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Fans of the Halloween franchise know well that the most astonishing thing about the massive new Halloween: The Complete Collection 15-disc Deluxe Edition Blu-ray release arriving this week is that it exists at all. Rights held by differing studios for years made just the thought of an official box set impossible to consider before now, and yet here it is in all its awesome glory, thanks to an unprecedented partnering of Anchor Bay and Scream Factory, the genre’s two biggest home entertainment houses.
We were blessed with an advance copy of The Collection, which we have been devouring for the last week and found to be an epic must-own for devoted fans and any casual viewers wondering when or if they should upgrade their DVDs to the Blu-ray format, though it is still not exactly “Complete”.
Beginning with the classic that started it all, John Carpenter’s Halloween is presented three times, spread out over three of the 15 discs, including the “Extended Edition” TV cut that features additional scenes shot during the production of Halloween II and inserted into this slightly re-edited version of the original film.
Disc 1 is almost identical to last year’s stunning 35thAnniversary Edition Blu-ray, with an excellent transfer that was personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer Dean Cundey. It even features the exact same “35th Anniversary” menu screen, but there is one significant additional bonus feature exclusive for this release.
Along with those imported from last year’s 35thAnniversary Edition, including the TV version extra footage, trailer, TV spots, two featurettes, and a really enjoyable feature commentary with Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis, there is also a brand new feature length commentary with Cundey, production designer (and part time Shape) Tommy Lee Wallace, and The Shape himself Nick Castle.
While the commentary is mostly great fun, you have to put up with Wallace clearly chowing down on something tasty during the earlier moments. They lay out the full history of the original Michael Myers mask, and the three of them reminisce about Wallace and Castle taking turns playing The Shape.
Disc 2 has an earlier transfer and the same imported bonus features originally included in the 25th Anniversary release in 2003.
Disc 3 is identical to Scream Factory’s excellent Blu-ray/DVD release of the Theatrical Cut of Halloween II in 2012, loaded with killer bonus features and a beautiful transfer, now with an added option of the original mono audio or a newer 5.1 mix, which had been advertised on the case but was not included on my 2012 DVD.
A rare misstep in the mostly perfect collection is the fact that Disc 4 is not in fact Blu-ray disc at all, but a DVD of the alternate TV Cut, which includes some fascinating extra scenes and very different ending. Aside from a downloadable version of the Halloween II script, no additional bonus features are included on this disc.
Discs 5, 6, and 7 feature the previously released 2012 versions of Halloween III: Season of the Witch (with only 2.0 mono audio included, despite 5.1 advertised on the case and press releases), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.
Seeing Parts 4 and 5 on Blu-ray for the first time personally, they have never looked better, presenting a major upgrade from my old Anchor Bay DVDs. The only thing missing among the bonus features here is H5 writer Alan B. McElroy’s commentary from that original DVD release, though he and all of the other principal players from both films are interviewed for two extensive making of documentaries that are new and exclusive for this release. Both docs, featured along with various other extras on Disc 15 in this Deluxe Edition box set, are about an hour long and cover all aspects, including the controversies surrounding Halloween 5.
There are also two vintage featurettes on 4 and 5 included on Disc 15, as well as TV spots and still galleries for each film.
The crown jewel of this monumental set is easily the first ever official release of the much-bootlegged, mythically infamous original cut of the sixth installment in the series, known as the “Producers Cut” of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, found on Disc 8.
Available now for the first time in full high definition, flawed and controversial is it may be, this is a whole new experience, and one very different from anything that came before it in terms of altering the franchise mythology.
The Producers Cut soundtrack is vastly different and much more reminiscent of classic Carpenter than composer Alan Howarth’s revised score for the Theatrical Cut, which introduced the heavier guitars often identified with this film. The Brother Cane track “Fools Shine On” is also nowhere to be found in the credits of the Producers Cut (a welcome change in my opinion).
Fans of this series that have only seen the bootlegs of the Producers Cut are going to marvel at the clarity and crispness of this outstanding transfer, but the treasure trove of bonus features included on the disc are truly insane, including new interviews with everyone from Malek Akkad and Danielle Harris to Mariah Obrien, who reveals that her pal Edgar Wright loves Halloween 6 (which might explain why Wright cast H6 survivor Paul Rudd in Ant-Man before the director left that project).
Harris gives the full story and final word on why she did not return to play Jamie Lloyd for a third time, and Akkad is candid about his father’s battles with the studio and the Weinstein brothers, which ultimately lead to the Akkad’s (and most of the original crew) being completely excluded from any participation in the reshoots that drastically altered what would have been a game changing ending of the movie and resulted in two very different cuts.
In many ways, I expect that the Producers Cut will upset some fans seeing it for the first time with its already controversial ending, but it doesn’t change the fact that this version is a better movie, flawed though it may be, and it absolutely delivers in terms of connecting the admittedly disparate plot threads left dangling throughout all five of the prior films. And yes, I’m including Halloween III in that list, because I was overjoyed hearing writer Daniel Farrands confirm that Mrs. Blankenship is in fact a nod to a character of the same name in H3, thus providing the only connective tissue I need to consider Season of the Witch in the same cinematic universe and canon to the original Halloween series.
With a flashback sequence wisely featuring unused footage from Halloween 5 of Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd now re-inserted, the Producers Cut also ties Curse into the prior two films much more effectively than the Theatrical version, which is also included in this set in its entirety on Disc 8, looking as visually great as its counterpart.
The highlight of the Producers Cut extras for me is the highly informative feature commentary with Howarth and Farrands, who answers just about every question I’ve ever had about this movie.
Farrands explains that the original opening of the film was to be a nightmare sequence that would’ve paid homage to Carpenter’s classic opening scene, and he lays bare the Man in Black’s intentions to sacrifice baby Stephen Lloyd and in turn transfer Michael’s evil into young Danny Strode and then starting the cycle again.
Another gem from this great commentary is that Farrands wrote Dr. Wynn for Christopher Lee, whom John Carpenter also wrote the character of Dr. Sam Loomis for.
Oh, and who knew Alan Howarth was actually doing much of the “breathing” for Michael Myers in Halloween II? Good stuff!
In addition to four different trailers (including the original teaser for “Halloween 6: The Origin of Michael Myers”) and eight TV spots, there’s also some truly great archival footage of interviews with the great Donald Pleasence, as well as a pre-stardom Paul Rudd, discussing why Michael Myers is the best of all horror villains.
There are also deleted and extended scenes not included in either version of H6, including a very gory face-splitting gag and shots of (cloned?) babies and DNA codes during the final massacre in the Theatrical Cut.
The bottom line is if you already don’t like The Curse of Michael Myers, you probably won’t like the Producers Cut much more, but if (like me) you appreciate Curse’s unique experiment at expanding a franchise that had admittedly written itself into a corner after Halloween 5, then you will find a much more fulfilling experience watching the beautifully restored and very cursed Producers Cut.
The other big upgrade here is on Disc 10, with the seventh installment, Halloween H20 presented here in its correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a beautiful transfer and audio options of 5.1 and 2.0. As with Curse, however, the big story with H20 is the fresh extras, including an all-new feature commentary with director Steve Miner and star Jamie Lee Curtis, and an extensive documentary featuring loads of new interviews with just about everyone involved with the film.
Like Part 6, H20 is also both among the most popular and controversial of all the sequels, and this new content provides far more insight than any other prior release of the film. In addition to the entertaining and often informative commentary and the excellent doc, you can also watch most of the movie with composer John Ottman’s original score, which is great to finally see, though it’s clear now why they wisely did not use most of this music, which is way too whimsical and Disney-esque for a Halloween film.
There’s also an H20theatrical trailer, as well as almost an hour of raw behind the scenes footage, including Curtis rehearsing a particularly intense scene with a young Josh Hartnett, making his big screen debut, chain smoking between line readings.
Disc 11 has Halloween: Resurrection and all of the extras included in its most recent prior release, including a “web cam special” that is actually an alternative cut of the film using only the found footage segments recorded by the cast during filming. It’s kind of a better version of Resurrection, certainly putting The Shape back into the shadows where he lurked mostly in Carpenter’s 1978 original. I did not notice much difference in the picture quality of Resurrection over its prior release, aside from the obvious upgrade of seeing the movie on Blu-ray for the first time as opposed to my old DVD copy.
That brings us to the Rob Zombie films and the biggest missing links in this not-exactly-complete collection.
Disc 12 is basically identical to the original Director’s Cut of Zombie’s remake that was released on Blu-ray in 2007, with a very informative feature commentary by Zombie, numerous deleted and alternate scenes, a blooper real, and various featurettes.
For fans of the Zombie remake, however, the biggest draw to this box set will be found on Disc 13, comprised of a four and a half hour long documentary called Michael Lives, which is an exhausting look at every single day of filming, effectively detailing everything that went into recreating the classic for a new generation. It is very long, but it is also an easy watch and quite captivating, and it was only ever available before in a limited 3-disc edition that was released in 2008.
The Director’s Cut of Zombie’s sequel, Halloween II is featured on Disc 14, along with all of the extras imported from its original 2010 release. Again, much like with Parts 3 and 6, Zombie’s Halloween IIis a different beast that I feel will ultimately have a strong allegiance of dedicated fans, but it too will always be one of the most controversial (and therefore despised by many) entries in horror’s most hallowed franchise.
What is missing, unfortunately, is the very different Theatrical Cuts of both the remake and its sequel. While I admittedly prefer both Director’s Cuts over their Theatrical counterparts, it’s a definite shame to not have them included in what is already such a heralded box set, rendering its “Complete Collection” title sadly false.
Disc 15 is oddly located in the same case as Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, and in addition to the
Extended Edition of Carpenter’s original and the new and vintage docs on H4 and 5, you will also find a brief new chat with Halloween III make-up effects artist Tom Burman, who reveals his original idea for that film’s climax was to have Cochran transform into a giant pumpkin-headed “evil spirit of Halloween” before disappearing and getting away.
With an impressive wealth of new extras combined with a huge library of existing material, the bonus features are a mixed bag of updated and vintage, but it’s all very well put together and highly informative, especially for anyone who doesn’t already own all of the previous releases of all ten films.
Is it worth the investment? That depends on what kind of a fan you are and maybe what prior editions you already own, but if all but one or two of those prior releases are on DVD (like me), you ingest every new bonus feature from every updated release even before watching the newest transfer, and you have spent countless hours wondering about the many often off-the-wall decisions made during the production of Halloween 6 and H20 particularly, then this Collection is definitely the ultimate treat.
Oh, and I almost forgot Fangoria writer Michael Gringold’s loving 40-page commemorative book that also comes with this set, featuring an efficient history of the franchise and dozens of incredible, rare behind the scenes images, many of which can also be viewed within the still galleries included on the various discs for each film. And let’s not leave out the gorgeous slip case box art featuring Michael Myers stalking like only he can.
Overall, The Complete Collection is a killer beauty and a Halloween fan’s dream come true, with hours upon hours of highly satisfying entertainment presented in a fitting tribute to the season, the series, and The Shape.
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