Misery Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriter: William Goldman
Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated R | 108 Minutes
Release Date: November 28, 2017
“I’m your number one fan. There’s nothing to worry about. You’re going to be just fine. I will take good care of you. I’m your number one fan.”
Directed by Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride) and written by two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men), 1990’s Misery is based on the Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. King, the world’s foremost writer of horror fiction, has had something of a resurgence in popularity lately, with this year’s theatrical releases of The Dark Tower and It, not to mention Netflix’s excellent adaptations of Gerald’s Game and 1922.
Scream Factory, a subsidiary of Shout! Factory that restores and distributes cult genre titles, is keeping the King craze going with their new two-disc Misery Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release. Considered one of the greatest horror-thrillers of all-time by critics and fans alike, Misery stars James Caan (The Godfather) as Paul Sheldon, a novelist in a bad way after a blinding blizzard sends his car spinning off the road. When he regains consciousness, Paul finds himself in a secluded cabin, bedridden with broken legs and a dislocated shoulder.
His benefactor is Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates, who won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role), a dutiful nurse who just so happens to be the writer’s number one fan. As the local sheriff, Buster (Richard Farnsworth), searches the snow drifts for Sheldon, the writer begins to discover that beneath the homely exterior of his “number one fan” is a cunning, unhinged psychotic hellbent on keeping her favorite romance novelist as a permanent houseguest.
Nearly three decades later, Misery stands tall as a fantastic horror-thriller and a top-tier Stephen King film adaptation. From Goldman’s script to Reiner’s direction to the amazing performances from Bates and Caan, there isn’t a false note in the entire film. Like Mike Flanagan’s Gerald’s Game, Misery soars on its claustrophobic, stage play-esque setup, creating tension and suspense by making their protagonists passive, bedfast characters, unable to escape their aggressors without injuring themselves further in the process.
Revisiting the movie for the first time since its VHS release, I was amazed at how well Reiner’s film holds up. It’s still a master’s course in dread, and Bates’ breakthrough performance is just as impressive and award-worthy now as it was in 1990. Her Annie abhors profanity and instead expresses anger with strange words and phrases like “cockadoodie,” “mister man,” and “dirty birdy.” Bates’ brilliant turn as the obsessed super-fan sells this completely – a horrific performance every bit as iconic as Sissy Spacek’s Carrie White or Tim Curry’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Speaking of iconic King characters, It’d be quite terrifying to see the damage Bates’ Wilkes and Marcia Gay Harden’s religious fanatic in The Mist, Mrs. Carmody, could do if they put their heads together. Anyway, this is a great film that’s worth the double-dip if you picked up a previous Blu-ray release. Beyond the stunning new 4K restoration from the original film elements, this two-disc collector’s edition comes with a ton of special features, including new interviews with Reiner and special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero.
There’s two audio commentaries, one with Reiner and another with Goldman, as well as several previously released featurettes, including “Misery Loves Company,” “Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour,” “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes,” “Advice for the Stalked,” “Profile of a Stalker,” “Celebrity Stalkers,” and “Anti-Stalking Laws.” In addition to the 1080p high-definition transfer (1.85:1 aspect ratio), there’s the nerve-shattering DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that brings the infamous “hobbling scene” to life with some truly sickening sound effects.
All in all, this is another must-own definitive release of a classic genre film by Scream Factory. I hope we get more of these two-disc collector’s editions for Stephen King’s film adaptations – my personal wishlist would include Cujo, The Dead Zone, Christine, and Silver Bullet – because the amount of care Scream Factory has put into films like Misery, Carrie, The Dark Half, and Firestarter is proof that these guys care about horror just as much as the King himself.