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article imageReview: The complete ‘Halloween’ is this year’s definitive treat Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 31, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Halloween: The Complete Collection’ is a historical release, assembling all 10 feature films in the series together for the first time.
Around this time each year, marathons of Halloween can be found playing on TV channels across North America. More than the title, it’s the enduring draw of Michael Myers that attracts audiences year after year. This season fans no longer have to wait and plan to view the slasher series in its entirety. Thanks to an unparalleled partnership between three studios, fans can now watch their favourite masked killer stalk his victims at their leisure with the release of the definitive box set, Halloween: The Complete Collection.
For the first-time ever, you can own all 10 Halloween feature films in a single Blu-ray compilation. There are two options: a limited 15-disc deluxe edition and more modest 10-disc edition. The former boasts a 40-page book written by Fangoria magazine’s Michael Gingold; the never-before-release producer’s cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers; rare network television versions of the original film and first sequel, as well as the previously released Blu-ray edition of the original Halloween and the remastered 35th anniversary version with the mono track added back in; and unrated copies of Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II. Conversely, the smaller set only includes the theatrical versions of the films and select bonus features.
In 1978, writer/director John Carpenter created a new brand of horror that featured a faceless monster and off-screen violence with Halloween. Opening by making audiences view the scene of a teenaged girl being butchered through the eyes of the killer only to reveal the perpetrator was a six-year-old boy in a clown costume was unique if not shocking. Fifteen years later, Michael Myers goes to great lengths to return to the scene of the crime. Stalking his younger sister, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis in her debut role), Michael slaughters her friends before finally coming after her. Each of them is surprised and then killed with a weapon of convenience. The most iconic scenes are the pinning of a teen to the kitchen door with a chef’s knife followed by Michael’s inquisitive pause and a visit from the not-so-friendly ghost of Bob. The only one possibly equipped to stop him is the equally persistent Dr. Sam Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence here and in each subsequent picture. Though the initial concept for Michael portrayed him as an evil but human man, his ability to survive typically fatal injuries suggested something unnatural and thus earned him the moniker, “the boogeyman.”
Michael Myers impersonates one of his victims in John Carpenter s  Halloween
Michael Myers impersonates one of his victims in John Carpenter's 'Halloween'
Anchor Bay, Shout! Factory & Trancas
Carpenter wrote, but did not direct, the sequel. Halloween II began by recreating the final moments of the first film with just minor alterations imperceptible except to avid fans. Curtis reprised her role as Laurie, fortifying her position as Scream Queen, though it would be the last time she donned the crown until she returned 20 years later to finally put an end to her brother’s reign of terror. Continuing in the same vein as the original, Michael follows Laurie to the hospital at which she’s being treated after their first encounter, killing the uncommonly lascivious staff he comes across along the way. Dr. Loomis once again comes to Laurie’s aid, seemingly destroying himself as well as his nemesis.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch was a box office flop. The studio thought it would be great to franchise the spooky holiday, introducing a new villain every Halloween. However they did not take into account the fandom created by the first two films and the association the title maintained with Michael Myers. When audiences expecting the return of their favourite indiscriminate serial killer were given cursed masks and pagans in his place, they were not especially forgiving. Viewed independently of the franchise, the film could have done well under a different title. The concept of targeting unsuspecting children by working some black magic on their costumes remains ridiculous but entertaining, and the recurring jingle is catchy if not annoying.
Evil masks are all the rage in  Halloween: Season of the Witch
Evil masks are all the rage in 'Halloween: Season of the Witch'
Anchor Bay, Shout! Factory & Trancas
Learning from their mistakes, Halloween IV was aptly subtitled “The Return of Michael Myers.” Apparently between films, Laurie lost her good girl status and had a daughter, Jamie (ironically), who was adopted. Ten years after her birth, Michael returns to Haddonfield for retribution, hoping to claim the life of his niece (future scream queen Danielle Harris in her first film role) in the place of his sister’s. While being transferred to a maximum security facility, the indestructible monster awakens from a decade-long coma and escapes. A scarred Loomis follows Michael home to Haddonfield to protect the little girl that’s now his target. This picture marks the beginning of Michael’s supernatural origins being substantiated with the psychic transfer of his murderous compulsion.
Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers recaps the final scenes of the previous picture, this time revealing how Michael miraculously survived yet another explosion. One year later, Jamie (Harris) is mute and staying in a children’s psychiatric ward. Though more concerning is the telepathic link she seems to share with Uncle Michael — now also known as “The Shape” — that Loomis then attempts to exploit to help him stop the murders once and for all. This picture harkens back to the classic slasher movie, filled with sinful teens being led like pigs to the slaughter. However, Michael uncharacteristically stalks his victims for extended periods as if using them to get closer to Jamie. This film also marked the first appearance of the stranger in black, though his identity would not be resolved until the next picture.
Pleasence would make his final appearance in Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers, passing away the year of its release. This is probably the most controversial film in the series on- and off-screen as it reveals the source of Michael’s immortality, which relates to a symbol revealed in the previous picture that translates to the “Curse of Thorn.” The preceding movie concluded with Michael’s rescue and Jamie’s kidnapping. Now six years later, a pregnant Jamie (J.C. Brandy) is still being held prisoner by a nefarious cult that commands Michael. Reaching back to events in the first film, Tommy Doyle (played by Paul Rudd in his debut role), Laurie’s ward the night of the murders, is all grown up and obsessed with the monster that wrecked his childhood. There’s a bit of torch passing between Loomis and Tommy as the latter takes on the more investigative aspects of the protector. The mystical aspect of the story is a bit half-baked, though two versions of the film reveal conflicting viewpoints.
The theatrical version significantly altered the original cut, now dubbed the “producer’s cut,” including multiple reshoots and a separate, slightly smaller actor portraying Michael in these scenes. The initial script makes a lot more sense regarding the curse that controls Michael, how it works and ways it can be manipulated. Upon seeing this supernatural storyline, The Weinstein Company demanded the film be more violent with increased on-screen kills and an entirely new ending, and the young sophomore director complied. Producer Moustapha Akkad’s son, Malek, discusses his father’s reaction to the more visible kills and coarser storyline in the bonus features. While “that’s the nature of the business” seems to be the party line for everyone involved, it’s obvious none of the crew or actors were quite onboard with the changes either. In addition to a bloodier picture, the studio also made the neighbour’s father more abusive, expedited a brutal death for Jamie and entirely replaced the paranormal conclusion with an excessively violent one in an out-of-nowhere setting.
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to face Michael Myers in  Halloween: H20
Jamie Lee Curtis returns to face Michael Myers in 'Halloween: H20'
Anchor Bay, Shout! Factory & Trancas
As mentioned earlier, Curtis reprised her role 20 years later in Halloween: H20, stating in an interview in the special features that she did it for the fans. This film also ostensibly ignores the events of the The Curse of Michael Myers, and to some extent Revenge of Michael Myers — save for his once again unexplained longevity. Jamie’s existence is not acknowledged and the fate of baby Steven is never revealed. For two decades, Laurie (Curtis) has looked over her shoulder and kept her son (Josh Hartnett) close to home, knowing that Michael would one day return for a family reunion. Taking a page from horror films of the ‘80s, this is definitely one of the goriest pictures in the franchise proper.
As tradition dictates, the conclusion of the previous film is revisited in Halloween: Resurrection for which Curtis briefly returns to tie-up loose ends. After removing his ultimate motivation, Michael goes home only to find his house has been taken over by DangerTainment. They are hosting a reality show in which a group of college kids are dared to spend the night in the infamous serial killer’s home. Released when the TV genre was at its peak, this picture is the franchise’s most over-the-top as the characters engage in Big Brother-style drama complete with pranks and sex. As Michael murders the home invaders/contestants, viewers chalk it up to special effects and ratings boosters. Busta Rhymes features as one of the producers in a role so exaggerated it shows him facing off with Michael and challenging him with some weak looking Kung Fu. There are so many alternate endings in the bonus features, one has to wonder how or why they chose the one that actually closes the film.
This ultimate box set would not be complete without Zombie’s two contributions to the series, but they really don’t fit in with the other films. In the four-and-a-half-hour making-of documentary, Zombie claims that after signing on to direct the remake, Carpenter told him to make the film his own. No one can deny that that is exactly what the musician-turned-filmmaker does. Forgoing the typical 90-minute timestamp, both pictures are stretched to two hours due to the extended back stories and drawn-out deaths — the length of which are only surpassed by the making-of featurettes. Zombie’s signature is all over these re-imaginings to the extent that they have little in common with the originals except the characters. Though they do have excellent soundtracks — an element largely ignored in previous movies — with exceptional use of “Nights in White Satin” in Halloween II.
A grown-up Michael Myers is kept under a watchful eye in Rob Zombie s  Halloween
A grown-up Michael Myers is kept under a watchful eye in Rob Zombie's 'Halloween'
Anchor Bay, Shout! Factory & Trancas
In Halloween (2007), Zombie opens with a young Michael killing his sister and then being committed to a psychiatric facility at which he is assigned to Dr. Loomis, who is now played by Malcolm McDowell. The viewer watches as Michael withdraws deeper into himself, maturing into a hulking young man with no hope of recovery. Eventually, he seizes the opportunity to break free and sets out to find his younger sister. True to Zombie’s style, her foster family is repulsive and she is a rebellious teen with numerous vices. The narrative attempts to humanize Michael in spite of the ultra-violence he inflicts, nearly making his sister the villain for misunderstanding Michael’s intentions.
The 2009 sequel bears absolutely no semblance to the movies that preceded it. It resumes the story minutes after the previous film ended and Michael has once again escaped custody. One year later, Laurie is having vivid nightmares about Michael that may actually be psychic visions. At the same time, Michael is guided on his murderous rampage by the ghost of his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and his child self. This film is way out there in terms of his motivations and the supernatural aspects of his life. It also takes on an even stronger Zombie flavour than the first, basically replicating the finale in The Devil’s Rejects. Moreover, the film lacks a true hero as Loomis is revealed to be an insensitive, opportunistic jerk.
Before Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kreuger or Jigsaw, there was Michael Myers. This canon of films has been studied from countless angles, and continues to inspire filmmakers and horror fans alike. Watching the films in succession, viewers can trace the evolution of Michael’s mask, which changed with every new picture. The bonus features, many new to this release, provide unmatched insider information about making the movies and the everlasting influence it had on the lives of the cast and crew. The tremendous efforts Anchor Bay Entertainment, Shout! Factory and Trancas International Films made to achieve this momentous release are evidence of its power both in the industry and amongst audiences.
Halloween: The Complete Collection available on Blu-ray
Halloween: The Complete Collection available on Blu-ray
Anchor Bay, Shout! Factory & Trancas
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