Child's Play 2 (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Sep 14, 2022
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Child's Play 2 (4K UHD Review)

Director

John Lafia

Release Date(s)

1990 (August 16, 2022)

Studio(s)

Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B
  • Extras Grade: B+

Child's Play 2 (4K UHD)

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Review

To no one’s surprise, Child’s Play 2 was made hot on the heels of its predecessor, though by the time it went into production, it wound up at another studio. Universal seemed to be in the business of acquiring horror properties and making sequels to them (Halloween II and Phantasm II come to mind), and Child’s Play 2 was their latest acquisition since United Artists seemed to have no interest in it. Thankfully, the series continued with the guiding hand of its creators, Don Mancini and David Kirshner, who would go on to introduce many more entries into the series. John Lafia, who had rewritten the script for the original, was brought on to direct.

After the events of the first film, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) is traumatized by the experience and is taken away from his mother. He’s eventually adopted by Joanne and Phil Simpson (Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham), though he continues to be haunted by what happened with Chucky (Brad Dourif). As he settles into his new life with his older adoptive stepsister Kyle (Christine Elise), the corporation that makes the “Good Guys” doll line is still investigating why one of their products went completely haywire. Chucky is inspected and rebuilt, escaping soon thereafter and murdering his way towards Andy so that he may continue to carry out his plan of performing a ritual that will allow him to take over his body. However, Chucky is beginning to realize that he’s becoming more and more real, and that time is running out to get his soul out of the doll before he becomes trapped in it forever.

What Don Mancini, David Kirshner, and John Lafia manage to do with this first sequel is have more fun with the concept, not making it overtly facetious, but certainly giving it more of a sense of humor. Chucky is the star and they know that, and not only have the special effects improved to realize him, but he’s also more front and center, as opposed to the previous film which kept him at a distance to make him seem scarier. I’ve personally always found Child’s Play 2 and its follow-up to be a bit mean-spirited, but in a sarcastic way. It’s a bummer that Andy has been ripped away from his mother. Their relationship is why the original film worked so well and made you buy into the story more fully, and now with that relationship torn asunder, there’s less to relate to. But Child’s Play 2 is not about its characters, per se. It’s about Chucky. The fans of the series primarily enjoy this aspect of the sequels, particularly this one as it’s considered a fan favorite.

Child’s Play 2 is also more stylized than its predecessor with unusual camera angles, a vivid color palette, and strong set design. The interiors of Andy’s foster home are overly gaudy, and in a way, it reflects the personalities of Jenny Agutter’s and Gerrit Graham’s characters. The biggest and best addition is the “Good Guys” assembly factory, where the finale primarily takes place. The film is also much gorier than the previous effort, especially during the finale, but it keeps its tongue in cheek for the most part, allowing for moments of sick humor during tense situations. All in all, Child’s Play 2 is a darkly comic romp, and not a suspense thriller like the first film. It did pretty good business upon release, prompting another sequel, but it established Chucky as a horror icon that was going to be around for a while—and with six sequels, a remake, a TV series, and an endless line of merchandise, it’s safe to say that he’s become a staple of pop culture.

Child’s Play 2 was shot by cinematographer Stefan Czapsky on 35 mm film using Arriflex 35 BL3 cameras and spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition 4K Ultra HD presentation of the film uses a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, which was finished as a 4K Digital Intermediate, and graded for high dynamic range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available). Since Child’s Play 2 was given a higher budget by Universal, it looks a little slicker in comparison to the original film, not just because of the sets and special effects, but the style in which it was made. This new 4K presentation certainly does it justice with a steady but medium amount of grain and high levels of fine detail. The HDR grades, particularly the Dolby Vision, really bring out the depth in the color palette, especially Chucky himself. There are many bold swatches of red and blue, as well as deep blacks with ample amounts of detail in the shadows. The set design is given far more nuance, especially at the “Good Guys” factory and in and around Andy’s foster home. The image is stable and clean as well, with no obvious visual flaws. It’s a crisp presentation, easily surpassing its previous home video releases.

Audio is included in English Dolby Atmos (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English SDH are also included. Like it’s precursor, the new Dolby Atmos presentation of Child’s Play 2 is very front-heavy with occasional sprinkles of ambience spread throughout, even the height channels. Dialogue exchanges are clear and discernible, as they should be, and Graeme Revell’s score is distributed comfortably to the rear speakers. Unlike the previous film, there isn’t a 5.1 option with this release, but there is a stereo option. Whether it’s the original theatrical audio or a fold-down of some kind is unclear, but even though there’s less spatial activity to be had, it’s a fine alternative for those without access to multiple channels of audio.

Child’s Play 2 on 4K Ultra HD sits in a black amaray case alongside a Blu-ray copy of the film in 1080p utilizing the same 4K master and containing the majority of the bonus materials. The insert and slipcover feature the original theatrical artwork. The following extras included on both discs:

DISC ONE – FILM (UHD):

  • Audio Commentary with John Lafia

DISC TWO – FILM & SPECIAL FEATURES (BD):

  • Audio Commentary with John Lafia
  • Puppet Master: Don Mancini on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 12:57)
  • Under Pressure: Alex Vincent on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 7:56)
  • The Family Expands: Producer David Kirschner on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 7:37)
  • In Kyle We Trust: Christine Elise on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 10:09)
  • School’s Out: Beth Grant on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 5:28)
  • The Second Dance: Executive Producer Robert Latham Brown on Child’s Play 2 (HD – 3:59)
  • Extra Scenes from the Broadcast Version (SD – 20 in all – 11:20)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:18)
  • TV Spot (SD – :31)

The audio commentary with director John Lafia was recorded for a German Blu-ray release in 2019. Unfortunately, Lafia passed away in 2020, so it’s nice that someone took the time to get him to sit down and talk about his work. He sounds like he was a very upbeat and supportive person, making his death all the more tragic. As for the track itself, it’s very entertaining. He flies solo on it, but manages to keep things lively, rarely running out of things to say. He delves into the many choices made while making the film, from the cinematography to the effects to the performances.

Next is a series of new interviews by Reverend Entertainment, some of them conducted via Skype/Zoom. Don Mancini discusses putting together the sequel with John Lafia, what works about the film, shooting it differently than the first, Gerrit Graham and Jenny Agutter’s displeasure with the film, and the film emerging as the fan favorite of the series. Alex Vincent talks about dealing with growing up and making a sequel, visiting the set of Back to the Future Part III during production, not being in Child’s Play 3, and meeting the fans. David Kirschner speaks about putting the sequel together at a different studio via Steven Spielberg, picking John Lafia and working with him, and the licensing of Chucky for merchandise. Christine Elise discusses getting the part, being close to Don Mancini, dealing with the effects, seeing the final film, and the appeal of the series. Beth Grant talks about themes of the film, perceiving her character as a Republican, her death scene, and her feelings on Don Mancini. Robert Latham Brown discusses breaking the script down, the effects and the budget, and pleasing the fans. Also included is a series of twenty scenes from the TV version of the film, which include additional scenes, coverage for language, scene extensions, and an extended ending. Last is the film’s trailer and a TV spot.

Not included from the German Blu-ray is a video commentary with John Lafia, a vintage making-of featurette, a 2019 interview with John Lafia, a stills gallery, and additional TV spots. Also missing is the teaser trailer, which is very similar to the final trailer. The original announcement of this release also mentions a poster and still gallery, which was likely not included due to rights issues.

In the US, Child’s Play 2, as well as Child’s Play 3, have had multiple DVD and Blu-ray releases with little more than a trailer as their only extra to accompany them. Scream Factory have rectified that with not only top notch video quality, but a nice selection of extras, the most important of which is John Lafia’s commentary. Far and away, it’s the best presentation of Child’s Play 2 on home video.

- Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 

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