Sep 25, 2014

LONG RANT: HALLOWEEN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION


Despite the "law" of diminishing returns, I have been and continue to be a lifelong Halloween franchise fan. Though it's been since 1998 that I saw a Halloween film I felt was worth a damn, I always hold out hope the powers that be are going to get the next one right. Visitors of this blog know how I feel about both Halloween: Resurrection (shitty) and Rob Zombie's redux (shittier.) I've never gone on record as to my feelings on Rob Zombie's Halloween 2, but that's because I'm pretty sure that was just a really bad nightmare I had one night after eating way too much Mexican food. 

That said and now done with, I'm not here to debate the merits of certain Halloween franchise entries. They are what they are, they have their fans, and that's that.

The horror community is as devoted as one can get. And we like our big guys, our big franchises, our icons. We worship at the altar of Freddy Krueger and love Norman Bates like he were our own mother (see what I did there?). Like most things, we show our love in one single unified manner: we buy shit. DVDs/blu-rays, soundtracks, posters, novel movie tie-ins, t-shirts, McFarlane figures, and then later Neca figures, and holy shit I could keep going, but denial keeps me from thinking of how much easier it would be to have accumulated money for a house down payment had I not spent years collecting the most obscure movie item.

There is one problem with this fiduciary love we show to our horror properties, and it's not just the occasional foolish choice we make because we just had to have that handmade Phantasm sphere. No, the problem is: our love is our worst-kept secret. It's not just the horror community that knows of this love, but it's also known by...them. Studios. Independent video distribution labels. They know our weakness and they know our obsessions. They know we're going to buy every reissue of Halloween, of The Evil Dead, of Dawn of the Dead. We're not going to ask questions; we're just going to pre-order.

Anchor Bay, back during its inception, was every horror fan's dream. They rescued from obscurity the titles we treasured - the above titles, but also the less obvious. There's the Argentos, the Fulcis, and god love him, the Bruno Matteis. Who in their right mind would rescue titles like Rats: Night of Terror or Hell of the Living Dead and - gasp - present them digitally, in widescreen, with liner notes and special features? Fucking seriously? People cared enough to do this? It was unexpected, surprising, mind-blowing, and a pretty sweet fucking time to be a horror fan. 

But then the home-horror landscape changed. Suddenly, it didn't feel the same as it had. And it had to do with "the merger." Popular cable channel Starz bought Anchor Bay outright and changed the label's acquisition strategy. Oh sure, it still pumped out horror titles with a decent regularity, but no longer those obscure or landmark titles that deserved recognition. It was new shit. It was bad shit. And it was - ugh - mainstream shit. Could Anchor Bay ever really care about appealing to the minority OF a minority of people who were into crazy or classic horror while the label was now releasing films by Quentin Tarantino or Antoine Fuqua? Were they ever going to care about revisiting Phantasm or Maximum Overdrive or any of J.P. Simon's films once they were in bed with and distributing films for the Weinstein Company?

No way.

This isn't to say there weren't other great labels out there doing the same kind of work and who were devoted to satisfying the demands of its horror customers. Blue Underground, for one. Kino Video. Dark Sky.

But none of them seemed to possess the large library that Anchor Bay had managed in its brief time on earth. And suddenly, that was all over.

Enter Scream Factory, Shout! Factory's horror-only imprint. And they took off like a bat out of hell by announcing special editions of two films that no one in a million years ever expected: 1981's Halloween 2, and the most maligned Halloween film in franchise history, 1982's Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.

Minds were blown and excitement ran rampant. It felt like the good old days of Anchor Bay were back:

"Who the hell is Scream Factory? You mean, those people who have been releasing old television seasons of "Hart to Hart" and "Barney Miller"? Those guys are doing special editions of Halloween sequels?"

And that was just the beginning. What soon came after was a John Carpenter love fest. The Fog. Prince of Darkness. They Live. Body Bags. Assault on Precinct 13. One at a time, they were revisited, prepared for their debuts on a high-definition format, and stacked with a bevy of special features.

The Fog on blu-ray. Holy. Shit.

Not soon after, Anchor Bay checked back in with its more loyal horror fan base to offer a new edition of Halloween (the studio's ninth release of the film, which had begun with their 1997 single-tape VHS). Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Halloween was remastered under the supervision of original cinematographer Dean Cundey, a new commentary between the director and star/scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis was recorded, and a one-hour feature based solely on Curtis interacting with her fans (in the name of charity) was included. A beautiful transfer and fantastic new features aside, the release was a solid if not definitive release. Thankfully, it offered up enough new material not to be considered obligatory. And it more than made up for their previous blu, which had a severely botched color timing and a misguided audio mix that tampered with the ambiance in which we, the audience, had been immersing since 1978.

Cut to May, 2014.

A major announcement - one no one ever thought possible - began flooding horror websites and social media. Halloween: The Complete Collection. It was coming. Coming soon. And despite differing entries being owned and/or licensed by seven - SEVEN! - different studios and/or licensees, everyone had managed to come together, circumvent who owned which titles and who was owed this and that percentage, and put together this complete collection.

Though my love for the Halloween franchise had begun to stale over the years, thanks to one entry after another that strayed further and further away from what I'd loved about it in the first place, I was overcome by the announcement, the potential treasure trove of material to come, and the horror community's infectious enthusiasm.

Would Halloween: H20 receive a better presentation than the awful Echo Bridge release, with some decent features AND in the correct aspect ratio this time? Would Halloween 4, as well, be celebrated the way it should be beyond a lousy 15-minute making of?

I pre-ordered immediately and I waited with bated breath every day for specs and artwork.

And then that day came.

And it looked like this:

Disc 1 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)
  • HD transfer supervised and approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Editor Tommy Lee Wallace And The Shape, Nick Castle
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter and Actress Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • “The Night She Came Home” Featurette
  • “On Location: 25 Years Later” Featurette
  • TV Version Footage
  • Television Spots
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spot
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby TrueHD 7.1; Original 1978 Audio in Dolby TrueHD Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 2 – John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • Audio Commentary With Co-Writer/Director John Carpenter, Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and Co-Writer/Producer Debra Hill
  • Featurette: Halloween: A Cut Above The Rest
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); Dolby Surround 5.1; PCM 5.1; Original 1978 Mono Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 3 – Halloween II (1981) Theatrical Version
  • Audio commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi (Theatrical version)
  • Audio commentary with stunt co-ordinator/actor Dick Warlock (Theatrical version)
  • Theatrical Version And “The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making Of Halloween II” Featuring Rick Rosenthal, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Alan Howarth, Dean Cundey, Leo Rossi and Moore…
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II” – Host Sean Clark revisits the original shooting locations of the film
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Alternate Ending with Optional Audio Commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Still Gallery
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1

Disc 4 – Halloween II TV Cut (1981) DVD (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • Television Cut With Added Footage Not Seen In The Theatrical Version
Standard Definition Full-frame 1.33:1; Dolby Digital Mono

Disc 5 – Halloween III: Season of The Witch (1982)
  • Audio Commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace
  • Audio Commentary with actor Tom Atkins
  • “Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” – Revisiting the original shooting locations
  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD MA 5.1; Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0

Disc 6 – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  • Audio Commentary with Actors Ellie Cornell and Danielle Harris
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dwight H. Little and Author Justin Beahm
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 7 — Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  • Audio Commentary with Actor Don Shanks and Jeffrey Landman
  • Audio Commentary with Director Dominique Othenin-Girard and Actors Danielle Harris And Jeffrey Landman
  • Halloween 5: On The Set
  • Halloween 5: Original Promo
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Disc 8 — Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Theatrical Cut
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1); Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 9 – Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Producer’s Cut (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • NEW High Definition Master from the original inter-negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Daniel Farrands and Composer Alan Howarth (Producer’s Cut)
  • NEW “Jamie’s Story” – An Interview With The Original “Jamie” Actress Danielle Harris
  • NEW “The Cursed ‘Curse’” – An Interview With Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman
  • NEW “Acting Scared “– A Look At The Film’s Cast With Actresses Mariah O’Brien And J.C. Brandy
  • NEW “The Shape Of Things” – A Look At Michael Myers’ Murders And Mayhem With Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Brad Hardin And Actor George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers)
  • NEW “Haddonfield’s Horrors” – The Sights of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers With Director of Photography Billy Dickson And Production Designer Brad Ryman And Director of Photography (Additional Scenes) Thomas Callaway
  • NEW “Full Circle” – An Interview With Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Cast And Crew Tribute to Donald Pleasance
  • Archival Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Behind-The-Scenes Footage (approx. 30 Minutes)
  • Alternate And Deleted Scenes (Not Present In Either Cut Of The Film)
  • Teaser Trailer: Halloween 666: The Origin Of Michael Myers
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1:78:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 10 — Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
  • Presented in the correct 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
  • NEW Commentary With Director Steve Miner And Jamie Lee Curtis, Moderated By Sean Clark
  • NEW “The Making of Halloween H20” Featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Nancy Stephens, Adam Hann-Byrd, Tom Kane, Editor Patrick Lussier, Producer Malek Akkad, Producer Paul Freeman, Composer John Ottman, Chris Durand (Michael Myers), Writer Robert Zappia, Stunt Co-Ordinator Donna Keegan, Make-Up Brad Hardin And Cinematographer Daryn Okada
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Disc 11 — Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
  • Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal And Editor Robert A. Ferretti
  • Alternate Endings
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurette: “Head Cam”
  • Storyboard Analysis
  • Set Tour With Production Designer Troy Hansen
  • Set Interview With Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Vintage Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Home Video TV Spots
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English

Disc 12 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
  • Unrated Director’s Cut With Audio Commentary By Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary
  • Alternate Ending With Optional Commentary
  • Bloopers
  • Featurette: “The Many Faces Of Michael Myers”
  • Re-Imagining Halloween
  • Meet The Cast
  • Casting Sessions
  • Scout Taylor-Compton Screen Test
  • Theatrical Trailer
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish

Disc 13 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) Bonus Disc (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition
  • Documentary: “Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween (4 ½ hours)
Dolby Stereo
Subtitles: English

Disc 14 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)
  • Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Rob Zombie
  • Deleted And Alternate Scenes
  • Audition Footage
  • Make-Up Test Footage
  • Blooper Reel
  • Captain Clegg And The Night Creatures Music Videos
  • Uncle Seymour Coffins’ Stand-Up Routines
1080p Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1); DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1;
Subtitles: English

Disc 15 – Bonus Features (Exclusive to Deluxe Edition)
  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)
1080p, 520p Full Frame, Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1, 2.35:1;
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Stereo, Mono



I, like a lot of people at that time, let out a collective, "Seriously?" Because here's the thing: yeah, 15 discs sounds impressive, and seeing all those special features splashed across all those discs was tantalizing...until you got over your rush of fanboyism and reread everything that was soon coming your way. And then the ugly realization finally set in.

Do you like Halloween? Do you like Michael Myers?

Then you had all this already.

Disc One - Halloween (35th Anniversary) - Anchor Bay Repackage.
Disc Two - Halloween (2007 blu-ray release) - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Three - Halloween II - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Four - Halloween II TV Cut - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Five - Halloween III - Scream Factory Repackage
Disc Six - Halloween 4 - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Seven - Halloween 5 - Anchor Bay Repackage
Disc Eight - Halloween 6 - Alliance Canada Repackage

Noticing a trend? Notice that you're already more than halfway through this "deluxe" fifteen-disc edition, and so far, besides one new commentary track on disc one, you've gotten absolutely nothing new that wasn't previously available? In fact, you got less than what was previously available. Pretty sad, right? But, let's keep going:

Disc Nine - Halloween 6: The Producer's Cut

On the ninth disc, we were finally given something that no one could claim they possessed (at least, not in any official capacity). A fan-driven campaign since the theatrical release of Halloween 6 in 1995, this long-talked about alternate version of the film was finally available, and stacked with special features. It took nine discs to reach our first bright spot. Maybe we can keep this going.

Disc Ten - Halloween: H20

As far as the transfer goes, this, too, is a repackage of Alliance Canada's currently available release. Scream did us a solid by giving us a nice little package of features for this mostly-loved title, among them being the commentary track that was erroneously listed on the original collector's edition DVD release back in 1999, but which was either never recorded, or was recorded and for whatever reason never used. (There are differing recollections on this issue.)

H20 is a personal favorite of mine, and was the reason why I went after this set.

Let's keep going.

Disc Eleven - Halloween: Resurrection - Echo Bridge Repackage (but, according to reviews, with an even worse picture, which I didn't think was possible, given the infamously bad reputation of Echo Bridge's Halloween sequel blu-ray releases.)
Disc Twelve - Rob Zombie's Halloween - Dimension Films Repackage
Disc Thirteen - Rob Zombie's Halloween Bonus Disc - Dimension Films Repackage
Disc Fourteen - Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 - Sony Repackage

And, lastly:

Disc Fifteen - Bonus Disc
  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)

A pretty decent haul on the bonus disc at least, right? Let's see what's actually new:

  • John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN – The Extended Version (In HD – TV Inserts Are In Standard Definition)
  • Interview with Moustapha Akkad about origin of HALLOWEEN
  • Featurette: HALLOWEEN UNMASKED 2000
  • Featurette: The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4: FINAL CUT
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 4 Featuring Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont, Beau Starr, Raymond O’Connor, Erik Preston and Sasha Jensen, Stuntmen Tom Morga (Michael Myers) And George P. Wilbur (Michael Myers), Composer Alan Howarth, Writer Alan B. McElroy, Producers Malek Akkad And Paul Freeman, Special Make-Up Effects Artists John Carl Buechler And Ken Horn
  • Featurette: Inside HALLOWEEN 5
  • NEW The Making Of HALLOWEEN 5 Featuring Interviews With Actors Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell, Wendy Kaplan, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Frankie Como, Tamara Glynn, Matthew Walker, Don Shanks (Michael Myers), Producer Malek Akkad, Line Producer Rick Nathanson And Composer Alan Howarth
  • NEW Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman On HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
  • HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Radio Spots
  • TV Spots – HALLOWEEN 4, HALLOWEEN 5, HALLOWEEN (2007) and HALLOWEEN II (2009)

Now, let's bring to light the not-immediately-obvious issues.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. For whatever reason, the commentary recorded by screenwriter Alan B. McElroy for Anchor Bay's Divimax DVD has been abandoned. It did not appear on the prior Anchor Bay blu-ray release and it does not appear here. It's a real shame, given it's been the most interesting commentary recorded for the film so far.

Also missing, quite suspiciously, is the Halloween 4/5 panel discussion feature that had appeared on the prior blu-ray. Yet, at the same time, it's not missing. Here's a little pssssst for you: that Halloween 4/5 panel discussion is on the very same blu-ray included in this set. It's just that Anchor Bay opted to remove the option to access it from the opening menu. Why is that? On purpose? By accident? Does it even matter?

Worst, however, is the audio issue. Beginning halfway through the film - somewhere around the 46-minute mark - the audio is not in sync with the picture. Not just by a little, but by a lot. And it lasts for more than ten minutes.

This was brought to Scream Factory's attention. Their official response:
We investigated the audio issue with Anchor Bay today. Every disc in the set went through a stringent quality control process. The slight audio off-sync during the isolated section of Halloween 4 has apparently been that way on prior releases. There will be no replacement program in place for this disc. 
We apologize for the less-than-100%-perfect audio presentation of H4. Unfortunately, when dealing with films where the source materials are almost 30 years old it can sometimes be a challenge to bring a film up to the best of everyone’s satisfaction. We hope you understand that Anchor Bay and Scream Factory takes a lot of pride in what we do and don’t take these issues lightly. Thank you for your purchase and we hope you enjoy the otherwise amazing set.
Blaming the problem on "thirty-year-old" source material is disingenuous, being that the multiple copies of the film that I've owned - on VHS, and on DVD - never had the kind of audio issues plaguing this particular release. And it's not a matter of having to go back and re-author a new disc. They already did once before - to "remove" the Halloween 4/5 panel discussion feature. And the fact that their response is tantamount to "you're shit out of luck, thanks for your money" is a real slap in the face.

Congratulations: you now own an inferior version of the same blu-ray you bought two years ago.

And that's what really gets my ghost about this whole debacle: too much of this set is recycled material that had already been made available to consumers, all with release dates of less than one year before this set became available.

You mean to tell me that Scream Factory and Anchor Bay, back when they were working on putting out their single releases, had no idea this was in the works? You mean to tell me it only took them a few months to work out licensing issues among seven different companies in order to put out this set?

Something reeks of conspiracy here, folks. Something reeks of backdoor conniving and shenanigans; ie, "You put your release out first, then we'll do ours. We'll collect on the profits, wait for demand to die down, and then we'll hit them with the set and collect all over again."

Though this is my own personal theory, the fact that all the "new" stuff is ONLY available in this set is the biggest red flag. (Meaning, you want the Producer's Cut? You want the edition of Halloween: H20 you should have gotten the first time? Well then, you've gotta buy alllllll those other movies - you know, the ones you already bought months ago.) Scream has spent the last two years licensing films to release as standalone special editions. So now it was apparently someone's stipulation that they only be available in a set fetching over $100?

"No one put a gun to your head to buy this set!" you're shouting at me right now.

"How dare you blaspheme the great Scream Factory, who has proven their devotion to the horror community over the last year!" you might also be shouting.

Scream Factory has proven only one thing to me so far: they are devoted to greasing my back under the guise of appealing to my sense of nostalgia and ramming it home, recycling previously produced special features for their releases, throwing in a few of their own, taking whatever master is sent to them instead of striking their own, and calling it a day. Their quality control is lacking, to say the least, as concerns ranging from minor to major have been present on way too many of their releases: a typo on the Phantasm II commentary track menu refers to Angus Scrimm as Angus "Scrumm"; severely botched audio tracks on Day of the Dead, The Slumber Party Massacre, and most unfortunately, Body Bags, makes them unbearable to listen to (another issue to which they replied, "Eh, that was the best we could do.") [Seriously, they did - find it on their Facebook.] Blu-ray packaging offers alternate audio options that are nowhere to be found. Aspect ratios are changed or cropped from their original theatrical presentations. Compression artifacts are more apparent than they should be. And all for releases that cost, on average, $20 a pop.

As should be obvious, I have made pretty clear my extreme skepticism of Scream Factory as an entity. Lots of horror dudes and dudettes give them a pass for the same reasons horror dudes and dudettes used to praise the original incarnation of Anchor Bay. Meaning: "They are putting Squirm on blu-ray. Who else would do that? I love these guys."

Sorry. For me, that's not enough. I'm getting tired of plopping down $20 on releases, much of them being new versions of blu-rays already available, and for my troubles and hard-earned cash, ending up with a release that features overly-sibilant audio or dialogue I can't even hear. And I'm getting tired of their fanboy baiting with Facebook posts that announce a new acquisition, offers up no other information, and then eventually promises special features on which they ultimately cannot deliver. (The Halloween collection was supposed to feature the theatrical editions of Rob Zombie's entries. Did you know that? Spoiler: It doesn't.)

Yeah, neat - all the Halloween films are now in one collection. And they come in a neat box that the neat black cases can fit into. Boy, look how neat it is. Until the next Halloween film comes out, and your complete set isn't so complete anymore, because who knows who will have the video rights to that one.

Listen, at the end of the day, all of the above doesn't mean dick. If you're one of those who feels this collection has been nothing more than a way to forcefully extract money from legions of dedicated fans who owned 85% of this set already, then you will agree with me. If you're one of those who feels this set is a gift from the horror gods to all Halloween fans, then you never will.

For the virgins out there popping their blu-ray cherry on this collection, then this set is not just a no-brainer, but an absolutely wonderful and momentarily definitive release. But if you're a massive Halloween fan, to whom this set of course would appeal, then you've already bought all the previous single releases the moment they were available.

Of course you did. And of course you'd buy this one, too. I did.

And all to own one lousy movie.

A lot of people who share my viewpoint have been derided by others, telling us no one else would have given us this set - that we didn't even deserve something this good.

I agree with that last part.

We deserved better - a little respect.

2 comments:

  1. Great post. Love how you put your finger on the early Anchor Bay era and why it was meaningful to fans. I appreciate the nee Scream Factory stuff, too - The Fog and Legend of Hell House. I get a thrill these days when I score a cheap old Anchor Bay DVD with the little posters on heavy card stock in them. Its an indication of a commitment to fans that mostly seems to be gone, baby, gone. I recently found copies of Slugs, Halloween 4, Hellraiser, Maximum Overdrive, House 1 & 2, Children of the Corn, Creepshow 2, and more that I'm forgetting. Each time I found one, it was like getting a Cracker Jack Toy Surprise inside because of those mini-posters that generally don't exist. Props to Anchor Bay, though, for the nice Halloween 35th release in the digipack booklet last year. Keep up the great work here.

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    1. Despite my lampooning of it on this very blog, I LOVE Slugs. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

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