This year Shout Factory released Halloween 6, H20, and Resurrection on 4K in a “’95-’02” box set to complement a set of releases from last year, which gives fans of the series and of physical media the chance to revisit their favorite (best and worst) moments of the franchise, nearly in full.
But is it really worth upgrading Halloween 5 to 4K?
Each movie was shot on film so they all have scans from the original negatives and a slew of special features ported from old releases to give each film it’s most comprehensive package to date. I’m here to rank these releases (from WORST to BEST) so YOU can decide if it’s worth collecting the set or if you’d like to pick from your favorites.
Contrast and colors in the opening give this a surprisingly favorable improvement, but then Laurie’s death is still a thing. This is a case where a polish doesn’t save the experience. The level of detail reveals the Myers actor has paint around his eyes to help them seem black, and while colors and production design feel improved due to the detail of the film scan, digital camera shots from “dangertainment” don’t benefit. It’s odd that this is, to date, the only feature with Michael Myers that is not about the Strode family. In the end, a dark production and over editing kept me from feeling any emotion for this.
A symphony of annoying noises, from non-diegetic squeaking for the police to singing and screaming and a car horn and crying… all a bit disserviced by an increase in definition, made me painfully aware of flaws in this. With picture as well, such as when a shot was out of focus or lit unnaturally. If they had arrested rather than shot at Myers in 4 and 6 opened with his escape, this movie could simply not exist. It’s of no consequence.
Film grain and sweat and tight editing work and Donald Pleasance seems to drag the movie forward through willpower and monologues. The characters ‘Tina’ and ‘Jaime’ lead two different movies crammed into one that never had a purpose, even behind the scenes. A lack of color grading does help natural colors and brighter scenes feel more natural, and I’m a fan of grain and imperfections in gritty, schlocky slasher movies, but an excellent upgrade can’t justify the movie unless you’re just a huge fan of the franchise.
Halloween 6 (producer’s cut)
This one suffered from a less cohesive tone in color only. The music helps, being more traditional to other installments, but colors are cooler unless a scene is candle lit. However, things are the best they’ve ever looked, the two cuts come together, and Mrs. Blankenship’s history of Halloween monologue is always effective. With the sing-song version of the girl announcing “it’s raining red” there just feels like a billowing dark cloud of Halloween atmosphere here that works.
This still feels in line with franchise aesthetic. The theatrical cut doesn’t feel like a significant improvement, visually, over the blu-ray, but that’s not to say it isn’t sharp, grainy in a good way, well colored (graded and set decorated) and full of a Halloween atmosphere, candle light, and dread. The frustrating father character has a more violent death, and Paul Rudd is hard to take seriously but he’s inevitably charming for his lack of success brooding. The audio seemed well balanced and immersive with layered dialogue, music, environment, and scare effects.This was Donald Pleasance’s last movie. I hope he rests in peace.
This would be higher for me if the improvement were larger, but being the second most recently made in the set, I can’t say the leap to 4K is as shocking as some others. You have Kevin Williamson (Scream) writing, Joseph Gordon-Levitt existing, and that familiar “Mr. Sandman” opening, but then the setting changes. This may be my favorite cast of any entry with Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams joined by the actor who was young Alan in “Jumanji,” LL Cool J, and, of course, Jaime Lee Curtis, but most of the cast isn’t used/doesn’t do much. When this movie works it does SO well. I love the nod to the franchise’s “Psycho”/horror roots, very dark visuals, and effective sound, though some effects are dated (punching). The final head chop (iykyk) is underscored by the sting from the original where Michael first kills Annie. This movie still feels like it has weight despite the sequel and David Gordon Greene’s trilogy. However, Michael Myers feels the least intimidating and is borderline silly, with this being more of a thriller than horror/suspense despite a few artful death displays.
At first glance, immediate improvements in contrast and color benefit a stormy night reintroducing Michael Myers as a myth and monster. For people who complain about Myers mask being too washed out, this gives it the most texture and retains some of the menace of the original blankness…some…maybe…
Dialogue is so sharp that it’s hard to suspend disbelief during ADR/”looped” lines. This is undoubtedly a more balanced, polished movie than many other entries. I also notice the 1978 original, Return of Michael Myers (4), and Halloween 2018 have the same procedure to their story and while both of those may be more effective, this one works! Jaime Lloyd is a unique, well played character, and it feels different enough, particularly with an exciting and satisfying ending. This is a massive improvement, visually over previous releases.
The 1981 sequel opens with “Mr. Sandman” mixing into a thick, immersive sound design, fire colors burn brighter, increased sharpness is most noticeable in closeups, and the strength of the visuals in this installment are best benefitted from 4K detail. It’s odd watching this after seeing “Kills.” It begins with a mob attacking the Myers house, there’s ongoing police procedure similar to that seen throughout “Kills.” It occured to me while watching this that Myers is age “21” on “the night he came home” (and so 31 in “4,” 41 in “H20,” and 61 in “2018”).
Much of the story feels drawn out, less for suspense and more for time, but I can only say that in hindsight knowing John Carpenter didn’t want to write it, drank throughout the process, and I already know the beats where violence happens. The real advantage here is in impressive special effects (skin burn, eye needle, body explodes early on) that show the start of a competition among slashers for upping the kills/scares in the 1980’s. There’s effort and thought put into the visuals where there is an absence of character. Where the original builds to a few powerful moments, this rolls steadily into a higher body count. It could be tighter, shorter, and characters could be fewer with more agency… but it looks and sounds gorgeous.
I’m always shocked by the director’s vigorous drive to have Tom Atkins be laid. But I’m happy to say that doesn’t matter as much when there’s SUCH an improvement for this 4K release and there is shocking detail, despite light set dressing and obvious budget limitations, to “Season of the Witch.” John Carpenter’s score pulses and hums and the clarity, even over sweeping camera movements, makes this feel like every moment demands attention. The now-iconic masks almost glare with color and everything helps give this a spooky-holiday-flavor that solidifies the viewing experience as a campy classic. The make-up and special effects have always stood out in this, but never more than here.
I watched this one last. Not out of reverence, but because sometimes it’s hard to feel what makes this so special when it’s followed by one, or two, or a marathon of installments. John Carpenter controls what you see, what you don’t, what you hear, and what you don’t. Thinking about his later work, he went so far off of so little with this crew that it’s remarkable that it feels as solid as it does. It’s not perfect, Loomis stands around and Laurie’s friend says “totally” too much and everything else you’ve heard. But this is so far beyond its limitations of budget, time, location, and being shot during summer, it stands above the value it would have if that were unknown.
There was a previous 4K release, and I can’t say I notice too drastic a change for this from Scream Factory, but the film look is clean but grainy, details so sharp you can touch them and you get the television cut of the film, which the previous release doesn’t have. The only issues I have with audio are products of the time (an odd sound effect here or there). This may be higher on my list because of familiarity or bias. But, with the way this brings color to an intentionally grayed movie, and how the grain is present but never distracting, I genuinely feel this is the best upgrade and worth purchasing even if you don’t go for the whole collection.
Michael Myers always seems to get to people while their legs (at least one) are still just in reach. He’s the boogie man, whether his family is the target or not, and he always has a bit of an edge for how cold he is, with pure evil just behind his eyes. These movies look better than they ever have on home video, with sound improvements that favor iconic scores and an overall 4K presentation that does what 4K seems to continue to do, punch elements up so the bad seems a bit worse while the good/great elements shine with more clarity than they’ve ever had.