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HTF DVD REVIEW: Child's Play: Chucky's 20th Birthday Edition



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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted September 04 2008 - 02:29 PM

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Chucky's 20th Birthday Edition

Release Date: September 9, 2008
Studio: MGM Studios
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc DVD case
Year: 1988
Rating: R
Running Time: 1h27m
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English; Dolby Digital Surround: English, Spanish and French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: English
MSRP: $14.98

The Feature: 4/5
Before the law and his own mortality catches up with serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), he pulls a bit of that old black magic and transfers his soul into a doll made for young boys. Thus Charles is reborn as Chucky, the meanest and ugliest homicidal toy to ever scamper across the silver screen.

At first Chucky's all about revenge, tracking down the partner who sold him out and then going after Detective Norris (Chris Sarandon), the cop who killed him. But when Chucky learns he may be stuck in the toy body forever, he goes after Andy (Alex Vincent), the unlucky youngster who got him as a birthday present, to make more human arrangements. Only Andy's resourceful mother (Catherine Hicks) stands in the way, but it's going to take everything she has to stop him, and she may have to do it several times!

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, "Child's Play" keys in on the inherent creepiness of dolls and puppets, but never takes itself too seriously, because...well, they're dolls and puppets! For the more pediophobic (and I admit to a mild case of it) I'm sure the film plays like the sum of all fears, but I found myself laughing at most of the action scenes and the campy, Chuky POV camera work. Which of course made the movie fun - more than I ever expected. I've never been much of a horror fan, but I'm finding the campier they are the better and "Child's Play" manages to have a nice balance between the schlocky and the suspenseful. The franchise may have worn out its welcome with its sequels (though I'm curious now about "Bride of Chucky"), but it's worth spending a little time with the film that began it all, especially as Halloween approaches.


Video Quality: 3.5/5
Accurately framed at 1.85:1, the image is mostly free of physical blemishes, with white specks showing up every so often throughout the film. Black levels are solid and deep, though shadow detail and delineation suffer a bit in the most shadowy of scenes. There's no signs of edge enhancement, but there is visible, minor noise and an occasional softness to the image. Colors are decent, with flesh tones tending towards the pale, but brighter colors like Chucky's rainbow outfit and orange hair show good depth and stability.


Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix shows a surprising amount of surround activity, particularly when Chucky is stalking his victims, the pitter-patter of his little feet skipping across the rear channels. The surround channels also provide soundtrack support and environmental effects and are nicely balanced with the rest of the speaker array. LFE is generally lacking, even when the scenes demand it, and center channel dialogue, while a bit low in spots, is generally clear and intelligible.


Special Features: 4/5

The special features package is a solid effort, offering two new commentaries and nicely produced retrospective featurettes. The only thing that seems remiss is an original theatrical trailer.

Audio commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and "Chucky" designer Kevin Yagher: Vincent, Hicks and Yagher provide a great commentary filled with anecdotes and trivia. While Vincent was recorded in a separate session, the trio represent different experiences and roles and offer a good balance covering major aspects of the production, from acting (as a child and as an adult) to special effects. The fact that Hicks and Yagher are married (and met each other during filming) adds another interesting dynamic.

Audio commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini: Kirschner and Mancini provide another thorough track, covering broader production subjects like casting, location shoots and cinematography.

Scene specific Chucky commentary: Dourif, in character as Chucky, provides commentary on four scenes totaling around 25 minutes. It's a promising idea, but Dourif doesn't seem to have enough material to go on and what he does have isn't very funny. The final scene is a little better because Mancini joins him and Dourif finally has someone to play off of. I'm sure if he had joined one of the other commentaries the in-character idea would have worked better.

"Evil Comes In Small Packages" (25m20s): Three featurettes cover the original concept and subsequent script revisions, casting and production, and distribution and public reaction. The documentaries, while brief, cover all the bases and are professionally done.

"Chucky: Building A Nightmare" (10m04s): An in-depth look at the special effects used to bring Chucky to life.

"A Monster Convention" (5m26s): Cast reunion panel from the Monster Mania 2007 convention includes Vincent, Hicks and Sarandon, who answer a handful of questions from the audience.

"Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play" (6m11s): Vintage featurette covers some familiar territory in the special effects department, but it makes for an interesting time capsule.

Still Photo Gallery: Around 75 stills from production and the promotional campaign.

Trailers: Mr. Brooks, Pathology


Recap

The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

Homicidal doll horror flick that never takes itself too seriously gets decent treatment all around. Now if only Chucky were so nice.
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#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted September 04 2008 - 11:41 PM

Nice review. Kind of excited that I pre-ordered this the month before last. I haven't seen it in years. I'm still waiting for this to arrive, but once it does I'll be dropping it in my big box of horror marked with a sign "Don't open until October".

Yeah, puppets and dolls are creepy. The film called DOLLS is also a lot of fun. I remember one called Curtains that scared me a little when it first hit cable. I'd love to revisit it.
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#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted September 05 2008 - 05:03 AM

Thanks!

Yeah, I've always been mildly creeped out by dolls. There are a couple of them in my mom's bedroom that I remember staring at as a kid, half expecting them to turn their head and say, "Boo!"

"Magic" and the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll" are kind of the quintessential doll-related horror stories in my mind, though the former is more of a psychological piece. The X-Files also had a pretty good doll episode in "Chinga" and Buffy the Vampire Slayer did a pretty good send up in its first season episode "Puppet Show."

It might be fun to do a dolls and puppets themed Halloween movie night.
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#4 of 13 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted September 05 2008 - 09:46 AM

They shipped my copy today. Woo hoot!!

Oh my yes. With "Kick the Can", "Living Doll" and "The Dummy" are my most fav TZs. Good to see a non-Gomer Frank Sutton in The Dummy.

That's actually a great idea about Dolls/Puppet night. You could include a ton of stuff if you had it on hand. Trilogy of Terror is much talked about and I was close to buying it this year. Supposed to be a really spooky one in that.

Barbarella has a very cool doll scene. Just watched that last weekend.
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#5 of 13 OFFLINE   Ed Moroughan

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Posted September 05 2008 - 03:28 PM

Nice review. My wallet hurts already and it's only going to get worse! Posted Image

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted September 05 2008 - 03:34 PM

Thanks for the great review. This will be the highlight of my Halloween movie night this year. I've seen this movie MANY times but never in its original ratio. It's gonna be a treat! I even ordered the 4 sequels through Columbia House last week, so I'll own them all.
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#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted September 06 2008 - 02:03 AM

I bought the sequels as well. I spent so much for October this year I went with used on a few things. Took a chance on that sequel set and it looks pretty good. It's even the one with the nifty 3D packaging. About $9 shipped. 4 movies for that can't be beat!
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#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Ed Moroughan

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Posted September 27 2008 - 07:32 AM

Here's a link to another commentary by Tom Holland for "Child's Play," and two for "Fright Night." Enjoy!

ICONS OF FRIGHT & Tim Sullivan's SHOCK N ROLL presents EXCLUSIVE "PIRATE" COMMENTARIES!

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted September 27 2008 - 08:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radioman970
I bought the sequels as well. I spent so much for October this year I went with used on a few things. Took a chance on that sequel set and it looks pretty good. It's even the one with the nifty 3D packaging. About $9 shipped. 4 movies for that can't be beat!

As much as I wanted to order the set containing the 4 sequels, I decided to spend a little more and buy them individually, only because in the set, "Seed Of Chucky" is the theatrical version and I wanted the Unrated. It's bar none the worst movie of the bunch but if I have a choice between theatrical or Unrated, I usually tend to go for the latter.

As for this, the original, I'll be picking it up on Tuesday.
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#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted September 27 2008 - 01:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Radke
As much as I wanted to order the set containing the 4 sequels, I decided to spend a little more and buy them individually, only because in the set, "Seed Of Chucky" is the theatrical version and I wanted the Unrated. It's bar none the worst movie of the bunch but if I have a choice between theatrical or Unrated, I usually tend to go for the latter.

As for this, the original, I'll be picking it up on Tuesday.
Good idea. I'll probably regret getting the set. But I just HAD to have that nifty case. Posted Image and...it was so darn cheap!

I'm stoked to watch these, especially the original. I don't remember that last time I watched it. Will probably be one of the highlights of my movie watching next month.

Now, I remembered Jennifer Tilly was in a few of the sequels as a voice but I'd forgotten all about Jenny Agutter being in one! Woo hoo!!
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#11 of 13 OFFLINE   Ron68

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Posted September 30 2008 - 04:26 PM

Very nice review. I enjoyed this release with the exception of the "Chucky" commentary, that was pretty lame, didn't listen to the others. The other special features were interesting though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radioman970
I bought the sequels as well. I spent so much for October this year I went with used on a few things. Took a chance on that sequel set and it looks pretty good. It's even the one with the nifty 3D packaging. About $9 shipped. 4 movies for that can't be beat!

I bought the sequels set with the 3-D packaging and had to return it because the disc with Bride and Seed of Chucky froze on both sides of the disc, just over an hour into each movie. I hate double sided discs. My replacement copy arrived today and it seems to play fine. I bought it for Child's Play 2 and 3, never seen Seed. The packaging looks cool. I wish I had gotten my set for $9, I paid $15 from Amazon.

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Radioman970

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Posted October 01 2008 - 12:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron68
....

I bought the sequels set with the 3-D packaging and had to return it because the disc with Bride and Seed of Chucky froze on both sides of the disc, just over an hour into each movie. I hate double sided discs. My replacement copy arrived today and it seems to play fine. I bought it for Child's Play 2 and 3, never seen Seed. The packaging looks cool. I wish I had gotten my set for $9, I paid $15 from Amazon.
Btw, mine was used! So you got a good deal. I tried checking all the ones I bought. I used the freeware checker called EMSA diskchecker. I also ran each film fast forward all the way thru. I guess I'll find out if that was sufficient.

I was having freezing problems too with double sided DVDs. My old RCA player hates those. But the cheap philips combo I got from Walmart rarely has a prob with anything. Also, the players on my PC generally work well. Although the other day I couldn't get a single episode of Andy Griffith to play correctly on it. But the RCA and the Philips had no problem. Strange....

I like that packaging too.

I'm tempted to watch Child's Play today to start my October viewing. It would sure be fun....
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#13 of 13 OFFLINE   Ron68

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Posted October 01 2008 - 03:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radioman970
Btw, mine was used! So you got a good deal. I tried checking all the ones I bought. I used the freeware checker called EMSA diskchecker. I also ran each film fast forward all the way thru. I guess I'll find out if that was sufficient.

I was having freezing problems too with double sided DVDs. My old RCA player hates those. But the cheap philips combo I got from Walmart rarely has a prob with anything. Also, the players on my PC generally work well. Although the other day I couldn't get a single episode of Andy Griffith to play correctly on it. But the RCA and the Philips had no problem. Strange....

I like that packaging too.

I'm tempted to watch Child's Play today to start my October viewing. It would sure be fun....

I haven't bought a used DVD since I bought the Evil Dead from a Pawn Shop for $5 and the damn thing won't play. It won't play past the tree attacking the woman scene. I was fast forwarding the movies when I discovered that they were defective. The FFing stopped and froze up. I FFed my replacement copy and it seems fine.

I had a couple of cheap Philips players from Wal-Mart and they froze a lot on discs from FOX and Universal, then they started making grinding noises and had other problems. Last January, I bought a Sony up-converting player and plays great, except it has problems playing double sided discs from WB and Universal. It has lasted a lot longer than my other players.

I'm not sure when I will watch my Chucky movies, I have a lot of other movies to catch up on





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