33 years later, the 1978 “Halloween” still stands tall as a testament to talent, ingenuity, and passion, as a mostly quite young film crew set about to make a horror movie that continues to be hailed as a classic. While there’s likely to be a fair amount of information contained herein that die hard fans already know, ‘A Cut Above the Rest’ does work nicely as a primer on all things “Halloween”. Both on screen and off screen talent appear to offer their thoughts, including director / co-writer / composer John Carpenter, co-writer / producer Debra Hill, executive producer / original idea man Irwin Yablans, his business partner at the time Joseph Wolf, financial backer Moustapha Akkad, cinematographer Dean Cundey, production designer / co-editor Tommy Lee Wallace, and actors Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, and Nick Castle, a.k.a. The Shape himself, as well as Fangoria Magazine’s Tony Timpone. The documentary does get a little bogged down at times in showing clips of the movie, but the interviews are quite wonderful to see.
The documentary goes through a logical progression of events – from conception to execution to distribution to aftermath, with the movie becoming a marvelous success basically by word of mouth. Topics discussed include the logistics of shooting certain scenes – like that now legendary opening set piece, the challenge of making various California locations, in the spring, look like the Midwest in the autumn, the hiring of key players Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis, Carpenter’s composition of his now iconic score, and the incredible legacy of the movie – not just its own succession of sequels (some of which get mentioned briefly) but the onslaught of slasher movies to come, with some of those choosing to centre around a national holiday as well. The most delightful element of this thing, however, is seeing plenty of vintage stills and ‘making of’ footage from the shoot, which will be of great interest to any fan. If they haven’t already seen ‘A Cut Above the Rest’, they should either pick up the 25th anniversary two disc DVD release or the more recent Blu- ray to check it out; they won’t be disappointed. By Scott LeBrun.
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