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Misery (1990): Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

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Misery Collector's Edition - blu-ray

5 stars

2017 has been something of a marquee year for Stephen King cinematic adaptations, with TV scoring big on Gerald’s Game, 1922, and Mr. Mercedes, and It breaking records on the big screen. (Note: The Dark Tower was a big stumble.) So although this year is a few shy of Misery’s 30th anniversary, it is IMO one of the finest book to screen King adaptations of all time and belongs in a release year that will be known as a high quality resurgence in his cinematic tales.

While most King books rights are snatched up before or as soon as they are released, one of the world’s greatest writers had a special attachment to this particular tome and held out when the movie folk came calling. That was until Rob Reiner, who had impressed the author with his adaptation of King’s short story The Body with the film Stand By Me, made the offer to produce or direct it.

This is indirectly one of King’s most personal stories and an exploration of his feeling trapped by his own success. His protagonist, Paul Sheldon, is a highly successful author of period romance novels and his main character Misery has become the focal point of his entire career. But burned out from Misery, Paul has been hard at work on something new up in the Colorado Mountains and unbeknownst to the world at large has sealed the fate of Misery already. Unbeknownst to Paul, quietly watching outside his hotel in the cold is his ‘number one fan’ Annie Wilkes. When Paul leaves the hotel, his newly finished manuscript in hand, and drives off home into a horrific storm, a series of unfortunate events will see him badly injured in a car wreck and bedridden and at the mercy of one loopy Annie Wilkes.

This film is a master class in subtly building up tension. King’s novel is one of this reviewer’s favourite, but what the film brings is a more reserved depiction of violence instead of King’s patented horrific imagery. So when Annie does turn violent, the juxtaposition from her thinly veiled pleasantry to deeply troubling psychosis is very effective.

Any changes from the novel are minimal and only serve to highly this extremely focused and clever William Goldsman script. As stated, some of the violence has been lessen but not watered down, they have invented a husband/wife relationship for the sheriff that serves to remind the viewer of the world at large, and give a moment to breathe from the ratcheting fear in Annie Wilke’s little microcosmic prison.

This is essentially a two actor show and Kathy Bates and James Caan are unbeatable, with Bates, in her cinematic debut, earning an Oscar and gifting the world instead of just Broadway, with her awesome skill as a performer.

Reiner had never directed a thriller before, but for a first timer in the genre he seems to have made the perfect one first time out. He, along with cinematographer (and future A-list director) Barry Sonnenfeld construct an always riveting moving image, which is some feat considering the bulk of the film takes place in one room. The editing by Robert Leighton is first rate as he takes seemingly innocuous moments and uses them to increase your pulse exponentially.

I imagine the smile of Stephen King’s face when he saw what was accomplished when he first viewed this film. It probably is an expression he was worn for the better part of 2017.

Misery is in this reviewer’s eyes, one of the finest of the King pantheon of films and still stands the test of time all these years later. Inevitably, it will be remade, but unlike It this year, I hold this film in the regard of The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption: unbeatable.

Masterfully, beautifully, horrifically perfect.

Misery Collector's Edition - blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R.
107 mins
: Rob Reiner
William Goldman
James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
: Horror
Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now, he's writing to stay alive.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You want it? You want it? Eat it! Eat it till ya choke, you sick, twisted fuck!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
November 30, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
Noember 28, 2017
Synopsis: After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Misery Collector's Edition - blu-ray


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- November 28, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

So SHOUT has become something of a legendary producer of Blu-rays. Reel Reviews is based in the US; I am based in Australia. All we have been given so far is a bare-bones Blu-ray with a dated transfer. The news of this release prompted me to go buy a multi-region player so I could review it! Was it worth it?

TRANSFER: Codec is a beautiful M-PEG4 AVC transfer that according the SHOUT is from a 4K scan of the camera negatives. It is a significant boost from previous releases, but on wonders why they haven’t released it in a 4K as well. Colour timing is a vast improvement, with flesh tones more natural that the reddish hue of the previous release. Detail and depth of field from Sonnenfeld’s use of lenses really pops. Presence of blue, especially in the outdoor shots of skies, is now much more prominent. It’s a colder look than before and serves the film well. While this is a beautiful looking picture, SHOUT haven’t gone in to this scan and cleaned up some inevitable imperfects in the print, so you get occasionally white flecks that pop up sporadically. This takes it down a notch for this reviewer. But still the best transfer we have be given to date.



  • Audio Commentary With Rob Reiner

  • Audio Commentary With Screenwriter William GoldmanSpecial Features


  • NEW Interview With Director Rob Reiner
  • NEW Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Greg Nicotero
  • “Misery Loves Company” Featurette
  • “Marc Shaiman’s Musical MiseryTour” Featurette
  • “Diagnosing Annie Wilkes” Featurette
  • “Advice For The Stalked” Featurette
  • “Profile Of A Stalker” Featurette
  • “Celebrity Stalkers” Featurette
  • “Anti-Stalking Laws” Featurette
  • Trailers

Misery Collector's Edition - blu-ray

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