MAY 22, 2011
While I have already watched/reviewed both Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers and H20 for HMAD, I jumped at the chance to get a copy of their new Blu-ray releases from Echo Bridge, as it was the first time that the two films had been released not only in high def, but also anamorphic (in the US anyway). So head on over to those reviews for a bit more in depth of how I feel about the films, though I will offer a few thoughts before discussing the quality of the new transfers.
Unsurprisingly, the version EB put out for Halloween 6 is the theatrical cut, with the legendary, oft-bootlegged “Producer’s Cut” still commercially unavailable ANYWHERE as far as I know. It’s funny though; I’ve watched the producer’s cut so often I was taken aback by some of the editing here; lines and small moments that were excised in order to make the film faster-paced seem “missing” to me now. But on the plus side, the little kid playing Danny is one of the worst child actors this side of Jake Lloyd, so the fact that this version features a lot less of him can only be considered a good thing.
And really, it’s not THAT bad. Not worth the buildup (didn’t help that Dimension’s ad campaign focused heavily on the sort of things that they themselves had cut from the movie), sure, but it’s a decent slasher movie, and pretty much the last major “old-school” slasher film to come along before Scream reinvented the genre for a while. There are a number of pretty tense stalking scenes (particularly Jamie’s in the barn), and it’s thankfully not overpopulated with annoying teens. Beth and Tim pretty much cover that ground, and they’re not in the movie long enough to be too grating, and their death scenes are a nice homage to Bob and Lynda’s without being a full blown copy (ahem, Rob Zombie).
Also, it was interesting watching it back to back with H20, because both tried really hard to capture the feeling of and pay homage to the original, albeit in different ways. In H6, it was in the attention to Halloween holiday detail, the aforementioned Beth and Tim characters, bringing back Tommy Doyle and Dr. Wynn, and other minor bits. Plus by setting the climax at Smith’s Grove, it sort of brought the story full circle. H20, on the other hand, basically just copied the first film’s structure almost beat for beat, with one crucial difference: NO STALKING SCENES! Apart from the obligatory homage to the classroom scene, with Molly in Laurie’s place seeing him out the window, and a brief bit with Adam Arkin, Michael doesn’t really appear unless he’s actually killing or chasing someone. One thing I love about the original is all the shots of him just sort of standing around watching them, and fucking with them (potted plant by Annie’s window, for example), but there’s a severe lack of that stuff here. Instead we just get a lot of Scream-ified teen dialogue, Lifetime network scenes of Laurie dealing with her drinking problem, and the nauseating romance scenes between Molly and John (between this and Armageddon with its Animal Crackers, summer 1998 may have turned people off from the idea of love forever).
On the other hand, it IS respectfully strong in character, with a nice blend of teens and adults, similar to what Scream 4 would attempt over a decade later (to much less success). And I appreciate bringing back Marion for the opening scene kill; she may not be Drew Barrymore but it almost made up for saying the last three sequels didn’t exist. “Mr. Sandman” was also a nice touch, though the moment where Laurie hears it on the radio is sort of a goof – it wasn’t a song that actually played in the actual movie, it was on the soundtrack the same way the score is. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” or maybe even whatever that Coupe De Villes song was would have made more sense.
And you can’t deny the awesome showdown, which thanks to the movie’s insanely brief running time doesn’t take too long to get to. I like how they managed to get the obvious out of the way (that John and Molly would survive) and send them off, allowing for just the two to face off without any other distractions. Michael flipping those two tables over, while seemingly impossible to do without having purchase on the other end, is pretty goddamn badass, and I liked seeing her go all Ripley in turn, especially after her drugged out, largely inconsequential role in Halloween II.
But good god, that friggin’ mask (or masks, I should say). I don’t know how ANY of them got approved, and the fact that they actually realized how bad the one they had was and replaced it during shooting, only to get one just as terrible, infuriates me. And it certainly doesn’t benefit from Blu-ray, because now you can see his face through the eyes (not damaged as it should be), plus just plainly see how cheap and lame it looks. I’m not even joking when I say that going to any 3rd rate costume store and buying a couple of knockoff Myers masks would have improved things. I actually like the one in Curse; the eyes are a bit too big but since it’s sandwiched between the two worst in the series, it looks even better, IMO.
Curse’s transfer is also much better than H20’s. In fact it’s probably the best of all the Echo Bridge blus I’ve watched this week. Grain levels are appropriate, and the image is certainly less washed out and richer with detail (check out the various unexplained “mad science” stuff in the climax – you can see it clearer than ever!) than the DVD. Sound mix is blah (2.0 again!), but since it’s a talky movie the surrounds wouldn’t have had much to do anyway, except for maybe Alan Howarth’s score, which is probably his weakest effort of the sequels.
But it’s a reference quality disc compared to H20, which is just shy of an abomination. If not for the fact that they were combined onto one disc I would have tossed H20 in the trash and stuck with my non-anamorphic DVD. The image quality is pretty washed out even compared to these other, unspectacular discs, but this was a 50 million dollar hit movie – you’d think they’d treat it with a little more respect. Also, the aspect ratio is now at 1.78:1 instead of 2.35:1 as it was in theaters. However, this isn’t a case of a movie’s sides being cropped; instead, there is more information at the top and bottom of the frame to fill out the HDTV dimensions. And in some cases, this actually results in a better framed image – I compared to the 2.35 DVD and noticed how cramped certain shots were (such as when John and Molly are trapped in between the two doors), but other shots now have a lot of empty space at the top. Either way, if Steve Miner intended the movie to be scope, then it should be scope. Needless to say at this point, there’s also a lame-ass 2.0 track, which means you can’t enjoy the Creed songs in glorious surround sound. The commentary that was promised on the original DVD still hasn’t surfaced, either, but I think at this point it’s safe to say that Echo Bridge wasn’t interested in putting even the existing bonus features on these discs, let alone digging up the ones that were missing and/or creating new ones.
So if you’re looking to upgrade, I think Curse is probably worth the dough if you’re a big fan of the flick; it looks a lot better and will take up less space on your shelf. But H20 isn’t worth it in my opinion; the sub-par transfer and aspect ratio issues are unacceptable to me. You can get the double feature I guess, as it only costs a couple bucks more than the single feature price, but collectors be warned – the spines on the double features feature generic, ugly fonts for the titles (single disc releases are correct), so they might look a little weird on your shelf. Hopefully not all of you are as anal about such things.
What say you?