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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 66:19)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Czech: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Spanish, German, Czech, Polish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • 2 Featurette

Misery: SE

MGM/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . M15+ . PAL


Misery is the movie based on the novel of the same name by perhaps the world's most successful and popular writer, Stephen King. Many of his novels and short stories have been adapted for the big screen, some successfully, others not so. While most of his work, certainly his early stuff, is genuine horror, he has proven that he can write great dramas as well. There are still many who are probably unaware that King wrote the stories that became Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Running Man and The Green Mile, such is his prolific and varied output. While Misery does fall into the horror category, it is perhaps better described as a thriller.

Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a trash novelist, responsible for a chain of eight books chronicling the life of the fictional character Misery Chastain. The trouble is, he is sick of writing such pulp, and his new manuscript is more adult and more contemporary. After a car crash, he is rescued by his “number-one fan” (and number-one stalker and all-round fruitcake as it turns out), Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). She drags him from the car wreckage and takes him home to ‘nurse’ him, telling him that the ‘downed’ phone lines, the closed-off roads, and severity of the blizzard means they are cut off from the world for a little while.

"I'm your number one fan!"

His extensive injuries are patched up, but leave him bed-ridden with two broken legs and various other injuries. Annie reassures him that it is an honour to have the world’s most brilliant writer recuperating in her house. When Annie asks to read his latest manuscript he agrees, but she is not impressed with it to say the least, and helps “the dirty birdie” right the wrong. However, it is when she buys and reads the latest Misery novel that she really loses it and sets about forcing him to write another Misery novel, as God has instructed her, and she will do anything to help Paul achieve his, and her, goal.

This is a great thriller with a number of suspenseful passages as a result of the acting, lighting, timing and Rob Reiner’s direction. There are no special effects as such, very little makeup, and no supernatural forces at work. This is good old-fashioned suspense a-la Hitchcock. The guts of the story may be Stephen King’s, but much of its success as a film can be attributed to screenwriter William Goldman, as well as Reiner.

There are a number of differences from the book, but both are deliciously evil and stomach churning. The performances from the leads are superb, and Bates truly deserved her Best Actress Oscar. The supporting cast are also great, and the film rolls along at a steady pace. There are one or two minor plot holes of the "Why didn't he just?" kind, but essentially this is a tight thriller that will send more than one chill up your spine.


Wow! Misery is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced and, in general, it looks great. The quality of the print and the transfer is very high. It is a very sharp and well-defined image that looks like it could have been filmed last year. Colours are slightly saturated but solid, bold and free from bleeding and noise.

There are a few white flecks, but these are few and far between. There are no instances of shimmer, not even on Lauren Bacall’s character’s chequered coat. There is the mildest grain in some of the outdoor shots, but you’ll need to be looking for it to notice.

Black levels are just fine, and shadow detail is also generally good. There are numerous subtitles including English for the Hearing Impaired. The layer change is well placed between scenes.


The original audio for this film was a Dolby Digital Surround mix, so it has transposed quite well to a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. There are not a lot of aggressive sounds from the rear speakers, but they are well used for the excellent musical score and ambient sounds in many scenes. They are used for some other scenes such as the car crash, but have not been used simply to impress.

Most of the clear dialogue is placed in the centre speaker, with some mild separation and panning of sound effects across the front speakers. The subwoofer is not called on greatly, but it does chip in from time to time. There are no problems with synchronisation or volume, and all sound effects are nice and clear.


Yes folks, there are some rather nice extras included here, including the menu, and they are mostly recent. There is a nice half-hour featurette called Misery Loves Company, which is a series of interviews with various cast and crew and includes some on-the-set footage. The image is impressively sharp, and although it is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is not 16:9 enhanced. It is a bit ‘slap on the back’, but offers quite some insight into the creation of the film from the novel.

Composer Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour, at over 16 minutes, is sort of an adjunct to the previous featurette, and looks like it may have been shot for inclusion with it. It interviews Marc about scoring the film, the challenges it presented, and how he met those challenges.

There are two audio commentaries from director Rob Reiner and screenwriter William Goldman. The first, from Reiner, offers up the usual anecdotal recollections, problems with filming, shooting on set as opposed to on location, the attitudes of the cast and crew and some of the things he was trying to achieve by directing various scenes the way he did. Goldman, as scriptwriter, delves more into the story, the plot development, character development, pacing and casting. Both are relatively interesting, have a number of silent passages, and while there is some repetition are essentially engaging.

There are several photo galleries that can be viewed by category, or by selecting the Play All option. They are all self-navigating, silent, and last around four and a half minutes combined.

Lastly, there are two trailers, being a teaser for Misery that lasts just under a minute, is full frame, and is mildly interesting, and the original theatre trailer that is much longer at almost two and a half minutes, is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced. The print used is a very dirty, grainy and dark one, but is a fine example of what a trailer is designed to do, generate interest.


It is a rare thing to find a thriller that manages to keep you involved all the way through yet maintain believability. Misery does so without a host of special effects, or numerous action scenes. The acting is first rate, the movie is well paced, and there are some interesting camera angles and skilful editing to increase the tension. As it also looks and sounds good on DVD, I can highly recommend it. Oh, and if you are the type that likes to read the book before, or after, seeing the film, then you will be pleased too, for there are enough differences to make both worthwhile without feeling that one lets the other down.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2430
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      And I quote...
    "Misery is based on the novel by Stephen King, about a writer that just can’t seem to get a break. He ends up with several…"
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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