Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MISERY (1990) (Scream Factory Collector's Edition Blu-ray review)

MISERY (1990)
Collector's Edition Blu-ray 

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 108 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Surround 5.1, Stereo 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Rob Reiner 
Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall

I remember going to the cinema to watch Misery (1990) on a date on a chilly fall night in upstate New York 1990, it was a nail-biter thriller then and it it still holds up now, the suspenseful tale of best-selling romance novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan, Thief) who has just finished the final book in his series of novels about the character Misery Chastain. He hops in his car with the only manuscript of the book and begins the long drive from Silver Creek, Colorado to New York City to deliver the book to his literary agent Marcia (Lauren Bacall, Key Largo). However, before the trip can even really begin he gets caught up in a nasty blizzard, losing control of his car he goes off the road a down a steep embankment in mountainous terrain.

While unconscious he is rescued by a local woman named Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Roanoke) who pulls  him from the wreckage and treats his wounds as best she can from her home, placing him in a bed, his legs and feet horribly crippled from the crash. When he comes to she claims to be his number one fan, which is big trouble for the best-selling author, she turns out to be a an obsessive, stalker-y super-fan, and when the author allows her to read his unpublished novel she goes completely metal when she discovers that Sheldon has killed-off her beloved Misery Chastain, that dirty bird!

This reality-rooted psychological thriller is in my opinion one of the strongest film adaptations of King's work, Caan and Bates are phenomenal playing off one another, the tension is palpable throughout, with Bates turning from kindly to homicidal at the turn of a page. The scene of Annie hobbling the author with a block of wood and a sledgehammer still makes me cringe with phantom ankle pain, it's right up there with any cinematic nightmare I can think of. Caan does a wonderful job as the author who slowly begins to realize that the lonely woman who saved his life is certifiable loony, begrudgingly acquiescing to her demands to burn his unpublished manuscript (lest he be burned alive in bed!) while being forced to re-write the novel to the twisted fantasies of his number one fan, leading to brain-smashing finale that holds up to repeat viewings. The movie looks great, shot by cinematographer Barry Sonnenfelid (Blood Simple), this is a terrific 90's thriller, and we also get a supporting role from the great Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story) as a likable old timer Sheriff and Frances Sternhagen (The Mist) as his wife.  

Audio/Video: Misery (1990) arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory with a new 4K scan from original film elements, presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. I don't think this is coming from the original camera negative or it would be explicitly advertised as such, but probably coming from an interpretive, but I do not that for a fact. Regardless, the image looks fantastic, grain is nicely managed, colors are vibrant, and the black levels look solid. The previous MGM Blu-ray looked quite nice, but this is an upgrade to my eyes. Audio wise we get choice of English DTS-HD MA surround 5.1 and stereo 2.0  with optional English subtitles. everything seems to be in order, well-balanced and clean, the dialogue comes through crisp and the Marc Shaiman (The Addams Family) score sounds great, too. 

Onto the extras, Scream Factory carry-over all the cock-a-doodie extras from the MGM 2-disc special edition DVD, presented in standard definition but they are at least presented on the Blu-ray, MGM's Blu-ray disc was bare bones, but the release included the second disc of the 2-disc DVD set with the extras. Scream Factory have also included two new extras, a 37-minute interview with director Rob Reiner who discusses his early career, the beginning Castle Rock Entertainment, and developing this movie.. he also mentions being able to relate his own career to that of author Paul Sheldon's in the book, a man controlled and limited by his own success. He also goes into crafting the thriller and certain tricks he used, like using a "dutch tilt" which he seems particularly proud of. There's also a half-hour interview with Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero who discusses his work on the film with KNB EFX Group, how that crew came together, how they came to the attention of Castle Rock Entertainment through his work with George A. Romero. There's also talk of creating the prosthetic legs, ankles and heads used in the film, with behind-the-scenes images, my favorite take away is Nicotero recalling meeting Kathy Bates who immediately quoted "lick my plate you dog dick!" from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! 

This single-disc Collector's Edition Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork with a slipcover, the slipcover and a-side feature a new illustration from artist Joel Robinson, the b-side featuring the original John Alvin produced one-sheet. The disc features a shot of the Roy typewriter used in the film. If I had a wishlist of things not found on this release I would hoped for it would be deleted scenes, and interviews with the two stars, but I am still quite satisfied with the overall release.

Special Features:
- NEW 4K Restoration From The Original Film Elements
- NEW Interview With Director Rob Reiner (37 min) HD
- NEW Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero (26 min) HD
- Audio Commentary With Rob Reiner
- Audio Commentary With Screenwriter William Goldman
- “Misery Loves Company” Featurette (30 min) SD
- “Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour” Featurette (15 min) SD
- “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes” Featurette (9 min) SD
- “Advice For The Stalked” Featurette (9 min) SD
- “Profile Of A Stalker” Featurette (6 min) SD
- “Celebrity Stalkers” Featurette (5 min) SD
- “Anti-Stalking Laws” Featurette (2 min) SD
- Trailers (5 min) HD

Misery (1990) gets a solid release from Scream Factory, the new

4K transfer looks fantastic, we get a few cool new extras and great new artwork, and they carry-over all the extras from the previous 2-disc special edition DVD release. If you're a fan and looking to upgrade from the bare bones MGM Blu-ray it's well-worth handing over your hard-earned Christ-ing money for this one.