When I got an email asking if I wanted to review the Blu-ray of Pixar and Disney’s Toy Story of Terror I digitally leapt at the chance. On one hand, it’s a delightful Halloween-themed TV special that we enjoyed this past October and on the other, it’s another Toy Story film that can be added to the rotation. One of the reasons I spent so much time thinking about the mythology of the series is because my 3-year-old daughter is a gigantic fan of the three features and I’ve seen them all about 30 times each.
This Blu-ray not only includes the Toy Story Of Terror special, but also a trio of shorts, fake toy commercials, commentaries, deleted scenes and a few behind-the-scenes featurettes, so there’s plenty of new material to add to your collection.
When it comes to the main feature here, Toy Story Of Terror really is a wonderful, kid-appropriate scare film that knows its horror history. We kick off with a campy black and white vampire film that’s supposed to look like something Ed Wood would have made — you can see the strings the bats hang from — and then the movie gets into haunted house territory as the toys go missing one by one in a creepy motel. Halfway through, our heroes find out what’s really going on, meet a new group of toys and from there it’s an escape film. This special balances all of that out incredibly well, which is all the more impressive when you think about the fact that it’s only a half hour long. Plus, as far as my three-year-old is concerned, it’s a tiny bit scary without hitting the “turn it of now!” threshold.
In addition to being the kind of high quality story and production you expect from Pixar, TSOT is also just plain fun. I’m a big fan of the genres touched on here, but obviously there’s very little crossover between that world and my daughter’s preferred entertainment. So, it’s cool to see elements that I really enjoy — and are thematically spot-on — in the shows she does watch. Also, it’s impressive that Pixar added in a whole new group of toys here that are just as fascinating and interesting as the stalwarts we’ve grown to know and love. The Combat Carls are fantastic and I pretty much squealed when I saw the LEGO Rabbit and Transitron do their things.
From there we moved on to the three shorts called Toy Story Toons: “Hawaiian Vacation,” “Small Fry” and “Partysaurus Rex,” each of which is set after the events of Toy Story 3. As with TSOT, all three of these not only fit right in with the look and feel of the Toy Story films, but also the quality. Shorts are the kinds of things that could be easily toss off, but these feel like they were crafted instead of churned out.
Speaking of the continuity of quality, how great is it that all of these new Toy Story cartoons feature the original voice cast? Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Kristen Schaal and Timothy Dalton all show up along with the other recurring and new voice actors like Carl Weathers, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ken Marino and Kate McKinnon. Everyone’s there to have fun, do their thing and it all just works out so well.
I haven’t made it through the commentaries just yet, but I have checked out the spoof commercials for the Combat Carl PSA, Old Timer and Transitron. As a longtime toy fan and someone who writes about toy commercials on a regular basis, these tickled my fancy. I was also surprised to find my daughter interested in watching the behind-the-scenes video called “Team Of Specialists” which not only tipped me off to the bat-string I mentioned above, but also how they studied a lizard for a major character.
All-in-all, if you or your kid(s) are Toy Story fans, you can’t go wrong picking this up and adding it to your collection.