Child's Play

Child's Play (1988)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Trailer, Photo Gallery

It had been ages since I last saw "Child's Play, " I admit it. It must have been some time and although the basic story line and the film's iconic villain, the killer doll Chucky, have remained in my memory, I realized that I did not remember a whole lot about the movie itself when the Blu-Ray Disc showed up on my desk. It was time to change that and revisit and old friend.

When the Lakeside Strangle, Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is killed during a police shoot-out he uses a Voodoo spell to place his soul into that of a Good Guy doll. The fully articulated, speaking doll with the red hair then ends up in the hands of 6-year old Andy as a birthday present.
But soon after, strange things occur around the house and Andy's mom Karen (Catherine Hicks) doesn't believe him that the doll actually talks to him. When Andy's aunt is killed in a strange accident detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) suspects Andy of the homicide. Though Andy insists that Chucky did it, police and psychiatrists attribute the young boy's behavior to the recent divorce of his parents. It is only when Karen takes the doll home and threatens to destroy it that Chucky reveals his real self to her and from thereon, no one is safe from the killer doll.

"Child's Play" was an amazingly inspired film when it was first released in 1988 that instantly catapulted Chucky into the big league of horror icons. So much so, that the series spawned a long string of sequels or varying quality. Interestingly enough I found that despite its age, the film is still gripping and every bit as unsettling as it was 20 years ago. There is just something implicitly creepy about a living doll that seems to strike a chord with all of us. However, the film does show its age, mostly in the script/ Horror movies were not subjected to logic analysis in the 80s a lot, and as a result I found the film's loose ends and illogical events and behaviors rather distracting. Whether it's the question how Chucky can travel all over Chicago without anyone ever noticing him, how a 6-year old knows his way through the windy city and even its most decrepit neighborhoods, how the same detective who hunted and killed a serial killer in one part of town is suddenly assigned the case of an accident in a completely different part, there are a lot of those holes in the story. And yet, the film was still amusing and chilling.

MGM Home Entertainment is presenting "Child's Play" on Blu-Ray Disc for the first time and I will openly admit that I was very surprised by the quality of the transfer. Featuring a presentation that is virtually free of defects and blemishes in the print, the picture is also incredibly sharp and well defined. Looking like a real high definition transfer, the picture renders details with beautiful definition, down to the last seam, and creates sharp edges that give the image an overall modern look. Colors are rich and vibrant, never faltering or wavering, while the transfer's black levels are deep and solid. As a result the night time scenes and shadows in the film are every bit as ominous and foreboding as the filmmakers had hoped them to be, adding tremendously to the film's overall atmosphere.
I found the same to be true for the audio presentation of the disc. Making good use of the surround sounds and discrete channels, the track is active and aggressive throughout. With a wide frequency response, the track also offers plenty of bottom, making sure the effects, explosions and action moments have plenty of punch. Dialogues are well integrated and although they sound a little harsh at times, never have that vintage limited quality you get with many of the 80s movies.

The release also contains a number of cool extras, all of which have been carried over from last year's 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD. Among those bonus materials you will find a commentary track featuring actor Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and Chucky designer Kevin Yagher. The track is very nice as it reminisces about the production of the film so many years after it was made, giving the participants plenty of time to reflect and to discuss the long term impact the movie has had.

Also included, and very good, is the commentary track by producer David Kirshner and writer Don Mancini. As an added extra, the film also contains a scene specific commentary track featuring Chucky himself – a track that should not be missed for its sheer hilariousness.

A series of featurettes is also included, ranging from the vintage "Introducing Chuck" Making-Of promo feature to much more recent looks at "The Birth of Chucky," "Creating the Horror," "Unleashed" and "Building a Nightmare." All these featurettes include interviews with cast and crew members as they share their memories of the production.
Also included is "A Monster Convention" featurette, taking another look at the Chucky phenomenon.

The release is rounded out by the movie's trailer and a photo gallery.

Fans of 80s horror movies can't get around "Child's Play" – and for good reason. It is an intrinsically creepy film that is unsettling ,frightening and loaded with action. Now available in high definition, you have to see this incredible horror roller-coaster ride down memory lane and realize that Chucky is still every bit as creepy as it was 20 years ago.