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Old 08-25-2006, 08:07 AM
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Default Halloween 5: Special Edition




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: August 25, 2006

Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 7/25/2006
MSRP: $19.98
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes



inline ImageOf all the influences that permeate John Carpenter’s Halloween, it seems most indebted to Psycho and Suspiria. On the one hand a studied suspense exercise with an investigative doctor and a tormented slasher right out of Hitchcock, and on the other hand a kaleidoscope of color – blue, red and orange tints, with assaulting scope visuals right out of Argento. Halloween 4 took up Carpenter’s Hitchcockian influence by emphasizing suspense and lifting shots from Vertigo. Halloween 5, on the other hand, with its French director, at times illegible story, and highly stylized lighting and angles, represents the European yang of the original. The first managed to appeal to both European and Hollywood sensibilities, but the pair of 4 & 5 commit each to opposite sides of the spectrum, which is why you rarely find fans who like both films, it is either one or the other.

Most people, though, choose Halloween 4. The Revenge of Michael Myers, with its man in black, its killing off of a loved character and its goofy keystone cops, has always placed it lower on the Halloween totem with fans. Yet, despite the lack of love, Anchor Bay (no stranger to the double dip) has gone to the well once more with Halloween 5. Now part of their Divimax line, its been visually cleaned up and peppered with a few new extras. The original disc (now already six years old!) was itself a worthy DVD, so is this new release too little too late as we start to gear up for HD-DVDs of the Myers canon? If you don’t read further in this review, Michael will take his mask off and cry.


The Story

After receiving over 30 gunshot wounds and falling into a mineshaft at the end of Halloween 4, it looked like poor old Mikey was finally done for. But to no one's surprise, Michael Myers survived and escaped the ambush, and with the help of a hermit and his pet parrot(!), he is given intense medical treatment. Arising from his coma exactly a year later (which is coincidentally the morning of Halloween), Michael is off once again to hunt his now mute and psychologically disturbed niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris).


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Jamie has been living in a children's clinic ever since the gruesome Halloween night of a year prior. Unable to talk, she begins to realize she shares somewhat of a telepathic bond with The Shape and begins having nightmares and seizures as Michael offs victim after victim. Her adopted sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell) returns from the previous film, along with her new best friend, Tina (Wendy Kaplan), to keep Danielle company. They are both getting ready to attend a huge Halloween party at a nearby farm. New to the series is a mysterious man in black who apparently has a connection with the faceless menace. And it wouldn't be a Halloween film without series stalwart Sam Loomis (the legendary Donald Pleasence), as he is back again, still uttering his perfectly corny one-liners and bordering on insanity. He knows there is something wrong, and that Michael is lurking, and harasses little Jamie to tell him where he is.


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Jamie refuses to talk, and heads over to a costume charade. Tina and her friends also head out to a party of their own, complete with drinking and pre-marital sex. Dr. Loomis, knowing that Michael will be making an appearance at Tina's party, sends a pair of policemen (complete with goofy clown music in the background) to escort the girls and ensure nothing goes wrong. But this is a Halloween film, so of course things go wrong, as Michael victimizes bystanders with scythes and his trusty butcher knife. Tina's party is merely a pleasant diversion for ol' Mikey though, as he leaves in pursuit of Jamie. Loomis uses Jamie as bait at Michael's now abandoned home (looking much bigger this time around) and what ensues is a tag team effort from both Jamie and Dr. Loomis to put Michael away once and for all.


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There are a lot of problems with Halloween 5. Made only months after Part 4, the film falls victim to a rushed script and some poor conceptualization. The first film was so simple, merely a faceless man stalking an innocent babysitter, and that attributes largely to why it worked so well. With Halloween 5, there are several strands of needless plot developments and characters that ultimately bog down the film and offset its dark tone. As mentioned earlier, there are a few scenes with a pair of bumbling police officers that just do not fit in the film at all. Straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, these inept policemen banter on like children with attempts to be funny, but merely annoy the viewer instead. Many criticisms have been drawn from the policeman sequences in Wes Craven's Last House on the Left, saying that they provided unnecessary comic relief to what was intended to be a grueling picture of society's worst nightmares. The same knocks can be given to Halloween 5, as the policeman subplot does nothing but lessen the film's suspense while overcastting it with an unprofessionally goofy tone.


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Another needless inclusion was the "Man in Black" character. His scenes are carelessly inserted in the film, and are confused and discontinuous with the flow of the film. His identity, motives, and usefulness to the story are never revealed, so really, what's the point? Like a joke with no punch line, this character merely disrupts the pace of the film by adding unnecessary confusion to an already flawed screenplay. Clocking in at an overlong 97 minutes, this film really could have benefited from having the policemen and "Man in Black" characters chopped from the film.


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The majority of the film's problems lie in the writing though, as the rest of the elements in the films production are fairly well done. Most notable is Dominique Othenin-Girard's creative and stylish direction. Giving the film a unique European visual flair, he bathes the story in high-contrast lighting and inspired camera angles. The creative angles help increase the uneasy, lurking feeling of the film, while the lighting successfully parallels the ideas of good and evil within the story. When the tone has been firmly established, Girard let's the camera go, making for some suspenseful action sequences. The "laundry shoot sequence" is executed with extreme skill and urgency, making for one of the best climatic scenes in the series. The original was all about style, and thanks to Girard's inspired direction, this film delivers strongly on that quotient.


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Also hitting their marks are the actors. Little Danielle Harris, although underused for the first part of the film, really carries the film for the last half, holding her own against all the actors. For such a young age she is very professional and convincing, and it's a shame Harris doesn't have more acting credits to her name. Ellie Cornell also gives the film a touch of innocence, as her Rachel character perfectly parallels the purity of Jamie Lee Curtis' characterization in the first two films. Although sounding old and worn out, Donald Pleasence is still a joy to watch, as he takes the Sam Loomis character to the hilt, delivering all his proverbial banter with seriousness and desperation. Pleasence put so much emotion into his portrayal of Loomis that one can't help but feel as if the Halloween films were responsible for his somewhat premature death. While Donald Pleasence's role has been reduced to nearly a cameo, he makes the most of his screen time and helps bottom out a strong cast.


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Michael's mask has always been a topic for debate, as it seems to change its "Shape" in every film in the series. Away is the smooth and ultra-white shine featured in Part 4, instead being replaced by a much more brash and frightening mask this time around. Although it does look much different than John Carpenter's original, it retains the same tapered and daunting quality that it brought forth in the first film. Donald Shanks also does a credible performance of the big lug, creating a much stronger and imposing figure than the films prior.

Plot complications and needless characters aside, Halloween 5 is a nice addition to the series, and nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. It has some stylish photography, solid acting and a frightening Michael Myers, and deserves a second look by those who disliked the film the first time around.


Image Quality

Well, the Divimax label is more than a gimmick this time around. Anchor Bay has done a top notch job with this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The rise in quality from the original release is evident right from the opening credits, which in this release are completely free of all the dirt and scratches found on the first release. The grain has been cut down considerably as well, noticeable especially during the car chase scene and Wendy’s shots in particular. There is still a visible layer of grain, but this is still just a low budget slasher, after all. Colors, finally, are also much improved, more vivid and saturated throughout. This is an improved transfer on all fronts, taking a good transfer and making it great.

Sound

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track on display here is the same from the original release. The original remix came from a time when Anchor Bay was doing some great surround updates of their catalogue material like The Beyond and Zombie. It has some strong ambient effects, with the music often pushed to the surrounds and the effects separated in the front two speakers. The effects still sound kitchen knife sharp and there is enough directional movement and bass riffs sent to the woofer that this track feels much more satisfying than it should. Of all the Anchor Bay Halloween releases, this one is the most active of the surround mixes.

Supplemental Material

inline Image As if the beefed up video transfer weren’t enough to spring for this release, Anchor Bay has provided a great new commentary to go along with the special features from the original disc. The new commentary is with the beloved Danielle Harris as well as her acting sidekick in the film, Jeffrey Landman and outspoken director Dominique Othernin-Girard. The three make for a perfect fit; Harris is adorable throughout, Landman is a surprising historian, remembering more than any seven year old could possibly remember about a film, and Girard is Verhoevenian in the way he chimes in, always in broken English, on very bizarre points of interest. Funny anecdotes include Harris remembering how Pleasance liked to liquor himself up like Ollie Reed on set, or how Greg Nicotero had a fling with Wendy Kaplan during the production. It is all parts informative and fun, the way a top notch commentary should be.

inline ImageThe other new extra is a short little couple minute collection of on the set footage. There is some of Girard directing little Danielle Harris, and a bit of Wendy Kaplan being interviewed. Not substantial by any means, but hard to find and easy to appreciate. The much more substantial “Inside Halloween 5” documentary, which runs 17-minutes, is ported over from the previous disc, and it’s a keeper. With interviews with Ellie Cornell, Harris, Moustapha Akkad and “The Shape” himself, Donald Shanks, the doc covers a lot of ground in a short time. The advertised cut scene isn’t much of a scene at all, but the interviews are all well done and quickly edited. Even though everyone seems to share a sort of silent animosity towards the film, they all save face and spring for the good memories about the production.

inline ImageThe trailer for the film is also included, although it is doubtfully the “theatrical trailer” advertised on the packaging. Running only thirty seconds and composed of mostly narration, it sounds like a quick ad for the video release or for trade publications. Nevertheless, it is still entertaining, especially considering they use a bunch of footage from Halloween 4 as they state in the narration how this is new and never before seen. A ten second introduction is also provided by the two female leads, which is a sweet capper for the disc. The original release, with the slick documentary, was a nice little package, but this release finally gives the film extras enough to satisfy even the few like myself who can’t get enough of Revenge.


Final Thoughts

Halloween 5 has a crazy European sensibility, from its kinetic camera work, bizarre plotting and awkwardly sincere dialogue, that momentarily returned the serious to its Argentoian roots. More memorable (in both ways good and bad) than any of the other Myers sequels, it deserves more cred than it has been afforded. Anchor Bay’s treatment of the film also deserves a lot of praise here, from the excellent picture restoration, active audio remix and sweet new extras. Hell may not have Michael Myers, as Loomis would say, but no Halloween fan should be without this disc.

Rating

Movie - B+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B+
Supplements - B+

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English Dolby Surround 2.0

Supplements
  • Commentary by director Dominique Othenin-Girard and actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman
  • Introduction by stars Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell
  • "Inside Halloween 5" featurette
  • "On The Set of Halloween 5" footage
  • Trailer

Other Pictures

 

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Old 10-04-2006, 08:49 PM
H5 Trailer
Maniac
Quote:
The trailer for the film is also included, although it is doubtfully the “theatrical trailer” advertised on the packaging. Running only thirty seconds and composed of mostly narration, it sounds like a quick ad for the video release or for trade publications. Nevertheless, it is still entertaining, especially considering they use a bunch of footage from Halloween 4 as they state in the narration how this is new and never before seen.
I just previewed my copy, and the trailer is a bit different from this description. It runs 32 seconds, all the footage is from H5, and the narration is: "This time they're ready, this time he's unmasked, and this time he's back with a vengeance." The disk also has trailers for the original Halloween, Halloween 4 (the same one that's on the new H4 Divimax), and the Masters of Horror series. It looks like they switched from an early teaser on your preview copy to a later teaser or TV spot on the retail version. The "all new" H4 footage sounds amusing, so maybe they should have kept it and used both.
 
 
Old 08-19-2007, 04:56 PM
Helloooooo!
I still say that the titles for the screenshots are reversed.
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