This collection packages five Paramount movies based on the writing of Stephen King. They are David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone (1983) based on the 1979 novel, Dan Attias's Silver Bullet (1985) based on the 1983 novella Cycle of the Werewolf, Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary (1989) and Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer's 2019 remake based on the 1983 novel, and Mick Garris' The Stand (1994) TV miniseries based on the 1978 novel. In addition, King wrote the screenplays for Silver Bullet, Pet Sematary (1989), and The Stand. I haven't read any of the original stories so can't comment on their adaptation to the screen. All the movies, except The Dead Zone, were released on Blu-ray last year and those transfers are the same ones here.
The Dead Zone is a science fiction, political thriller that tells the story of John Smith (Christopher Walken), who awakens from a five-year coma and finds he has psychic powers that allow him to see into a person's life (past, present, or future) after making physical contact. When he encounters Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen), a third-party right-wing candidate running for U.S. Senate, John learns Greg will become President and cause a nuclear the world's destruction. John then wonders if he has the ability to change the future and what it may require.
This offers the best story in the collection because even with the fantastic elements, the characters behavior and motivation are believable. Cronenberg assembled a talented cast of actors and has the film moves at an economical pace.
Making its U.S. Blu-ray debut, the video comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The production design uses a lot of earth tones with occasional rich hues of primary colors popping up. The video image has a soft focus. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is clear and comes from the front speakers. Ambiance can be heard in the rears and music fills the surrounds.
The title Silver Bullet serves a dual purpose, signaling it's a werewolf movie and referencing Marty (Corey Haim) the protagonist's motorized wheelchair put together by his wacky uncle Red (Gary Busey). Narrated by a future version of Marty's older sister Jane, viewers get to see how her family battled a werewolf on the loose. Silver Bullet definitely feels like other kid-adventure movies of the '80s, so it has moments of silliness, with some serious moments of gore by the make-up/special effects team.
The video comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The colors shine bright and the blacks are inky. The focus is sharp. The texture details are strong. Shadow delineation allows objects to be seen in the nighttime scenes, although crush occurs. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue has good clarity as does Jay Chattaway's clarity. Limited ambiance augments the scenes.
Pet Sematary (1989) presents an interesting story about the consequences of not properly dealing with death and grief. Moving into their new home, the Creed family meets neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne) when he saves their toddler Gage from going into the roadway. When the family cat gets run over, Jud takes Louis (Dale Midkiff) out to an Indian burial ground. The creature comes back but there is clearly something different. This isn't completely a surprise to Jud, who buried his childhood dog and knew of a grieving father who buried his son, both with terrible results, so one wonders why he bothered. Even after hearing those stories and seeing what became of the cat, Louis tries one more time with Gage. Unfortunately, the scenes with evil Gage are so unintentionally goofy, it ruins the mood of the scenes.
Pet Sematary (2019) is a similar story, cutting some plot elements, augmenting others, and switching the child that dies and comes back to the older Ellie (Jeté Laurence). She is a much more menacing character. Jud (John Lithgow) doesn't have as many examples as to why the Pet Sematary, but he still knew better. Not only is the ending is different, it seems screenwriter Jeff Buhler missed the whole point about the need to accept the death of loved ones in order to move on.
The video for Pet Sematary (1989) comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The picture looks great and one wouldn't know it was a 30-year-old movie. The colors are bright and blacks are inky. The image delivers sharp focus, and a pleasing amount of depth and texture detail. The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue is clear. Objects are positioned across the soundscape and the 18-wheel trucks can be heard racing across the speakers as they roar past the Creed house.
The video for Pet Sematary (2019) comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Shot on digital, the image delivers a strong array of colors and inky blacks. It also highlights fine texture details on costumes and in settings well. The audio is available Dolby Atmos which defaults down to Dolby TrueHD 7.1. Dialogue is clear and positioned properly. Ambient noise fills the surrounds and objects move about, tracking the trucks that fly across the screen. The subwoofer supports the score's low end.
The Stand tells of the end of the world. Over two weeks, 99% of the world's population is lost due to the release of a virus from a government lab in California that spreads across the country. There are a variety of survivors and they begin to have dreams featuring either a kind, elderly black woman, Mother Abagail (Ruby Dee) in Nebraska or the evil Randall Flagg (Jamey Sheridan) in Las Vegas. This leads to different factions to take sides and a war to commence. The storylines for the characters feel like they could have come from a soap opera. The climax finds Abagail magically destroying a nuclear weapon Randall intended to use, but if she was so strong, one wonders what took so long to straighten thing out.
The video comes with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The image retains its SD look so colors are duller and blacks are inky but lose their richness in some scenes. Also, the image is soft, so focus isn't as sharp and depth is limited. The audio is available in Dolby Digital 2.0. Dialogue is clear, but the effects don't come through with the power that they should.
Extras are only available for three movies (HD unless noted):
Pet Sematary (1989)
- Audio Commentary by director Mary Lambert
- Pet Sematary: Fear and Remebrance (7 min) - Those working on new movie look back.
- Pet Sematary: Revisitation (10 min) Lambert is interviewed.
- Old extras look at Stephen King Territory (SD, 13 min), The Characters (SD, 13 min), Filming the Horror (SD, 10 min)
Pet Sematary (2019)
- Alternate Ending (9 min) - Doc makes different yet still flawed choice.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (17 min) - Seven scenes, some of which expand on the story.
- Night Terrors (5 min) - Nightmares (deleted scenes) of Louis, Rachel, and Ellie.
- The Tale of Timmy Baterman (3 min) - In a deleted scene, Jud tells story to no one.
- Beyond the Deadfall Four-Part Feature (61 min) - An extended look at the making of the film.
- Audio Commentary by director Mick Garris
- Making-Of (SD, 5 min), a very brief look.
While The Dead Zone Blu-ray would be the only one in the set I would buyif it was available separately, fans of these Stephen King movies should be pleased to get this collection. The high-def presentations on all but The Stand are satisfying, which is to be expected considering the source. Would have liked more extras to delve into on The Stand and the two that don't have any.