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I remember reading Stephen King’s novel and being creeped out by the kind of physiological horror that had to be near and dear to the author’s heart. Considering how prolific King has been, the notion of an author being terrorized by an obsessed fan either had to give him the chuckles while writing, or scaring the crap out of him… but then again, maybe both. MISERY ($25) tells the story of romance novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan), who has created the enormously popular character of Misery Chastaine. Paul feels stymied by his own creation and wants to go on to write other things, thus he kills Misery in the last novel. Having finished his newest book Paul heads of to send it to the publisher, but gets caught in a blizzard, and ends up crashing into a ditch.

Paul is rescued by his self proclaimed Number One Fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who takes the author back to her home, where she intends to personally nurse back to health. Although initially kindly, Annie quickly reveals herself to be a dangerous psychotic; a situation that escalates to near lethal proportions, when the last Misery Chastaine novel is release, and Annie discovers that her beloved heroine has been killed. What follows is a game of cat and mouse, as Paul tries to placate Annie by writing a new novel that resurrects Misery Chastaine, while trying to find a way to escape from his highly unstable and homicidal Number One Fan. The cast of MISERY also includes Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen and Lauren Bacall. Director Rob Reiner does an incredible job ramping up the suspense, but it is Kathy Bates‘ Academy Award Winning performance as the deranged Annie, that is heart and soul of MISERY.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made MISERY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Considering that the film is rapidly closing in on its twentieth anniversary, MISERY sports an astonishingly good 1080p presentation on Blu-ray. For the most part, the image is quite crisp, nicely dimensional and many shots deliver a terrific level of texturing and fine detail. Sure there are some shots that are a little soft, but much of the time MISERY looks quite impressive. Colors appear strongly saturated, but always realistic. Flesh tones are presented in an attractive fashion. Blacks are deep, while the wintry whites are crisp and clean. Contrast is generally quite excellent, and the level of shadow detail is really quite good. The elements from which MISERY has been mastered are exceedingly clean. There is a very mild veneer of grain present throughout, which becomes slightly more noticeable during darker sequences.

MISERY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most part, the sound design is reminiscent of a talky drama, so there isn’t much going on to impress sonically during the talky passages. However, since this is a suspense laden physiological horror movie, the discrete channels are utilized for atmospheric sound effects placement during key moments. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is pretty strong, with convincing sound effects and a fairly rich sounding musical component. The bass channel is fairly deep and helps punctuate what is happening on screen. Dialogue is always crisp and easy to understand. A French DTS 5.1 channel track is provided, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles have been provided in English, French and 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. No supplemental content has been included on the Blu-ray Disc itself, but a DVD Edition of the film has been included, with all the supplements provided there. Starting things off on the DVD are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with director Ron Reiner, while the second features screenwriter William Goldman. Featurettes and other programs include: Misery Loves Company (thirty minutes), Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour (fourteen minutes), Diagnosing Annie Wilkes (nine minutes), Advice For The Stalked (five minutes), Profile Of A Stalker (six minutes), Celebrity Stalkers (five minutes) and Anti-Stalking Laws (two minutes).

MISERY is a terrific horror thriller that is punctuated by Ron Reiner’s fine direction and Kathy Bates‘ Academy Award Winning performance. The Blu-ray presentation is outstanding for a nearly two-decade-old film. Highly recommended.



Misery [Blu-ray/DVD] [Blu-ray] (1990)


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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