Once again, the folks at MGM/Fox Home Entertainment have thrown all caution to the wind and released a new slew of older catalogue titles in glorious High Definition. This time, horror is the key word in the “Feed Your Fear” line-up. This mini-look at Fox’s New-to-Blu titles include Child‘s Play (1988), Misery (1990), Wrong Turn (2003), and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End.
• Child’s Play (1988)
It started out as just another B-Horror film that parents loved to complain about. Little did anyone know it would turn into a successful franchise. Yes, twenty-one years on, Child’s Play has amassed a legion of fans, a shitload of goofy sequels, and provided steady work for Brad Dourif. But the original is still by and far the best, and brought out our innate, childlike fear of dolls front and center.
In this tale of possession, one of Captain Kirk’s former love-interests (Catherine Hicks) buys her six-year-old boy Andy a creepy, freckled, redheaded doll named Chucky for his birthday. Andy practically adopts Chucky as his friend for life, but he’s also a very gullible little lad and doesn‘t think twice about the fact that his new plastic pal talks. As if the whole creepy, freckled, and redheaded thing weren’t enough, Chucky also happens to be possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer, Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), who was killed the night before in a shootout with a police detective (Chris Sarandon).
Thanks to a vaguely voodoo-ish ritual, Chucky transferred his soul into the doll — and is now plotting his revenge. Sure, it’s cheesy. But, even after all this time, Child’s Play still has the right amount of “oomph” to it — especially when you compare it to its much-inferior sequels — and it’s great fun whether you’re looking to be frightened by a doll with Brad Dourif’s voice, wanting to judge just how truly bored Chris Sarandon was throughout the film, or just want to remember how cool the late ’80s were (my personal choice, right after wanting to judge just how truly bored Chris Sarandon was throughout the film).
MGM/Fox’s Blu-ray release is actually a Blu-ray/DVD combo, with the DVD disc being the “Chucky’s 20th Birthday Edition” release in 2008. The Blu-ray disc presents the movie in a 1080p/AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The picture is pretty solid for the most part, with just a little grain to be found in the title sequences (to be expected) and during a few shots that look like they were never that great to begin with. The main soundtrack is a 5.1 DTS HD MA lossless mix, which holds up pretty damn well, although the back speakers don’t get the best of workouts. Additional soundtracks are English and French Dolby Surround; and Spanish and Portuguese 5.1 DD 5.1. Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean. Special features are identical to the 2008 DVD release, and include two full-length audio commentaries with cast and crew, a “Chucky Commentary” on select scenes, several featurettes, a gallery and a trailer (the DVD also has two more trailers for other Fox titles on it).
• Misery (1990)
At the end of the ‘80s, the horror and thriller genres were feeling more than a little sluggish. It was mainly all about sequels by then, with only a few flicks emerging here and there that gained any notice (Child’s Play was one such title, but then the sequels started and, well, that’s an entirely different story). It took This Is Spinal Tap creator Rob Reiner of all people to finally give the two genres a little life. The movie was called Misery, a stunning version of a novel by Stephen King — whose film adaptations up until then were usually snubbed by film critics.
The story finds writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) recovering from a near-fatal car accident in the snow-capped mountains of Colorado. Nurtured back to health by a former nurse, Paul discovers that his caretaker is his “number one fan.” And indeed, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, in a role that saved her from being just another bit part TV actress and landed her in the spotlight) is Paul’s biggest fan. Much to the novelist’s horror, however, Paul will soon find out how obsessed Annie really is, when she ceases to be a caretaker and starts playing the part of a captor.