Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America is a must own for horror fans or for those who hold the day of October 31st as a special in their heart. Simply shot and told, we follow actor Daniel Roebuck as he takes us on a tour of haunted houses, monster masks, theme park attractions, parades and more. Starting in a studio setting, which seems to be paying homage to both Vincent Price movies and the The Ghost Busters Series from 1975, we get a chance to find out about the origins of Halloween (it began with the Celts), how trick or treating was devised as way to bribe to kids to stop being vandals, where the masks that people wear originally came from, and we even hear specific people tell trick or treat stories. I'd be lying if I said that by itself the initial Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America show was very comprehensive. It isn't. What it is is enjoyable because it's always fun to see like-minded people sharing in something that so many of us love. It is this spirit, this essence of what the special aspects of Halloween mean, that is really captured on this release.
My favorite portions of this release were when it got personal. When it allowed the talking heads to discuss their experiences, or they waxed deeply about what they felt aspects of the holiday meant to them. There was a richness within all of this that played very well. I will admit that production-wise this DVD left a little bit to be desired, but that also opened things up and gave the interviews with people like Robert Englund, Angus Scrimm, Alice Cooper and others a more personal feel. Also, from a historical perspective it was really cool just getting to learn more about the Holiday. Whether you think you know everything that there is to know or if you know nothing, ultimately Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America can meet whatever your creepy needs are. If I had one bone to pick about this release it's that the main program seems to be falling apart upon its DVD transfer. The video looks like it was shot on a VHS camera that was breaking down mid-production.
This release is also chock full of extra features. They are:
- Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America
- Rare Behind the Scenes Photo Galleries
- Rare Behind the Scenes Footage
- Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America 10th Anniversary Edition Presented From the Magic Castle
- Bonus Haunt Montages
- Dr. Shocker and Igor's Blooper Reel
- Dr. Shocker's Halloween Spooktacular
- Dr. Shocker's House of Horror
- "Things That Go Bump in the Night" Art Gallery
- Hacker House Music Video
- "Raw Talk Pilot Show" with guest stars Tony Todd, Christa Campbell, John Gulager and Don Coscarelli
As I mentioned above, the actual Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America show isn't all that comprehensive. As you can imagine, looking at what both discs offer, it becomes clear what a full and rich experience this release is when you incorporate everything. While the production values might make some squirm, taken as a whole this DVD really is a love letter to that special day on October 31st.
All in all I was really excited about what Halloween - The Happy Haunting of America had to offer. It goes out of its way to look at the holiday from all sides. If you want a kids examination of the holiday, this release will more than give that to you. If you want to descend deeper and find out the meanings are behind dressing up, trick or treating and things of that nature, this DVD certainly offers up opportunities for that. If you an uber Halloween fan this release gives you insights and footage of select horror icons that you most likely will not be able to find anywhere else.