tweaked a but here and there for stylistic effect, but they look really good and accurately reflect how the movie looked in the theater. Black levels are nice and deep but the film’s many darker scenes are, thankfully, devoid of noticeable compression artifacts or obvious crush. There’s nothing to complain about here, this is an excellent transfer.

    Universal provides audio options in DTS-X 7.1, Spanish and French language DTS 5.1 Surround Sound and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with subtitles available in English, French and Spanish.

    The DTS-X track is obviously the way to go if you’ve got the hardware to handle it. There could have been more surround activity in a few spots but otherwise, this is really good stuff. The score in particular sounds fantastic here, pumped out through all channels in the mix and really adding a lot to the film’s efforts to build suspense. Gun shots hit with some impressive punch, there’s a really strong low end here that gives things a nice rumble when the movie calls for it and effects in general are well placed. Dialogue stays clean and clear throughout and, as you’d hope for with a brand new major studio production, the track is free of anything even remotely resembling hiss or distortion.

    Extras start off with a selection of deleted and extended scenes totally just under thirteen-minutes in length: Extended Shooting Range / Shower Mask Visit / Jog To A Hanging Dog / Allyson And Friends at School / Cameron And Cops Don't Mix / Deluxe Banh Mi Cops / Sartain And Hawkins Ride Along

    None of these are super amazing or going to change your opinion of the film if it didn’t do it for you, but it’s nice to see them included here and fans should enjoy checking them out.

    From there, we dig into a few featurettes starting with Back In Haddonfield: Making Halloween wherein Curtis, Green, Carpenter, McBride, Greer and a few others spend six-minutes talking about what it was like making the picture. It’s fairly fluffy and not particularly in-depth. The Original Scream Queen spends just under three-minutes talking about Curtis’ legacy with the franchise and explaining the importance of her presence in the film while The Sound Of Fear gets John and Cody Carpenter alongside Carpenter Daniel Davies to talk about scoring the film for three-minutes. It’s genuinely interesting, but so too is it very short. Journey Of The Mask sees Green and a few of the special effects crew members talk about having to recreate and, in a way, update the iconic Michael Myers mask while The Legacy Of Halloween spends four-minutes with Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, David Gordon Green and Jason Blum talking about the franchise and bringing this latest entry to life. Again, it’s interesting, but it’s over before you know it.

    Animated menus and chapter selection are also included but puzzlingly enough the disc omits any of the film’s theatrical trailers. The Blu-ray disc also comes packaged with a DVD version of the movie and an insert card containing a key for a digital HD download of the movie. Both discs fit inside a standard sized Blu-ray keepcase that in turn fits inside a cardboard slipcover.

    Honestly, the extras are pretty light here. There’s a lot more that Universal could have done (a director’s commentary or a second commentary with Curtis and the Carpenters would have been great) and that didn’t happen, which is a shame. The featurettes are too short to come across as little more than fluff pieces – the movie deserved better in this regard.

    Halloween – The Final Word:

    The 2018 release of Halloween is a good one, a very strong return to form for the franchise after a few serious misfires made all the better by Curtis’ fantastic performance. It’s slick, suspenseful and it features an absolutely killer score from Carpenter himself and Universal’s Blu-ray release presents it with excellent audio and video and, sadly, a rather light slate of extra features. Still, the movie is a good one and the presentation top notch.

    Click on the images below for full sized Halloween Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I want to see this again. I was a little hammered in the theatre.
    1. cinemacide's Avatar
      cinemacide -
      Saw it twice myself. It was made with horror fans and the general movie goer in mind. The later of which, I believe, is the real reason why it recieves online ire.