Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Halloween

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, October 12, 1999

I hate a guy with a car and no sense of humor.

Special features

Cast Information5
Deleted Scenes7
Documentary7
Photo Gallery4
Postcards6
Poster Gallery4
Trailer5

The first really good screamer flick I saw. Jamie Lee Curtis kicks butt! I’ve got this one on order. Note that the unlimited edition is less expensive, and doesn’t include the television presentation and its extra footage. It does contain most of the other extras, if not all of them.

RecommendationPurchase
DirectorJohn Carpenter
WritersJohn Carpenter, Debra Hill
Movie Rating7
Transfer Quality8
Overall Rating8
Formats
  • Enhanced Widescreen
  • Pan and Scan

I have never been a fan of horror movies. Most of them seem to rely heavily on stupidity, either the characters’ or the writers’ or the directors’. The horrible things only happen because someone was really, really, unbelievably stupid. Probably about half of all horror movies would be about five minutes long if the National Rifle Association existed in horror-Hollywood.

It isn’t that I don’t like horror in general: I love reading horror. But books give the author room to build to the monster, criminal, or crazed animal. Movies don’t seem to have that breathing room, and must rely more heavily on characters making insanely bad choices. “Hey, did you hear something that sounded like the door opening and then metal scraping on metal?” “Yes, what do you think it could be?” “I don’t know. Let’s go back to fucking.”

I spend too much time yelling at the idiots (including myself for not walking out) to have time to be scared.

“Hallowe’en” has its share of such moments, but only its share. It doesn’t horde them to an unbelievable extent. The victims are believable characters, they act in believable ways, and their stupid choices are (usually) believably stupid. Hallowe’en has practically no gore (there is a little blood at the beginning of the movie), and practically no special effects. It relies solely on pacing and acting to scare the pants off of you, and it does a damn good job.

This is one of John Carpenter’s first “major” movies. The producers had been impressed enough with “Assault on Precinct 13” to give him this opportunity. It was still extremely low budget, however. Most of the actors were new, or had worked with him before, on “Assault” or on “Dark Star”. At least two of the actors have only been in “Hallowe’en”: Will Sandin as the young Michael Myers, and John Michael Graham as “Bob”. On the other hand was grave keeper Arthur Malet, who had been in many movies starting in the sixties.

The “big star”, of course, was Donald Pleasance, who really worked well in this movie. The “new star” was Jamie Lee Curtis, who had only had a few television roles before “Hallowe’en”, but whom Carpenter put in the lead role.

There were a huge number of sequels to this movie. The second was okay, taking place just after the first. It was also written, though not directed, by John Carpenter. The rest of them are just plain lame, and appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with Carpenter except occasionally the theme. There are some reports that H20 was good, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I’m not going to tell you anything about the movie’s plot besides what you’ve already garnered. You probably know quite a bit from pop culture even if you haven’t actually seen it. But for horror movies especially there is a difference between the first time you see a movie and later viewings. Part of the appeal is in not knowing what is going to happen next (which is also where most horror movies fail for me).

The “limited edition” DVD comes in a two-DVD case with a holographic cover (a pumpkin head and a moving knife). It also comes with a second DVD that holds the television version of the movie. When it was originally aired on television, they needed more scenes to make it fit into the desired time slot, so John Carpenter got the actors together and they filmed some more scenes, and they’re good ones. And for major bonus points in my eyes, we get the television version in anamorphic widescreen! The bulk of the movie, after all, was framed for widescreen, and deserves to be shown that way with the additional scenes. If you want a pan & scan version, the main disc holds one.

As near as I can tell, the only difference between the “limited edition” and the normal edition is the lack of this extra disc, which means also that it lacks the deleted scenes. If you’re a fan of the movie, I strongly recommend the limited edition, otherwise the normal edition should do you fine. You’ll still get the documentary and all the other extras. You probably won’t get the postcard either. (I think its cool.) My postcard (I don’t know that there are different ones, but I suspect so) is a very young Jamie Lee Curtis on the ground in front of a seventies-era Chevy Impala. I still haven’t decided who is going to be lucky enough to get it. (Hell yes I’m going to use it—that’s what its for!)

Recommendation: Purchase

DirectorJohn Carpenter
WritersJohn Carpenter, Debra Hill
ActorsJamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Nancy Kyes, Donald Pleasence
Spoken languageEnglish
SubtitleEnglish
Special FeaturesCast Information, Deleted Scenes, Documentary, Photo Gallery, Postcards, Poster Gallery, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Halloween…

If you enjoy horror, you might also be interested in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Dead By Dawn, Scream, The Evil Dead, and Hell House.

If you enjoy John Carpenter, you might also be interested in Dark Star.