Child’s Play appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Given the general ugliness of its era’s movies – especially those with low budgets – I expected the worst from this transfer. To my pleasant surprise, it actually looked pretty good.
To be sure the late 80s film stock hurt it a bit, though not as much as I thought. Sharpness usually seemed acceptably crisp and well-defined, though a bit amount of haziness occurred as well. Occasional bouts of mild softness occurred, usually during interior shots. Much of the movie appeared pretty distinctive, though. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws were also negligible. A blotch or two cropped up, but nothing severe occurred.
Hues varied. Exteriors offered nicely vivid tones, but interiors tended to be somewhat muddy. That was mostly a reflection of those 80s film stocks, so the occasional blandness of the colors wasn’t unexpected. Black levels were decent, and shadows tended to be reasonably clear. Neither of those elements excelled, but they didn’t cause concerns. This was a generally positive picture despite the minor problems.
As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it also fared better than expected. The audio gave the soundfield more of a workout than I expected, though it didn’t go nuts. The mix reserved its big guns for dynamic sequences like explosions and gunfire, and those provided a good sense of involvement. These elements cropped up all around the room and blended together pretty well.
Quieter scenes worked fine, too. General ambience sounded convincing, and music boasted very good stereo presence. The audio didn’t dazzle, but it exceeded era-related expectations by quite a lot.
Solid audio quality appeared as well. Effects occasionally seemed a bit thin and dated, but they displayed acceptable accuracy. Bass response was loud and a little boomy but generally positive. Speech seemed fairly natural and concise, and music displayed nice range and clarity. Given the restrictions of its era, the soundtrack worked well.
Quite a few extras flesh out this set. We find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from actors Alex Vincent and Catherine Hicks and Chucky designer Kevin Yagher. Real-life married couple Hicks and Yagher chat together for their side of things, while Vincent offers his own running, screen-specific remarks edited into the rest. Though a few other minor topics emerge, two dominate: cast/characters/performances and subjects related to the design and execution of the Chucky sequences.
While that may sound like a limited scope, it’s fine with me, especially since it makes sense for the commentary’s lineup. After all, it wouldn’t make much sense for actors to start yakking about cinematography or whatnot. The folks at hand get into the subjects in an involving manner and reveal quite a few interesting details. For instance, Hicks lets us know that it was a challenge to work with a kid as a not-yet mother, while Vincent includes some intriguing notes about his audition. Add to that all of Yagher’s details about bringing Chucky to life and this becomes a good chat.
For the second track, we hear from producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, effects and stunts, Chucky subjects, script and story, visual design, music, deleted scenes, and a mix of other topics.
Once again, we find a nice overview of various production issues here. Both men throw out a lot of good information, though dshajda probably does most of the chatting; dsjdsad often falls into interviewer mode. Not too much material repeats from the first commentary, so we get an interesting discussion here.
Footnote: weather comes up often during both commentaries, but no one seems to agree on the actual severity of the Chicago winter. Was it the coldest in 10 years, 20 years, or 100 years? You’ll hear all of them; it becomes amusing to discover the varying accounts of the weather’s nastiness.
Some in-character content comes from four Scene-Specific Chucky Commentaries. These fill a total of 24 minutes 48 seconds. The first three are pretty lame, as “Chucky” – voiced by Brad Dourif, I presume – offers remarks about how much he loves to kill. Even with brief running times, the tracks suffer from plenty of dead air, and they’re dull.
The fourth – and longest – clip also includes Mancini, and it’s the best of the bunch. Mancini and “Chucky” interact pretty well, and the commentary shows some signs of life. Give it a listen but skip the first three, as they’re pretty much worthless.
Plenty of featurettes fill out the set. Under Evil Comes in Small Packages, we get three components: “The Birth of Chucky” (7:17), “Creating the Horror” (12:15) and “Unleashed” (5:17). These feature Mancini, Kirschner, Hicks, Vincent, Yagher, director Tom Holland (circa 1988), writer John Lafia, and actors Chris Sarandon and Brad Dourif. These cover the origins and development of the film, story, rewrite and character subjects, cast and performances, shooting in Chicago, bringing Chucky to life, editing, and the flick’s release/success.
After two commentaries, we already know a lot about Child’s Play, so expect some redundant material here. Nonetheless, a reasonable amount of fresh information emerges here, so the clips deserve a look. I especially like the quick glimpses of rehearsal footage.
Many more featurettes ensue. Chucky: Building a Nightmare goes for 10 minutes, four seconds, and provides statements from Yagher, Kirschner, Mancini, special FX experts Tom Savini, Shane Mohan, Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis. As the title implies, “Building” looks at the design and creation of Chucky. Once again, a moderate amount of repetitive information shows up here. Nonetheless, new details show up as well, and a lot of good behind the scenes helps turn this into a useful piece.
In the five-minute and 26-second A Monster Convention, we visit “Monster Mania 2007” for a cast reunion panel that involves Vincent, Hicks, and Sarandon. They answer audience questions about the film. It’s a short piece with yet more semi-redundant content, but it’s still a decent viewing.
A vintage piece, Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play lasts six minutes, 11 seconds and provides statements from Holland, Kirschner, Sarandon, and Yagher. Though promotional in nature, “Making” is surprisingly informative. Granted, we’ve heard most of the details elsewhere, but we find some new behind the scenes footage, so the show’s worth a look.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a Still Photo Gallery. It includes 73 shots. A few interesting pics appear, but most are dull shots from the movie.
Over on Disc Two, we get the 20th Anniversary DVD of Child’s Play. In terms of special feature content, it includes everything also found on the Blu-ray. Why is it here? To encourage Blu-ray purchases from folks who don’t have players yet and want the DVD to tide them over until them move up, I guess. It seems redundant to me.
The last big horror franchise to launch in the 1980s, Child’s Play never quite reached the pop culture ubiquity of Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. That doesn’t make it a lesser film, however, as Child’s Play actually offers a pretty cool little piece of work. It occasionally falters, but it does a lot more right than wrong. The Blu-ray provides dated but generally quite good picture and audio along with a satisfying set of supplements. Heck, there’s even the 2008 DVD version for fans who’ve not yet invested in Blu-ray players! With a reasonable list price of less than $30, this is a nice release and one I recommend to fans.