What starts out as a fun road trip for the Toy Story gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate in this Toy Story OF TERROR!
I always get super psyched when a new Pixar movie comes out. They've made us laugh, cry, and have even thrilled us on occasion. But rarely have they tried to frighten us, let alone make a horror movie. But for Halloween in 2013, Pixar released a thirty minute short film, featuring everyone's favorite toys from the 'Toy Story' franchise on primetime television. And it certainly did not disappoint. Plus, it was so much fun to see what the geniuses over at Pixar could do with a horror movie.
Every toy is back this time around including Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, and Mr. Potato Head, as well as some newcomers. But what really sells this short besides the excellent script and voice acting, are the numerous horror movie references throughout the 22-minute runtime. You can tell that writer/director Angus MacLane (an animator for Pixar since 'A Bug's Life'), is as huge fan of horror and science fiction movies. With new toys such as Combat Carl (voiced by Carl Weathers of course), Transitron, a PEZ cat, and shape-shifting LEGOs, MacLane uses these new toys to their fullest ability that packs some great laughs and some genuinely creepy moments.
A flat tire strands Bonnie (Emily Hahn) and her mother (Lori Alan) at a creepy, small motel for the night, due to the tow truck company not being open until morning. In the car with Bonnie are Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), and Trixie (Kristen Schaal). As the group locates their room and settles in for the night, the toys come awake and feel like exploring their surroundings. But soon enough some unseen monster starts capturing each toy one by one, until it's just Jessie left to find her friends before morning.
During her search, she meets up with some new toys, one of them being Combat Carl (Weathers), a big GI Joe looking guy with his miniature version Combat Carl Jr., which makes for some excellent comedy. Little does Jessie know that the motel manager is an ebay seller (Stephen Tobolowsky) who has his pet iguana around him at all times. But now it is up to Jessie and her new friends to save the day and be back in their room before morning. It was a good move to have Jessie the main heroine here. She struggles with her own nightmares and hangups in order to save her friends and must overcome her greatest fear to survive.
Kids and adults alike will love this film, as there are some laugh out loud moments and some excellent horror movie easter eggs for the older generation. As always, the voice talent here is top notch, and adding Carl Weathers to the cast is simply perfect. I hope Pixar continues to release these holiday themed shorts throughout the year with their other franchises, because 'Toy Story of Terror!' hits all of the right notes.
'Toy Story of Terror!' is as every bit of excellent as you've come to expect from a Disney/Pixar release. It has a glorious 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The detail of this animation is perfect. Every inch of screen is completely detailed from the stains on the walls of the seedy motel to the textures on the toys' cloth costumes. Every stitch is crystal clear and vivid. Even in the darker scenes, which this short film has a considerable amount of, looks impressive, and never leaves you in the dark.
The edges are very crisp and organic. There are some shots that actually look realistic and not done with CG. It looks that good. The colors simply pop off screen at all times and are well balanced and bright. The black levels are very deep and inky with no crush whatsoever. There were no instances of any banding or aliasing to speak of, which is difficult to say for an animated film, but Pixar does it up right. This video presentation is amazing.
This release comes with an impressive lossless DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix that sounds robust, full, and loud. Pixar uses all of the favored horror genre sounds here to perfection, which should make you happy. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, and is perfectly situated on the center channel. There is some excellent directionality here as well.
The sound effects and creepy voices and noises can be heard from the surrounds nicely, and puts you in the center of the action. You might even begin to look over your shoulder or around your room to see if that was a real noise or not. These sound effects are life-like and pack a good punch. Ambient noises can be heard too and sound great. The fun and eerie score always adds to the entertainment of the movie and never drowns out any dialogue or sound effect. The LFE is superb and the dynamic range is very wide here, leaving the audio presentation something to marvel over.
Audio Commentary - Director Angus McLane, director of photography Ian Megibben, and editor Axel Geddes all sit down and discuss the making of this short film. This is a very fun and engaging commentary track as the three point out every nod and reference to our favorite horror films that showed up in this movie. They also go into the themes of having a heroine as the star this time around as well as the new characters they introduced. It's definitely a must-listen commentary track.
Team of Specialists (HD, 12 mins.) - A look at director MacLane's creative life as he and his team work on the film, from developing the story to animating, to the characters, to storyboarding each scene. Pretty cool stuff here.
Toy Story Toons (HD, 19 mins.) - The last three 'Toy Story' short films including 'Hawaiian Vacation', 'Small Fry', and 'Partysaurus Rex'. With each short film, you also get the option to listen to their audio commentaries, which are all well worth the listen.
Vintage Toy Commercials (HD, 4 mins.) - Three hilarious and fun vintage commercials that promo the three new character toys in the film. Highly recommended extra here. You can watch these with optional director introductions.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 7 mins.) - There are three deleted scenes, which are all unfinished, but are all worth watching. You have the option to watch these with audio commentary by Geddes.
D23 Teaser (HD, 1 min.) - The 'Toy Story of Terror!' promo from D23.
'Toy Story of Terror!' is quite a fun film, and an excellent addition to the Pixar and 'Toy Story' universe. The references to other horror classics are hilarious and great, and the fact that they used Jessie as the main hero here was fantastic. The video and audio presentations are both demo quality while the extras are all worth watching. And I'm glad that Disney is aware that they are selling a 22-minute film, therefore the price is very reasonable. If you're a fan of Pixar, this is one entertaining short film you'll want to add to your collection. Highly recommended!