I always have viewed Halloween as my favorite holiday above all others.....Around this time of the year memory's come flooding back to me of Halloweens past and all the fun I've had over the years on the the holiday. I was always the kid who other parents thought was weird but the kids thought I was cool. These were the days when you'd buy a frankenstein cosutme and you'd end up with a plastic (AKA extremly cheaply made) mask with a rubber band on the back and a plastic outfit. They were horrible but loved by many kids my age......of course at those times I was already into the horror films and as such would go as the most gory and scary creatures I could just for the reaction and I'd have my "real" Frankenstien,Jason,Freddy,CFTBL and go around to terrorize the kids and people in our neighborhood. Then there were the days of sneaking out at midnight and playing Ghost in The Graveyard and all those other things we hold dearly now-a-days. Now I'm getting alot older and everyday to me is like Halloween.....So it was with great excitement that I popped the HALLOWEEN: The Happy Haunting of America DVD in......
The first thing I want to point out that this is one of the best packaged films I have ever seen! From the beautifully designed and eye catching cover to the amazing amount of extra features and content you get! This would be a value at 5 times the price charged now!
Halloween: The Happy Haunting Of America is a film I never had the chance to catch when it was first released.....And being on a subject I hold near and dear to my heart I was really excited to view it. I popped the movie on and immediatly was taken back to my childhood as a horror host his assistant and a giant ape begin the films wrap around. From there is where we get into the meat of the film......Halloween:HHOA explores a favorite pastime of mine which is going to the vast array of haunted houses at halloween time and also explores the background of this now popular holiday!
The parts of the film that I enjoyed the most tended to be the celebrity (which include: Doug Bradley, Alice Cooper, Robert Englund, Tom Savini and a ton more) interviews where they all look back at what their particular childhood halloweens were like,what halloween means to them, and more. They all had interesting things to say that I never knew about a any of them. I also really liked the beginnings of each Haunted House.....basically a look at each haunted house and where it's located, what makes them special, etc.
What I didnt like was the fact that the actual run-throughs of parts of the haunted houses tended to run a little long and being that the light was on for the filming it took alot away from the actual scare factor of each house and cheapened some of the sets and make-up. I think had it been available nightvision would have made it alot more interesting and scary. My main complaint though (and this takes nothing away from the movie) is the fact that it didnt encompass enough of "America's" haunted houses.....I wanted to see maybe one from every state or at least more scattered throughout the US. I will point out that there is a whole new documentary added onto the second disc that is more of the same but updated as far as much more modern haunted houses.
I would love to see these guys go and do a whole new DVD on the behind the scenes of some of these Haunted House.....The inner workings as well as the actors motivations and that sort of thing (which I would have loved to see a little of in this one!)
I do however want to take a moment out to discuss one of the extra features on Disc 2......It's titled on the disc as "RAW TALK" Pilot show. This is easily the star of the disc in my eyes and something I'd love to see a whole series of. This particular edition has Tony Todd, Christa Campbell,John Gulager and Don Coscarelli as guests. Basically what it amounts to is kind of an impromptu round table discussion on Horror with some horror Icons. It was so interesting and fun that I didnt want it to end! You could tell everyone had something to say and that everyone at the table wanted to be there. Everyone seemed so comfortable with each other and loved the genre so much....it really was refreshing. as far as the other special features go there are a ton and they all vary in enjoyability depending on the viewers tastes.
The "Raw Talk" special feature is just one of many too numerous to list here! This is a package that all of the big distributers need to look up to and use as a bible for their so-called "special and collectors editions". I do know this much though.......I will be writing all the haunted attractions featured on here and using all of my vacation next October to visit them all one by one.
Altogether I will recomend this to any fan of the horror genre or haunted houses. If you even have the slightest interest in Halloween as a holiday then you owe it to yourself to go and view this film immediatly! The filmmakers obviously hold the holiday near and dear to their hearts and that alone gives this Documentary more heart than most of the one's available now. The film will appeal to fans of all ages as well as people with just a passing interest in the holiday. I will warn though some of the more seasoned vets of the holiday wont find all that much new information here but all will have a great time!
The film takes you for a trip down memory lane and will make anyone who was a child in the 60's,70's and 80's long for the days when it was acceptable to run down the street in a handmade or store bought costume and become a creature of the night. Any way you look at it this is money well spent!
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3 1/2 out of 5 Severed Heads!