Child’s Play [1988] – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Commissions Earned

Film Title: Child’s Play (1988)
Release Date: 2022
Rating: R
Runtime: 87 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Scream Factory
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 8/16/22
Director: Tom Holland
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, Chris Sarandon, Dinah Manoff, Tommy Swerdlow, Juan Ramírez, Jack Colvin, Brad Dourif

Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom

click to view a 4K Screenshot

The Movie

“Child’s Play” was a horror film from 1988 co-written and directed by Tom HollandHolland also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation. Tom Holland is best known for directing other films like Fright Night (1985), the TV miniseries adaptation of “The Langoliers” (1995), and “Thinner” (1996). The screenplay was co-written by John Lafia, known for co-writing and directing this film’s sequel “Child’s Play 2” (1990) as well as for writing & directing the two films “The Blue Iguana” (1988) and “Man’s Best Friend” (1993). The original story and first draft of the screenplay to “Child’s Play” were conceived [written] by Don Mancini, who also co-wrote the screenplay and has gone on to direct three of the sequels to this film, as well as served as an executive producer for the “Chucky” (2021) TV series.

The story here at first involves a wanted criminal, known as the “Lakeshore Strangler,” that goes by the name of “Charles Lee Ray” (Brad Dourif) who we first meet in the middle of a chase-turned-shootout with the Chicago police.  Charles manages to get to a toy store and that’s where he first gets shot by the responding officer “Mike Norris” (Chris Sarandon).  The criminal and cop have their shootout as you’d expect in the unlikely setting of the toy store, but what comes as shocking to [both the audience and] the law enforcement member is the fact that Charles seems to have known some sort of voodoo and is conjuring up this storm above as he’s trying to put his soul into the body of a “Good Guys” toy doll.  You’ll very soon find out if Charles succeeded in his last-minute attempt.

Next, you are introduced to a six-year-old boy by the name of “Andy” (Alex Vincent), as he’s watching the “Good Guys” TV show and preparing his mother “Karen Barclay” (Catherine Hicks) some breakfast.  Should he be preparing anyone breakfast at this age?  No, but it makes for some cringeworthy moments. Anyway, what’s important here is that Andy notices first that he’s already seen the episode, so he goes back to making breakfast for a bit, but then after a commercial break, he hears that there’s a Good Guy’s toy doll now available that can move and talk.  Like any young boy, Andy immediately wants one and it just so happens to be his birthday.  See, that’s why he’s preparing breakfast for his mom in an effort to make her get out of bed so he can open his birthday presents.  I won’t spoil if he gets the doll there or not but let’s say that his mother goes to some pretty extreme effort to get him the doll.

Eventually, Andy is introduced to his new toy doll who introduces himself as “Chucky” (Brad Douriff) and we as the audience get our first clue that Charles did indeed succeed in transferring his soul into the body, as crazy as that sounds.  Chucky claims he’s here to be “your friend to the end” and he really means that, folks.  Let’s just say that the doll starts to play pranks and do things that get the attention of the police again, and enters back into the story the police officer Mike Norris.  Andy even starts to notice that his doll is doing things weird and tells Mike as well as his mother Karen but they just dismiss him as an overly imaginative child.  They’ll soon have no choice but to believe Andy once Chucky takes him hostage and tries to get revenge on some of those criminals that did him wrong, as he cursed he would during the opening toy store shootout.

It will be up to Officer Mike and Andy’s mother Karen to save Andy from an inevitable evil voodoo-possessed toy doll going by the name of Chucky.  I know to modern audiences almost all of that story sounds absurd, but back in 1987 (when they were greenlighting this and even in 1988 when it was released) people liked it, and they still do.  And, I’m one of them.  More on that later.

Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Video Quality

“Child’s Play” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range.

The release features a new [2022] 4K scan of the original camera negative which comes as a 4K DI (digital intermediate) remaster.  This movie was shot on 35mm film using the Panavision Panaflex camera and spherical lenses.

Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-66 (66 gigabytes) disc, 65.77 gigabytes total, and 58.0 gigabytes for the film itself. Let’s take a look back at the original 2009 Blu-ray Disc release of the film. That release was using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 28.84 gigabytes total, and 25.1 gigabytes for the film itself.  So, the 4K version is roughly 2.3 times as large as the original HD version.  Based on my observations via my 4K UHD Blu-ray player, this seems to be running an average (roughly) of 80Mbps in the HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) codec, hitting peaks as high as 94.6Mbps at times.  According to info on the PC side of things, this seems to have an overall video bitrate of 79.5 Mb/s average.

One last semi-brief technical note.  Before even checking, I guessed this to be using a BD-66 since it’s only an 87-minute film, under an hour and a half in length. I’m actually fine when a smaller disc is used for a film that length when only audio mixes are included and no extras. Was I right? Yes. Does it work for it? Yes, and you’ll soon see and hear about how.

Now, I want to do a visual comparison here between the original Blu-ray and the 4K UHD Blu-ray. So, I’ll be offering you the still screenshots for both the 2009 Blu-ray Disc and the new 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray releases.  For those who want to see more Blu-ray VS. 4K screenshots, click the text below.

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshots Comparison:

SOURCES: 2009 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)

So, as you can tell from the comparisons above this comes with some obvious change in the color timing and as a result, you get a warmer tone and some slight changes with the flesh tones on a few occasions (depending it seems at times on the lighting conditions).  Some might complain about this change in the color timing, but I found it to work and the amount of HDR also adds a nice emphasis to the vibrance and even brightness of the original costumes and colors of the “Chucky” doll, with his hair finally coming across the right color of orange.  The red of blood is more bright as well as colors like yellow on packages of the “Good Guys” dolls or with a star on the front of Andy’s outdoor winter jacket.

The black level here is solid and comes as one definite improvement over the original Blu-ray, which at times (to be brutally honest here) felt a tad bit dull in terms of its contrast, looking back in comparison.  There’s an excellent amount of newfound detail here in this 4K scan and it really makes the old Blu-ray looks obsolete.

I found there to now finally be this nearly theatrical level of film grain present in the 4K presentation that we never got on the original Blu-ray in just HD.  Almost all of the instances of dirt, debris, or other imperfections have been cleaned up from the original camera negative.  This new 4K visually looks the best that I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing the movie, having been a bit too young to have seen the original theatrical release.  All and all, “Child’s Play” [1988] on 4K UHD Blu-ray proves to have one impressive video presentation, that I find to be worthy of a 4.5 rating for video quality.

And lastly, for the fans of this “Child’s Play” franchise. I’m happy to report that the video quality on the sequel “Child’s Play 2” (1990) on 4K UHD Blu-ray, also coming from Scream Factory, is just as good if not perhaps a tiny bit better in terms of video.  Stay tuned for a review of that sequel for more details on that.  I simply felt that was worth mentioning and appropriate.

Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Audio Quality

“Child’s Play” arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core — for those not able to decode the Atmos.  Also included you have DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo.  

It only makes sense that we would get that lossless 2.0 mix, considering that the film originally was shown in theaters with Dolby Stereo. It’s always nice to have those types of sound mixes available for the purists out there.

From just the opening United Artists and MGM intro logos, you will already be noticing how much more intense the Atmos mix is, in comparison to the 5.1 surround, that early in. Once the film starts up, so does the action, and you’ll really be noticing a nice amount of rear channel usage and an exceptional amount of LFE in the original musical score, that can be felt via the subwoofer. Dialogue is delivered spot-on from the center channel in both the Atmos and 5.1 sound mixes. The sound presentation is driven primarily by the front left and right channels for sound effects and music, however, they can be heard in the rear channels as well.

Roughly around 5 minutes into the film you’ll hear the first really noticeable use of the height channels, as the sky opens up above the toy store with thunder and lightning, while the possession of the doll is taking place. Things get intense here. More than they ever did before. The use of the height channels here grabs your attention and it is a fitting usage of the heights, considering that the sounds do technically come from above. You’ll also occasionally hear echoes come through the heights as well. They’re not overly used just to be used, but more when they need to be. Without dishing out any spoilers, or getting too descriptive, let us just say that the scene involving the toy shop in the opening of the film is going to leave a more lasting impression in Atmos than it ever did in 5.1 surround.  Dare I say, it’ll leave you blown away.

After the rather eventful opening, the mix focuses on dialogue and basic subtle sound effects mainly for a good 13 minutes or so, as we are introduced first to the birthday boy and his mom. Fear not, it doesn’t stay that way for long. Around 20 minutes in you’ll start to have some suspense build up and that will eventually lead to further use of the height channels and some excellent use of the rear channels along with a hefty amount of bass. It can be pretty effective in giving you a scare, even if you’ve seen this film countless times before. That’s what I call good use of height channels and that’s how to really make a film benefit from a Dolby Atmos mix.

I would be perhaps discussing spoilers here if I noted all the times that the height speakers are used, as I mentioned they can be an important part of producing the scares. Rest assured that the Atmos mix here is something truly unlike anything I’ve heard before. As mentioned, sometimes you don’t need to use height channel speakers just to be using them when mixing something into Atmos and focus more on making it selectively more impactful than before by using it for the right sound effects. The sounds of a phone ringing and also glass breaking, early on, proved to be some of the best highlights of what was used by the height channels. This is only a taste of that to come as things get more intense as the film progresses.

34 minutes in, you’ll hear the height channels and all making great use of the sound of an above rail train. It can be pretty intense and feels more threatening than it ever did before in just 5.1 surround. That’s really what this mix is great at, making much better use of the original audio to make the scary parts even more impactful than before. And, if that’s not your thing, they’ve left you with the options of that 5.1 or 2.0 stereo in lossless form.

All and all, “Child’s Play” [1988] on 4K UHD Blu-ray with its new Dolby Atmos mix delivers one very unique object-based audio experience for a film, and especially for a horror film — appropriately enough.  That being said, the lossless 5.1 and 2.0 mixes are great as well, and this release merits an overall impressive 4.5 rating for audio quality.

Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Bonus Materials

The 4K UHD Blu-ray disc includes the following:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland
  • Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, and “Chucky” designer Kevin Yagher
  • Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Audio Commentary with “Chucky” on Select Scenes is included entirely. Brad Dourif does a great job here reprising the role. This is hosted by Director Tom Holland at times and at other times Chucky entirely takes over. There are a lot of times you won’t be hearing commentary at all here, so be prepared for that [mostly silence].

Then you also get two Blu-ray Discs included in this 3-disc set.

  • The first Blu-ray Disc includes the film using the new 4K scan.  This features a 1080p HD video presentation in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio as well as Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1  surround, and 2.0 Stereo lossless sound.  It’s also where you’ll find all of the new extras listed below.  These all were created by Shout! Factory in association with Justin Beahm’s Reverend Entertainment.

Bonus materials included on the first Blu-ray Disc are listed below.  These are all in HD (high definition) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland
  • Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, and “Chucky” designer Kevin Yagher
  • Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Audio Commentary with “Chucky” on Select Scenes
  • NEW Interviews by Shout! Factory in association with Justin Beahm’s Reverend Entertainment. These include:
    • “Birth of the Good Guy (12 minutes, 7 seconds – HD) is an interview with writer Don Mancini. This tells you the whole story, as he originally wrote, and then was later revised and revised again. This is a great interview and proves to be very heartfelt and truthful. Having grown up around a father who worked in marketing & advertising, Mancini originally wanted to take a dark and satirical look at how marketing can try to use children [consumer trainees]. It’s fun to hear that films like “Gremlins” (1984) made him feel that the script would be something that could be made into a film. His original title for the film is downright ironic, but he had to change it because Steven Spielberg was producing a film using that title. He discusses what he likes that director Tom Holland changed about his original first script. However, he also mentions he finds it odd that Holland did interviews saying he had never met him.
    • “Friends Till The End” (15 minutes, 12 seconds – HD) is an interview with actor Alex Vincent, who played “Andy Barclay” in the film. He reminisces about first getting into acting as a child and then about making the film and even discusses getting to opportunity recently to reprise that role for the “Chucky” (2021) TV series. This is one excellent interview and really gives us a glimpse into what it was like to play Andy. It also shows us what it was like to grow up after playing that iconic role and how this film and the franchise have impacted Alex’s life.
    • “Believe Me Now?” (10 minutes, 41 seconds – HD) is an interview with actor Chris Sarandon, who played the primary cop character “Mike Norris” in the film. He discusses first director Tom Holland and their friendship and working together on this gig. He discusses what inspired his take on the role of a Chicago police officer, doing a ride-along and such with the Chicago police department in preparation for the role, and just the character in general, as well as the film itself. Lastly, he discusses his friendship and working with Brad Douriff who did the voice of Chucky in the film.
    • Chucky The Great and Terrible” (26 minutes, 1 second – HD) is an interview with producer David Kirschner, who helped make this first film and its countless sequels all become reality.  This is one of the best sit-down interviews that Justin Beahm has done over the years, folks.  Here you’ll get some really personal stories from Kirsccher about how he got his start and what it was like working on this film.  Be warned, he tells one story that can get a bit serious and I won’t discuss what it involves.  This interview is something that all fans of this film should see.
    • “Windy City Chills” (5 minutes, 33 seconds – HD) is an interview with the production manager Robert Latham Brown. Here, he reminisces about working on this gig that was primarily shot in the Windy City of Chicago. This was actually a sit-down interview and not done remotely like a few of the earlier listed interviews. The film’s director Tom Holland had a bit of a temper while making the film from what Robert recalls.

Bonus materials included on the second Blu-ray Disc, in this 3-disc set, are listed below.  These, all previously released, are presented in HD (high def) with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo sound.

  • “Making Chucky consists of the following:
    • “Behind-The-Scenes Special Effects Footage” (1 hour, 8 seconds – HD) comes from an old-school VHS tape source and gives you an hour of raw glimpses behind the scenes. This appears to have been shot in December of 1987 all the way up to March 1988 as a ‘home movie’ that eventually made its way to home video release. It has a bit of narration by the cameraman but aside from that, it’s pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. This is great to a film nerd like me and most of you probably as well, but the average person might get a tad bit bored with this. There’s something that’s so much more authentic about old VHS footage like this and I think it’s because it’s candid and wasn’t studio approved or scripted like most of today’s extras. Finally, this footage is courtesy of Howard Berger it says at the end.
    • “Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til the End (40 minutes, 53 seconds – HD) is from the 2016 Scream Factory Blu-ray. It’s somewhat new. This was made by Shout! Factory in association with Cavetown Pictures. Here you get an interview with one of the guys from that VHS tape footage in the previously covered featurette that worked on the crew. Along with this film he’s done over 199 other projects — including Tarantino’s past three films. Seriously. Check this gentleman’s IMDb page to be amazed by his make-up department credits. For this particular film, he worked as an additional crew member and is credited as a Chucky puppeteer. Here you’ll get to hear how he landed this gig, what it was like working on the film, and finally what his career has been like ever since.
    • “Life Behind the Mask: Being Chucky (40 minutes, 2 seconds – HD) is from the 2016 Scream Factory Blu-ray. It’s somewhat new. This was made by Shout! Factory in association with Cavetown Pictures. Here you get an interview with Ed Gale who doubled [played] Chucky when the puppet wasn’t being used. He’s best known for also playing the lead role in the film Howard the Duck (1986). This proves to be rather informative as he recalls what it was like in this very unique film and role.
  • “Featurettes” consist of the following:
    • “Evil Comes in Small Packages” (24 minutes, 49 seconds – HD)
    • Chucky: Building a Nightmare” (10 minutes, 5 seconds – HD)
    • “A Monster Convention” (5 minutes, 26 seconds – HD)
    • “Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play (6 minutes, 15 seconds – HD)
    • “Vintage Featurette” (4 minutes, 54 seconds – HD)
  • “More Child’s Play includes:
    • TV Spot (17 seconds – HD)
    • Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 2 seconds – HD)
    • Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (3 minutes, 9 seconds – HD) includes a total of 38 images. You can use the chapter forward and backward buttons on your remote to navigate these photos. Hit pause when you’d like to look at one.
    • Posters & Lobby Cards Photo Gallery (1 minute, 45 seconds HD) includes a total of 21 images and navigation is the same as discussed above.

Overall, the bonus materials here are great with the 5 new interviews included on the first Blu-ray totaling up to 69 minutes in length.  Then, you have all the previous extras ported over on the other [second] Blu-ray which totals up to roughly 200 minutes.  Combined, that’s 269 minutes roughly, almost 4 and a half hours, of extras about this movie to leave you consumed with as well as four audio commentary tracks, on both the 4K and Blu-ray.

This is one nearly perfect set of extras if it had just included a digital copy of the film in 4K.  However, I know that Shout! Factory cannot get the licensing for digital to include with the physical releases and it’s been an issue they’ve had for years.  I just wish they’d be able to fix that, but I’m willing to overlook the lack of a digital copy here and merit a perfect rating when it is deserved.  They took an already great set of extras and this 4K UHD Blu-ray “Collector’s Edition” made them even better by adding in all of their previous 2016 and then the new interviews here.  Fans are going to love this.

Bonus Materials Rating: 5 (out of 5)

click to view a 4K Screenshot

Closing Thoughts

Child’s Play” was one really unique horror film, there’s no denying that.  The special effects used were impressive for 1988 and they still are.  Looking back on it, this film is a cult classic and also a modern horror masterpiece for sure. It is absurd in the most obvious way of its basic plot and premise here in just the first film, not counting the sequel(s). Still, it’s scary as hell and always has been to me [personally] since I saw it at probably a younger age than Hollywood wanted me to. My parents didn’t mind though and I don’t regret watching this at an early age. Hell, it’s just a movie. Chill out, relax, and enjoy some things in life, folks. It doesn’t always have to be plausible or even likely for a film to have something that pulls you in and makes a connection.

I’m certainly not alone in feeling that this is an underrated film and that it also merits ratings much higher than you’ll see over on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. It spawned countless sequels and even a TV show this past year, for crying out loud. I think it’s safe to say that “Child’s Play” and the “Chucky” character have made a long and lasting impact on the horror genre, community, and audiences over the decades.

The critics mostly disliked the film, but ironically two of my favorite critics actually rather enjoyed the film.  The late film critic Roger Ebert gave it a 3 (out of 4) star rating in his theatrical review and film critic/author Leonard Maltin also gave the movie a 3 (out of 4) star rating in his “Movie Guide” book(s).

In terms of video quality, this really comes as one very nice improvement over the original Blu-ray release.  You get one nearly jaw-dropping amount of newfound detail here in 4K resolution, thanks to the new scan.  The color timing has changed pretty much toward a more warm tone overall here, which can make the flesh tones feel a bit different than they ever did in darker scenes especially.  It also is the amount of emphasis added to the brightness and vibrance of color with the addition of HDR  factored in as well.  I found this to have one impressive video presentation and made excellent use of a BD-66 for a film under an hour and a half without having any compression issues.

In terms of audio quality, the Dolby Atmos mix comes as one very unique and cool improvement.  It is selective in what sounds are used for the height channel speakers and with that comes the ability to really add to the scares during some tense scenes, even for those who have seen the film before.  It sounds impressive in Atmos, with a nice amount of LFE and rear channel usage all throughout and dialogue delivered perfectly via the center channel.  Plus, you also get two other sound mixes on this release in the format and configurations of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo.  The latter will be especially pleasing to the purists out there.

The bonus materials here include 69 minutes of new content and hours of previously released extras as well as four total audio commentary tracks.  This is one nearly perfect set of extras.  Justin Beahm’s Reverend Entertainment really took an already solid set of bonus materials from the previous Blu-ray release that Scream Factory did and added in new interviews on the Blu-ray that includes the film making it even better.  Then, they reserved a second Blu-ray just for previously released extras.  It’s what fans of this film want and will enjoy.  The extras here are pure perfection.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
5 (out of 5) for bonus materials

Overall Verdict:
A Recommended Upgrade

Available As:

2022 4K UHD Blu-ray Release

Commissions Earned

2022 4K UHD Blu-ray SteelBook Release

4K UHD Blu-ray Screenshots:

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshots Comparison:

SOURCES: 2009 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)


4K UHD Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Exact Runtime(s): 1:27:09
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with a DTS 5.1 core), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo (with a DTS 2.0 Stereo core)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Disc Size: BD-66
Disc Use: 65.77GB total / 58.0GB for the film
Video Bitrate: 79.5 Mb/s