Halloween, released 40 years ago is still unmatched as one of the truly great horror films. Director John Carpenter has gone on to make many other classics, including his remake of The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York, and Assault on Precinct 13.
Halloween was a monster hit, if you’ll pardon the pun, and spawned several sequels including a new film slated for release this year.
The story involves a young boy who kills his sister and is sentenced to a local mental institution. 15 years later the boy escapes, and is heading back to his small Illinois home where he sets off a series of Halloween slasher killings, mainly concentrating on teenagers.
Original release 1978
UHD 4K disc + Blu-ray (4K disc and Blu-ray has English 7.1 Audio, True HD Mono)
Aspect ratio: 2.35.1
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance
Director: John Carpenter
Language: Just a few expletives
I haven’t seen Halloween for many years, but it still packs a tremendous punch. Halloween was the mother of all slasher films, and it never lets up. Even if you’ve seen it, and know what’s going to happen, you are still filled with anxiety and dread.
This was Jamie Lee Curtis’ first film, and she is tremendously effective in the main role. Veteran actor Donald Pleasance plays Dr. Sam Loomis, a name borrowed from a character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. There are other little tributes in the film. The kids Curtis is babysitting for are watching the original 1950 version of The Thing, which director Carpenter remade almost 30 years later. The kids are also watching Forbidden Planet, one of the great, classic science fiction films from 1956.
The Illinois setting (it’s really South Pasadena) works well, and the photography is skillfully done for what was a pretty low budget film. Carpenter gets the most out of lighting and composition, keeping viewers off guard not knowing what to expect next.
Invite some friends over to revisit this classic film, or see it for the first time.
Halloween has never looked better. I’m willing to bet the 4K version looks more pristine than the prints theaters got in the seventies.
The film has gotten a DolbyVision HDR pass, which increases the dynamic range a bit. I watched the film on a DolbyVision capable OLED set, and it looked just fine. There were details in the shadows that simply aren’t visible in older versions of the film. I also watched Halloween on my 4K Sony projector in HDR10. Again, there was good shadow detail, but I still knew I was looking at an older film. Newer movies have more visual punch, but this new 4K scan of Halloween preserves its look.
Carpenter favored a desaturated color palette for this film, and that’s nicely captured in the 4K presentation.
The movie has been remastered for 7.1 Dolby True HD surround. It’s not a startling mix, and as the movie progresses the surround tends to fade away. There’s a thunderstorm at the beginning of the movie that sounds quite good, and there are some environmental effects, but the dialog is generally up front and centered. There’s also a mono track for people who want to hear the film as it sounded in its original release.
Audio Commentary with Director/Writer John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis
“The Night She Came Home featurette
On location: 25 years later in Pasadena
TV version footage