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Making Contact (1985) - Blu-ray Review

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Making Contact (1985) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersI bet you probably didn’t know that Darth Vader made an appearance in another film shortly after the release of Return of the Jedi.  I also bet you didn’t know that a fat kid’s biggest fear is to be eaten by a double cheeseburger.  It’s all true.  Making Contact, an Amblin rip-off that is pretty much The Goonies, if they all hated each other, has no shame.  And sometimes that's okay.

Originally filmed when writer/director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) was not obsessed with making disaster flicks, Making Contact (aka Joey) is probably his second best film, landing right below Stargate in my book.  That might not be saying much, I know, but there it is.  It’s nonsensical, goofy as hell, and features a huge mountain puppet, making it impossible to forget.  

Making Contact is a nightmarish boys’ tale constructed with a wildly imaginative realm of fantasy.  Emmerich might be a hack talent, but he likes to embrace the insane and, at least here, loves throwing it on the wall to see what sticks.  In that way, his moviemaking gets its best serving with this ridiculous flick.  You probably need to know that before sitting down to watch flying knives attack a clueless mother, but c'mon, it's Emmerich.  What did you expect? 

Made in Germany and released in America by New World Pictures, Making Contact is a b-movie about a grief-stricken young boy, who gets mercilessly bullied at school, while he deals with the sudden death of his father.  He’s also (somehow) recently developed a bit of telekinetic abilities that, rather surprisingly, don’t seem to impress the useless adults in his life all that much.  Even the ambulance drivers are useless in this one, folks.   

Joey (Joshua Morell) doesn’t want for anything.  One look at his room and you will see hundreds of era-friendly toys.  I recognized some that I once had.  Everything from Star Wars to Pac-Man is visible on the walls and floor of his room.  He even has a toy robot named Charlie who goes to battle against some remote control tanks sent from the neighborhood bullies, but when his plastic, red toy phone starts lighting up and ringing at night with a person on the other end, Joey is quick to assume it is his father.  That’s how much he misses his dad.

It is not his father.

Soon enough, a ventriloquist’s demonic dummy named Fletcher takes center stage.  Fletcher’s pretty grumpy.  He also wears a monocle.  Yes, he’s a high-class ass and he’s only getting more full of himself with every minute that passes. So, too, are the bullies who seek no end in their pursuit of Joey, going so far as to actually plan a kidnapping of the kid.  Damn.  The Eighties WERE brutal.

Fletcher’s also is pulling the strings in Joey’s nightmares.  He issues spooky grunts and growls at first.  Then come the demands of PLAY THE GAME, eventually uniting Joey’s bullies and Joey himself against the forces of evil swelling up from below the ground.  All courtesy of a maze below the surface of where Joey lives.  Huh? 

The useless professionals (notice a trend: adults are dumb) swoop in and, all of a sudden, Joey’s abilities are under constant observation as he deals with a vey pissed off puppet, which creates everything from monsters to a giant anamorphic hamburger to terrorize the kids with.  Their worst fears come to life right in front of them. This includes Vader.

As Fletcher’s powers grow, so do Joey’s abilities.  This, like much of Making Contact, goes unexplained…including the fate of Joey.  Does he or does he not survive his trip into the spirit world?  We get hints.  And maybe the German version answers that, but I highly doubt that it does.

Like I said, this supernatural yarn takes every idea from Spielberg’s early legacy in films like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and, hell, even Poltergeist and reshuffles those cards in the deck.  Surprisingly, and as far as b-movies go, it largely works.  Once trapped inside this weird and wacky daydream world where kids are better suited for reality than the adults, we’ll buy anything Emmerich decides to regurgitate.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics has issued this monster-obsessed (not for) kid’s tale on blu-ray for the very first time.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately considering Emmerich’s history), it is the trimmed American version and the only extras are trailers.  So, yeah, this tribute to all things Spielberg circa the 1980s might feel a bit too borrowed, but it absolutely works to create an atmospheric adventure through the underground. 

Give it a chance.  Making Contact just might reach out to you….

Making Contact (1985) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime:
98 mins
Director
: Roland Emmerich
Writer:
Roland Emmerich, Hans J. Haller
Cast:
Joshua Morrell, Eva Kryll, Tammy Shields
Genre
: Action | Fantasy
Tagline:
An out of this world adventure.
Theatrical Distributor:
No United Artists theatrical distribution
Official Site:
Release Date:

DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 9, 2017
Synopsis: Following the death of his father, nine-year-old Joey finds himself at the center of a frightening series of phenomena, including telekinesis, phone calls from beyond the grave and one very sinister ventriloquist dummy with extremely homicidal instincts. But when the authorities arrive to investigate Joey's gifts, they unknowingly unleash a horrific supernatural force that no scientist can comprehend and only one boy can hope to stop. Roland Emmerich, the director of blockbusters Independence Day, Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow and Universal Soldier, wonderfully directed this haunting shocker.

 

Making Contact (1985) - Blu-ray Review

 

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- May 9, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Kino-Lorber presents Making Contact with a newly polished 1080p gleam for its HD debut.  The film has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundscape that is good for highlighting the sweet notes in the soundtrack.  There’s an impressive amount of vibrabcy to the picture.  Outside shots are leafy green and earthy brown.  The funeral scene is punctuated nicely.  All of the dark details in the Joey’s room and in the shadows of the maze are made clear.  Flesh tones are good.  Shadows are deep and outlined well.  Honestly, this is a good release from Kino.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Trailers only

Making Contact (1985) - Blu-ray Review

 

 

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