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Toy Story of Terror (2013)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/19/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/15/2014
I'm a lifelong fan of horror films and I'm never afraid to admit that. However, when I mentioned my affection for scary movies to some people (actually, most people), they reply that they don't like horror movies, and they often add that they don't like "all of the blood". Well, apparently someone other than me likes horror, as there are many movies in the genre which have become huge hits, and those in the know realize that gore isn't always a factor in horror. Having said all of that, it's always nice to see respect for horror appear in mainstream entertainment, thus, I was delighted to see the Pixar folks reveal their scary side in the television special Toy Story of Terror.
Toy Story of Terror opens with the familiar characters from the Toy Story films -- Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn), Mr. Potato Head (voiced by Don Rickles), Trixie (voiced by Kristen Schaal), and Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by Timothy Dalton) -- riding in the trunk of Bonnie's Mom's (voiced by Lori Alan) car. Bonnie (voiced by Emily Hahn) and her Mom are on a trip and the toys are watching a vampire movie on a portable DVD player. When the car experiences a blowout, they are forced to stop at a roadside motel. As Bonnie and her Mom check in, Mr. Pricklepants begins to note that the entire situation mirrors something from a horror movie. Woody and Buzz scoff at this, but when the toys begin to disappear, everyone realizes that something sinister and scary is happening.
As we've discussed in the past, the holiday special was a very important part of my childhood, and it's sad to see how this practice has all but died out. (I'm referring to the creation of new specials, as the old stalwarts still receive their annual broadcasts.) Thus, it's intriguing when a new special emerges and being a fan of the Toy Story films, I made sure to tune in when Toy Story of Terror made its debut last October. The 22-minute show delivers about what you would expect from Pixar. It's three times longer than the other Toy Story shorts which we've seen in the past (which are included on this release), but it's still packed with interesting ideas.
Pixar has had its ups and downs in my opinion, but it has always shown respect for its audience and that is apparent here. While Toy Story of Terror is certainly family-friendly, it doesn't shy away from being creepy and suspenseful in the mid-portion and I can see some younger viewers inching a little closer to Mom or Dad during the scenes in which the toys are exploring the motel. I also like how Mr. Pricklepants was an expert on horror films and easily predicted everything which was going to happen next. However, I don't think even he could have seen the explanation coming, which plays as an odd mixture of Psycho and Toy Story 2. Actually, the fact that part of the story feels recycled from the second Toy Story movie is the only real issue with the special. Pixar isn't 100% original all the time, but there's a fine-line between a call-back and the feeling that something has been done before.
Is Toy Story of Terror a substitute for a new Toy Story movie? Not at all, but the special packs in all of the fun personalities which we expect from these familiar characters and introduces us to some new ones. In fact, some of the new characters steal the show and reinforce how the Toy Story universe can be ever expanding thanks to the introduction of new toys. The fact that the show paid homage to classic horror movie elements certainly warmed my heart and anything that appears to be referencing Jaws 3D in its finale is going to get my vote. This Blu-ray Disc is packed with enough extras to justify adding it to your Pixar collection.
Toy Story of Terror introduces a unique kind of pet on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. While this doesn't look exactly like a Pixar theatrical release, it does look very good. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent and the picture has a nice amount of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix does a fantastic job of highlighting the horror elements of the story. The stereo effects accent sounds coming from off-screen and things which move across the screen. Likewise, things moving behind the characters resonate in the rear channels. The subwoofer effects are somewhat weak, but I've seen that before in family features.
The Toy Story of Terror Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Angus MacLane, Director of Photography Ian Megibben and Editor Axel Geddes. The Disc offer three bonus "Toy Story Toons" (All of which have appeared on other releases): "Hawaiian Vacation" (6 minutes), "Small Fry" (6 minutes), and "Partysaurus Rex" (7 minutes). All of these can be viewed with AUDIO COMMENTARIES. "Team of Specialists" (12 minutes) shows MacLane and his crew at work on the short. The Disc contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 7 minutes, complete with introductions by Geddes. The scenes are presented in storyboard and animatic form. We get the 1-minute TEASER for Toy Story of Terror which was shown at D23. Finally, we have three "Vintage Toy Commercials" which run about 2 minutes total. These can be viewed with COMMENTARY from MacLane and one can choose to watch the main feature with these commercials, which are pretty clever.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long