Blu-ray Review: Misery (Collector’s Edition)



People often dream of being famous and having a massive adoring fan base that fills the Rose Bowl. While the fantasy is pure bliss, those who achieve a public profile discover that not all fans wonderful, charming and have their own lives to live. The fans are very supportive as they buy whatever gets released and attend all public events. Even though they’re paying, there’s a price in the relationship. There is a bit of shock when they believe you have all the answers and somehow their day depends on you. It can become rather scary very quickly. Novelist Stephen King must deal with this a lot over the decades with his rabid fan base eager to devour his massive horror stories. Misery adapts his book about a writer being “saved” by his number one fan.

Novelist Paul Sheldon (Rollerball‘s James Caan) celebrates the ritual of finishing his latest novel. Inside his a posh hotel room, he types the final page of a manuscript, has a smoke and drink. He’s become a bestseller thanks to his Misery Chastain books. Even though it’s a nasty blizzard day, he hits the road to get back to civilization and deliver the pages to his agent (Lauren Bacall). Turns out the trip was a bad idea as he goes off the road and wakes up injured in the guest room of the Good Samaritan who rescued him. Not only is Annie Wilkes (About Schmidt‘s Kathy Bates) a former nurse, she’s a massive fan of the Misery Chastain series. She has fixed up Paul’s injuries, but he’s bed ridden and the snow storm has made it hard to get any outside help. He’s relieved to be in the trusted hands of Annie. He becomes trusting enough to give her permission to read the manuscript. While this seems like a great idea, Annie doesn’t like the ending of the book and she refuses to let this be the final installment. Things go dark quickly with her methods to inspire Paul to rewrite. Even though his agent is looking for him, sheriff Buster (Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story‘s Richard Farnsworth) believes he fell down a cliff. Will Paul end up with Misery’s fate.

Misery holds up as a film with director Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap), cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black) and screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride) capturing the horror found on King’s pages. Kathy Bates rightfully received an Oscar for being able to make Annie such a real nightmare as she goes from fan to world’s worst creative writing instructor. Even James Caan pulls off a helpless look stuck in bed most of the film. Misery: Collector’s Edition is a fine way to sense if you really want to be famous with millions of fans following you. It only takes one fan with a mallet to ruin your creativity.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out the gruesome injuries and the snowy whiteness. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. You will feel pain when Annie delivers the blow. There’s also the original release mix with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentaries include one with Rob Reiner and another with screenwriter William Goldman. Both are very informative. Reiner recounts how Stephen King only gave Castle Rock the rights to Misery if Reiner was director or producer since he appreciated Stand By Me. Goldman discusses switching up the book so that we don’t know Annie is nuts right off the bat.

Interview With Director Rob Reiner (37:07) is a recent chat as he discusses what drew him to his first horror project. He talks a lot about the nature of the film business was Castle Rock went from small production house to part of Ted Turner’s empire and sold to Time-Warner.

Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero (26:12) has the gore master behind The Walking Dead break down breaking James Caan’s legs.

Misery Loves Company (29:53) documents the making of the film with cast and crew.

Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour (14:30) deals with how to make a musical theme that’s hints without giving it away.

Diagnosing Annie Wilkes (8:46) is forensic psychologist Reid Meloy evaluating the character.

Advice For The Stalked (4:58) is what to do if you fear someone is following you.

Profile Of A Stalker (6:18) breaks down what tactics they do.

Celebrity Stalkers (5:08) is interesting, but now it seems like people need to be protected from being molested by celerities.

Anti-Stalking Laws (2:23) covers legal protections back in the ’90s.

Trailers (4:42) covers all the ways the film was promoted during the original release.

Scream Factory presents Misery: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Rob Reiner. Written by: William Goldman. Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates and Lauren Bacall. Rated: R. Running Time: 104 minutes. Released: November 28, 2017.

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