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Case Number 17339

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Child's Play (Blu-Ray)

MGM // 1988 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 25th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson once had a doll that came to life and tried to kill him. Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Editor's Note

Our review of Child's Play: Chucky's 20th Birthday Edition, published September 9th, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

"Give me the power, I beg of you!"

Opening Statement

Before he descended into the realm of tongue-in-cheek self-parody, Chucky was a badass little mofo. Witness his original shenanigans, now captured in the glory of high definition.

Facts of the Case

For little Andy Barclay, his life finally achieved ultimate purpose when his mother (Catherine Hicks, 7th Heaven) shows up one day with a Good Guy doll, the hottest, creepiest toy on the market. Little does he know he's just scored himself the soul of a deranged murderer, housed within the plastic, red-haired doll.

Obviously no one believes Andy when he insists that "Chucky" is alive—that is, until it's too late and the bodies start piling up. Eventually, a cop (Chris Sarandon, The Nightmare Before Christmas) gets involved and Chucky will be forced to take on all three, if he hopes to work his voodoo again and get sprung from his anatomically incorrect plastic prison.

The Evidence

Sure the premise of a homicidal maniac transferring his essence into a doll who then goes about killing the crap out of people is tough to swallow. Now, 20-odd years later, it strikes me as even goofier, but whatever. Is this concept any more outrageous than an unkillable mentally challenged orphan in a hockey mask, or some guy in a sweater killing teenagers in their dreams? The answer is no, and Child's Play is pretty great.

What I like most is how these guys take the film seriously. Director Tom Holland manages to get past the fact that his heavy is a talking doll in overalls and turns in a straight-up thriller. So when Chucky is trying to stab Detective Mike Norris in a speeding car, it's actually sort of thrilling instead of goofy, which you would think a sequence of a killer doll stabbing at a grown man's groin would be.

The pacing works especially well, with the big reveal of Chucky's true nature coming at about the halfway point. Prior to that, most of the murderous tomfoolery goes down off-screen, with just brief glances of moving shapes and shadows. But once Chucky gets his game face on, it's a good time. The top-shelf special effects—which still look great today—take control and completely achieve their goal, namely, making Chucky believable as a living, malevolent thing. Look no further than the awesome (though maybe a bit too long-running) final showdown where Chucky just gets completely pwned.

Fans of the film will end up taking a victory lap once they get a hand on this reinvigorated technical treatment. Simply put, the new 1.85:1 widescreen transfer represents a noticeable visual upgrade. The picture quality is clean and the details are robust, adding up presentation that is worthy of mention in the top-tier of catalog releases. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is solid, especially hard-hitting during the more frantic moments of the film (the car chases, the ending).

Extras: Two commentary tracks with the cast and crew; some corny, scene-specific Chucky commentaries; a nifty trio of making-of documentaries(falling under the "Evil Comes in Small Packages" moniker); a look at the construction of the Chucky prop; a panel discussion with the stars and creative talents behind the film; a still gallery; and a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette. A DVD version of the film is also included.

Closing Statement

As is the case with other horror franchises that have overstayed their welcome, the original Child's Play is the best of the lot. The Blu-ray is definitely worth a glance.

The Verdict

This release is a Good Guy. Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 85
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Blu-ray
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries
• Featurettes
• Interviews
• Image Gallery


• IMDb

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