The Ultimate Halloween Box Set 1- 5
By: David Michael Brown on September 11, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Force Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. Halloween - 2.35:1 Halloween II - 2.35:1 Halloween III: Season of the Witch - 1:85:1 Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers- 1:85:1 Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers - 1:85:1 Halloween - Yes Halloween 2 - No Halloween III - Yes Halloween IV - No Halloween V - No Halloween - DD 2.0 Halloween II - DD 1.0 Halloween III: Season of the Witch - DD 1.0 Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers - DD 5.1 Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers - DD 5.1. 459 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Directors: John Carpenter, Rick Rosenthal, Tommy Lee Wallace, Dwight. H. Little, Dominique Othenin-Girard
Starring
: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Tom Atkins, Dan O' Herily, Ellie Cornell Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill. Tommy Lee Wallace, Alan. B. McElroy, Shem Bitterman Music: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth Country: USA Years: 1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989
From the sublime to the ridiculous! The Ultimate Halloween Box set takes the viewer on a wild ride bringing us the very best in horror as well as the reason for the decline of the slasher movie.

John Carpenter's Halloween is a classic, rightly hailed as one of the greatest horror films ever made. It is a lean mean scary machine; every frame is designed to make you jump. The storyline has become a blueprint for the hundreds of psycho on the loose films that followed. Without Carpenter's film there would have been no Friday the 13th, no Happy Birthday to Me, no Graduation Day, no Valentine. Admittedly we should not be grateful for all of these but it's a huge legacy for a low budget shocker to live up to. Luckily the original still remains fresh, vibrant and downright terrifying.

From the opening moments as a young Michael Myers kills his elder sister the films hypnotic score, by Carpenter, lures the audience in. Immediately ill at ease, the combination of winning performance by Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Loomis and PJ Soles, the haunting score by Carpenter himself, the prowling cinematography by Dean Cundy and the shocking appearances by "The Shape" add up to a perfect horrific whole.

Directed by Rick Rosenthal and produced by Carpenter, the sequel, Halloween II fails despite trying hard to emulate the originals success. After studio intervention, Carpenter took control and added the gory killings that would add terror to the lack lustre film that Rosenthal had allegedly provided. Looking back it's these killings that destroy any suspense that the film was trying to create. The original did it so much better without the gratuitous slayings on show. It didn't need gratuitous violence to send a chill down the viewer's spine. Time has, however, been kind to Halloween II and it holds up well compared to the later sequels, even if Jamie Lee Curtis seems to age years in one night. The sequel did start the moment the first film finished with Myers chasing Laurie Strode and many hoped the third would continue the story, even though Myers had been burnt alive.

Carpenter had other ideas; taking a story idea by Nigel Kneale, the man who wrote the Quatermass series he handed the scripting and directing duties to Tommy Lee Wallace. Adding a sci-fi element into the mix, Conal Cochran, played by Dan O' Herhily is sick of the commercialisation of the Pagan celebration of Halloween. He sends out masks to the children of America, each with a chip in it that when activated by an annoying television jingle melts the wearer's head in an explosion of bugs and snakes. Hero Tom Atkins realises that all is not well at Silver Shamrock Toys and investigates; discovering the sinister plan involving robots, Stonehenge and killer toys. Ingenious effects by Tom Burman enhance the surreal plot and the film succeeds in Carpenters plan to make a series of films using the October 31st holiday as a starting point. The problem was the audiences couldn't handle a Halloween film excluding their favourite serial killer.

Halloween 4: Return of Michael Myers, directed by Dwight. H. Little, deals with the situation by having Myers stalking his niece Rachel. The continuing family feud results in more death and misery for Laurie Strode's family. Rachel, played Danielle Harris, lacks the vulnerability of Jamie Lee Curtis, despite her wonderful performance. Donald Pleasence returns to save the day and hams it up to the max relishing every line of cheesy dialogue. Once again Myers seemingly dies after being chased by a lynch mob this time falling down a mineshaft. This sequel and its successor do not achieve the intensity of Carpenter's debut frightfest. The producers give the audiences what they think they want, they are both formulaic but remain entertaining in a dumb kind of way.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers throws a telepathic link between Michael and his niece into the mix that even brings a tear to the psycho's eyes. Stylishly directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard the film resurrects Myers. Somehow surviving the fall from Part 4 he escapes being set on fire and swims to safety to continue to stalk his niece. The addition of an unexplained black-cloaked figure, merely confuses the issue, maybe they tell us who he is in Part 6.
Video
The prints on all the films look fabulous, one and two's widescreen prints will astound those who have only seen them on TV. The remaining films look good without astounding.
Audio
The sound mix gets progressively better as the films get newer. It's a shame that the original was not remixed into surround, as the soundtrack deserves it.
Extra Features
The five-disc set features a good selection of extras spread over the platters, each specific to that film. Disc one starts of with an entertaining 27 minute long documentary Halloween Unmasked 2000, featuring interviews with Carpenter, producer Debra Hill and many others. It's an interesting look into the early days when independent films were just making their mark. Jamie Lee Curtis and PJ Soles both reminisce about their early careers and the tale of the Shape's William Shatner mask still brings a smile to your face. You also get trailers, TV spots, radio spots, cast and crew biographies, stills galleries and trivia

On disc two you only get trailers and production notes. A shame when Carpenter also used the shoot to film additional court room scenes for the originals American television debut, their inclusion would have made a nice addition. Disc three only includes a marvellous trailer "the night no one comes home" but little else.

We get a better selection on the fourth disc. We once again get the trailer but we also get a short film entitled Cut. Starting in a cinema, the film shows peoples reactions to horror films while looking back at a legendary horror film directors career. One student in particular takes a keen interest in the director but how far will she go in the name of her career in horror films when the director introduces her to snuff movie making in the shocking final scenes. A nice addition to the collection.

The final disc also presents a nice line in features. Inside Halloween 5 is an entertaining featurette including interviews with producer Moustapha Akkad and the cast and crew. Director Othenin-Girard claims the film is a return to style of the original which is doubtful but the selection of old and new interviews, on set footage and alternative beginning add up great package. Some amusing anecdotes from Don Shanks, the man who played Myers in the later films finishes things off nicely.
The Verdict
As with every horror franchise, the laws of diminishing returns applies, the sequels are never as good as the original. The Halloween series does, however, manage to consistently entertain. Maybe it's the image of Michael Myers, William Shatner mask in tow, maybe it's the haunting score, maybe it's the truly bizarre third instalment. All five films have something to offer; obviously the last two films pale in comparison with the first but Force Entertainment have done Carpenter and Co. proud. Gloriously packaged with a healthy dose of extras it's a must for any fan of the series.
Movie Score
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