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When CHILD'S PLAY ($25) came out in 1988, I went to see it theatrically and though it to be a fun horror offering, worthy of the favorable reviews and box office success that it had. That said, and considering the cinematic gold Universal struck with the sequels, United Artists probably should have held on to the rights… and cashed in on CHILD'S PLAY franchise themselves. Well, at least UA retained the video rights to the original… As for the film itself, CHILD'S PLAY opens with the police chase of Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) AKA the Lakeshore Strangler. Shortly into the chase, Chicago police Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) shoots and mortally wounds Charles Lee Ray, who breaks into a nearby toy store. Before dying, wows vengeance on Detective Norris and the partner who disserted him at the start of the police chase.

We are next introduced to widowed mother, Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) and her six-year-old son Andy (Alex Vincent) on the morning of his birthday. All Andy wants for his birthday is one of the heavily advertised Good Guy Dolls, which Karen is unable to afford. Later in the day, Karen is able to purchase a Good Guy Doll from a street peddler, and she gives the doll named "Chucky" to Andy. Leaving Andy with her best friend Maggie (Dinah Manoff), while she works an extra shift at the store, Karen comes home to find the police in her apartment and that Maggie fell out of the kitchen window. Detective Norris questions Karen and then implies that Andy may be responsible for Maggie’s death. Later on, when Karen talks to Andy about Maggie’s death, Andy states that his Chucky is alive and that he killed Maggie. As the police, a psychiatrist and even Karen start to suspect that Andy is crazy, Chucky reveals himself to be alive and has been making good on his vows of vengeance. By the time Karen and Detective Norris realize that Charles Lee Ray used voodoo to transfer his soul to the body of a doll, Chucky has already set his sights on a new home- in the body of six-year-old Andy. The cast of CHILD'S PLAY also includes Tommy Swerdlow, Jack Colvin, Neil Giuntoli, Juan Ramírez and Alan Wilder.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made CHILD'S PLAY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. CHILD'S PLAY comes with a fairly solid 1080p presentation accurately reflects what this type of late 1980’s production should look like. Image sharpness and the level of detail are good for a modestly budgeted film from this period, but comes up short in comparison to new movies. Those making such comparisons will note that image tends to appear slightly soft. Fine detail is generally adequate, with close-ups looking superior to medium and long shots. Depending upon how any given sequence was photographed, will determine the level of dimensionality. For a rather wintry film, colors still lean toward the warmer side of the spectrum, and offer good saturation. Flesh tones look fine. The blacks and whites are adequate for the task. Contrast and shadow detail are acceptable, but do not distinguish themselves in any way. The elements from which CHILD'S PLAY has been mastered, do show occasional minor blemishes. Grain is noticeable, but not beyond what one would normally see on a film of this vintage.

CHILD'S PLAY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. While its origins in the Dolby Surround era are undeniable, the sound elements have bee re-purposed well enough to make this a fairly effective soundtrack. Directional elements are given a nice spread through the soundstage, but the breath and scope of such elements are limited in comparison to modern soundtracks. Fidelity is dated, despite the lossless encode, with the some of original sound recordings coming across as either canned or thin sounding. The music sounds respectable, but again, the recordings are dated. Bass has some force, but it is not demo worthy. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. A Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English and French 2.0 tracks. Subtitles are available in Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice supplements. Starting things off are three running Audio Commentaries that are included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with actors Alex Vincent & Catherine Hicks, plus "Chucky" designer Kevin Yagher; the second includes producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini, while the third is a Scene-Specific and features Brad Dourif in character as Chucky. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Evil Comes In Small Packages (25 minutes), Chucky: Building A Nightmare (10 minutes), A Monster Convention (5 minutes) and Introducing Chucky: The Making Of Child's Play (6 minutes). A Still Photo Gallery and Theatrical Trailer close out the standard extras. A CHILD'S PLAY 20th Birthday Edition DVD also comes packaged with the Blu-ray.

CHILD'S PLAY remains a fun horror offering that gave rise to a darkly amusing franchise. While not destined to set anyone’s world on fire, the Blu-ray is an accurate rendering of a modestly budgeted film from 1988. Definitely worth checking out.



Child's Play [Blu-ray] (1988)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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