The citizens of Antonio Bay are about to celebrate the town's one hundredth anniversary. On the day before the big celebration, some unusual events transpire that reveal to one of the townsfolk, Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), that the town's beginnings may not have been so innocent. The town's founders were murderers and their victims are about to unleash payback on their descendants.
I love me 80s John Carpenter. The man didn't make a bad film ever in that era. Being that this was his first post-Halloween film and the first film of the 80s, it holds a special place in my horror heart. Most of the cast of that film show up in this one too (Jaime Lee Curtis, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Loomis) along with future veterans of his movies (Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins).
Much like Halloween (1978), the set-up and pay-off are where the fun in this film is at. Carpenter just builds the tension in the beginning via the tale of the men lost in sea about a hundred years ago by John Houseman (who delivers the entire story so darn chillingly), and then with the first ghostly acts being mere pranks before we learn of the town's sordid history. Not soon after, the pranks twist into murder for the crimes done against them. Right out of the gate you're on the edge of your seat before you start to know the honest and good-natured people of this town have to pay for a crime their ancestors committed.
The true star, besides Housemen (his only appearance in the opening and he plays with it for all its worth with his "ghostly tale") in this is Barbeau, who you already sympathize greatly with and get the most details about. Jaime Lee's character is more of a supporting role and really is only given the by the numbers routine here. Same with the man of action, Tom Atkins. Hal Holbrook also is given some meat, and gets about the second best scene in the movie during the ending. Really, some might have an issue with the ending to the movie as it just stop. Me? I enjoy it, as it provides probably the best scare in the entire film and ends it as it began; it's utterly chilling.
5 out of 5
Picture Transfer & Sound Quality
As usual, Scream! Factory goes to great lengths, giving us the best transfer it can muster. Even better, original cinematographer for the movie, Dean Cundey, helped out. One scene that adds to the Blu-Ray experience for me are the first time the sailors stumble across the ghost ship. The way the ghosts look, the detail, and the sound when... well that'd be spoiling... adds to the thrills of that moment. Likewise, during the climax, where the citizens of Antonio Bay are under siege by the ghosts. Carpenter's score powers on through the speakers.
The other element probably unforeseen is that the picture quality also amps up the lovely surroundings of Antonio Bay. I have to confess, this is probably the most gorgeous looking of the places John Carpenter has shot. The scenery enhances more of just how lovely the place is when Carpenter turns to his usual style and everything goes to complete hell. Scream! Factory better watch themselves, setting such a high standard with how perfect they keep making releases such as these. Will they ever slip up?
Picture: 5 out of 5
Sound: 5 out of 5
The movie comes with two commentaries. The first is an old one John Carpenter and the late great Debra Hill did on the movie back when the movie first came out on DVD. Some of the other features also look like leftovers from previous releases. The new material here for this set is an interview with Jaime Lee Curtis about her various roles in horror movies in the early 80s (she was a year before reprising her role as Laurie for Halloween II and in 1980 she had another horror film released, Terror Train). She doesn't go into her later horror works, but it's a nice interview none-the-less. Another interview is from Dean Cudley, the cinematographer (who again helped with the new film transfer) for the film. He talks about shooting the film with a limited budget.
The other new extra is a commentary track that features Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, and Tommy Lee Wallace (production designer for the film). It's a whimsical, fun commentary of all three reflecting on the movie, along with pointing out a few Easter Eggs they didn't realize Carpenter put in the film. You'll learn a bit, and have a good laugh as well. I'm kind of surprised there wasn't an additional documentary of “Return to Antonio Bay” to see how the various sets of the film are looking like now, or that Barbeau did not give a solo interview, since she had the lead performance in the movie. That and, of course, anything new from Carpenter himself. I'd love to hear him talk about how he made the score for the movie. Oh well. Still, with what we got, it's a healthy helping of goodies, even if some have been carried over from previous releases.
4 out of 5
Again, I have an under-rated love for this movie. I kind of enjoy it just a little more than other Carpenter films. The extras, while a mixed bag of new and old, are still enough to quench any fan of Carpenter's thirst. The real reason to buy this version is the transfer. Scream! Factory hits it out of the park again with a perfect transfer that, for me, actually enhanced the atmosphere of the movie.
4 out of 5