[Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Halloween Daily News with a free copy of the 4K release reviewed in this article. The opinions the author shares are are his own.]
Last year’s epic two-part animated adaptation of Batman: The Long Halloween has been re-released as one feature film in a new Deluxe Edition, available now for the first time on 4K Ultra HD.
Originally published in 1996-1997, the 13-issue comic book story The Long Halloween, by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale, follows a serial killer who murders people on every holiday for a year, from Halloween to the next Halloween, and it also features many of Batman’s iconic villains as he investigates the murders over the course of that year. It’s still early in Batman’s crimefighting career and this is his toughest case so far, the first that can’t be solved by brute force and drive.
Introducing a mysterious and fascinating new villain, while also showcasing many of Batman’s most infamous enemies, The Long Halloween is at its core the revelation of how Gotham City morphed from a place run by organized crime that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents to a twisted town run by disfigured freaks.
While you can read my full review of The Long Halloween Part One here and my review of The Long Halloween Part Two here, the combined cut clocks in with a runtime of two hours and 48 minutes, which flies by as each holiday progresses to the next and viewers, as well as the residents of Gotham, know all too well that another killing is coming.
The film works like an anthology of interconnected Batman tales, each taking place on a different holiday, making it ideal viewing for any season, but especially right for autumn.
The Long Halloween Part One‘s first act takes place on Halloween Night, and it is packed with appropriate atmosphere, kicking off with a beautiful tone-setting shot of a lit jack-o’-lantern and blood behind the film’s title as it appears. The opening credits are accompanied by actual panels from the source comic books, intercut with a montage setting the stage for the first known kill of a mystery villain who will soon be known only as Holiday.
We meet all of the main characters through how they are each spending the holiday. Bruce Wayne, voiced by Jensen Ackles, is at home with Alfred (played by Alastair Duncan), stating that it’s an absurd holiday, to which Alfred responds, “Ah yes, putting on costumes and striking fear. Quite absurd.” Bruce’s alter ego has a more lively All Hallows’ Eve, however, as Batman has a high flying night with Catwoman, voiced by the late Naya Rivera.
Played by Billy Burke, James Gordon, who is a Gotham City Police captain at this point in his career, is at home about to take his kids trick or treating. It’s notable that Gordon’s daughter, Barbara (the future Batgirl) is dressed as a Gotham Police officer, while his son, James is dressed as a ghost. But they don’t make it out the door before Gordon is called in to work the murder of a member of the Falcone crime family.
District Attorney Harvey Dent, voiced by Josh Duhamel, comes home to his wife, Gilda, played by Julie Nathanson, who is depressed and not feeling much Halloween spirit. At one point, she tells Harvey, “You have a love/hate relationship with everything,” just before he sees the bat symbol in the distant skyline.
On that Halloween Night, Batman meets with Gordon and Dent on a rooftop and they make a fateful pact to find the killer. Gordon even tells them to “bend the rules, but don’t break them.” Later that night, it’s ironically Batman who suggests that Harvey let a coin flip decide just how far he’s willing to “bend” the rules.
As the year progresses through the other holidays, including a wild Joker escape from Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve, this becomes the case that changes Batman forever, after mistakes are made and he, like the audience, is sometimes wrong about who the Holiday killer is.
In telling the origin story of Two-Face, The Long Halloween makes clear that Gotham City district attorney Harvey Dent was battling his darker half long before we was horribly scarred on half of his face, but he’s pushed over the edge by a multitude of combining forces. Gotham’s ruling mob family the Falcones and their like are being exterminated, as a new breed of villains makes their way out of Arkham Asylum to take the city as their own.
Played by Josh Duhamel, Dent is a decent man with a good heart who is trying to do some good in a very bad town without “crossing the line” too far to ever come back. He is also soon Batman’s prime suspect of the holiday killings, but this is a long Halloween, when disguises are the norm and nothing is what it seems.
Long buried secrets come to light in the closing chapters, and when the climax arrives on the following Halloween, the masks come off with the shocking reveal of the Holiday killer’s identity, as darker truths about the price of justice in an unjust world are also unveiled.
The atmosphere is thick with the motifs of each of the holidays, but October 31st obviously gets the most screen time in both Part 1 and Part 2, and the final scene is a perfectly heartwarming and emotionally powerful moment that could only happen on Halloween Night.
While the tragic descent of Harvey Dent into Two-Face is at the heart of The Long Halloween, it’s really about the fall of Gotham itself, the unlikely killer it created, and the rise of Batman.
The 4K Ultra HD set that we were provided comes in a slipcase featuring new cover art, and it includes a Blu-ray disc and Digital code. The only new bonus content included on this release is an excellent behind the scenes documentary titled Batman: The Long Halloween – Evolution Evil, featuring Loeb, as well as the adaptation’s writer Tim Sheridan, clinical psychologist Drea Letamendi, and more discussing the inspirations, significance, and lasting influence of the landmark source material.
The 25-minute documentary examines how the character of Holiday was inspired partly by real life serial killers of the same era, like the Zodiac killer and the Night Stalker (Richard Ramirez). As Jeph Loeb explains, Holiday was created as a marriage of the old world of Gotham’s mob criminals and the new blood of Batman’s colorful gallery of rogue villains. “This was a very different kind of crime, and it really was sort of the bridge,” he says. “It was like, ‘I’m not a gangster but I’m not a freak, but I will take the gun from the gangster and I will take the little treats from the freaks, and I will take a name, and it’ll be a mystery’.”
Addition extras brought over from the previous stand-alone Blu-ray releases of The Long Halloween Part One and Part Two and included on the 4K disc are behind the scenes featurettes ranging from six and half to 12 and a half minutes, previewing other DC Universe animated movies Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, and Batman: Hush.
Batman: The Long Halloween Deluxe Edition is available now on 4K Ultra HD (including Blu-ray and Digital code), as well as Blu-ray (plus Digital code) and Digital, from Warner Bros Animation, DC, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
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