Blu-ray Review: Seven

3

Seven DIGIBOOK

Distributor: Warner Brothers / New Line Cinema

Release Date: 14/Sept/2010

Region: Region Free

Length: 127 min

Video: 1080P (VC-1, 25.44 Mbps)

Main Audio:

7.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 24-bit)

Alternate Audio:

5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital

5.1 German Dolby Digital

5.1 Portuguese Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Korean, Turkish

Ratio: 2.40:1

Note: This title has also been released on a number of DVD editions.

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Seven was just a gripping yarn and I just felt like I hadn’t seen this movie and I hadn’t seen a movie that was kind of professing to be the procedural that became this other thing. I thought it was a structural… you know, it was as impressive to me that Kevin Spacey would show up spattered with blood at the two hour point of that movie as it is that Janet Leigh gets slashed to death in the shower in Psycho. It was such a different way to spin that top. So that was amazing.” –David Fincher

David Fincher made his reputation with Seven and is now one of the most influential directors of contemporary cinema. The relatively simple narrative allowed for a wealth of chilling subtext that the director capitalized on admirably. While the film wasn’t a huge success at the box office, it has grown in its reputation as an intelligent thriller and a genre favorite.

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The Presentation:

4 of 5 Screams

There are two versions of this disk. It is available in the more extravagant Digibook release that holds the disk in a book style case with pages of photos and production information and in a standard Blu-ray case. Both releases contain the same cover artwork.

SEVENCOVER

digibook

The menu is static, with film related artwork and is attractive and easy to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Screams

The cinematic 1080p transfer handles the shadow detail to perfection and black levels seem rich and natural and remain consistent throughout the film. Colors remain muted and consistent as are the director’s intentions. Detail is extremely impressive and the grain level remains faithful to its source. While there is mild haloing apparent in certain scenes, this is never distracting and hardly noticeable. Luckily, no traces of edge enhancement were perceivable. This is an exceptional Blu-ray transfer. 

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Sound Quality:

4.5 of 5 Screams

The film’s 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is as wonderful as the image. The track offers a dramatic and dynamic soundscape that absolutely swallows the viewer (in a good way). This is exactly what one expects from such a mix. The panning effects are dramatic without being distracting, dialogue is clear, music is always dynamic, and sound effects are natural. The fidelity is incredible and extremely crisp.

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Special Features:

4.5 of 5 Screams

There are so many special features on this disc that it will likely keep viewers busy for weeks. The special features are divided into four different categories (Behind the Story, Additional Footage, Exploration of the Opening Title Sequence, and Extras.)

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BEHIND THE STORY:

The Stars Commentary:  David Fincher (Director), Brad Pitt, and Morgan Freeman discuss shooting the film from an acting perspective. The track is consistently engaging.

The Story Commentary: David Fincher (Director), Richard Dyer (Author), Andrew Kevin Walker (Writer), Richard Francis-Bruce (Editor), and Michael de Luca (former president of New Line Cinema) discuss the story in this track. There is quite a bit of interesting information contained in the track, such as how David Fincher came to the project and the differences in various drafts of the script. It is worth a listen.

The Picture Commentary: David Fincher (Director), Darius Khondji (Cinematographer), Arthur Max (Production Designer), Richard Francis-Bruce (Editor), and Richard Dyer (Author) discuss the film’s visual design. It is one of the discs more interesting commentaries.

The Sound Commentary: David Fincher (Director), Ren Klyce (Sound Designer), Howard Shore (Composer), and Richard Dyer (Author) discuss the picture’s soundtrack. Ren Klyce and Howard Shore dominate the track as they discuss the score and sound design. There is some interesting information revealed that will be of special interest to anyone interested in film sound or music.

Production Designs – (480p) – (8:56)

Viewers are shown production design drawings as the artist discusses his intentions.

John Doe’s Photographs – (480p) – (14:26)

Photographer Melodie McDaniel discusses the photos that she took for John Doe’s character.

Victor’s Decomposition (480p) – (2:28)

Director David Fincher discusses the photos found in the sloth’s apartment.

Police Crime Scene Photographs (480p) – (5:38)

Photographer Peter Sorel discusses the crime scene photos that he took for the production.

Production Photographs (480p) – (10:47)

Photographer Peter Sorel discusses the stills and other production photos that he took for the marketing of the film.

The Notebooks (480p) – (8:17)

Art Director Clive Piercy discusses creating John Doe’s notebooks.

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ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE:

Probably the most interesting supplemental features on the disc are these deleted scenes and alternate endings (with optional director’s commentary).

Deleted and Extended Scenes (with optional Director’s Commentary) – (480p) – (19:20)

Alternate Endings (with optional Director’s Commentary) – (480p) – (12:56)

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EXPLORATION OF THE OPENING TITLE SEQUENCE:

The viewer can watch these three versions of the title sequence with the original music (in a variety of audio tracks), or with one of two commentary tracks (one focusing on the concept of the picture and the other focusing on the sound).

Early Storyboards

Rough Version

Final version

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EXTRAS:

Theatrical EPK – (SD) – (7mins)

This 1995 EPK (Electronic Press Kit) features interviews and ‘behind the scenes’ footage. The featurette is mildly interesting and a welcome addition to the disc.

Mastering for the Home Theater – (SD) – (23mins)

This feature shows the audience how the film was color corrected for its DVD release in 2000. This is relatively useless to viewers watching the Blu-ray in my opinion.

Telecine Gallery

Here viewers can watch three scenes in both the original DVD master or the 2000 DVD master. They can also hear the original mix or the 2000 DVD mix. This feature also seems rather pointless considering we are watching a new high definition transfer.

Theatrical Trailer

The original theatrical trailer used to promote the film.

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Final Words:

Seven has been given an admirable Blu-ray release with a superior image transfer and an amazing sound mix. Warner Brothers has a reputation for quality transfers and this release is certainly not an exception.

Review by: Devon Powell

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Blu-ray Review: Let the Right One In

3

LTRON COVER

Distributor: Magnolia Home Entertainment

Release Date: 10/Mar/2009

Region: Region Free (cover says Region A)

Length: 1:54:35

Video: 1080P (VC-1, 24 Mbps)

Main Audio:

Swedish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 2157 Kbps, 16-bit)

English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 2240 Kbps, 16-bit)

Subtitles: English Theatrical, English (Narrative), English SDH, & Spanish

Ratio: 2.35:1

Bitrate: 27.59 Mbps

Notes: There is also a DVD release of this title.

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“I tried to do this film as if it was a silent movie…” -Tomas Alfredson

Let the Right One In is a film that is nearly impossible to discuss. Words simply cannot do justice to the beautiful and chilling experience one has while watching the film. It seems to elicit emotions beyond the superficial fear that one might expect from such a movie. The issues that engulf the protagonist are extremely topical (cases of children going too far in their cruelty make headlines on a weekly basis). What is surprising about this is that the emotional effect on the child is handled honestly. He harbors violent revenge fantasies and acts them out when he is alone. Violence begets violence and in the end cruelty devours all involved. The supernatural elements are subtly represented (for the most part) and the film seems more concerned with the relationship between this young vampire and a little boy who privately wants to harm his bullies. The genre elements are chilling because they seem to mirror reality.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is contained in a standard Blu-ray case with film related cover art and the animated menu features a black screen with a title that turns red.

back cover

It is a very nice presentation, but there aren’t any bells and whistles.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Screams

The film has received an excellent image transfer that is surprisingly clean with nice detail and decent resolution. Contrast levels are handled nicely, with black levels that are consistently solid. Grain levels seem to be faithful to its celluloid source and there is no edge enhancement or DNR to report. Colors seem to be accurately rendered as well. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to find a flaw in the image transfer.

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Sound Quality: 

4 of 5 Screams

Viewers are can watch the film with its original Swedish DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix, or watch it with an English dubbed DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix (this reviewer prefers the Swedish mix). It is quite wonderful to report that both tracks are quite effective. The mix is subtle and often quiet, but always perfectly serves the film and doesn’t stumble over the more dynamic moments. It exhibits excellent fidelity and clarity. Dialogue is always easy to understand and is well prioritized throughout both tracks (though the Swedish mix is superior). The atmospheric effects and the subtle score are perfectly mixed and give weight to the image.  There are those who will argue that it isn’t the most active soundtrack in the world, but this is a quiet film (and is all the more effective because of this fact).

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Screams

Deleted Scenes – (SD) – (5:53)

There are four deleted scenes included on the disc. Admirers of the film will find these scenes interesting.

“Behind the Scenes” Featurette – (SD) – (7:37)

This is an interesting little featurette, but isn’t terribly comprehensive. Viewers are shown some behind the scenes footage of the shoot that are thoroughly engaging, but a film as good as this deserves a proper “Making of” documentary.

Photo Gallery – (21 Photos)

Theatrical Poster Gallery – (6 Posters)

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Final Words:

This is an amazing film. It goes beyond what is expected from the genre and reinvents it completely. Magnolia Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release surpasses expectations and comes most highly recommended.

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Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween Resurrection

2

H8cover

Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 17/April/2012

Region: Region Free

Length: 89 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 19Mbps)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

5.1 English Dolby Digital Audio

2.0 English LPCM Stereo

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 2.35:1

Notes: There is also a DVD release of the film.

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“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

To say that Halloween Resurrection doesn’t live up to the original film is an understatement. Most fans seem to be in agreement that the film is a major disappointment. There are many reasons for this. The most important of these is likely the fact that there simply wasn’t any real reason to make another sequel.

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork.

The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme. 

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Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Echo Bridge’s image transfer is decent (especially when compared to a few of their other transfers). The picture is usually sharp with nice detail, but the quality varies quite a bit from moment to moment. Some moments are extremely sharp, while others are more on par with a quality DVD transfer. Black levels also vary a great deal. The color seems fairly accurate and skin tones always appear natural. There are a few transfer related problems to report. At times film grain appears normal and natural, while at other times it can be a bit overwhelming. Aliasing is a major issue with the transfer and noise becomes a problem on occasion (especially in darker scenes). These issues are sometimes complicated by occasional edge enhancement.

Keep in mind that part of the film was shot with webcams and these moments were never very pristine. This is certainly the best the film has looked on home video, but with proper handling and a better transfer, it could look a lot better. 

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Screams

The sound is actually very nice on this disc. Echo Bridge includes a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix that sounds nice and rather dynamic. The music is especially strong in this mix. There are moments when dialogue is overwhelmed by the score, but it remains intelligible throughout the track. The music is certainly the most dynamic element of the mix, but sound effects are also quite effective in this track.

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Special Features:

3 of 5 Screams

Most of the special features that were included on the DVD were ported over to this Blu-ray.

Commentary with Director Rick Rosenthal and Editor Robert A. Ferretti

This commentary will be of interest to fans of the series. Rosenthal carries the bulk of the commentary and discusses returning to the series after a twenty year absence (he directed the second installment in the series). Most interesting is the discussion of the film’s gimmick. (Actors were wearing webcams on their heads and the footage was used in the film.) While this probably will not interest anyone other than fans of the series, it seems unlikely that people who aren’t fans of the series will be purchasing this disc.

Alternate Ending with Deleted Scenes – (SD, 11 min.)

It is always interesting to see scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut of a film. Fans should be happy that these scenes are included. [Note:The DVD included an optional commentary track for these scenes. This track is not included on this disc.]

Tour Set with Production Designer – (SD, 7 min.)

Fans are given a tour of the set as it is being constructed. The set is essentially the Myer’s house.

On the Set with Jamie Lee Curtis – (SD, 4 min.)

This featurette is made up of obligatory publicity interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis and other cast and crew involved with the production. It discusses Curtis’ appearance in the film.

Head Cam Featurette – (SD, 4 min.)

The film’s actors and crew discuss shooting live digital footage using “head cams” on the actors. Fans are shown some ‘behind the scenes’ footage to illustrate points being made in the interviews.

Storyboard (Splitscreen) – (SD, 4 min.)

Footage from the film is played along with storyboard drawings.

Missing on this disk is a supplement entitled Web Cam Special, which was a re-editing of part of the film using only the footage shot on the digital webcams. This feature included optional commentary with the film’s director and editor. The deleted scenes and alternate endings also included optional director’s commentary on the DVD release and the commentary for these scenes are not on the Blu-ray. The only other feature included on the DVD that is absent is a Photo Gallery.

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Final Words:

Halloween Resurrection isn’t the most loved sequel in the Halloween franchise, but it was given a serviceable Blu-ray release that improves on the DVD in terms of image and sound quality. Many of the special features were ported over to this disc, but there are a few supplements that were not included here. Fans of the series will want to upgrade to Blu-ray and hold on to their DVD as well.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

3

H20Cover

Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 03/May/2011

Region: A & B

Length: 86 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 25 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 1.6Mbps)

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 1.78:1

Note: There is also a non-anamorphic DVD release of this film.

H20_blu-ray ratio

H20_original ratio

“I stopped watching and caring after three. I just thought that there really shouldn’t have been another movie. That was enough. Far be it for me to say. They pay me every time they make another, so… [Laughs].” -John Carpenter

John Carpenter was asked to write and direct this film, but he turned down the offer. The film was eventually directed by Steve Minor, and the result is often debated by genre fans. There are those who believe it to be one of the better sequels of the series. Others see the film as a pointless attempt to cash in on the teen horror craze. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the film’s success at the box office cannot be debated.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork.

 H20BackCover

The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme.

H20Blurayss2

H20Bluray-originalss2

Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams 

This release has gotten a lot of criticism and much of the negativity is due to the altered aspect ratio. I was originally very disappointed that the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio was changed to 1.78:1 in order to fit widescreen television screens. The natural assumption is that they cropped the sides of the image in order to accommodate the new ratio. I was slightly surprised to discover that we are actually seeing more information at the top and the bottom of the screen. While this might not be Steve Minor’s original vision, it does not alter the atmosphere of the film. [Note: Examples of each version are included throughout this review for comparison.]

The transfer isn’t very inspired. There is adequate detail, but there is also a bit of edge enhancement. Banding also becomes an issue on occasion and there are some compression artifacts. Luckily, none of these issues become distracting. This is certainly an improvement over the DVD release of the film.

 H20Blurayss

H20_original

Sound Quality:

2 of 5 Screams

This Blu-ray contains a lossless 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It seems rather unfortunate to not include a 5.1 track when one was included on the DVD release. The 2.0 track included on the disc is rather lifeless, but extremely clear and quite adequate. The trouble is that there is a better track available and it isn’t included here.

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H20_original2

Special Features:

0 of 5 Screams

The DVD release of the film included a music video (“What’s This Life For” by Creed) and Unmasking the Horror, which was a 19 minute promotional “making of” featurette. Neither of these supplements is included on this Blu-ray disc.

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Final Words:

Halloween H20 is one of the more financially successful films in the Halloween series and the Blu-ray release is a disappointment. Fans will likely want to upgrade for the discs slightly superior image transfer and hold on to their DVDs for its supplemental material.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

4

Image

Distributor: Echo Bridge Entertainment

Release Date: 10/May/2011

Region: Region Free

Length: 88 min

Video: 1080i (MPEG-4, AVC, 20Mbps)

Main Audio: 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz, 1.8 Mbps)

Subtitles: None

Ratio: 1.78:1

Note: There is also a non-anamorphic DVD release of this title.

halloween6ss2

“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is perhaps the worst film in the entire series. Joe Chappelle seems almost completely inept in his direction of a script that really didn’t deserve anything better than Chappelle was able to give it.

The story is terrible on a number of levels. The attempt to provide a reason behind Michael Myer’s quest to kill off his bloodline is misguided and the reason provided is beyond ridiculous. There are fans who champion the film, but the reason isn’t evident to this reviewer.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The disc is held in a standard Blu-ray case with the film’s original poster artwork. The case itself is very nice.

 h6backcover

The animated menu contains footage from the movie along with the Halloween theme.

Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams

While the image transfer isn’t exactly wonderful, it is a large enough improvement over the non-anamorphic DVD release. Fans might be disappointed that the film is not released in its original 1.85:1 ratio, but the 1.78:1 transfer doesn’t seem to noticeably alter the impact of the cinematography. The print is rather clean with no noticeable damage and grain never seems to overwhelm the image. Colors seem to be rendered accurately and blacks rarely seem to be crushed. There are occasional issues with banding and compression artifacts are occasionally evident. These issues are never terribly distracting and seem worse in the DVD release of the film.

halloween6ss3

Sound Quality:

2 of 5 Screams

The disc’s 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is rather unimpressive. This completely lifeless track does contain decent clarity with well prioritized dialogue that is always intelligible. It is probably an improvement over the DVD’s audio, but fans will likely be disappointed with the track.

Special Features:

0 of 5 Screams

There are no extras.

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Final Words:

This is a surprisingly adequate Blu-ray release of the film. The disc’s lack of extras and the lossless 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track might disappoint a few fans, but I doubt if the film will ever be given a better release than this one. It is certainly a substantial upgrade from the DVD release.

Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

4

h5bdcover

Distributor: Anchor Bay / Starz

Release Date: 21/Aug/2012

Region: A

Length: 97 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 30 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (48 kHz, 1.5 Mbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: The film has also been given a few DVD releases.

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“John Carpenter created the idea of Halloween, so his vision remains the most focused and intelligently directed.” -Donald Pleasence

Focus is certainly lacking in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The previous entry set up many interesting possibilities for the fifth installment, but the creators of Halloween 5 failed to take advantage of them. The film is considered by many fans to be one of the weaker entries in the series and they may very well be right. Few will argue that this is a wonderful film.

The script simply threw away too many opportunities. Rachel (Jamie’s stepsister and a Halloween 4 survivor) is killed in the first act of the film and is replaced with a new character named Tina. Tina carries much of the action in the film and even sacrifices herself in order to save Jamie. Wouldn’t it have worked better to allow Rachel to carry this action and sacrifice herself for her stepsister? Also, why complicate the story with a mysterious man in black? His presence doesn’t serve any reasonable purpose and only manages to distract the audience. Most of the ideas in the film simply don’t work. It is usually not advisable to change or add to the established lore of a series and this entry is a good example of what can happen when this basic rule is ignored.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Anchor Bay packages the discs in a standard Blu-ray case with reasonably attractive artwork.

H5 back cover 

The animated menu showcases the Halloween theme with footage from the film and is nice enough. 

Picture Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The discs transfer is slightly better than the one that Halloween 4 received and is a significant improvement over the film’s DVD transfer. The transfer offers much improved resolution and the detail is a vast improvement. Colors are vibrant and skin tones are even and well balanced. Posterization becomes an issue in a few places, but not to a distracting degree. Blacks can look washed out at times, but shadow detail is usually nice with deep blacks. Contrast is also reasonably rendered on most occasions. Grain is evident throughout, but is never overbearing (and would be inherent in its source material). There is an overall softness to the image that likely stems from the source, but does make for a slightly less impressive image in high definition.

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Sound Quality:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The lossless 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also better than the one on the Halloween 4 Blu-ray. The sound has better dynamic range and is spread throughout the channels in a more natural and engaging manner. The mix includes a few directional effects that are well realized and the overall sound seems well balanced. Dialogue is consistent and clear throughout the track. While the mix will not compare to more recent releases (or even to more expensive re-masters of older films), it is certainly more than adequate.

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Screams

The “making of” featurette (which was included on DVD editions of the film) was not ported over to this Blu-ray disc, but fans are given more supplemental material than one might expect to find on such a release.

Audio Commentary with Don Shanks (moderated by Justin Beahm) – [Blu-ray Exclusive] 

Don Shanks discusses his experience playing Michael Myers in this interesting commentary that covers a variety of topics.

Audio Commentary with Dominique Othenin-Girad, Danielle Harris, and Jeffrey Landman

Director Dominique Othenin-Girad discusses the production with actors Danielle Harris and Jeffrey Landman in this interesting commentary. This is the perfect track for fans because listeners hear first hand about some of the questionable story choices. Discussed are such issues as the Meyers house, the man in black, the infamous tattoo, and the psychic connection between Jamie and the shape. While Dominique Othenin-Girad’s reasoning might not be very sound, it is at least nice to know why certain story choices were made. This is probably the stronger of the two commentaries.

Halloween 5: On the Set – (16:16) – (480p)

This vintage VHS gives viewers a glimpse of the cast and crew as they were shooting the film. There are also a few short interviews with some of the cast members. The footage should delight series fans.

Halloween 5: Original Promo – (5:50) – (480p)

This is a standard EPK promotional featurette, but it is interesting to see a few vintage interviews with key cast members.

Original Theatrical Trailer – (0:36) – (480p)

This is an unusually short theatrical trailer for the film. It is interesting to see how the film was marketed to audiences.

Final Words:

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is not the most loved entry of the series, but fans will be glad that this Blu-ray release is a significant upgrade and should enjoy the supplemental material provided.

 Review by: Devon Powell

Blu-ray Review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

3

Halloween4Cover

 Distributor: Anchor Bay / Starz

Release Date: 21/Aug/2012

Region: A

Length: 88 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC, 30 Mbps)

Main Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (48 kHz, 1.5 Mbps)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Note: The film has also been given a few DVD releases.

h4ss3

“I stopped watching and caring after three. I just thought that there really shouldn’t have been another movie. That was enough. Far be it for me to say. They pay me every time they make another, so… [laughs].” -John Carpenter

They didn’t stop. The late 1980s brought with it a renewed slasher craze and Moustapha Akkad knew that there was money in further sequels. His idea was simple enough; “Go back to the basics.” Unfortunately, this simply meant “bring back Michael Myers.” (The third entry of the series had nothing to do with the Myers storyline.)

The basics” should have meant a simple story focusing on suspense to be shot using wonderfully atmospheric photography. Some claim that this is exactly what the filmmakers achieved. One wonders if these people bothered to actually watch the original film before they made such a claim. Gone are the haunting point of view shots and the meticulous reveals of the shape lurking (the constant reminders that characters are being stalked). The original film also saved the infamous mask’s close up until the end of the film. He was kept in the shadows prior to this. The effect was quite menacing.

In Halloween 4, fluid camera motion is traded in for a less distinguished style. While one could argue that the cinematography employs similar blueish nighttime lighting, the camera work is radically different and less effective. The film is also too busy. There are too many convoluted story elements that take away from one’s sense of dread. The most detrimental of these elements is probably the redneck lynch mob. Are there really that many rednecks in Illinois? This story thread was distracting and killed the atmosphere and mood of the film. The murders were closer to the style of the Friday 13th films than to Carpenter’s masterpiece. The original film focused on building the audiences anticipation of the murders and not on the murders themselves. Perhaps the director made an earnest attempt at replicating this approach, but he wasn’t very successful.

However, this film has its good points. The character of Jamie is certainly sympathetic enough to carry us through to the end of the film and the part is well acted by Danielle Harris. The ending is also creepy and extremely chilling. It could have been built up more effectively, but it is perhaps one of the best things about the film. (Unfortunately, the ending is a cheat and is explained away in part 5.)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is one of the better sequels in the series and is a fan favorite. One can look upon it as a guilty pleasure (even if it isn’t a great film). 

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The Presentation: 

3.5 of 5 Screams

Anchor Bay packages the discs in a standard Blu-ray case with reasonably attractive artwork.

 H4 back cover

The animated menu showcases the Halloween theme with footage from the film and is nice enough. 

 h4ss2

Picture Quality:

3 of 5 Screams 

While fans are given a serviceable Blu-ray transfer that improves on previous releases due to its added resolution, the transfer might disappoint some of the more discriminating viewers. Detail seems to be rather flat and shadows are sometimes a bit washed out. Grain seems to overwhelm the picture at times and there are scratches evident on the print (though, these issues are never distracting). When one compares it to a DVD release of the film, it is evident that the picture is a significant improvement over the standard definition releases. It is perhaps not fair to expect anything more than this. After all, the disk is vastly superior to many back catalog Blu-ray releases.

 h4ss4

Sound Quality: 

3 of 5 Screams

The disc’s 5.1 TrueHD soundtrack is also serviceable but unremarkable. The lossless mix has more fidelity than the standard definition releases of the film. The dynamic range of the track is minimal but has decent spacing. Dialogue is mixed a bit low, but one can always understand what the characters are saying. The music comes through nicely, but is not as dynamic as one might hope. The mix keeps to the front channels, which is due to the film’s source elements. This is not a bad mix and is on par with what one might expect for such a release. Most of the complaints here are likely due to the source elements (and are forgivable).

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Screams

Earlier DVD releases included a commentary track with screenwriter Alan B. McElory and a nice 17 minute “making of” featurette and neither one of these supplements were ported over for this Blu-ray release. This is a shame, because both of these extras were nice and would have added value to this disc. Luckily, fans are given more supplemental material than might be expected for such a release (including a brand new commentary track with the film’s director).

Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little & Justin Beahm

The commentary with director Dwight H. Little offers more actual information than the actor’s commentary and is consistently interesting and always engaging. Fans will welcome this addition to the disc.

Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris

This track is extremely conversational. There is the occasional ‘behind the scenes’ anecdote, but there really isn’t a lot of information contained in this commentary. It still manages to remain charming and engaging and should therefore delight die-hard fans of the series.

Halloween 4/5 Discussion Panel – (18:28) – (480p)

This excerpt of footage from the H25 Convention has Jeffrey Landman moderating a question and answer panel with Danielle Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, and Sasha Jenson. Daniel Harris seems to dominate the footage and speaks candidly about her opinions on the films and the experience that she had shooting them.

Theatrical Trailer – (1:36) – (480p)  

The film’s theatrical trailer is interesting and better than average. It is nice to have it included on the disc.

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Final Words:

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is considered one of the better sequels in the series and has an extremely strong cult following. Fans will be happy that the film is available in high definition and that it is an improvement over the DVD transfer. Many will be disappointed that the transfer isn’t better than it is, but die-hard fans will find the improvement to be substantial enough to warrant an upgrade.

Review by: Devon Powell