What do you say about John Carpenter’s Halloween that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over? There’s a reason that this indie horror classic has remained beloved with genre audiences throughout the years and such a relevant part of pop culture for over three decades - it revolutionized the landscape of modern horror cinema and has stood the test of time as one of the greatest demonstrations of thoughtful genre storytelling ever created.

Quite frankly, they just don’t make films like Halloween anymore (nor do I think they ever will).

When you break it down, Halloween is a perfect example of simplicity at its best- both with the story and in Carpenter's execution as well. While his story of a menacing killer stalking a handful of teenagers wasn't particularly groundbreaking in the late 70's, what made it rise above its peers and endure over the decades was how Carpenter managed to effectively capture the true essence of terror by twisting many "boogeyman" and haunted house tropes along the way.  The way Carpenter blends these elements with an effectively chilling mood and a sense of urgency that is created whenever the legendary Donald Pleasance enters the screen as Dr. Loomis, masterfully elevates the various thematic elements of Halloween, making it an instantaneous classic upon its release in 1978.

And ultimately, why Halloween works is because even in its minute flaws, there's an inherent charm to the basic effectiveness and fundamental workmanship on display here and it's hard to say that about many films who have tried to follow in its (and Michael Myer's) footsteps ever since.

Without a doubt, it's Carpenter's vision that is the most critical factor to why Halloween is as close to cinematic perfection as you can get; his ability to manipulate both the characters and his audience with the casual contrast in tone that he purposefully flutters back-and-forth between- whether it's following our happy-go-lucky teenage heroine Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) or her friends Annie (Nancy Loomis) and Lynda (Nancy Loomis) or building a constant fear of dread and death hanging over every moment we see Michael Myers looming in the distance, Carpenter tightens the reins from the very start of Halloween and he never lets go until the film's shocking (at that time, at least) finale.

All of the characters in Halloween are as vivid and memorable as the iconic madman stalking them through the quiet, suburban streets of Haddonfield; whether it's Annie playfully singing "Oh Paul" right before her untimely demise, Laurie expressing her hidden longing to go with Ben Tramer to the Homecoming Dance the following evening or Lynda's raging hormones, we all love these characters because they feel so real and relatable regardless of what decade it is.

In terms of Halloween's Blu-ray treatment for its 35th anniversary edition by Anchor Bay, this all-new high-def transfer comes approved by cinematographer Dean Cundey, who oversaw some of the transfer process, and it shows in the final product, as Halloween has never looked more crisp, leveled-out and appropriately colored than it does here in this version. The sound mixing wasn't particularly stellar though with some of the dialogue sounding muddy in comparison to Halloween‘s iconic score. It's nothing to mar the overall experience with Carpenter's classic, but a few scenes (especially in the beginning) could have used a little more attention when it came to improving the sound mix.

For the Halloween die-hards out there, the biggest reason to pick-up the 35th anniversary Blu-ray is for the audio commentary track featuring Carpenter and Curtis which was created for this release.  Because Curtis has spent many years not really wanting to chat about her horror roots, it makes this wonderfully warm and informative chat between director and co-star all the more special, with both Carpenter and Curtis having many years to reflect on their work. It added a lot of new perspectives we haven't really heard before on Halloween.

The Blu-ray also boasts several featurettes, including "The Night She Came Home" which follows Curtis' appearance at a recent HorrorHound Convention for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for thousands of lucky horror fans that weekend all while raising charity and awareness for a good cause. There's also a second featurette called "On Location" which revisits the original locations of Halloween and recounts several production stories as well; it's a quick watch and while not terribly too engaging, it's fun all the same. The Halloween Blu-ray also includes footage from the TV version (something that was included on an early DVD, but never quite looked like this before), the trailer and several TV and radio spots which are always fun to revisit.

The biggest question of course is whether or not this version of Halloween is worth picking up, considering we've had another HD version of the film released in the last few years. For the casual or the undiscerning fans out there who aren't really interested in the commentary with Carpenter and Curtis, I'd recommend sticking with your current editions. But for those of you who treat Halloween with the reverence it deserves, then you'll undoubtedly want to add the 35th Anniversary Edition to your collection- between Cundey's supervision of this transfer and the brand-new commentary, this release is everything the die-hard fans have been waiting for.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.