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Blu-ray Review: DreamWorks Spooky Stories

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Just in time for Halloween, Dreamworks Video has released DreamWorks Spooky Stories, a collection of old and new animated shorts featuring Shrek and his friends as well as the crew from Monsters vs. Aliens.

The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo features a total of six animated shorts, with an approximate total running time of 100 minutes. The sound is Dolby Digital, with subtitles available in English, French, and Spanish. The sound is clear, whether in the voiceover work by actors or in musical interludes. The Blu-ray has 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The DVD is widescreen.

Both discs look great on a large-scale high-definition television screen, but the Blu-ray looks especially good, with details that pop, such as Donkey’s hair and Puss’s fur and fabric surfaces like Shrek’s clothing. Although the setting of many of shorts is at night due to the spooky Halloween theme, the images are clear and the colors even bright and jewel-like at times (especially in the Monsters vs. Aliens cartoons), with strong blacks.

The two new items, “Shrek: The Pig Who Cried Wolf” and “Monsters vs. Aliens: Night of the Living Carrots” fit in quite well with the previously-released Halloween offerings. Viewers can choose to watch individual shorts or select the “Play All” feature which shows the animations in this order:

“Thriller Night” Donkey leads the group in a move-for-move homage to Michael Jackson’s famous Thriller video. A horrified Shrek is more upset at the prospect of dancing than the fact that all his friends (and enemies) have become zombies. Fans of the franchise can spot Lord Farquaad, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother and many other characters from Far, Far, Away as dancing zombies.

Three shorts from the animated Halloween special Scared Shrekless are also included in this new compilation. Shrek and his friends try to scare each other with spooky stories on Halloween as they spend the night in Lord Farquaad’s haunted castle.

  • “The Bride of Gingy” In Gingy’s story Shrek’s little cookie friend gets more than he bargained for when he asks the Muffin Man to bake him a female friend. Gingy soon finds himself not just with a Franken-cookie, but caught in the middle of Night of the Living Cookie.
  • “Boots Motel” spoofs Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Donkey and Puss find themselves at a creepy motel on a dark and stormy night – and compete with each other in telling dueling versions of the story.
  • “The Shreksorcist” In Shrek’s tale Gepetto hires Shrek as a babysitter for his boy Pinocchio. In a hilarious spoof of The Exorcist, complete with spinning head, floating above the bed, and projectile vomiting, Shrek tries to control his demonic charge.
  • “The Pig Who Cried Werewolf” In a new story inspired by another Hitchcock film, Rear Window, the Three Little Pigs must determine what exactly their cross-dressing neighbor the Big Bad Wolf is up to on a dark and spooky night.

  • “Monsters and Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” On Halloween a farmer’s pumpkin patch gets some otherworldly fertilization from a visiting spaceship while Susan and her monster crew try trick-or-treating in her parents’ neighborhood. But the monsters’ newfound love of free candy might be cut short when the mutant pumpkins, who have developed a serious sweet tooth of their own, start to invade the neighborhood.
  • “Night of the Living Carrots” The other new offering in this Halloween set is a sequel, or more correctly, a continuation, of the previous story, “Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space.” It’s still Halloween night and a carrot patch has been infected by the last of the mutant pumpkins. The carrots are turning all of the trick-or-treaters into zombies. What can the monsters do to stop a mutant zombie horde of carrots?
  • “The Ghost of Lord Farquaad” Originally released as Shrek 3D, the last item in the set features Shrek and Donkey and their attempts to rescue Fiona when she is kidnapped by the angry ghost of Lord Farquaad.

Extras include optional pop-ups for the “Night of the Living Carrots” episode, and the World of DreamWorks Animation, which features songs and DVD/Blu-ray previews from Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, and Megamind.

All of the episodes on DreamWorks Spooky Stories look great, especially on Blu-ray. The Scared Shrekless and Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween specials have already become a seasonal television staple. Seeing them again in combination with these new (and old) spooky-themed items make for a special Halloween treat.

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