Misery: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1990)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Misery Loves Company
Featurette-Composer Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour
Audio Commentary-William Goldman (Screenwriter)
Audio Commentary-Rob Reiner (Director)
|Year Of Production||1990|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (66:19)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Rob Reiner|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Based on Stephen King's disturbing novel, Misery is a gripping, tense, and sometimes shocking white-knuckle edge-of-your-seat thriller, presented on a great DVD.
Stephen King's work was first published in a magazine in 1965, while he was a high school student, aged 18. The short story published was entitled "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber", but he was hardly an 'overnight success'. After finishing university, King married and spent the following years drifting through a variety of jobs that ranged from working at a petrol station to being a school teacher. King also managed to sell some of his short stories to magazines. According to King, he quit writing a few times, but his wife motivated him to persist. He even discarded the first chapter of Carrie, but his wife uncrumpled the pages and convinced him to finish writing the novel. He did so, and in 1973 King submitted Carrie to Doubleday Publishers. Doubleday bought the book, and promptly sold the paperback rights. King turned to writing full-time, and since then, King has written numerous best-sellers. King's books have been translated into 33 different languages, published in over 35 different countries, and there are over 300 million copies of his novels in publication. It also seems that most of his short stories and novels have been turned into television programs or movies.
Stephen King is refereed to as the "Master of Horror", and while he is fondly remembered for Carrie (1976), Salem's Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Creepshow (1982), Cujo (1983), Christine (1983), and Pet Sematery (1989), some of his non-horror works have also made it to the silver screen, such as Stand By Me (1986), The Running Man (1987), Misery (1990), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), and Hearts In Atlantis (2001). I find it interesting that it is the latter that I prefer, and I personally love Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and Misery.
While the movie of Misery has a great start in King's story, King is not the only great talent behind this film. The novel was adapted into a screenplay by one of the greatest screen-writers ever, William Goldman. Goldman wrote such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President's Men, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, Heat, Maverick, and The Ghost and the Darkness. At the time of production, the director (Rob Reiner) was better known as a comedy actor, writer, and director. Like the principal character in the story, who King based loosely on himself, Reiner felt trapped by his own success (as he outlines in the DVD's audio commentary). One will note that after the success of Misery, Reiner went on to direct other great movie dramas, such as A Few Good Men. One other talent I must mention is the cinematographer, Barry Sonnenfeld. Indeed, Misery was his last film as Director of Photography - Sonnenfeld went on to direct Get Shorty, and The Adams Family and Men In Black movies.
The attention to detail in this production is brilliant. The use of lighting, make-up, and camera movement is inspired. However, it is the direction and acting that really lift this movie into being an all-time thriller classic. James Caan's performance is riveting, and I find his pain so believable that it's hard to endure. Kathy Bates was a relatively unknown theatre actress when she scored this role, and it dramatically changed her career.
As for the plot, a famous and very successful writer, Paul Sheldon (James Caan), finds himself at the mercy of his "Number One Fan", Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). While incapacitated, Sheldon learns that it was no coincidence that his nurse, Annie, was on hand to save him after a car accident. In fact, she had been stalking him. Sheldon will have to rely on his imagination and his wits to survive, and while "he once wrote for a living, now he's writing to stay alive". This plot synopsis might sound a little obscure if you haven't seen the movie, but I've intentionally been vague. I recall literally leaping out of my seat quite a few times when I saw this movie originally at the cinema, and that first confronting viewing must be savoured.
Considering the age of the movie, I was very impressed with this transfer. While it is a little grainy at times, the movie looks only two or three years old, and not the teenager that it now is.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness is excellent, and the shadow detail and colour are very good.
There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are never distracting.
Ten sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.
This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 66:19.
Originally released theatrically and on DVD in Dolby Stereo-Surround, the Special Edition has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 but retains much of its original Stereo-Surround feel.
Apart from the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (448Kb/s), there is also a Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) soundtrack, and two English Audio Commentaries.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
The suspenseful musical score is credited to Marc Shaiman, and it seems to pay homage to the great Bernard (Psycho) Herman, which suits the movie's Hitchcock style. There is also a smattering of Liberace music, which is related to the plot.
The surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, but the rear speakers are used occasionally to help carry the score and provide ambience, for example the swirling snow blizzard at 5:49. The subwoofer is also utilised very occasionally to support some of the effects, such as during the thunderstorm at 71:36.
|Surround Channel Use|
Unlike the original DVD release, this Special Edition is loaded with extras.
An animated menu.
Misery Loves Company (29:51)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this extra includes interviews with Goldman, Reiner, Sonnenfeld, and other key members of the cast and crew.
Musical Misery Tour (14:28)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, composer Shaiman discusses his creative processes.
Goldman and Reiner provide separate commentary tracks, which include plenty of insights and anecdotes.
A series of production stills.
Theatrical Trailer (2:15)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
Theatrical Teaser Trailer (0:54)
Also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A Special Edition of Misery has not been released on DVD in Region 1. In comparison to their current version:
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
Obviously, I favour the local release.
If there is anyone who hasn't seen Misery, I strongly recommend that they do. If, however, you're already a fan like me, then this DVD is well worth adding to your collection. This Special Edition replaces the vastly inferior DVD released a few years ago.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is good, albeit quite front-heavy.
The extras are genuine and plentiful.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|