Toy Story of Terror! Blu-ray Review
The Toy Story franchise might be one of the best in movie history. Pixar and Disney has produced an animated film trilogy full of rich lovable characters with clever emotional connections that is primarily directed for kids and they are simply amazing. “Toy Story of Terror!” continues that trend for success with a creative and entertaining product, even if it is a short 22 minute made for TV Halloween special.
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) and Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by Timothy Dalton) are all back for this televised Toy Story adventure. However, this time the story focusses mainly on Jessie while the rest of the gang begins to mysteriously disappear. Following the typical horror genre setup the group ends up at a remote motel during a late night thunder storm. One by one, the group goes missing by something unseen and unknown snatching them away. Not to disclose to much information the answer comes fairly quickly with the second half of the show steering away from the horror outline and into more of an elaborate escape. Both are wonderfully told and cleverly explain and move forward all the intricacies of the plot and characters.
Each of the three acts are clearly broken down in a such a way that we are left with a pretty intense cliffhanger for what will be commercial breaks when watching it on television. Joining the gang are a handful of other missing toys, each with a unique and charming ability. I’m always amazed at the endless possibilities and assets the writers able to find in recognizable childhood toys and then casting the absolute best voice actors for each of the jobs. The standout this time is Combat Carl, impressively voiced by Carl Weathers (ROCKY, PREDATOR). Combat Carl is a one-armed, gung-ho military man who isn’t afraid of anything with a soft heart for teaching Jessie to overcome her fears.
Adults should appreciate the many film references, many of which probably shouldn’t be seen by children until they are older. Jessie’s fear of being trapped in a box, which we know from TOY STORY 2, is a quite dark and reminiscent of the very scary act of being buried alive. But when put in the context of a Toy Story it lightens the mood just enough to make it acceptable for children. Not many shows could balance that act. In fact, all the spookiness in “Toy Story of Terror!” has just the right tone of being a little scary with a little more humor thanks in large part to the horror movie formula knowledge from Mr. Pricklepants. Each step of the way, he explains what they shouldn’t do and what will probably happen next. It’s a very nice tongue in cheek way to wink at mom and dad, letting them know that they are in on the joke and your kids can always be trusted in the Pixar/Disney universe.
I love everything about the Toy Story world and I find myself loving the characters more and more with every added story. “Toy Story of Terror!” is not as Halloween-themed as old classics like 1985’s “Garfield in Disguise”, 1966’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” or my personal favorite, 1949’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, but it is higher quality and a well worthy current addition as a yearly seasonal show that will soon become a classic for the kids in need of a little spookiness. With the added bonus shorts from this Blu-ray edition, “Toy Story of Terror” comes highly recommended.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 1.78:1) Obviously, a Pixar Toy Story movie is visually stunning.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) Excellent sound.
Audio Commentary: Director Angus McLane, director of photography Ian Megibben and editor Axel Geddes give a terrific commentary explaining their reasons and references throughout “Toy Story of Terror!”.
Toy Story Toons (19:00): Three past Toy Story shorts that can be viewed all together or separately with optional commentary. “Hawaiian Vacation” and “Small Fry” are excellent in their own right, combining humor and sweetness. But the third, “Partysaurus Rex,” is absolutely phenomenal, finding Rex as the life of a rave party when he joins the armless bathtub toys. “Toy Story of Terror!” is worth owning just for these three shorts, each one better than the previous.
Team of Specialists (12:00): A fascinating look at the daily process for director Angus McLane working on “Toy Story of Terror!”. Highly recommended for those interested in the animation field.
Vintage Toy Commercials (4:00): Old Timer, Combat Carl, and Transitron all receive their original Saturday morning commercial. They are all great.
Deleted Scenes (7:00): Pencil Topper Trilogy, Travel Brochures, and Road Trip Roulette – these are unfinished deleted scenes that are very cute and worthy of entry if only the show wasn’t limited to the 22 minute alloted television time.