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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Three Halloween Series DVD Releases - Halloween: 25 Years of Terror/Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (Divimax)/Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (Divimax)

Three Halloween Series DVD Releases


Halloween: 25 Years of Terror


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: A     Program: A



John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is a suspense masterpiece, and 28 years later remains one of the scariest films ever made.  However, by allowing the film to end with a hint of the supernatural -- Michael Myers (aka The Shape) disappearing after being shot several times and falling off a balcony -- it left the door open for a seemingly endless number of sequels and countless imitators such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.


Halloween and the much-bloodier Halloween II (1981) are unique in that they take place on the same horror-filled night.  The unfairly maligned Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) has nothing to do with the first two films or Michael Myers, and is more of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers knockoff.  Then there's the Salt Lake City-filmed Halloween 4 (1988), 5 (1989) and 6 (1995), which brought Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) back, but acted as if Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) was now dead.  But after Pleasence died in 1995 shortly after filming the sixth installment, Curtis finally agreed to return in 1998 with Halloween: H2O, and now suddenly the series acted as if 4, 5 and 6 (where Laurie was dead and Michael was chasing her orphaned daughter) never happened, and went back to referencing only the first two films.


Halloween: Resurrection followed in 2002 with Curtis' Laurie really getting killed off this time, but that didn't stop the evil Michael from murdering another group of people on Halloween night.  The series has remained dormant amid many rumors for the last four years.  And sadly, the one constant in all the Halloween films, producer Moustapha Akkad, was killed in a terrorist attack in the fall of 2005.  But Akkad's son, Malek, has inherited the rights to the series, and evidently Michael Myers will return in 2007 with a "re-imagining" of Carpenter's original by Rob Zombie.


Anchor Bay's new 2-disc Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror is as complete a retrospective of the entire series to date as you're likely to find.  It starts with an informative 84-minute documentary (narrated by P.J. Soles) chronicling all 8 films thus far from John Carpenter's 1978 original to Halloween: Resurrection (2002).  There's an episode of a show called Horror's Hallowed Grounds, which visits all of the Pasadena-area locations used for Carpenter's Halloween, followed by tons of interviews with cast and crew of the 8 films, including footage and panel discussions from the 2003 convention in Pasadena commemorating the 25th anniversary.  Packed with interesting details about the series, this 2-disc set is a must-have for every Halloween fan.


Highlights include a question and answer session with most of the various stuntmen on-stage together who played Michael Myers -- the only ones missing are director Nick Castle, who played The Shape throughout much of the original, and actor Tony Moran, who played the then 23-year-old killer in the original when he's briefly unmasked; Producers Moustapha Akkad and Irwin Yablans discussing the genesis for the first Halloween; Cinematographer Dean Cundey discussing his use of lighting in the first three films; panel question and answer sessions from the 2003 convention with actors from all the Halloween films except Halloween III, Halloween: H2O and Halloween: Resurrection (although there are previously recorded interviews from actors from these films somewhere among the plethora of special features); and finally lots of behind-the-scenes footage of the 25th anniversary convention where Heather Bowen won the contest for a walk-on role in the next Halloween sequel -- Bowen even flashes her bare breasts at one point, a pleasing extra not mentioned on the DVD case.  A Halloween comic book is also included inside the DVD.



Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (Special Divimax Edition)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: B+     Film: C



When we last saw Michael Myers at the end of 1981's Halloween II, Dr. Loomis had shot him in both eyes and caused a fiery explosion that apparently burned them both to a crisp.  But even though Michael takes the shape of a human being, he's evil personified as Dr. Loomis kept telling us.  By Halloween 4, Michael has become an indestructible creature slashing about like a more-vicious version of the Frankenstein monster -- in 4, Michael now has the ability to tear flesh and bone with just his fingers.  Michael is clearly some sort of supernatural ghoul, and therefore it's no surprise he survived the inferno at the end of II with only some burns.  In the intervening years, the mass murderer has been convalescing in an insane asylum where he's a bedridden burn victim wrapped in white gauze.


It's highly unlikely, though, that the very human Dr. Loomis could have survived the same inferno, but that doesn't prevent Pleasence from returning as Loomis once again in 4 with burn scars on the side of his face, a cane and the same tan trenchcoat.


Halloween 4 begins on the night before Halloween in 1988 -- ten years after Michael's first bloody killing spree -- with Michael escaping while being transferred from facilities in an ambulance.  As Michael (played here by stuntman George P. Wilbur) heads back toward Haddonfield for another rampage, Dr. Loomis attempts to warn the townsfolk.  Laurie Strode, Michael's target in the first film, who turned out to be his sister, is dead, but her orphaned little girl, Jamie (Danielle Harris), still lives in Haddonfield, and crazy Uncle Mike now wants her dead.


Although this is just more of the same old same, Halloween 4 is directed with some skill by B-movie specialist Dwight H. Little (Marked for Death, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid), and some sequences (like Loomis confronting the escaped Michael at a desolate roadside diner and a rooftop chase) are well staged.  Young Harris and Ellie Cornell as her stepsister also contribute good work, and make us care about their characters.  And Pleasance is always fun in this role.  However, a mind-numbingly stupid ending ruins any goodwill the film has built toward being a guilty pleasure.


The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on the Divimax edition has very nice picture quality, but both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 recorded from the original Ultra-Stereo are much less impressive.  I remember this film sounding great in a theater in October, 1988, but the DVD doesn't come close to recapturing that sound.  Extras include two audio commentaries, one with Harris and Cornell, who both come across as very nice people and the other with screenwriter Alan B. McElroy.  There's also the panel discussions from Halloween 4 & 5 from the 2003 convention, a making-of from previous DVD editions and the original theatrical trailer.



Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (Special Divimax Edition)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: B+     Film: C-



Hurried into production when Halloween 4 far surpassed box-office expectations, the fifth installment begins by showing how with Michael Myers (played here by stuntman Don Shanks) survived about 100 bullet wounds from high-powered guns and a fall into an abandoned mine shaft -- come on, they should have known that wouldn't have been nearly enough to kill such a resilient monster.  Meanwhile, young Jamie (Harris) is now mute and staying in a Haddonfield psychiatric center under the watchful eye of Dr. Loomis (Pleasence), who now acts like he's in need of a good shrink.  Poor Dr. Loomis' nerves are pretty much shot at this point, leading to some unintentionally hilarious moments.


Co-writer-director Dominque Othenin-Girard tries hard to make this one "different," but his making the plot more dense only leads to boredom since the real point of these movies is Michael killing people.  Also, Haddonfield now looks like it has enough cops and police cars to rival New York City, but that's not nearly enough to stop old Mike.  The mystery man (whose face we never see) dressed in all black with steel-tipped cowboy boots was added simply as a device to free Michael at the end.  The idea was apparently toyed with to make the man in black Michael's brother, but he ended up being explained another way in 6, which rivals 5 as the worst one in the series.


The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this Divimax edition has the same good picture quality as 4, but the 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound is noticeably better on 5 than 4 for some reason.  The extras include a brief introduction by Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell; an audio commentary with Harris, director Othenin-Girard and actor Jeffrey Landman; on-set footage; an Inside Halloween 5 documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew and the filming of a cut scene; plus the original theatrical trailer. 



- Chuck O'Leary


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