Thursday, September 11, 2014

HALLOWEEN The Complete Collection - Curse of Michael Myers Producer's Cut and Bonus Disc Reviewed (Anchor Bay/Scream Factory Blu-ray)

We have had an opportunity to take a look at two of the discs from the Anchor Bay and Scream Factory Halloween Collection from the Deluxe Edition Blu-ray set ahead of the September 23rd release date. I can tell you that I am very excited for this release. It has spawned more questions than any release I have been a part of reviewing in the past. I welcome the chance to answer any questions you may have about the two discs in question and will try to provide answers promptly. At this time I can only answer questions about the two discs I’ve had the chance to enjoy (and I did enjoy them thoroughly and completely).  

Here are my thoughts, extra by extra, feature by feature, film by film of what I have observed so far about this set. The two discs are the Bonus Disc (Disc 15) and Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers Producers Cut disc.  

We’re going to be covering this release more in depth as more info becomes available.

You can preorder it now:

For the full list of Extras, Specs and Features:

Halloween: Curse of Michael Myers – Producers Cut  (Disc 9 Exclusive to the Deluxe Edition)

The Movie: I remember being fascinated with this sequel after the franchise began peaking out from behind the cobwebs after a rather lengthy absence from the public eye post Halloween 5. The story tries to clean up some of the mess left from Halloween 5 while generating a new path for Michael Myers. Many see this work and the work of Halloween 5 as a case of “two many cooks in the kitchen” which has yielded results that create a rather divided reaction. As a fan of all the Halloween films, I must admit that I classify Curse of Michael Myers among my least favorites along side Halloween Resurrection. While they may not be my favorite pictures from a story perspective I can appreciate the talent that went into crafting them, the jokes (intentional and unintentional), the kills which are absolutely fun realistic or not.  This particular film is cast well and though I would prefer to have Danielle Harris back as Jamie Lloyd, JC Brandy does a fine job. Curse of Michael Myers represents the final work of Donald Pleasence, and it is a fine send off in terms of his performance though the story vastly changes between the theatrical release and Producer’s Cut as to his future. The cast also features Paul Rudd who will go on to be a tremendous force in comedy with his matter of fact sarcasm and silly, sympathetic charm. He displays none of that in Curse of Michael Myers I can assure you.  Though I do not subscribe to the “Thorn legend” as pure cannon, I do understand there is an appreciation and cult following for this release. It’s watchable. Just not the movie I had expected after being one of the satisfied customers who adore part IV.
The transfer is beautiful. No issues to report. It’s crisp. This movie was shot on film and you can tell, and this is the Producer’s Cut version with the theatrical on a separate disc (not yet reviewed) 

The Producer’s Cut: You’re all wondering about the Producer’s Cut if you haven’t already bootlegged it or watched in an inferior form. It looks seamless with high quality video and audio throughout. It’s safe to throw away those shabby, washed out looking things you’ve collected over the years or use them for sentimental value only because this is the version to own and enjoy. Does it change a whole lot? There are two distinct scenes that are completely unique and involve directly the story line: one involving the fate of Jamie Lloyd and the other providing a resolution for Dr. Loomis. You’ll have to check this out to see it for yourself. I am not an authority on this particular cut or sequel, but I will say that my preference is for the theatrical release. There are other subtle differences but this cut did not change my opinion of the place of this sequel in the series. It did increase my enjoyment of the movie itself by giving me options with which to view it. The musical and sound effect changes are noticeable; I prefer Howath’s work to the modified soundscape.  

Disc Menu: It’s nice with minimal animation but in keeping with the style of the movie and reasonable side bar.  

Bonus Features: 

Acting Scared with Mariah O’Brien and JC Brandy – Basically contains interviews recollecting some scenes from the movie and the casting process. It’s kind of tedious and long winded, but it’s nice to get the whole cast involved with the features. NEW 

The Shape of Things – The Murder & Mayhem of Halloween 6 – I love seeing John Carl Buechler explain shit. He’s just a fun guy to listen to as a born story teller. They discuss tidbits about Myers and the casting process. Akkad was not a fan of the mask from part 5 and George Wilbur was in and then out for no reason at all. Each kill is discussed though not an in depth analysis, but you can tell that these guys were just having fun creating messy effects. That’s something a horror fan can respect. The discussion also turns to the success and failure of this particular entry and the reason for the different cuts of the film (only grazed here). NEW 

Haddonfield’s Horrors – The Sight of Halloween 6 - Brief discussion of the look of the movie and locations as well as choices of lighting and cinematography.  Pretty basic and uneventful extra. NEW

 A Cursed “Curse” – An Interview with Producers Malek Akkad and Paul Freeman – The is by far the best feature on the disc that allow the producers a chance to tell their side of the story surrounding all decisions made on the picture from the battle for the rights after Moustapha let them lapse. They agree that part 6 tried to answer questions and that screenwriter Dan Farrands had to come up with answer to some holes left gaping from part 5. Malek also discusses how he wanted Danielle Harris back and regrets not having her there for continuity and how the studio required the part to be recast (something touched upon in the Danielle Harris featurette). Malek and the crew fought for the Producer’s Cut of the picture while the studio and the Weinsteins wanted their vision on film, Joe Chappelle’s version. They make clear that the Producer’s Cut is just MORE of what they wanted and nothing everything they wanted in the “Producer’s Cut”. There’s about 10 minutes of solid awesome info here. Very important extra feature. NEW 

Full Circle – An Interview with Composer Alan Howath – They gave Howath the freedom to create his score and then took it away when the theatrical cut began to take shape adding sound effects and other musical selections that clearly did not meet the vision of the seasoned composer. About 7 mins long. NEW 

Jamie’s Story – Interview with the Original “Jamie” Actress Danielle Harris – Harris goes through the casting, negotiations and subsequent snub that prevented her return as Jamie. This is a touching story, of course I am an ardent DH supporter… we share the same last name after all. NEW

Cast and Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasence – some kind words from all the actors on Halloween 6 though not quite what I expected as a tribute. Still touching.  NEW

Teaser Trailer: Halloween 666 The Origin of Michael Myers – This is a priceless teaser trailer that features a different name and unique branding from Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers. I remember when the movie was marketed like this albeit briefly.  

Archival Interviews and Behind the Scenes Footage – You get classic interviews on the set or circa the release of Halloween 6 with Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Joe Chappelle and Marianne Hagan. Other assorted scenes included. About 8 mins worth of material 

Behind the Scenes Footage – This is footage shot by Dan Farrands during the first week of production. It’s about 24 minutes of footage, no real narration to speak of and probably for the die hards.  

Alternate and Deleted Scenes (not present in either cut of the film) – Some fun (and bloody) alternates. Not much there, but it’s fun. 

Electronic Press Kit – This is a trailer with some brief interviews spliced in.  

The commentary track features Daniel Farrands and Alan Howath. They discuss the necessity of the Producers’ Cut, homages to the original in the movie, how the music is being used and was changed and the evolution of the Thorn Story. It’s no John Carpenter commentary, but for a movie that is this “mysterious” it’s nice to have the screenwriter piece the thing together for you. I’m a Howath fan, so I hang on his every word. Looking forward to meeting him at Chiller Theater in NJ October 24th (my birthday).  

Halloween Bonus Disc (Exclusive to the Deluxe Edition)

Extended Edition with TV Scenes (Note the TV scenes are in Standard Definition)

This is basically the original movie which has been recut to include the additional scenes shot for the TV broadcast of Halloween. The are inserted into the full, unedited for television version which puts the picture’s run time at about an hour and forty one minutes. This means you get the benefit of some back story, more Donald Pleasence/Dr. Loomis time and even a view of young Michael Myers. Personally this was actually a strange thing to watch. On one hand I was watching scenes that made the movie for me when I was a kid. Scenes I consider to be important and have always been a part of the movie (I first watched this on TV). On the other hand this cut includes all the boobs and kills… it almost feels like it shouldn’t because of how I remember this movie and the additional scenes that were not included in the theatrical or DVD/Blu-ray releases in context.  That’s a personal problem. The SD to HD transitions are fine. You will barely notice if you notice at all that they aren’t HD (so put away your magnifying glasses film dorks).  

Halloween Unmasked 2000 – This is a 27 minutes featurette that details, generally, the production and origin of John Carpenter’s Halloween. You get interviews and discussion with Irwin Yablans, Moustapha Akkad, Debra Hill, John Carpenter, Dean Cundy and Tommy Lee Wallace. This is not wide screen. They walk through shooting locations and Wallace discusses how they picked certain locations. Brian Andrews, Tommy Doyle, briefly talks about the house used in the film. PJ Soles shows up. John Carpenter talks about Donald Pleasence. Jamie Lee Curtis is interviewed. The discussion of the Nick Castle/Myers walk and how he asks for his motivation is quite funny. They talk about the mask selection and how the famous William Shatner mask almost wasn’t chosen as well as the origin of the music (starting out on bongo drums). You’ve probably heard most of this a thousand times by now. This is an older documentary that will be great for the newbies but may not have any bite for the lifers. 

Making of Halloween 4 – The Final Cut – This is a 17 minute making of feature that focuses on how Dwight Little got involved after his work on Blood Stone. Did you know they didn’t use pumpkins in Halloween 4? They were not in season. They painted squash. Danielle Harris was on Spencer for Hire? Mind blown! And she went up against Melissa Joan Hart for the role of Jamie?  Wow! Ellie Cornell (Rachel) is interviewed. The filmmakers also go over the movie’s final roof scene and how that was constructed as well as other difficult shots. Alan Howath is interviewed.  

Back to Basics – The Making of Halloween 4 – NEW – about 30 mins for part 1. 

You get more from Dwight Little, Malek Akkad and older footage of Moustapha Akkad from 1998. This movie was filmed in Salt Lake City (along with Halloween 5 and 6). The town was important. The atmosphere (and of course the need to avoid the mountains). Raymond O’Connor (the security guard in the opening sequence) is interviewed. There’s a new Danielle Harris interview. This feature also includes Kathleen Kinmont who stills looks great, Erik Preston, who played young Michael Myers, Beau Starr who played the police chief and Shasha Jenson who plays Brady who had a hard time with the police chief’s daughter. The fiascos surrounding the makeup department, the mask creation and a couple folks playing Myers are all worth noting.  

Part 2 (why are there two parts?) 

This feature focuses on some of the stunts including the shotgun stunt, Brady’s death and is more of a discussion of effects and makeup decisions. Interesting to note: Moustapha Akkad hated blood which is probably why this feature is a bit light on it. Alan Howath is interviewed. The movie itself seemed to be a love it or hate it release but did very well and instantly Halloween 5 was greenlit.  Dwight Little backed away from 5. NEW 

***Please note that Ian’s Pumpkins are in the background of the interviews and are tremendous works of art. Support him if you can HERE:***

Inside Halloween 5 – This is a 15 minutes making of and, as Moustapha Akkad puts it, they were “Drunk on Success” from Halloween 4. Ellie Cornell wasn’t really interested and the new director, Dominique Othenin-Gerard had a very interesting vision for the movie. Cinematographer Rob Draper hadn’t seen a previous Halloween prior to starting part 5. Instead of George Wilbur this time around we get Don Shanks who is a pretty big dude. He recounts almost getting set on fire as well as breaking his nose when Pleasence is attacking him. This movie brought up a bunch of strange questions and new plot directions that didn’t always make sense (that’s where Curse will come in and explain them or at least try to explain them). The end provides a “Where are they now” feature and notes that Akkad is working on “Halloween 8”. HA!

The Making of Halloween 5 – a new 44 minute documentary in two parts (why two parts) that goes more in depth than the older 15 minute documentary.  It features such tidbits as Nicotero creating the new mask that had to be modified to fit Don Shanks face. Rachel is back (Ellie Cornell), Danielle Harris and Wendy Kaplan as well as Jonathan Chapin (Mikey), Frankie Como, Billy Hill, Don Shanks, Alan Howath and Beau Starr. Besides the butting of heads that seemed to yield some questionable plot twists in an attempt to give Halloween 5 some guidance, there’s a eye opening and enlightening discussion of how the police are used as comic relief in both acting (walking like penguins) and in musical accompaniment (strange slap stick sound effects). There is also a discussion of the Man in Black, how he came to be and what he was supposed to be doing (and no one really knew during the making of Halloween 5). In part 2 of the featurette the focus shifts to special effects, discussing kills and makeup with each of the actors. The whole thing turned into a mess with too many people trying to steer the ship, but Malek Akkad sticks by it as one of the most unique entries in the series. One thing I love about this production is that everyone seems so honored to be part of it, and Don Shanks has the best anecdotes (including his discussion of the “missing” SWAT massacre.  NEW

***Again note Ian’s Pumpkins in the background. Take a look HERE:*** 

Interview With Moustapha Akkad – This is very brief at only 2 minutes in which he discusses the success and budget of Halloween 

Interview with Makeup/Effects Artist Tom Burman on Halloween III: Season of the Witch – A fascinating account of the effects behind Halloween III in which Burman gives his own thoughts about how Halloween III should have ended with Cochran turning into a giant, pumpkin-headed monster! Sure he talks about masks and stuff, but his view of the direction of the film might offend some purists. I love this guy! 

Horror Hallowed Grounds – You get one for Halloween 4, 5, Halloween 6, Halloween (the original pilot for the program in 4:3 aspect ratio) and the Bus Tour which features a little bit of something for everybody from different movies. Each one of these features (just over 20 minutes each) features nearly all the shooting locations for each picture with a tidbits of humor interjected and back story to fill in your visit with the shooting location. I love Sean Clark’s work. I probably need to be a Horror’s Hallowed Grounds t-shirt one of these days. The Tour Bus focuses on older and newer locations including some locations from Rob Zombie’s Halloween. They are broken out into individual parts/episodes. NEW 
TV Spots: Halloween 4, 5, Halloween 2007, Halloween II 2009 – these appear unrestored, in sequence, back to back. 

Radio Spot for Halloween III – I love this particular feature because I love Halloween III, but I want you to pay attention to the hold/background screen which features Friday the 13th font that displays quotes. Priceless. 

Halloween Still Gallery – included some posters I haven’t seen especially the international ones. Also features a pic of the Atari game and manual for the Atari game.  

Halloween 4 Still Gallery – contains some posters I hadn’t seen and screening advertisements in additional to some more popular images 

Halloween 5 Still Gallery - most of these I’m familiar with, but there are some provocative images of the ladies in costumes. There’s also a still of the blown up police station that was pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. It should be noted for those who want to know that the 2013 transfer is used for the Extended Cut's transfer, and the ONLY audio option is DTS MA 5.1 (no original mono on that version). :(