Halloween appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The film looked very good given its age and origins.
Overall sharpness seemed appealing. Occasional interiors came across as a little on the soft side, but that appeared to result from the source photography, and much of the movie offered very strong definition.
The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and it showed no signs of edge haloes. With a healthy amount of grain, the movie seemed to suffer from no egregious digital noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.
As befit the film’s mood, the palette of Halloween remained low-key, with a somewhat desaturated orientation. That said, the colors felt appropriate, and when allowed to show brighter tones – mainly via clothes and kids’ costumes – the image brought out a nice sense of the hues.
Blacks seemed dark and dense, while shadows offered perfectly acceptable delineation. As noted, interiors – which comprised most of the dimly-lit shots – could seem a bit soft, but they remained more than adequate. Overall, I felt this became a pleasing presentation.
Remixed from the original monaural material – which also appeared here - the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio seemed surprisingly robust. Many of these multichannel remixes fare poorly, but I thought the one for Halloween appeared natural and well done.
The soundfield offered a good sense of atmosphere. John Carpenter’s score worked really nicely, as it showed fine stereo imaging.
The track didn’t go nuts with effects, but it created a solid feeling of place. A little directional dialogue added to the presentation at times.
Some elements panned smoothly across the front channels, and the surrounds kicked in occasionally. The disc's "demo" moment came during a thunderstorm early in the film, a moment when the sound genuinely heightened the tension in the scene. Most of the other sequences were more subdued, but they contributed a decent sense of atmosphere nonetheless.
Overall, I found the actual quality of the audio to also be surprisingly strong. Speech was distinct and natural and suffered from no signs of edginess or issues connected to intelligibility.
At times the effects sounded a little flat and artificial, but those issues occurred infrequently, and they avoided the harshness and the tinny quality that frequently accompanies these older efforts.
The score remained the track’s strongest element, as the music seemed rich and full. Low-end appeared warm and tight as well. This turned into a nice expansion of the original audio.
How does the 4K UHD compare to the 2007 Blu-ray? Audio was a bit bolder, and the 4K’s track eliminated a minor LFE hum from the 2007 disc.
As for visuals, I felt the 4K UHD offered improvements. It lost the Blu-ray’s apparent digital noise reduction, so it felt less “smoothed out” and more film-like. It also came across as tighter and more concise.
In a potentially more controversial shift, the 4K UHD offered less dynamic colors. Apparently fans felt unhappy with the fairly perky palette of the 2007 Blu-ray, and the 4K UHD came with chillier tones.
Honestly, I’m fine either way. I suspect the cooler hues of the 4K UHD better represented the original photography, but the 2007 disc’s colors weren’t a radical departure.
Yes, the 2007 BD’s tones seemed brighter and less in keeping with the movie’s somber attitude, but they remained natural and didn’t seem pumped up in any significant manner. Still, I preferred the 4K UHD’s colors simply because they felt more appropriate for the story.
Note that a 2013 “35th Anniversary” Blu-ray offered a transfer that updated the 2007 disc. Unfortunately, I never saw that version, so I can’t comment on how it compares to the 4K UHD.
A mix of previously-issued extras appear here, and these include an audio commentary from writer/director John Carpenter, writer/producer Debra Hill, and actor Jamie Lee Curtis. Originally created for a 1990s Criterion laserdisc, all three recorded individual running, screen-specific tracks that were then edited together for this piece.
While not one of Criterion’s absolute best efforts, the Halloween track works pretty well, and the commentary covers a variety of topics. We learn about the project’s genesis and formative stages as well as issues related to its creation. The participants go over a few technical topics plus some creative concerns and influences.
They also get into genre-wide issues and chat about the movie’s influence and legacy. No one speaker dominates, as the track seems pretty evenly spread among the three. At times Carpenter does little more than narrate the film, but that doesn’t occur often, and this remains a pretty entertaining and informative discussion.
On Location: 25 Years Later runs 11 minutes, three seconds as it offers a general look at the film via production stills, new shots from the locations, and comments from Hill and actor PJ Soles. Along with her daughter and a friend, Soles briefly revisits the sites as well.
Locations dominate the discussion. However, the focus isn’t always that specific, and “Location” is only moderately useful.
With The Night She Came Home!!, we find a 59-minute, 43-second show with Curtis. We see how she decides to finally interact with the “fan convention” culture in an attempt to raise money for charity.
This seems like an opportunity for Curtis to look back on her history and reflect on her cinematic legacy. Instead, “Night” mainly shows Curtis at a table as she signs autographs or as she engages in other fan interactions. Some fun moments and occasional insights emerge, but mostly this feels like a promotional exercise.
Under TV Version Footage, we see three additional segments that fill a total of 10 minutes, 42 seconds. Shot during the 1981 production of Halloween II, the scenes got added to the 1978 film to expand its running time on TV.
Some prior DVDs integrated the “TV Version Footage” into the film itself, an idea I prefer. Still, it’s interesting to see this extra material, even if none of it seems especially useful.
Halloween also includes some promotional materials. We find the film’s original theatrical trailer along with three TV Spots and three Radio Spots.
The rest of the extras show up on the included Blu-ray copy that duplicates the 2007 release, and Film Fast Facts provides a subtitle commentary. It gives us basics about the production, cast and crew. Most of this material appears elsewhere and the “Facts” show up pretty infrequently, so the subtitle track doesn’t add much.
Next we find a documentary called Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest. This one-hour, 27-minute, seven-second program combines movie snippets, archival materials and footage from the set, and interviews.
In the latter category, we hear from Carpenter, Hill, Curtis, actors PJ Soles, Charles Cyphers, and Nick Castle, Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone, Compass International Pictures CEO Joseph Wolf, executive producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akaad, production designer/co-editor Tommy Lee Wallace, and director of photography Dean Cundey.
”Cut” goes over the standard progression. It starts with the project’s origins and leads us through casting. From there we learn a lot about the production itself, and the show then moves to the flick’s reception and success.
The remaining parts of the program discuss Halloween’s legacy and subsequent success for its participants as well as its sequels. We already know a lot of the information from the audio commentary, but the package also includes much new material, and it communicates a clear and well-depicted examination of its subject. “Cut” presents too many extended movie clips, but overall, it’s a good documentary.
One of the most influential movies of any genre, Halloween still holds up well after 40 years. The 4K UHD offers very good picture, audio and supplements. This turns into the best version of the film yet released.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of HALLOWEEN