Much like the star Boogeyman Michael Myers himself, new and improved re-releases of Halloween will never die; and also much like The Shape’s numerous screen re-appearances, DVD after DVD and Blu-Ray after Blu-Ray can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it’s great that this seminal horror film frequently gets the love and attention it deserves, but on the other hand, this plethora of releases floods the market with so many editions of Halloween, it can become daunting to suss out which are essential and which can be skipped.
Such is the question hanging over LionsGate’s latest edition of John Carpenter’s breakout hit, this one featuring a brand new 4K transfer sourced from the 35th anniversary restoration supervised by original Halloween cinematographer Dean Cundey. Let’s go over the major talking points of this release, and determine if the 4K edition is a must or a bust.
First of all, the case and packaging look amazing. 4K releases, featuring black cases, are much sexier than the regular Blu-Ray blue, so this edition definitely has a leg up over previous releases, at least in terms of its exterior (save for the 35th anniversary digipack release, which features a gorgeous book style case with photos and liner notes attached). The slip case features a glossy reproduction of the classic Halloween poster, depicting a menacing jack-o-lantern wielding a knife. Michael’s weapon of choice and the glint of light at its tip are both semi-reflective, giving the overall image a lustrous sheen. Personally speaking, this jack-o-lantern poster made quite the impression on me back in the 1980s, when I was a boy sneaking looks at the horror section of the local VHS rental store, so it’s wonderful to see it so lovingly recreated here.
Concerning the picture quality of the film, as one would expect, the image is overall much crisper, cleaner, and decidedly more cinematic than previous Blu-Ray releases. As with the 35th anniversary print, the colors are once again subdued, giving the overall film a more naturalistic feel—a welcome departure from the 2007 Blu Ray release, which featured an overall yellowish wash to the picture, causing the lawns of Haddonfield to look neon green and Michael’s mask to lose much of its intended icy white hue. The black levels are much deeper here, giving all the sumptuous shadows created by Cundey and Carpenter extra depth and added insidiousness. So much of the film’s terror hinges on what we don’t see, on what might be lurking in the dark, and this release captures the moody color-chiaroscuro lighting scheme beautifully. If you thought the 35th anniversary print looked amazing, this 4K transfer will blow you away.
Aside from the amazing 4K restoration, the overall package leaves much to the imagination. The standard Blu-Ray disc in the combo pack is the same print from the 2007 Blu Ray release. The 35th anniversary print is a stunning upgrade from this one, so anyone looking to own Halloween on Blu Ray for the first time would do better to seek out the 35th anniversary edition over this one, especially if you buy the digipack edition with the booklet. There are also no new bonus features here—they’re the same as the 2007 disc. This release is all about the 4K transfer, which is beautiful, but a non-issue for anyone who doesn’t own the 4K tech to actually watch it.
There will undoubtedly be future releases of Halloween in 4K, perhaps to celebrate the film’s 45th and 50th anniversaries, and beyond that too. Again, re-releases never die. This first 4K edition is a relatively inexpensive buy, so if you’re itching to watch the film at home in a presentation that is perhaps the closest you’ll get to its original cinematic run, go ahead and pick this one up. But if you’re in the market for a more deluxe special edition 4K release, it’s perhaps best to wait.