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Child’s Play: 20th Birthday Edition (DVD)

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Child's Play: 20th Birthday Edition DVD review (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Dinah Manoff

Directed by Tom Holland

Distributed by MGM and Fox Home Entertainment


Twenty years? Twenty friggin’ years?!? Impossible! Well, I guess not. Man, it seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the Oceana Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, watching everyone’s favorite potty-mouthed man-doll begin his rampage of cinematic terror. Who said it was okay for decades to pass? Did I miss that meeting? In any event here we are two decades later, and Chucky is celebrating twenty years of infamy in grand style thanks to the new DVD from MGM and Fox! Let’s take a look at the haul, shall we?

Usually I’d be reiterating the story right about now, but does anyone not know it? Just in case anyone new to the genre is reading (you young-ass whippersnappers, you) I offer this brief synopsis …

Child's Play: 20th Birthday Edition DVD review (click for larger image)Serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Dourif) is on the brink of police apprehension when he decides to employ some voodoo tactics he’s learned as a means to escape their clutches once and for all. With his back against the wall, this loony ends up transferring his soul — and his killer instinct — into the plastic body of the hottest children’s toy on the market, a Good Guy doll. Not long after that the toy is purchased by struggling mom Karen (Hicks) from a hobo for her son Andy (Vincent). Andy and Chucky become fast friends, but as I’m sure you can guess, Chucky has other plans. What follows is one of the most absurdly entertaining bits of horror cinema ever put to film.

Even after twenty years, Child’s Play shows no ring rust. The little flick plays just as well now as it did in its heyday. The reason for this is simple: A solid job was turned in by all of the participants. Mancini’s writing and Holland’s directing pedigree were a perfect match, and when you add them to solid performances from the entire cast, with special mention going to a very young Alex Vincent, you have the recipe for a classic.

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to get rid of the last pan and scan DVD release as it did the film no justice whatsoever. Feel free to double-dip into this release of plenty without a second thought.

Things kick off with not one, but three commentary tracks. Well, sort of. The first is a high energy and really enjoyable track featuring Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, and Chucky designer Kevin Yagher. The second is a bit less fun but still a good listen as it features producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini. The third? Man, the third is the charm. The only problem? It’s scene specific. For four sequences we get to hear Dourif as Chucky wax on about being trapped in his little body, the difficulties associated with working on the high-pitched Good Guy voice, and so on and so forth. This is comic gold, and it’s a damned shame it wasn’t feature length. Too funny!

Child's Play: 20th Birthday Edition DVD review (click for larger image)Next we have a slew of featurettes with the first three lumped together in a group that’s called Evil Comes in Small Packages. Clocking in at about twenty-five minutes combined, they trace Child’s Play‘s history from its original title of Batteries Not Included (Universal would have LOVED that) to the reaction of fans all these years later. Solid, brisk, and informative, this is really good stuff! From there we get a bit more specific with our featurettes. First up is a ten-minute look at Chucky’s various effects called Chucky: Building a Nightmare, which is exactly what you would expect it to be, and then we’re treated to around five minutes of footage from the Child’s Play reunion panel that was held in 2007 at Jersey’s Monster-Mania convention. Let me just say this — Catherine Hicks, you are hotter than ever, baby! She looks better now than she did then. Sorry, Andy, but your mom is now a milf! Where was I? Oh yeah … Things wrap up with a vintage making-of featurette that comes in around the six-minute mark, a photo gallery, the trailer, and we’re done.

Overall this is a great haul, but there’s one glaring omission. One vital piece of the puzzle that is inexplicably missing. Tom Holland. Why is it that we don’t get to hear from him? He’s not only the director but one of the most respected folks in our genre. This is a big time dropped ball, and it’s also the only thing that keeps the Special Features rating from being higher.

With the Child’s Play remake looming in the distance, it’s great to have a definitive DVD for the original film for fans new and old to revisit. Despite its shortcomings this is a must-own edition for any fan. Now where is that Blu-ray edition, hmmm? If it happens … get Tom Holland. Thanks, we’ll be waiting!

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, and Kevin Yagher
  • Audio commentary by producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Select scene audio commentary by Chucky
  • Three Evil Comes in Small Packages featurettes
  • Chucky: Building a Nightmare featurette
  • A Monster Convention featurette
  • Introducing Chucky: The Making-of Child’s Play vintage featurette
  • Still gallery

    Film:

    4 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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