In 1978, his horrific rampage through the town of Haddonfield changed movie history forever. His name was Michael Myers…and the night was Halloween.
Eight films and a quarter of a century later, discover the triumphs, controversies and groundbreaking influence of the series with the most comprehensive Halloween documentary ever produced. This is the true story behind every film in the franchise, featuring rare behind-the-scenes footage and over 80 interviews with cast and crew including John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Jamie Lee Curtis, Moustapha Akkad, Tom Atkins, Danielle Harris, Kathleen Kinmont, Nancy Loomis, Greg Nicotero, Joseph Wolf, John Carl Buechler, Nick Castle, Ellie Cornell, Dean Cundey, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Rick Rosenthal, Tommy Lee Wallace, Allan Howarth and more, plus fans like Rob Zombie, Clive Barker, Kim Newman, Edgar Wright and everyone at the Return To Haddonfield Convention. The evil that began that night will never die: Michael Myers lives on in Halloween: 25 Years of Terror!
eyelights: its well-constructed overview. the candidness of the participants. the breadth of interview subjects.
eyesores: its brevity.
In 2003, John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween‘ celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since the studio had nothing planned for the occasion, fans organised a massive convention in South Pasadena (where the original was filmed) that October, bringing together die hards from around the world as well as many of the cast and crew of the series – which, by then, amounted to eight feature films.
In 2006, Anchor Bay released a feature-length documentary called ‘Halloween: 25 Years of Terror’ on home video. Narrated by P.J. Soles (who played Lynda in Carpenter’s film), it explores the whole series with the help of clips from the the films, interviews with its various cast and crew, as well as fans and horror icons, and some footage culled from the Pasadena convention.
At a mere 82-minutes in length (both the ‘Friday the 13th‘ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ series have 4-hour documentaries devoted to them!), however, this chronological exploration is really nothing more than a quick overview, with each movie being touched upon only briefly. From that perspective, ‘H25’ it’s really a documentary for the non-fan, to introduce them to the series.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few treats. For instance, there are exclusive interview bits with a bevy of notables, such as John Carpenter (albeit very briefly), Tommy Lee Wallace, Rick Rosenthal, Nancy Loomis, Tom Atkins, Danielle Harris, Greg Nicotero, Alan Howarth, John Ottman, Rob Zombie, Clive Barker, Edgar Wright and some of the stuntmen playing Michael.
And more. But, strangely, no P.J. Soles.
There’s also a number of trivia bits such as the fact that the original Myers house was bought for 1$ during the ’80s and moved to a new location, across from where the hardware store in the first picture is located (it’s now the site of fan pilgrimages) and some of the actresses have had stalkers through the years (Danielle Harris’ still has not been caught by the police. Brrr…).
As we weave through the series they naturally explore the influence that ‘Halloween’ has had. not just on the horror genre, but on pop culture in general – especially now that the internet has connected fans. We get to meet some of the fans, who proudly display their collections, tattoos, …etc. It’s a bit creepy to see how obsessed some people are with what is a fictional serial killer. Eek.
On that note, the documentary briefly takes on the impact that these films have on people, and whether or not filmmakers are responsible for introducing such violence in the mass consciousness. Naturally, there are people who dismiss such concerns, saying that the movies are merely entertainment – but they’re frequently studio people or die hard fans. Sadly, this is not explored at length.
What I like most about the documentary is how candid the participants can be about the series’ failings. There’s no hiding of the fact that ‘Halloween II‘ wasn’t supposed to be molded by the films that had been influenced by the original, how ‘H3‘ misfired, the script issues of ‘H4‘, the troubled production of ‘H5‘, the massive struggles during ‘H6‘, the disputes over ‘H20‘, and Busta Rhymes in ‘H8‘.
I’m totally stunned by how little vision the producers seem to have with the series, jumping about from one place to the next, completely fudging Michael’s mythos and the timeline of the series – resulting with ‘H20’ completely ignoring all the films after ‘H2’. Heck, even the masks changed consistently from one film to the next (and four times in ‘H20’ alone!), bringing the ire of fans.
I wish that ‘Halloween: 25 Years of Terror’ delved into these matters more in depth so that viewers could get a better understanding of what exactly took place. But I suspect that the best way to explore each movie’s scars is to watch the special features of their respective DVDs – especially now that they have all be re-released in an extensive blu-ray collection, chock full of new goodies.
Which leads me to the main reasons to get ‘Halloween: 25 Years of Terror’: the extras. Although the documentary is lacking, the DVD is certainly not thin on special features, landing approximately FOUR hours of additional footage, much of it from the Pasadena convention. What makes it worthwhile is that they had tons of panel discussions on the movies and characters and they’re included here.
One notable exception are the ones on ‘Halloween 4’ and ‘Halloween 5’, apparently because the quality was too poor (however, they were later added to the ‘Halloween 4’ blu-ray released by Anchor Bay – it’s worth getting it!). And there’s so much more on this set, including extended interviews and on-set footage. It’s a great set for fans, old and new. I would highly recommend picking it up.
This DVD is too much of a treat to miss.
Dates of viewings: August 15-23, 2015