This Disney Pixar feature begins in black and white on a dark and story night and the goes to color. The terror isn’t with vampires, but with a different kind of treacherous stranger. Sometimes the horrors we bump into, including at the SleepWell motel, are in the normal-looking people who have darkness in their hearts.

“Toy Story of Terror!” was a 21-minute Halloween special that premiered on ABC (the Disney-owned channel) last year in mid-October (16 October 2013). As with all of the Toy Story tales, this is totally family-friendly, and not too frightening even for the little ones.

The gang–Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles)–is on a road trip with their little girl Bonnie. The toys are in the trunk enjoying a black and white horror flick on a portable DVD player. Bonnie and her mother stop at the Sleepwell motel for the night. Mr. Pricklepants gives commentary on the how the plot is proceeding like a classic horror flick.

Jessie might not think the movie is scary, but she is scared of being in closed boxes having been abandoned in a box for years.  The animated short focuses on Jessie overcoming her fears in order to help her friend. Along the way, Mr. Pricklepants brings a geeky humor to the feature as a horror movie reference commentator.

One of the delights of this DVD/Blu-ray is learning how many different movie references the production and design crew drew upon including:

  • “No Country for Old Men”
  • “The Shining”
  • “Citizen Kane”
  • “Blair Witch Project”

The movie also has a mantra: “Combat Carl never gives up.” One hopes that Combat Carl (Carl Weathers) comes back in the future.

Disney again shows (as in “Tangled”) that lizards can be cute. A new character is well-trained iguana (not a chameleon) who has (Spoiler Alert!) a habit of abducting toys.

One of the features of the DVD/Blu-ray is you can play with vintage commercials. You can also hear commentary from the writers and directors for “Toy Story of Terror” and the Toy Story Toons.

Toy Story Toons (shorts)

  • “Hawaiian Vacation”: In the dead of winter, Ken and Barbie want to take a Hawaiian vacation and the toys help make it happen. Ken is dim, but likable and the other toys have a loving glow in their efforts to make this twosome happy in a faux Hawaiian setting.
  • “Toy Story Small Fry”: Fast food toys at Star Poultry Palace are based on the 15 fast food restaurants that served as research material. Star Command is the name of the movie that the toys come from. Not all of them are equal.  Soon enough, we find a history of other fast food toys who have one function and are often weird intersections of different character types. They all fit into the personalities in a support group. Don’t forget the end credit menu items.
  •  “Partysaurus”: Is all about those of us who are not the center of the party. And yet, Rex is not  able to fit in until he meets the bath toys and gets into a costume to be the center of a toy party rave. This was produced by Pixar Canada.

Do you love Toy Story? Are you interested in how group dynamics made a feature, even shorts work? Then this DVD/Blu-ray is worth buying, particularly right in time for Halloween.

 

 

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