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4K UHD Review: Scream Factory’s Child Play (Collector’s Edition) 

Childs Play

Chucky’s back and Scream Factory has put a new shiny coat on him in the 4K UHD edition of Child’s Play

The Film 

After close to 35 years Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky aka the Killer Doll that won’t be killed is still rolling with a new TV Series, 8 films (if you don’t count the less than stellar 2019 remake), and a spot constantly at the Universal Horror Nights (every October).  It always goes back to the original film written by Don Mancini and directed by Tom Holland (no not that one silly rabbit).  Child’s Play remains a tightly constructed and well-executed nasty bit of horror business with a playfully gothic sense of humor.  

Part of the brilliance is that Mancini’s script understands all the touchstones of the era.  The rabid search by parents for that hot ticket toy for their kids – Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo … anyone, anyone?  There’s something inherently funny about a murderous doll, even when he’s attacking an innocent eight-year-old.  It helps that both Katherine Hicks who plays Andy’s mother and Chris Sarandon as the Cop that gets mixed up in the situation understand the arched tone of the piece. 

That isn’t to say it’s all fun and games.  Child’s Play under Holland’s direction manages to create real tension through the various set pieces throughout the film.  Though if you’re getting some déjà vu it’s probably because of that Carpenter-esque Steadicam moves.  Make no mistake though, the style works perfectly for the film.  Holland and Mancini also understand the cardinal rule of Horror; everything can be funny except the kills.  

No discussion of Child’s Play could be complete without talking about Chucky himself, Brad Dourif.  Dourif has adroitly played Chucky as a blue collar put-upon working-class man that just wants out of the doll body he’s in so he can continue his murderous lifestyle.  It works, so well.  The way that Chucky is constantly put upon makes everything delightfully fun and funny.  Even in the early entries Dourif understood the potential of the character and plays it for maximum effect.  The actor is so effective in his role that oftentimes you find yourself rooting for him because of the annoyance of the other characters.  

That through line Mancini and Company would take to even greater delirious heights as they move forward.  Though Child’s Play still stands as the foundation for three and half decades of the most durable Murderous Doll in this history of Murderous Dolls.  Yes, even Annabelle can’t compare… but don’t tell her that.  

The Transfer

The new – done in 2022 – 4K Scan of The Original Camera Negative – Presented In Dolby Vision is nothing short of spectacular.  Having owned several Blu-Ray iterations of the film and doing a comparison to this new scan and 4K Disc’s transfer – there isn’t any comparison.  Scream Factory’s newest scan is near-perfect image reproduction.  The image is filmic with deeper blacks and contrast levels than in previous editions.  The image is sharp but retains the grain structure not digitally scrubbed.  What we get is a beautiful verbose image that showed massive detail in the blacks and a beautiful color spectrum. 

The Extras 

They include the following;

DISC ONE (FEATURE FILM – 4K UHD): 

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland
  • Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, And “Chucky” Designer Kevin Yagher
  • Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner And Screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Select Scene Commentary by Chucky

DISC TWO (FEATURE FILM – BLU-RAY): 

  • Audio Commentary With Director Tom Holland
  • Audio Commentary With Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, And “Chucky” Designer Kevin Yagher
  • Audio Commentary With Producer David Kirschner And Screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Select Scene Commentary By Chucky
  • Birth Of The Good Guy – An Interview With Writer Don Mancini
  • Friends Till The End – An Interview With Actor Alex Vincent
  • Believe Me Now? – An Interview With Actor Chris Sarandon
  • Chucky: The Great And Terrible – An Interview With Producer David Kirschner
  • Windy City Chills – An Interview With Production Manager Robert Latham Brown

DISC THREE (SPECIAL FEATURES – BLU-RAY):

  • Behind The Scenes Special Effects Footage
  • Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til The End – An Interview With The Special Makeup Effects Artist
  • Life Behind The Mask: Being Chucky – An Interview With Actor Ed Gale
  • Evil Comes In Small Packages –Featuring Interviews With Don Mancini, David Kirschner, John Lafia, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, And Kevin Yagher
  • Chucky: Building A Nightmare – Featuring Kevin Yagher
  • A Monster Convention – Archival Piece From The 2007 Monster Mania Panel Featuring Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, And Chris Sarandon
  • Introducing Chucky: The Making Of Child’s Play – Vintage Featurette
  • Vintage Child’s Play Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Rare Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
  • Posters And Lobby Cards Gallery

Disc One [4K UHD] 

The first archival Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland is hosted by Nathaniel Thompson from Mondo Digital which begins with the casting of Chris Sarandon and Brad Dourif.  Some of the other details include the extended version of the opening chase scene, the development of the script and the lack of an antagonist (aka the serial killer Charles Lee Ray), the advancements of interactive dolls, and how that was developed into the script, the other director that took on the project in Holland’s absence, the casting of Andy, Holland’s work as a whole looking back on his cry wolf films like Psycho 2Cloak and DaggerFright Night and this film, the test screening process, and editing, and much more.  Thompson is a great host for the always loquacious Holland in guiding him to a really great commentary track. 

The second archival Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, And “Chucky” Designer Kevin Yagher. Vincent is recorded separately.  Hicks and Yagher are recorded together.  Some of the details include Yagher having never met and worked with Brad Dourif, 

Hicks recollections of working in Chicago, Vincent’s recollections of seeing the film at a premiere that his grandfather organized, how Yagher designed the doll and how it transistioned into Chucky and how they modeled it after certain Dourif’s traits, the original script and opening, how performer Ed Gale and Vincent’s sister put in the outfit to double Chucky during the “running” scenes, how Dourif helped Vincent and Hicks and how they developed their “mother and son” relationship, the casting process for Vincent, how Chucky was constructed and worked by Yagher, how the newer toys contributed to the design of Chucky, Hicks’ auditioning process, how Yagher got the job of designing Chucky, how Vincent learned how to read from th Child’s Play script, his knowledge of what was happening during the production and if he was in a horror film, the various possessed doll film and their doll’s performances from Yagher’s perspective, how the first reveal of Chucky to Hicks’ character was achieved, a larger discussion of how Yagher’s team achieved the FX’s work in the film, Vincent’s impressions of Holland as a director and Lafia as a director (he directed the second one), how Yagher did the Weird Al fat suit for the “FAT” video, and much more.  Hicks and Yagher – who eventually became a couple and were married after the film – occupy most of the track but that’s a good thing as both provide some really great detail on the production.  Vincent’s recollections on the track are definitely informational as well. 

The third archival Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini opens with how UA has changed from when they started production – as Studios often do – and how they’ve changed a few studios until landing at Universal.  Some of the details include Mancini’s reaction to the opening scene footage – because its connection to a DePalma film, the elevated cast including a discussion of the casting process to find Alex Vincent from Kirschner’s perspective, where they filmed the production and the different specifications they were designed to allow for puppeteers to work, how visually this film compares to the rest of the Child’s Play series, the performance of Alex Vincent and specific directions by Holland, a great anecdote about Bride of Chucky that Mancini discusses, the clash between Tom Holland and Kirschner over the amount of Chucky was in, the longer cut of the film that was screened that was not well-received, the giant explosion and how it was achieved mid-film, how the kills were developed in further films because Chucky was a doll, the casting of Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky, the alternate casting of the Chucky voice including an entire version Jessica Walter, some of the alternate titles that the film went by, the work of cinematographer Bill Butler, the score that was developed, and much more.  The amount of levity that both Mancini and Kirschner have about the production and the development process is still wild considering how many writers touched on the movie before and after Mancini during the production.  

The last track is a Select Scene Commentary by Chucky, one wishes that the select scene was a true select scene with only the portions that Chucky speaks.  The track begins on Chapter 3 at 19:00.  Rather this is just an audio track laid out for his commentary.  When Chucky does speak it’s pretty hilarious – listen to the first kill as he describes how the “tools” are built the same anymore for the proper killing or what he felt he was born to do… it’s a riot including constant cackling of Chucky. Yes, it appears that Dourif did record the track and is as Chucky as Chucky can be.  Note: This track was tested on both the 4K UHD and the Blu-Ray with the same results.  

Disc Two [Blu-Ray]

NOTE: All commentary tracks are included on both the Blu-Ray and 4K UHD discs on this set. 

Birth Of The Good Guy (12:07) – is an all-new interview with Screenwriter Don Mancini opens with his education at UCLA and how the consumerization of children became a concept that ultimately became Child’s Play.  Some of the other details include the various titles it went under, how the script was optioned and the changes made as it was developed, Holland’s claim he never met Mancini, some great details about Mancini’s script, the first longer cut that he saw, and much more.  The interview was filmed via Zoom and has all the video and audio quality therewithin that format.  

Friends Till The End (15:12) – is an all-new interview with Actor Alex Vincent begins with his fascination with at an early age with acting.  Some of the other details include how he got Child’s Play, working on the production and his work with the puppeteers on the film, what truly scared him at the time as opposed to what the production thought was, meeting Brad Dourif, and how he helped during the production, working with director Tom Holland and his onset behavior – including how Holland got Vincent to cry, his coming back to the role and how that felt after three decades, his gratitude towards Don Mancini, and much more.  The interview was filmed via Zoom and has all the video and audio quality therewithin that format.  

Believe Me Now? (10:41)– is an all-new interview with Actor Chris Sarandon opens with how Holland hired him and why he was hired.  Some of the other details include his inspiration for the character research with police officers – and a crazy anecdote about that, his relationship with Brad Dourif and working with him on Child’s Play, the difficulty of the production and the puppeteering, some of the contentious encounters during the production with Holland, and much more.  The interview was filmed via Zoom and has all the video and audio quality therewithin that format.  

Chucky: The Great And Terrible (26:01) – is an all-new interview with Producer David Kirschner opens with a great story of how he got his start in the business while working at Tower Records and going to USC.  Some of the details include how he worked on The Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond, his work as an artist led to working with Spielberg and An American Tail, how he optioned Child’s Play and developed the script, Don Mancini’s understanding of marking and advertising because of his father’s work as an Ad Man, he creation of the Good Guy Doll and transition it into Chucky and how that was achieved, how he turned the property into a hot project and got UA to produce, his feeling about Tom Holland and working with him during the production – including a truly terrifying and disgusting behavior, the post-production process and how they shaped the film to success and Don Mancini and Kirschner became partners out of the production, and much more.  

Windy City Chills (5:33) – is an all-new interview with Production Manager Robert Latham Brown discusses his role as UPM on Child’s Play (and the two sequels).  Some of the details include how he was hired, what specifically a UPM does, his relationship with Tom Holland and some serious contentious interactions with the director, working with Ed Gale who doubled Chucky, and how they synced the pre-recorded track that Dourif created for the film as Chucky and much more.

Disc Three [Blu-ray] 

Behind The Scenes Special Effects Footage (60:08) – this is the gold mine.  I will say this much.  Thank God for Howard Berger (and the entire KNB crew for that matter) and his video camera giving us the goldmine of legendary productions’ b-roll footage since 1985 (Raimi fans KNOW!).  Everything in this footage is presented as is in all its SD-VHS glory.  There are walk-throughs looking at the various stages of development and tests on the toll.  The creation of the doll itself.  The various skeletons/armatures they created for Chucky.  Things like hair appliances, and various latex masks that are in the early stages of testing, are all covered here.  Of course, like with any of the KNB shoots there’s plenty of goofy around.  For any fan of the FX work of this film will want to dive into this footage.  Bravo to Scream Factory for including this.  

Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til The End (40:53)– is an archival interview with The Special Makeup Effects Artist discussing not just the film itself but an entire career overview.  Some of the details include working with Yagher and how they worked on Child’s Play, how Yagher helped Berger get into SAG (because puppeteering is covered under the union) and be able to work on the production, his responsibilities on set, discussions of who did what as a puppeteer in a hugely complex puppet, a discussion about working with Tom Holland, working with Bill Butler, the size and complexity of the production (it was a 4-month shoot), working with Ed Gale (who was the Chucky double), the fire stunts on Chucky, how Yagher worked on projects, some great production anecdotes, and much more.  Berger is always a great interview and here it’s no different.  The interview does feature a fair amount of the B-Roll footage that’s included here and some that isn’t.  

Life Behind The Mask: Being Chucky (40:02) – is an archival interview with Actor Ed Gale.  The actor who doubled Chucky whenever the puppet was not used discusses how Tom Holland cast him.  Some of the details include his love for director Holland, Holland’s style of direction, some of the interesting problems that occurred during his time on the first production, a breakdown of just how many people worked to bring Chucky to life, a breakdown of the various scenes where he does and doesn’t appear in the film, a breakdown of how he did the burn scene/stunt – with the accompanying B-Roll footage of the burn, where he was at the time of the release of the film, his thoughts on the first film, the subsequent films and the fallout between Gale and Mancini and Kirschner and his decision to not to do Child’s Play 3, his work on Bride of Chucky – and the rekindling of the relationship, working with Jennifer Tilly, and much more.  There is some great B-Roll footage of behind the scenes with Gale.  

Evil Comes In Small Packages (24:49) – is an archival making-of.  The featurette covers the writing of the script by Mancini, the development of the script – and changes that were made from Mancini’s original, the casting process, the production, the post-production process, the release of the film, and the legacy.  Features comments by writer Don Mancini, producer David Kirschner, writer John Lafia, actor Chris Sarandon, actor Brad Dourif, actor Catherine Hicks, actor Alex Vincent, FX Supervisor Kevin Yagher, and director Tom Holland.  

Chucky: Building A Nightmare (10:05) – is an archival interview that discusses the work of Kevin Yagher by his contemporaries and the man himself.  The featurette discusses how Yagher along with others contributed to the creation of Chucky.  With comments by Yagher, FX and Acting Legend Tom Savini, producer Kirschner, FX supervisor Allec Gills, Writer Don Mancini, FX supervisor Shane Mohan, FX supervisor Tom Woodruff, and others. 

A Monster Convention (5:26) – Archival Piece from the 2007 Monster Mania Panel Featuring Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, and Chris Sarandon discussing the film with a fan Q and A.  Take as you will with the fan questions.  

Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play (6:15) – this archival featurette is an EPK-style making-of that even features a hilarious voice over.  Like many of these EPKs its essentially a discussion of the plot and some of the other aspects and themes of the piece.  It does feature some great on-set interviews with the cast and crew during production.  

Vintage Child’s Play Featurette (4:54) – is a true blue making-of EPK-style featurette that was released at the time of the film’s original theatrical run.  The footage used in this making-of does appear elsewhere on the disc but it’s great to see this VHS-era featurette included on this disc. 

TV Spot (0:17) 

Theatrical Trailer (2:02) 

Rare Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (3:09) – featuring 38 behind-the-scenes color and black and white images from the production.  The gallery can be played automatically, or you can navigate by using your Pause, Back, and Forward Chapter buttons on your remote. 

Posters And Lobby Cards Gallery (1:45) – featuring 21 various posters and lobby cards from the release of the film.  The gallery can be played automatically, or you can navigate by using your Pause, Back, and Forward Chapter buttons on your remote.

The Final Thought 

Child’s Play is a stone-cold classic and Scream Factory has treated it as such with this overstuffed 4K UHD edition.  Highest Possible Recommendations!!! 

Scream Factory’s 4K UHD Edition of Child’s Play is out on August 16th

  

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