DVD Review: 'Halloween' is thin on extras but still shocking

At the end of its initial run, back in 1978, John Carpenter's “Halloween” became the most profitable film of all time — not in absolute dollars, but in terms of return on investment. Its domestic gross was more than 100 times its cost. It was also the first of an enduring triumvirate of slasher franchises — the others being “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm St.”

It employed every shock trick in the book, sometimes improving them, and created at least one new trick — the long POV tracking shot. Thanks to the then-new Panaglide camera, Carpenter was able to open with a four-minute shot from Michael Myers' perspective as he commits the first murder. Or, as we learn in the commentary, at least that was the intent, but the filmmakers ended up using two or three hidden cuts to splice different takes together.

For an “anniversary” edition, this “Halloween” Blu-ray is stingy with extras. There is a repeat of a 10-minute short about the 25th anniversary gathering; three scenes, mostly of exposition, inserted for the TV edition; and a new documentary, with Jamie Lee Curtis' first appearance at a fan convention, which she agreed to do to raise money for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

There are two big pluses to the new edition. It has a pristine new transfer supervised by original cinematographer Dean Cundey. And it has a new commentary track recorded by Carpenter and Curtis. Not only is the material interesting, but there are strange, playful tensions in the room. Curtis seems to have a photographic memory of the shoot, frequently disputing the director's memory; and she's usually right. At times, they sound like George Burns and Gracie Allen with the genders switched.

"Halloween 35th Anniversary Edition" (Anchor Bay Entertainment, Blu-ray, $34.99)


ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).

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