Halloween Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this horror classic from director/co-writer John Carpenter which is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89

Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate – 1978
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 91 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, PJ Soles, Nancy Loomis
Directed by: John Carpenter
Music by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Region Code: A

Release Date: September 25, 2018

“The Night HE Came Home”

My Take:

On a black and unholy Halloween night years ago, little Michael Myers brutally slaughtered his sister in cold blood. But for the last fifteen years, town residents have rested easy, knowing that he was safely locked away in a mental hospital — until tonight. Tonight, Michael returns to the same quiet neighborhood to relive his grisly murder again…and again…and again. For this is a night of evil. Tonight is Halloween!

Halloween needs no introduction among genre fans. I really like John Carpenter’s films. I was 14 when it was released and didn’t see it until it was on cable TV. Back then it was all the rage with its suspense, gruesome killings and open ending. Looking at it today it doesn’t quite have the stomach-churning suspense or heart pounding jump scares but, there is no question that it still works. Much of that is owed to the cinematography, and simple, yet effectual nature of the character of Michael Myers.

It has become a cult classic which spun off seven sequels, including a Rob Zombie remake and the upcoming installment which hits theaters next month. I don’t think I saw any of the original releases past Halloween 4: The return of Michael Myers, as I felt that the series was becoming redundant. The original John Carpenter film holds a special place for many, myself included. There is something about it that feels more real than its later iterations. This film started a long running series built around a character/idea that when on to terrorize filmgoers. I am glad to see it released on Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, sexuality, brief nudity and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Halloween comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Halloween has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

Halloween’s Ultra HD presentation appears to have been sourced from the same reworked master as the 2013 35th Anniversary Blu-ray which appears quite different from the original 2007 Blu-ray release, which oddly enough, is the one included with this Ultra HD Combo Pack.

Cinematographer Dean Cundey’s retooled color palette brings the imagery in line with his original vision, which appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD. At times the image is nearly devoid of color, while at others, allowing enough saturation to set the mood of a scene. The film’s early moments contain several sun-splashed, daytime segments, which appear more vibrant and tonally gradational compared to the 2007 Blu-ray. High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The film’s plethora of defining low level sequences had excellent depth of field and emboldened contrast. Blacks are deep without compromise to fidelity, as the layers of detail seen with them is readily apparent. Fleshtones adhere to the film’s visual aesthetic and appear consistent throughout the presentation.

I have seen Halloween countless times in standard and high definition. Looking at the film’s opening moments the improvement in depth and delineation was immediately noticeable. The increase in resolution isn’t always on display, especially in wide angle shots, although I believe that this is innate to the photography. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition. Grain is intact, occasionally rising to more obvious levels but, never to a distracting point. As I watched I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again. Hands down, this is the best Halloween has looked on home video.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Halloween, I found the HDR rendering to essentially be identical. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t consistently lent to bright color and vibrant highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings, any minute differences were negligible and not enough to warrant a rating difference. Both looked terrific, leaving me similarly satisfied with what I saw.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD sound mix does a good job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialog has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes good use of the entire system to deliver a solid audio experience that is highlighted by defining clarity, and John Carpenter’s memorable music score. Dynamic range is fair and doesn’t seem overly limited by the dated elements present in the recording. Sounds and effects can be hit or miss in terms of their tangibility. Surround activity isn’t constant but when applied can be engaging as discernible spatial ambience and discrete sounds add to the film’s thematic tone quite nicely. The LFE channel is similarly used to add weight that extends low bass frequencies. I think that in general this audio presentation is well done and compliments the source material.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Halloween Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Halloween Blu-ray (2007 release)
    • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director John Carpenter and Actor Jamie Lee Curtis
    • “The Night She Came Home” Featurette
    • “On Location: 25 Years Later” Featurette
    • TV Version Footage
    • Trailer
    • TV Spots
    • Radio Spots

Final Thoughts:

Halloween is a genre classic that in the hands of director/co-writer John Carpenter, holds up quite well 40 years after its release. It makes its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring excellent Ultra HD video, complimentary lossless surround sound, and legacy supplements. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the Ultra HD upgrades this is highly recommended.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems