Review Date: October 11, 2006
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: 7/25/2006
Region 1, NTSC
Full Screen 1.33:1
The story of Halloween has been told a number of times. After eight films and a killer as synonymous with horror films as he is with the holiday, the Halloween franchise has very little stones left unturned. The low budget triumph of the original, the bootlegged producer’s cut of Halloween 6, the death of Donald and the return of Jamie, it has all been mined before in tons of polished documentaries and IMDb tidbits. But never has there really been a collective retrospective of the films by the fans. There have been internet sites, where most of the good Halloween gossip derives from, but most video-based undertakings on the series have been filtered through studio heads or production companies.
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, which is a collective of panel interviews with cast and crew from the films, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes and a feature-length documentary in its own right, aims to look back at the series with a fanboy’s knowledge and appreciation. Organized by Halloweenmovies.com webmaster and comprised almost entirely of footage from the 25th anniversary Halloween convention held in Pasadena in 2003, this is something by and for anyone who ever draped themselves in a bed sheet after coitus with a loved one. But with so much already said about the series already, is it really worth plopping down the money for?
The main supplement (and there are two discs worth) is the 84-minute documentary “Halloween 25 Years of Terror”. Narrated by P.J. Soles, it initially seams little different than the feature-length Halloween documentary found on the similarly titled Halloween 25th Anniversay Edition DVD. After some really cheesy computer generated title sequences, we have P.J. recounting tidbits from the first film that have already been engraved in the horror lexicon. Ho hum. We get to Halloween II and not much is different, other than a few interviews with a few forgetables from the original cast. As we get to Halloween III, with some interviews with Tom Atkins and Tommy Lee Wallacce, and then to Halloween 4 with Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris leading the way, the documentary starts to really find its footing. It is a fan piece, and as soon as it settles itself into the Halloween universe, it really starts to dig deeper than any previous Halloween documentary has. The entire piece provides an enjoyable and relatively accurate assessment of the series (c’mon, doesn’t anybody love Halloween 5?), but the real magic comes from all the tell-all interviews and rare behind-the-scenes footage spliced in.
The behind-the-scenes footage included on the Halloween 5: Divimax Edition disc is fleshed out even more in the documentary, and even better are the many different mask tests and deleted scenes done for Halloween H20. There is even more mask musings as both Greg Nicotero and John Carl Buechler talk about how they were both commissioned – by different people and for different visions – to bring Michael Myers to life in Halloween 6. None of this had ever really been explored before in a Halloween doc, but producers and fanboys Anthony Masi and Stefan Hutchinson manage to not only get tons of people to talk about all things Halloween, but they also have at their disposal a multitude of rare production footage from many of the films. More than just a series of talking heads (although you’ll love seeing elusive Halloween alumni like Nancy Loomis, Charles Cyphers and Brian Andrews all reminisce) it has enough of everything to really please any fan of the series.
Although this is advertised as the main feature, the documentary is really only a part of this grand buffet of Halloween celebrations. Alongside the documentary on disc one are tidings culled from all sorts of areas in the Halloween universe. The on-set footage from the Halloween 5: Divimax disc and from the documentary here is even more fleshed out in the “Halloween 5 On-Set Footage” feature, which offers a nice change of pace from the rest of the recent material found throughout the two discs here. Another invaluable extra is an episode from The Horror Channel’s “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds”, with a focus, of course, on locations from the original Halloween. As far as before and after locations supplements go, this 17-minute tour is by far the best, with comparisons lined up identically with the shots shown in the film accompanied by some humorous and spirited narration. The interviewer also gets interviews with the owners of the Myers house and the “hedge” house. P.J. Soles also comes along for the visit, proving that even if she never works again, she will continue to have a long career in Halloween retrospectives.
Next up on disc one are extended interviews from both Halloween II & III. Most are just longer bits from the documentary, although they have some interest, especially Tommy Lee Wallace’s expanded explanation of why he chose not to direct Halloween II. Tom Atkins eats up most of the time on the Halloween III interviews, although bits with a grown up (and pompous) Brad Schacter, Garn Stephens and more Tommy Lee Wallace are also included. Both sets of interviews run around ten minutes each. “Extended Celebrity Interviews” is basically just every single big star featured in the documentary talking a little more on various topics of Halloween. Nancy Loomis is the best to watch, so sincere and soft spoken about creating one of the genre’s most memorable victims. The celebrity interviews run a robust 35 minutes.
The first disc is rounded off with a bunch of excerpts from the convention. The first is a short little unveiling of the winner of the Halloween 9 contest, who gets the pleasure of being killed in the upcoming film. The winner, not surprisingly, was the same girl who lifted her top without shame in the documentary. Who said it takes brains to make it in the industry? A very entertaining “Fans of Halloween” montage features a bunch of fan-made Halloween movies edited together. There are some really creative fans out there, doing everything from making a Michael Myers sitcom to, my favorite, a version of the film done entirely with Myers and Loomis dolls in stop motion. This montage runs a fun 8-minutes. The last is “Halloween Convention Montage”, which is basically the Haddonfield festival compressed to 3 minutes.
While disc one featured an entertaining and unpredictable batch of Halloween stuff, the second disc is far more organized. Throughout the disc are panel interviews recorded during the run of the Halloween Returns to Haddonfield convention. The first panel interview is, of course, for the first film, and features P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Brian Andrews and producer Joseph Wolf. While I could list a ton of other people I would have liked to see there, there is still very much to enjoy. Cyphers and Soles have a blast, recounting anecdotes, like what it was like working with Pleasance or what it was like hanging out with Jamie Lee Curtis, and saying old lines for the fans. Brian Andrews is quiet but affectionate towards the film, and proves, along with Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman, that the young kids remember more than the adults regarding these films. This panel runs 23-minutes.
The Halloween II panel interview features stars Pamela Susan Shoop, Tawny Moyer, Cliff Emmich and Gloria Gifford. Much time is spend on Shoop’s infamous nude hot tub drowning, although Gloria Gifford proves the most interesting to listen to, as she talks about her relationship with Debra Hill and the fascinating career she has made for herself. Cliff Emmich is good for a laugh too, as he slobbishly tries to hit on every woman in proximity. Twenty four minutes.
As we skip over panel discussions for Halloween’s 3-5 (the Halloween 4 panel is included on the recent Divimax release) we move on to Halloween 6. Included in this panel are Marianne Hagan, Daniel Farrands, Janice Knickrehm, Paul Freeman, Bradford English and Kim Darby. Daniel Farrands, who penned the film, proves the biggest fan, and his recounting of how Moustapha Akkad gave him, a lowly little Halloween fan, the chance to write the film is the most heartfelt bit on the disc. There is also talk of the Producer’s Cut, with the interviewees making it clear that it should be released officially. Even though this is the least esteemed sequel, the participants in this panel are probably the most lively, basking in their 15-minutes of fame. The 15-minutes though, actually runs 19 on this panel.
Ellie Cornell gets her own panel interview for her literal 15-minutes. She’s humble and complete with a southern accent. She talks about crushing on Sasha Jensen, and humorously responds to Kathleen Kinmont’s jokingly deprecating comments about her at the Halloween 4 panel. She also talks about Uwe Boll’s crapsterpiece, House of the Dead, and how she managed to inject a little Rachel Carruthers into it. Dean Cundey also goes solo, and while he tends to be longwinded in his responses to fans, he is a joy to listen to, and certainly makes his point. Cundey’s talk of why blue has some subconscious impact and why it was used in Halloween is most interesting. His anecdote about how a film student at USC told him and John the film would never hold up is particularly enjoyable in light of the film’s stature today. His bit runs 24-minutes.
The last two panel interviews are with the various Michael Myers in the films and the various producers of the films (although the real Michael Myers is sadly missing). At the Myers panel are Jim Winburn (the stuntman from the first), Dick Warlock, George P. Wilbur, Tom Morga (stunts from the fourth), Don Shanks, Chris Durand and Brad Loree. Although the best Michael Myers, The Last Starfighter director and longtime Carpenter buddy Nick Castle is unfortunately omitted, the rest of the group make good company. You can tell these guys are stuntmen, since they aren’t particularly well spoken, and not so subtle about the fact that most are there for the money. They have fun and talk about their injuries and how they did some of the crazier stunts. They end off by humorously all doing the Myers head tilt. It runs the longest at 28-minutes.
The Halloween Producers Panel features Moustapha Akkad and Irwin Yablans. The better bits of their discussion are included in the Halloween documentary, but both still make their 22-minutes an honor to watch. Akkad’s love for the franchise has always been, for better or worse, the most memorable aspect of Halloween lore, and given his untimely death, the life he gave the series is all the more memorable.
The second disc and the set is rounded off with a bunch of still galleries. The first is of the various locations used for the Halloween films, touching mostly on the first one and H20. Although the Horror’s Hallowed Grounds supplement from the first disc covers most of this in a more entertaining package, it is nice to be able to scrutinize the 32 stills. The second is the biggest gallery, with 60 stills culled from the Halloween Convention. The last features 40 stills of original Myers artwork done by some morbid and talented fans. A music video that retools Carpenter’s thematic riff into a death metal song is better left forgotten.
What we have here is a Halloween fan’s wet dream. Hours and hours of interviews with close to a hundred cast, crew and fans from the eight Halloween pictures are pieced together in what has to be the most loving film tribute disc ever assembled. You might feel quite the nerd after listening to people talk about every little facet of these films, but you will no doubt come out with tons of great trivia never before explored about these films. If you missed out on the Pasedena Halloween convention then this is your chance to vindicate yourself as the true Halloween fan by spending a day deconstructing this massive set. The best part? No line-ups.
Supplements - A-
- Running time - 1 hour 24 minutes (documentary only)
- Not Rated
- 2 Discs
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Surround 2.0
- "Horror's Hallowed Ground" featurette
- "Fans of Halloween" featurette
- Halloween II and Halloween III extended interviews
- Extended celebrity interviews
- Halloween 5 On-Set Footage
- Halloween Convention Montage
- Halloween panel discussion
- Halloween II panel discussion
- Halloween 6 panel discussion
- Ellie Cornell panel discussion
- Dean Cundey panel discussion
- Halloween producers panel discussion
- Halloween location still gallery
- Halloween Convention Behind-The-Scenes gallery
- Original artwork gallery
- Exclusive comic book inspired by the series