Stephen King 5-Movie Collection Blu-ray review
Sep 15, 2020- Permalink
Paramount is releasing five of horror master Stephen King’s stories in one set, the aptly-named Stephen King 5-Movie Collection. It features The Dead Zone, Silver Bullet, The Stand, 1989’s Pet Sematary, and 2019’s Pet Sematary. Paramount Home Entertainment sent me a copy for review purposes. Four of the movies have been on Blu-ray before, while The Dead Zone’s Blu-ray is new to the U.S. market.
Let’s take a look at The Dead Zone first. Directed by David Cronenberg, it stars Christopher Walken as a man with the ability to see into the future. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, differing slightly from the theatrical release’s 1.85:1 ratio. Sadly, it’s not a great transfer, which is a shame for a newly done disc. It appears that the source for the transfer could have benefited from a good restoration. Though there is some sharp detail and good colours at times, at other points in the film the image appears soft and smoothed. There are noticeable dust and fibers at times and digital noise reduction is evident. We’ll have to await a better transfer that will do the film justice.
The audio side, on the other hand, is quite good, with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as well as a French Dolby Digital Mono track. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, and French. The original audio material has been massaged into a 5.1 soundscape and they’ve done a pretty good job of making the aural experience immersive. The score sounds clear and dynamic, while the dialogue is centred and well-prioritized.
As for extras, well, there are none.
Silver Bullet is up next. A serial killer is terrorizing a small town, which is home to Jane (Megan Follows) , her paraplegic brother, Marty (Corey Haim), and their Uncle Red (Gary Busey). When Marty is attacked by the killer, a werewolf, it’s up to him to convince the others of what he saw.
This release shares the same 1080p AVC-encoded digital transfer used by last year’s Scream Factory release. Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the transfer has good detail, from weathered faces, werewolf hair, and the Maine environs. The colour palette, including the rich greens of the forest, look good and the black levels give detail to even the darkest scenes.
On the audio side, the disc comes with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack and English SDH subtitles. It does a great job of filling your front speakers with crisp story elements and the dialogue is crystal-clear.
Sadly, the Silver Bullet disc comes with no extra features.
Coming up to bat next is The Stand, 1994’s six-hour, four-episode end-of-days miniseries. It’s the story of a government-created super flu that gets out of the secret lab and devastates 99% of the population. The survivors in the U.S. soon find themselves in two factions, one led by a nun in Nebraska and the other led by an authoritarian figure in Las Vegas. This battle of good vs evil stars Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Miguel Ferrer, Matt Frewer, and Laura San Giacomo.
The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is presented in the original broadcast 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which means there will be vertical black bars on each side of the image. Shot on film, there’s a light grain and some occasional marks from a bad print, but textures and clarity are quite good. Colours pop when necessary, and black levels are fairly good, exhibiting some crush in darker scenes. Despite the fact this is a six-hour series crammed onto one disc, the compression still leaves us with a pretty good overall image.
The Stand was obviously intended to air in many markets, so we have English, German and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks with English SDH, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles. A lossless main track would have been nice but they’ve crammed six hours of material onto one disc. The soundtrack doesn’t have much oomph to it. It’s flat and though there’s some occasional use of left and right speakers to place elements, nothing really shines. The score lacks a dynamic punch, but dialogue is clear. Some of these complaints could probably have been alleviated a bit of we could have had less compression by spreading the series over two discs.
As for extras, well, The Stand actually has two supplements, an audio commentary from writer Stephen King and director Mick Garris, and a short making-of featurette.
We then take a visit to 1989’s Pet Sematary. The Creed family (Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Blaze Berdahl, and Miko Hughes) have moved into a rural home nest to a busy roadway that provides a steady stream of newcomers for the pet cemetery next door. The home also comes with a mysterious elderly neighbour (Fred Gwynne) and a mystery beyond the cemetery that may endanger the whole family.
The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is fairly good, especially on daylight scenes with nice greens and blues in the colour palette. In darker scenes, there is a bit of crush in the blacks and they occasionally look a little washed out. Detail is fairly good, though there is some smoothing in some areas. There’s a light film grain from the source and the transfer does look like there’s some edge enhancement.
Your speakers are given the choice of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 2.0 track and Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is quite good, with the surrounds putting you in the middle of the scary situations. The subwoofer gives some extra gravitas when needed and the overall ambient effects are excellent. Dialogue is clear, centred and well-prioritized.
On the extras side, there’s audio commentary from director Mary Lambert, Stephen King discussing his inspirations, Lambert, King, and the cast discussing the characters and a making-of featurette.
And that leads us to the final part of the collection, the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary. This time the Creed family is played by Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, and Hugo & Lucas Lavoie, while John Lithgow takes on the role of the elderly neighbour. While the remake loses some plot point from the 1989 version, it adds in some others missing from the original film. All in all, it feels less unique and more like a product of the factory that produces so many films in this genre. Apparently people need to be frightened a lot these days and so there’s a cinematic conveyor belt.
The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally, this is the better of the video transfers in this collection. There is clarity and detail and good textures in textiles, facial surfaces and environmental elements. The colour palette is quite natural and the black levels are good with no obvious loss of detail in darker scenes.
On the audio side, this is the best audio presentation of the collection. There is an English Dolby Atmos soundtrack and an English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track as well as German, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), French, French (Canadian), Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The main track is immersive, with great ambient effects, and the low-end adds an ominous feel to many a scene. The music is clear and dynamic and dialogue is centred and well-prioritized.
This disc also has the best selection of extras, with an alternate ending, deleted and extended scenes, a look at three characters facing their fears, The Tale of Timmy Baterman, and a four-part featurette looking at various aspects of the production.
The Stephen King 5-Movie Collection is a great starter for someone new to Stephen King who’d like to own five of his films in one fell swoop, but this is not the definitive edition for these five films.