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Blu-ray Reviews


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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer

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Posted September 29 2009 - 04:44 PM

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Child's Play

Release Date: Available now
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray "Eco-box"
Year: 1988
Rating: R
Running Time: 1:27:00
MSRP: $24.99

1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 480i or 480p standard definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1, Spanish 2.1 Stereo
Subtitles English SDH, Spanish None
Note: This review includes content from my review of the "Child's Play" 20th Birthday Edition DVD.

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!

"Child's Play" keys in on the inherent creepiness of dolls and puppets, but never takes itself too seriously, because...well, it's a fear of 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

The film is correctly framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The image is mostly free of physical blemishes - white specks show 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. An occasional softness to the image suggests there were no attempts to over-sharpen the image, though there's a quality to the visible grain structure that suggests a slight amount of noise reduction measures. Colors are decent, with flesh tones tending towards the pale and pinkish, but brighter colors like Chucky's rainbow outfit, his shock of orange hair, and patches of red 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, though bass response with explosions and collisions are nicely robust. Center channel dialogue, while a bit low in spots, is clear and intelligible overall.

Special Features: 4.5/5

The 20th Birthday Edition DVD offered a fine set of special features, with one item noticeably missing - the original theatrical trailer. This Blu-ray release rectifies that omission and throws in the DVD release to boot.

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 (25:20): 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 (10:04): An in-depth look at the special effects used to bring Chucky to life.

A Monster Convention (5:26): 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 (6:11): 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.

Original Theatrical Trailer (2:07)

"Child's Play" 20th Birthday Edition DVD


The Feature: 4/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5
A homicidal doll horror flick that never takes itself too seriously gets a good technical presentation and a great set of special features.

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#2 of 2 OFFLINE   MattFini


    Supporting Actor

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Posted September 30 2009 - 04:26 AM

I've had this DVD for a few weeks, but I haven't had the time to watch it yet.

Really looking forward to throwing it in soon.
Universal, please release Streets of Fire on Blu-ray.

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