Overall | Halloween (1978) | Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween Triple Box (Halloween/Halloween II/Halloween III) (1978)

Halloween Triple Box (Halloween/Halloween II/Halloween III) (1978)

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Released 10-Dec-2001

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Overall Package

    The first three Halloween movies (Halloween, Halloween II, and Halloween III: Season Of The Witch) were initially released in Region 4 by Infogrames, who had licensed these titles from Force Video. After quite a promising start, Infogrames did not stay in the DVD market for very long at all - more a period of months than a period of years. Infogrames having exited the market, Force Video then took over distribution of these titles directly. Apart from cosmetic logo changes on the disc and back cover artwork, and the recoding of these DVDs as Region 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 instead of Region 4 only, they are identical in every way to their initial releases.

    This box set presents all 3 of these movies in an attractive double slip case - you slip out one section of the case from the other and then the spines of the DVD cases contained therein are exposed, allowing their removal. The pricing structure at the time of writing is interesting - it is more expensive to purchase this box set than it is to purchase the titles individually. Given the mixed reviews of these DVDs, it is difficult to recommend the best option for readers - read the reviews, and consider your options is the best advice that can be given at this time.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Other Reviews NONE
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Price... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!) REPLY POSTED
Price - Geoff (read my bio)

Overall | Halloween (1978) | Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

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Released 16-Feb-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Halloween Unmasked 2000
Trailer-Re-release
TV Spots-2
Radio Spots-3
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo-Publicity Photos and Posters
Gallery-Photo-Behind The Scenes
Trivia
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 87:08 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Carpenter
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis
Donald Pleasence
P.J. Soles
Nancy Loomis
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Returning to Halloween after not having seen it in over a decade is like revisiting another time. In this time, substance was more important than style or hype, and ill-conceived films with no artistic merit were generally eaten alive at the box office. It's hard to say, but I miss those times.

    A true product of that era, Halloween is the most successful independent horror film ever made because once you've seen and heard the film, it stays emblazoned on your mind forever, much like the image of Denise Richards semi-nude during Wild Things, or that of an eyeball flying into Kassie DePaiva's mouth during Evil Dead II.

    Having seen the film on the Very Hazy System many, many times (at least ten dozen, in fact) about a decade ago, the first thing I think of when I see or hear the word "Halloween" is John Carpenter's mesmerisingly evil-sounding theme. You could play this theme to me over and over while only showing me the test pattern for two hours and I would stay firmly gripped to my seat. Even a series of sequels that varied from being average to dumbfoundingly awful could not diminish the influence this film has had upon its audience and present-generation filmmakers. Indeed, some of those filmmakers are already at work on a seventh sequel, currently titled Halloween H2K: Evil Never Dies, and yes, I do know how bad that sounds.

    It is really such a pity that this classic has been dragged down by a string of lacklustre sequels, much like the Nightmare On Elm Street and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises, although the classic status of the latter example is somewhat debatable. Still, given that sequels to films like Scooby-Doo are now in production, I cannot honestly say that there is such a thing as a (comparatively) bad horror sequel anymore.

    In spite of those things, Halloween has cast an influence that even ranges outside of cinema, with novelists and musicians also acknowledging a somewhat more subtle level of influence from the score music. Yet, for such an influential and groundbreaking horror film, the plot is an extremely simple one. The film begins in the year 1963, when Michael Myers (Will Sandin) is a boy of no more than six years in age, whose eyes we see the beginning of the film through. For a number of reasons that are still best known to himself, Michael hunts down his elder sister, Judith (Sandy Johnson) and stabs her to death. After he is discovered staring off into space with the bloody knife in his hand, Michael is sent to the lock-up ward of a mental hospital where he is observed as a pet project by Doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance).

    Fifteen years later, a twenty-one year old Michael (Tony Moran) manages to escape from the hospital and return to Haddonfield, the town in which the original murder took place. From this point, we are introduced to a young woman named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends, who are all unknowingly about to become a target of Michael. Also present through much of the film is an ominous black apparition known only as The Shape (Nick Castle), who is basically interchangeable with Michael, and whose face is revealed to us in this film for the first and so far only time. One theory that looks upon the film in psychological terms has it that The Shape is a personification of that ever-present threat of death which hangs over us all whenever we accept a certain necessary level of risk in order to make our lives worth living, something that lies beneath the surface of many things that we do all the time but hardly ever acknowledge. It is subtle things like this that dominate Halloween, giving it a much more cerebral and ominous feel than almost all of the horror films that have come before or since.

    I really can't describe much more of the film than that without giving away vital information, so I will wrap this up with a few statements. If you want to see true independent horror film-making at its finest, then dive in. You will also see the film where almost all of the ideas in the Scream series originated, as well as the first film to take the concept of a nearly invincible serial killer and run with it like a try-hard runs from comparisons with this film. The history of horror films was forever altered by Halloween, even if it only did so by taking the more tense moments of Psycho and turning them into a film of their own, as has been suggested. Sit down with a box of popcorn and an easily-scared loved one, and breathe in the atmosphere.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in the proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The difference that this feature alone makes to the film is similar to the difference it makes to show Blade Runner in its proper aspect ratio: the image seems much more full of life and atmosphere.

    The sharpness of this transfer is very good, almost a little too sharp for the good of the film in some places, as a matter of fact. The shadow detail, on the other hand, ranges from average to poor, with little detail on offer within the many dark patches of the image. This is more a characteristic of the film stock than the transfer, however, and the shadow detail is still miles ahead of any other home video medium by virtue of the fact that there is no low-level noise to be found in these patches of black.

    The colour saturation in the daytime scenes is somewhat muted due to both the environments being photographed and the film stock with which they were shot. In the exterior night-time and low-lit sequences, the colour saturation almost becomes monochrome in nature, partly due to the reduced shadow detail. There is no colour bleeding, misregistration, or composite artefacts on offer in this transfer, and this is something I wish all independent distributors would incorporate into their work.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, in spite of the fact that it is quite heavily compressed in order to fit all of the features onto the DVD. The backgrounds are slightly hazy in some shots, but the compression is otherwise transparent. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor telecine wobble in the opening credits, which settled down as the feature commenced, and some aliasing. The aliasing was a moderate problem in the daytime shots, with car chrome, road markings, and rooftops all shimmering away with abandon; standout examples of this aliasing can be found at 11:08, 14:37, 17:52, and 26:56. It's a shame that these instances exist to remind us that we are watching a home video medium and not an actual film as such, because it is otherwise pretty hard to fault the transfer. Film artefacts consisted of some black and white marks on the picture that, while intrusive at times, were within the acceptable limits of a twenty-two year old feature.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Halloween was originally released with a monaural soundtrack and then remixed into Dolby Stereo for a 1999 re-release, so it stands to reason that this DVD has been released with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded remix, although it would have been nice to also have the original mono mix.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack, with its higher bitrate of 224 kilobits per second, is the only soundtrack to be found on this disc.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, although it is really the lack of dialogue from one of the central characters that makes the film work so well. Some mild distortion can be heard in Jamie Lee Curtis' screams of terror, such as at 72:57, but this is only a minor problem, especially compared to the distortion and unintelligible dialogue passages that plagued the VHS versions of this film. There are no discernible problems with audio sync.

    The score music written by John Carpenter and performed by The Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra is mesmerizing and haunting to the point that it can occupy its own little space in the memory of horror film buffs for all time. The score is based around a singular piano-based theme, which is so well-written that I could listen to it again and again for hours without getting bored. Other themes are also used throughout the film, most of which are sedate and creepy enough to get the skin crawling. This is quite seriously one of the ten greatest film scores ever written.

    The surround channels are used lightly to support the music and the occasional directional effects, such as speeding cars and storms. Given the monaural nature of the film's original soundtrack, the remix is as good as can be expected. Very little of the film has overlapped sound effects, which is an interesting contrast to the Very Hazy System soundtracks of episodes four and five in this series, where shotgun blasts sounded like trains crashing through cars. The soundtrack works on the listener over time, slowly sinking into the pores and infecting the listener with its tension rather than leaping out all at once and stripping itself of any mystique. In that sense, the audio transfer can be considered completely appropriate to the nature and needs of the film.

    The subwoofer, although not specifically encoded into the soundtrack, was present during most of the film, lending a kind of spillage support to the music and occasional heavy sound effects, without calling any attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A huge collection of extras that enhance the film and further the viewer's understanding are present on this disc. The only thing we don't have is a commentary by the director or other members of the crew, but the featurette almost makes up for this omission. The only thing missing from this disc that I can honestly say I miss is RSDL formatting, but even that can be forgotten in the context of the disc's quality.

Menu

    The main menu features some introductory animation and the Halloween theme, rendered in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding. The scene selection menu features animation and similarly rendered audio, while the special features menu is merely static. They are, however, not 16x9 Enhanced. They are excellent at providing a sample of the tense atmosphere that one can expect from the film, and quite honestly gives the animated menus provided by the likes of Columbia Tristar a good run for their money.

Featurette - Halloween Unmasked 2000

    A twenty-seven and a quarter minute featurette about the writing, production, and shooting of Halloween. The aspect ratio varies between 1.33:1 and 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced, but annoyingly windowboxed at all times. The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack is clear and free of any distortion. The documentary itself is very insightful and a must for any serious fans of the film. There are some problems with audio sync in the featurette, but this looks like it is source material-related.

Re-Release Trailer

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 Enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, this trailer correctly proclaims this film as "the one, the only, the classic". The video quality of the trailer is a little on the average side, but it is really quite a nice inclusion for the novelty value.

TV Spots

    A sub-menu containing two thirty-second television spots. They are both presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1, windowboxed, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Radio Spots

    A collection of three radio spots, presented over a static background in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound. Some distortion is present in the sound, and static can be heard in the background of each radio spot, but they do make an interesting inclusion.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Biographies for Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, director/writer/composer John Carpenter, writer/producer Debra Hill, executive producer Irwin Yablans, and financier Moustapha Akkad are present under this menu. They are extremely comprehensive, revealing all sorts of interesting facts about each subject, and their only fault is some ordinary typesetting, with the occasional word broken over two lines.

Photo Gallery - Publicity Photos and Posters

    A collection of the photos and posters used to publicize the film, which has some cursory annotation.

Photo Gallery - Behind The Scenes

    This is a collection of stills taken of the production, which also features some cursory, but interesting, annotation.

Notes - Trivia

    A string of trivia entries about the making of Halloween, presented over static versions of the menu screen. This is an exceptionally informative and interesting collection of trivia. For instance, did you know that Halloween's total budget was $320,000, and that it only took 21 days to shoot? When was the last time you saw a film shot under such conditions that was this effective?

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Two versions of this film are available in Region 1: a stock-standard version, and a Special Edition, both of which were released by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The stock-standard version has all the same features as our version, but features a poor-quality video transfer. There is also a Limited Edition available for US $44.98 (about ninety dollars in Australian pesos) that contains everything on the Special Edition plus an alternate edit of the film that was shown on network television.

Compared to the Region 1 Special Edition, the Region 4 version misses out on;

According to Widescreen Review, the 5.1 remix is a real treat for hardcore fans of the film, and the picture is pleasantly clean save for some fine film grain and minor artefacts. Given that there is little to no film grain present in our local version, I'd have to say that I'd consider investing in both versions of the film, as any major fan of this film would. However, the ravings about the 5.1 remix on Widescreen Review lead me to believe that Region 1 is noticeably ahead with this film.

Summary

    Halloween is the greatest, most influential independent horror film of all time. End of story.

    The video quality is excellent, let down only by a moderate aliasing problem.

    The audio quality is somewhat limited, but still perfectly complements the film.

    The extras are comprehensive, lacking only a commentary track.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, January 31, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDGrundig GDV-100D/Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)
The DVD Bits - Mark M
Web Wombat - James A
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)
DVDownUnder - Matt G
impulsegamer.com - Richard Hill

Comments (Add)
Anchor Bay can't help themselves - the 25th Anniversary edition just released -
re: Colours of the 25th Anniversary - Mickey Juice
Magna Pacific -
RE: 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' movies on R4 DVD -

Overall | Halloween (1978) | Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween II (1981)

Halloween II (1981)

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Released 16-Feb-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Production Notes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 87:45 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rick Rosenthal
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis
Lance Guest
Donald Pleasence
Pamela Susan Shoop
Jeffrey Kramer
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $32.95 Music John Carpenter
Alan Howarth


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Of course, with a film that succeeds just by sheer word-of-mouth as Halloween managed to do, sequels are all but guaranteed. Maybe not so much in 1981 as is the case today, but the temptation to dip into the well once again must have been quite enormous. This sequel found John Carpenter voluntarily relegated to the roles of producer and writer, leaving the direction in the hands of Rick Rosenthal. While the results are still head-and-shoulders above most of the imitators that the original has attracted in the past twenty-three years, Halloween II is a big disappointment by comparison. A lot of this has to do with the trading of atmosphere and suspense for more explicit violence, but the real problem is the lack of any likeable support characters. I just couldn't care what happened to half of the people Michael Myers killed in this instalment, because most of them had all the personality of a surfboard.

    Halloween II picks up exactly where the original left off, a rare thing in sequels both then and now. Michael Myers/The Shape (Dick Warlock) has just been shot six times by Doctor Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and fallen from the balcony of the Strode home. This is one of the first continuity errors of this sequel: in the original Halloween, Myers fell from the back window of the house and was seen missing from that balcony by Loomis. In this instalment, he falls from the front balcony and Loomis takes the time to walk out the door in order to find him.

    Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, where she is sedated and treated by a doctor who has just returned in a less than sober state from a party. The fact that no hospital would allow this to occur or turn its hallway lights off, for that matter, is a major scripting faux pas that pales in comparison to the idea that a multi-winged hospital in a state as populated as Illinois would have so few people in it. Such unbelievable events almost turn the film into a comedy, but not nearly as much as the explanation as to why Michael Myers is going to all the trouble of hunting Laurie Strode in the first place. It's a credit to Nancy Stephens that she could deliver this revelation with a straight face, although it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there are a lot of outtakes based around this moment.

    Much of this can be blamed upon John Carpenter, who has been quoted as saying that he realized there was no more story in Halloween II once he'd started to create the script. Well, he's right in one respect: there was a faint premise of a story here, but executing it would have required a lot more money and actors than this production obviously had. Anyway, now that I've finished talking about the negatives, there are still a few good things about this film. The cinematography still manages to inject an atmosphere of pure dread, and the tactic of having The Shape lurking around in the shadows of several shots still works well. The score music has been radically altered in this outing, shifted up almost an octave or so in pitch, and it works well because it hasn't quite become the cliché present in episodes four, five, and six.

    In short, this film is definitely not the standard-setting classic that Halloween has been for the last twenty-odd years, but it is worth investigating if you are willing to really suspend your disbelief and go with the flow. As a story, it is still far ahead of Halloween H20 (at least it isn't set in a place you'd expect to be deserted), but don't expect anything extraordinary.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    After the stellar transfer that was afforded to the original Halloween, the transfer afforded to this, the best of the sequels so far, is a major let-down.

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced, a fact which many of the problems can be blamed upon.

    In a nutshell, the transfer lacks resolution, often taking on an indistinct and blocky look that I'd normally associate with the well-worn VHS cassettes I've seen of this film. Sharpness in the normal sense of the word is all but non-existent The shadow detail of this transfer is on par with that of the original episode, in that there is just enough detail within the blacks for the night-time shots to make sense, but little more. There is no low-level noise to spoil the darkness of the image.

    The colours are dull and uniformly undersaturated, but this is clearly an artistic choice rather than any fault of the transfer. What can be blamed upon the transfer is their blotchy, murky appearance.

    MPEG artefacts were not a problem in this transfer, although there were moments when the background seemed to be on the verge of macro-blocking, such as during Loomis' arguments with the police. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some serious telecine wobble during the opening titles and the credits, but didn't seem to be quite as big a problem during the film itself. Aliasing was still quite a problem in this transfer, being less noticeable than in the original Halloween, but more constant and distracting. Film artefacts consisted of black and white marks on the print source that were just as consistent in this sequel as the original, but adding to the fun was the presence of reel change markings at 16:38, 33:28, and 69:10. I'm sure I missed one in there somewhere, although I have to wonder how since the markings are quite large and nasty-looking.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Just as the video transfer is a disappointment compared to that afforded to the original Halloween, the audio transfer provided for Halloween II can best be described as nothing special, which is a surprise given that the former was originally a monaural film and this one was originally presented in Mag Stereo.

    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, although there were one or two words here and there that became muffled and indistinct. Some whine can be heard in the high frequencies at various points in the film, and distortion becomes a problem at 84:45, as well as throughout the ending credits. There were no perceptible problems with audio sync to add to the fun, however.

    The score music in this film is credited to John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. Essentially, the former is responsible for writing the majority of score, while the latter has adapted and performed it in this film. The main Halloween theme has been raised in pitch quite noticeably, making it sound more synthetic and ultimately twee. To be quite honest, the new renditions of the theme sound so synthetic that they seem more appropriate for a sequel to some Disney-produced load of drivel rather than a sequel to the greatest low-budget horror movie of all time.

    The surround channels were moderately active to support the music and the occasional directional effect, such as a speeding car or the yellings of the angry mob outside the Myers house. There are no split surround effects, however, which really dates the soundtrack when taken in combination with the limited fidelity and high-end distortion. Overall, the surround usage can be described as adequate, but only just.

    The subwoofer was not specifically encoded into the soundtrack, but it did pop up occasionally to handle the reverberations from such sound effects as gunshots or explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is heavily animated and accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, building the appropriate atmosphere for the film once again.

Production Notes

    A moderate-length essay about the production of Halloween II, which reveals some facts of minor interest. The featurette on Halloween, however, reveals more about the artistic and financial concerns of both films than this group of production notes.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, this trailer is in similar condition to the main feature, and is not especially pleasant or entertaining. A little work to clean up the source material, at the very least, would have been appreciated.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    With the seriously deficient quality of the Region 4 release, one might think that they'd be vastly better off with the Region 1 version. However, it appears that the Region 1 version's video quality is even worse, with "pixelization and aliasing problems" adding to Region 1's woes, according to Widescreen Review. Additionally, the Region 1 version misses out on the Theatrical Trailer, making our version of the disc superior by the narrowest of margins. The transfer quality of the local version, however, leads me to recommend that serious fans of the series buy neither version until someone in either Region wakes up and creates a 16x9 transfer from an earlier-generation source. The fact that this could be done with the original Halloween makes me believe it is still possible with Halloween II.

Summary

    Halloween II is the best sequel of the Halloween series to date, although some laughable details in the story really do it an injustice.

    The video quality is uniformly mediocre, although (just barely) watchable.

    The audio quality is also mediocre, lacking fidelity and clarity a lot of the time.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, February 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)
DVDownUnder - Matt G
impulsegamer.com - Richard Hill

Comments (Add)
New UK DVD edition has anamorphic and audio commentary - Andrew500 (read my bio, at your leisure)
Sequel + original -
Rick Rosenthal cut -

Overall | Halloween (1978) | Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 16-Feb-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 92:10 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Tommy Lee Wallace
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Atkins
Dan O'Herlihy
Stacy Nelkin
Ralph Strait
Case C-Button-Version 2
RPI $32.95 Music John Carpenter
Alan Howarth


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch. In short: previous movies be damned, we're going to make a sequel that has no connection whatsoever with the previous two films.

The film begins with an elderly gentleman by the name of Harry Gumbridge (Al Berry) fleeing through Northern California from some rather nasty men in suits. He is brought to a hospital where Doctor Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) works, clutching a Halloween mask for dear life and babbling incoherently about how "they're going to kill us all".

Although the hospital in Halloween III is more densely populated than the one shown in Halloween II, it isn't quite enough to stop one of the men in the business suits from getting into the hospital and killing Harry. As Daniel pursues this suited man, said assassin gets into his car, pours petrol upon himself, and lights a blaze that causes the car to explode. As the authorities try to piece together who the nameless man in the suit was and why he'd go to so much trouble to kill some anonymous elderly gentleman, Harry's daughter arrives to identify the body.

Ellie Gumbridge (Stacy Nelkin) later finds Daniel and informs him that her father was in the business of selling Halloween masks and other such children's novelties. At that time, the world's largest manufacturer of Halloween masks and novelties happens to be a Santa Mira-based company called Silver Shamrock, which is headed by an ageing Irishman by the name of Conal Cochran (played with aplomb by the ever-charming Dan O'Herlihy).

Ellie wants some answers as to why Silver Shamrock would want a sweet old man like her father dead, and Daniel wants Ellie, so they head off to Santa Mira together and book into a motel where they pose as a married couple. While we are in Santa Mira, we see a town that looks almost like the village of the damned, right down to the robotic workers at the Silver Shamrock factory, and the surveillance cameras that remind us of the fact that our heroes (along with everyone else in the town) are being watched.

Among the things that detract from this film are a Silver Shamrock mock-commercial that features one of the most annoying themes ever written by human hands (which is repeated, oh, I don't know, like about twenty-three billion times), and acting from everyone bar the three leads that you could put your drink on top of.

It has been said that if you forget about Michael Myers' non-appearance in this film (which is hard, given the design of the menus on this DVD) and try to make allowances for what was trying to be done with this film, it works much better. This is partly true, as watching the film without expecting any continuity from the previous two films does make it much easier to tolerate the bad points. When this allowance is made, we are left with an average B-grade horror film that could have been made in the 1950s for television audiences, laced with a touch of 1980s cynicism and production values. Still, I would strongly encourage renting the disc, or otherwise getting to see the film for rental prices before buying, just to make certain that the absence of Myers doesn't bother you as much as it has some of the 1132 IMDB users that have given the film a 3.4 out of ten. I thought they were being a little harsh, but I've watched this film a number of times in the past nine years and gotten used to it, so I might be being too generous.

By the way, keep your ears open for Cochran's explanation of Halloween at 71:20, which could only have been written by a Catholic school student who has never set foot in Ireland or any of the Celtic lands. It would be another fifteen years before such a fearmongering load of drivel would be spewed by anyone in Hollywood, and the place they chose to do it was a little comedy called The Craft.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. There is, however, a slight problem with this: both the Internet Movie Database and the generally authoritative Widescreen Review state the proper aspect ratio of this film to be 2.40:1, and it appears that the source material was vertically elongated in order to achieve this. You could theoretically achieve the proper ratio on a 4:3 television with a manual 16:9 mode by setting the DVD player to output a 4:3 picture, then engaging the 16:9 mode, but the question is "Why should we have to?"

The transfer is very sharp throughout the film, as much as one can really ask for from a film of this age. The shadow detail is still quite ordinary, although this is not as much of an issue as was the case in the previous two Halloween films. Once again, this is more an issue with the film stocks that were used during principal photography than any specific stage of the transfer process. There is no low-level noise to spoil the dark parts of the transfer.

The colours are still rather muted, but this is as much an artistic choice as it is an issue with the age of the film. It is interesting to note the appearance of mock commercials on television screens, which figure prominently in this film. These commercials look so faded and washed out that it wouldn't surprise me to learn they were originally filmed using a home camcorder and then projected onto the screens with a modified VCR, a common technique in Hollywood films at the time, before being filmed. Aside from this one complaint, however, the colour saturation really cannot be faulted.

MPEG artefacts were not a problem for this transfer, with the bitrate being surprisingly high and the source material being surprisingly clean. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor telecine wobble early in the film that was only mildly noticeable, and the usual amount of aliasing. Standout examples of aliasing occurred at 19:21, 24:40,27:22, 43:55, and 70:37. The problem wasn't with the severity of the aliasing, which was never too bad, but with its frequency, which was enough to make me dread camera pans during daytime sequences. Film artefacts consisted of some mild black and white marks on the picture that were never too intrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Much like the audio transfer for Halloween II, the audio transfer that has been afforded to Halloween III can be described as a modest improvement upon the film's original optical mono soundtrack.

There is only one soundtrack in this audio transfer: the original English dialogue, remixed into a surround-encoded Dolby Digital 2.0 format with a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second. The dialogue is mostly clear and easy to understand, but there are moments when it does get a little muffled. There is a low hiss throughout the soundtrack that intrudes a little on dialogue intelligibility during the quieter moments of the film, and a pop reminiscent of those frequently heard with vinyl platters was present at 00:14. To add to the fun, distortion can be heard at several points in the soundtrack, usually when a musical cue is present. At 52:36, a musical cue can be heard that features tinny and distorted sounding keyboards which are less pleasant to listen to than radio noise (okay, almost), and it doesn't let up until 55:01. I'd be willing to guess that the distortion was simply caused by the limitations of the original recording techniques. There are no problems with audio sync.

The score music is credited to John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, but the former's involvement is limited to a singular use of the original Halloween theme late in the film. The rest of the score music is shrill, focused upon the higher octaves (which accounts for a lot of the distortion present), and rather annoying. Adding to the fun is the theme from the Silver Shamrock mock-commercial, which is about as pleasant to listen to as a cat vomiting. On the bright side is the fact that the score music is not present in this film as much as was the case in the previous two films.

The surround channels are used infrequently to support the music and some sound effects, such as those heard during the drive to Santa Mira. In comparison to the surround channel usage on Halloween, this might as well be a mono soundtrack with the occasional stereo element, which is forgivable since most of the film is dialogue-based. The subwoofer was occasionally used to support the music and some explosive effects, and it did so without calling any special attention to itself. In my view, a Dolby Digital 1.0 or 2.0 stereo mix could have done the job just as well.

The subwoofer was not discretely encoded, and no low-frequency content in this soundtrack required my receiver to engage it for support. This poor speaker was left in the corner to do nothing.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is heavily animated with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. It is extremely misleading with the presence of the trademark modified William Shatner mask, since Michael Myers makes no appearance in this film at all.

Theatrical Trailer

The theatrical trailer is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. In its favour is the fact that it looks much cleaner and more well-preserved than the theatrical trailer included with Halloween II.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

According to Widescreen Review, the Region 1 video transfer exhibits "mediocre quality with a dated appearance", is "somewhat sharp, but fine detail and definition are wanting, for a picture that is quite plugged-up". Adding to Region 1's problems are "aliasing problems, artefacts and minor pixelization", leaving them with a picture that is "at best, mediocre throughout". While it is quite unfortunate that we miss out on the proper aspect ratio, the clean and mostly good-looking picture we do have would probably be preferable to what is described as an awful-looking NTSC picture.

    Unfortunately, the R4 version is missing about ninety seconds of footage (with the PAL speedup taken into account), mostly involving the scenes in which persons are killed. The cuts are very precise and hard to detect when one hasn't seen the film in a long time, but the end result is that with the quality issues regarding the R1 version(s) and the misframing of the local disc, this censorship issue tips the scales towards buying neither version.

Summary

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch was a bold effort to steer the franchise in a new direction that is bogged down by a lack of suspense, excitement, decent score music, or good acting.

Time has been kinder to the video quality of this film than that of Halloween II, although it is a real pity that we miss out on the proper aspect ratio.

The audio quality, however, is dated at the best of times and downright annoying at the worst. If ever a film cried out for a new mix from the original elements, this is the one.

The extras consist of a singular theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, February 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Paul D (read my bio here or check out my music at MP3.com.)
The DVD Bits - David E
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
Extremely censored -
re: Extremely censored - Mickey Juice
re: censorship - chaossphere