Friday, October 18, 2019

VHyesterdayS: Halloween Anniversary Edition (1997)

In honour of the spooky season today we're going to talk about the Anniversary Edition of Halloween released by Video Treasures (a.k.a. Anchor Bay) in 1997 on VHS!

I realize now that the clip above appears in 4:3, so you can't tell that its widescreen. If you look reaaallly close you can just faintly see that it's letterboxed. Consummate professionalism...

It's hard to write about John Carpenter's Halloween, because it's all been said time and time again. It's a film classic and its antagonist, Michael Myers, is a horror icon. Halloween became the archetype and best-in-class of the slasher genre and it is still held in the highest of regards to this day.

I personally watch the film every October. My tradition is usually to watch Halloween followed directly by Halloween II, as I love the story the two combine to create. I've eschewed that tradition this year in lieu of focusing on some other titles in the Halloween franchise, but I had to take in the original to kick off October.

And what cooler way than on VHS!

This was probably the best way to watch Halloween in 1997. To my knowledge the DVD wouldn't be released until 1999 and this was the first edition of the film to be presented in widescreen.

And the film looks great on this copy. I actually have never owned a DVD of Halloween, which seems crazy, but I went straight from VHS to Blu-ray. I can't say how the VHS actually stacks up against the DVD, but I can say that its as close to DVD quality as a standard VHS can get.

There is some slight VHS blur, for sure, but the colours and blacks look awesome. I've watched VHS copies of the film where you can barely make anything out in the night scenes, but in this edition there are no issues in that department whatsoever.

The audio quality is digitally mastered and sounds great. I watched with my headphones on and I could hear everything crystal clear. The music and sound effects really pop.

The only gripe I have with this copy is that on the box it states that the film is shown in its "cinematic entirety", which I understood to mean that it included the additional scenes added for the broadcast television premiere of the film on NBC in 1981. Video Treasures did do a VHS release of the Halloween Extended Edition in 1989, so I kind of assumed this would include those scenes as well, but that's not the case. I think what they mean is that you could see the film in widescreen, so nothing was cropped.

So, that was kind of a bummer! The Blu-ray that I have of the film doesn't include these scenes either, so I'm in the market for a home video release that does. I think it would be super cool to watch the TV cuts of Halloween and Halloween II, which also had additional scenes included in its broadcast premiere. It might be the most complete way to enjoy their whole story!

That aside, this is still a really cool release of the movie. It's hard to suggest it, though, for a few reasons. The main one being that if you want to watch a proper widescreen release of the film, you have so many crisper options. Being able to watch widescreen on VHS isn't all its cracked up to be. I have my VCR hooked up to an old 4:3 CRT, so you end up watching the flick letterboxed on the top and bottom. Maybe if I'd hooked it up to a widescreen LCD TV it would've been more enjoyable, but I prefer a CRT for my tapes. Unless you have one of those cool widescreen CRTs, like a nice Sony Wega, it's probably recommended you just get the DVD or Blu-ray.

Now a VHS Extended Edition copy, that would be pretty cool. Maybe I'll keep my eye out for one of those in the future.

Oh, I almost forgot! This edition came with a special feature! This sort of thing was pretty much unheard of 1997, but at the end of the tape they included the film's original trailer. I'm sure this has been uploaded in one form or another to YouTube a million times, but here's the copy I garnered from my tape.

That's it for another episode of VHyesterdayS. It's October and a great time to break out some of your favourite spooky movies and for a nostalgia overload there's no better way than to watch them as you probably did for the first time... on VHS!

Keep it spooky,