CASPER [1995 / 2014] [Blu-ray + Digital HD ULTRAVIOLET] [USA Release]
The Haunting Season Has Begun! Seeing is Believing!
From director Brad Silberling and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment comes a live-action fun house ride filled with laughter, excitement and ghostly surprises. "Ghost therapist" Dr. James Harvey [Bill Pullman] and his daughter Kathleen “Kat” Harvey [Christina Ricci] arrive at the drafty old Whipstaff Manor. Its greedy owner, Carrigan Crittenden [Cathy Moriarty], has hired Dr. James Harvey to exorcise the house's apparitions: a friendly but lonely young ghost named Casper, who's just looking for a friend, and his outrageous uncles Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso “The Ghostly Trio.” If the plan works, Carrigan Crittenden and Paul “Dibbs” Plutzker [Eric Idle], her partner-in-slime, can get their hands on the manor's fabled treasure. Meanwhile, Casper has found a kindred spirit in Kathleen “Kat” Harvey, but “The Ghostly Trio” will not tolerate "fleshies" in their house. With hilarious antics and dazzling special effects from many of the creators of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and’ Jurassic Park.’ ‘CASPER’ is a mile-a-minute adventure comedy for the whole family.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1995 Golden Screen, Germany: Win: Golden Screen Award for the film ‘CASPER.’ 1995 The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards: Nomination: Worst Picture for Colin Wilson. 1996 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA: Win: Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Christina Ricci. Nomination: Best Fantasy Film. 1996 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards: Win: Top Box Office Films for James Horner. 1996 Kids' Choice Awards, USA: Nomination: Blimp Award for Favorite Movie. 1996 Young Artist Awards: Win: Best Performance by a Young Actor for Voiceover Role for Malachi Pearson. Nomination: Best Family Feature in a Musical or Comedy. Nomination: Best Young Leading Actress in a Feature Film for Christina Ricci.
FILM FACT No.2: In the mirror scene, Dr. James Harvey was also supposed to transform into Steven Spielberg and according to director Brad Silberling, the cameo was filmed, but was cut for pacing reasons. Steven Spielberg was of course totally relieved, feeling that he is not much of an actor himself and was quite nervous in front of the camera. With the actress Cathy Moriarty came to fame in the brilliant Joe Dante 1993 film ‘MATINEE’ playing two characters Ruth Corday and Carole.
Cast: Chauncey Leopardi, Spencer Vrooman, Malachi Pearson (Casper) (voice), Cathy Moriarty, Eric Idle, Ben Stein, Don Novello, Fred Rogers (archive footage), Terry Murphy, Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Ernestine Mercer, Doug Bruckner (Reporter voice), Joe Nipote (Stretch voice), Joe Alaskey (Stinkie voice), Brad Garrett (Fatso voice), John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper voice), Garette Ratliff Henson, Jessica Wesson, Wesley Thompson, Michael Dubrow, J.J. Anderson, Jess Harnell (voice), Michael McCarty, Micah Winkelspecht, Mike Simmrin, Amy Brenneman, Devon Sawa (Casper on Screen), Janette Andrade (uncredited), Dan Aykroyd (uncredited), Rodney Dangerfield (uncredited), Clint Eastwood (uncredited), Mel Gibson (uncredited), Elise Main (uncredited) and Tony Stef'Ano (uncredited)
Director: Brad Silberling
Producers: Colin Wilson, Gerald R. Molen, Jeff Franklin, Jeffrey A. Montgomery, Paul Deason, Steve Waterman and Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Joe Oriolo (characters), Deanna Oliver (written) and Sherri Stoner (written)
Composer: James Horner
Cinematography: Dean Cundey (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Color by DeLuxe)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
French: 5.1 DTS Surround Sound
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
Running Time: 100 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘CASPER’  is based on the popular cartoon character, and this family-oriented "ghost story" is about a not-so-scary spirit who bonds with a little girl Kathleen “Kat” Harvey [Christina Ricci]. But we have the eternally irritable Carrigan Crittenden [Cathy Moriarty] who discovers that the only thing she's been left in her recently departed father's will is a rickety old house in Maine in New England. Naturally, Carrigan Crittenden is totally furious about this, until her "close personal friend" and assistant, Paul “Dibbs” Plutzker [Eric Idle], and discovers a secret message that a treasure may be concealed somewhere in the house.
Carrigan Crittenden and Paul “Dibbs” Plutzker take off for Maine in New England, only to learn that the house is haunted by Casper "the friendly ghost" and his three ghostly uncles Stretch [Joe Nipote], Stinkie [Joe Alaskey] and Fatso [Brad Garrett]. After futilely recruiting an exorcist Father Guido Sarducci [Don Novello], more or less reviving his Father Guido Sarducci character from “Saturday Night Live” and a "professional ghost exterminator" Dr. Raymond Stantz [Dan Aykroyd], Carrigan Crittenden brings in a "ghost psychiatrist" Dr. James Harvey [Bill Pullman] and his daughter Kathleen “Kat” Harvey [Christina Ricci].
Innocently attracted to the young girl, Casper [Malachi Pearson] befriends Kathleen “Kat” Harvey as they try to save the ghosts home from the evil Ms. Carrigan Crittenden. The brilliant eye-popping special effects highlight this magical wonderful story that touches lightly on the theme of what lies at the heart of human desires. Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Gibson and The Crypt Keeper [John Kassir] all make cameos as apparitions in the mirror as Bill Pullman looks into in the house.
Of course there is also the CGI side of ‘CASPER’ and the team of animators have done a wonderful job of making Casper and his uncles blend semi-seamlessly with the real life settings. There are no rough edges and everything works so well together for the film ‘CASPER’ especially regarding the brilliant CGI special effects, rather instead, than using the embellishment for the laughs alone.
As for the acting, well the first thing to mention is that Malachi Pearson who provides the voice for Casper is totally brilliant and very effective, delivering cute and funny lines from that slightly high pitched yet charming voice and matching the emotion of the comedy perfectly. But the real stars are Bill Pullman as Ghost therapist Dr. James Harvey and Christina Ricci as his daughter Kathleen “Kat” Harvey and Bill Pullman does a decent enough job of having fun with his 2 dimensional character never trying to make it any more than a stooge for the various jokes played upon him by Casper's uncles Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso. But it works and in the scene where the tables are turned and Kathleen “Kat” Harvey screams at seeing her first ghostly apparition and the fact that her father Dr. James Harvey also freaks makes it a fun, totally silly character.
What is really nice is that Christina Ricci having made her name as Wednesday Addams in ‘The Addams Family’ film, Christina Ricci gets chance to shed the morbid outfits and play a semi normal teenager, and someone who befriends ghosts can't be completely that normal. Christina Ricci does well with the main character making her come across as your typical teenager and yet never adds too many dimensions to make her feel out of place in what is in effect a 2 dimensional cartoon. Christina Ricci manages to deliver the sweet, but nice and cute at the same time, without over doing it and Kathleen “Kat” Harvey interactions with Casper works so brilliantly, especially with the scene where Kathleen “Kat” Harvey is being dragged through the halls by Casper and Christina Ricci goes slamming into a wall as Casper flies through it.
Whilst all this is really good and ‘CASPER’ is for me a totally entertaining spookily fun film that I know all age groups will really enjoy and love this film, as there is something for everyone, especially when they do go for all those comical fright scenes, that has a slight horror aspect to it, but nothing too scary overall, especially in a not a nasty way but when Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso occasionally show their naughty side of their characters, the animation may give really young children a slight fright; but in fact as an adult I thought these moments were really cleverly done, but it's worth remembering when plonking young children down to watch the film, that it is all a totally harmless jolly fun film to watch.
What this all boils down to is that the film ‘CASPER’ is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable film, that manages to combine the use of brilliant CGI computer animation, with some more traditional elements, such as simple cartoon slapstick and blending them together brilliantly, to make this a totally amusing and fun filled film that has elements of some cuteness, but it definitely has a great deal of comedy going for it and it also has a couple of ghostly frights, making it a wonderful way to waste 100 minutes as you watch Christina Ricci and Bill Pullman interact with Casper “the friendly ghost” and his mischievous ghostly uncles. So all in all, it is a great fun film that will entertain you for many hours and it definitely has a repeat viewing enjoyment, as there is so much action going on, you sometimes miss stuff and that is why a repeat viewing is a must.
CASPER MUSIC TRACK LISTING
CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST (Written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston) [Performed by Little Richard]
THAT’S LIFE (Written by Kelly Gordon and Dean Kay) [Performed by Frank Sinatra)
SAME SONG (Written by Shock-G (aka Gregory Jacobs), Ron Brooks and Tupac Shakur) [Performed by Digital Underground
HARD COPY BALL LOGO (Written by Edd Kalehoff)
REMEMBER ME THIS WAY (Written by David Foster and Linda Thompson) [Performed by Jordan Hill]
Blu-ray Image Quality – Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment brings us ‘CASPER’ Blu-ray disc a really spooky haunting experience with a stunning 1080p encode image, as well as a very nice 1.85:1 (Anamorphic) aspect ratio. The image is very stable to look at, and giving us an image that is very detailed. With this Blu-ray, colours are faithfully rendered, and shadow details are also better than average, which is crucial with a film of this calibre, especially with so many dimly lit environments. In addition, the image is very clean, with some slight visible film grain, but nothing too bothersome. The haunted house's strange red-tinted interior, is offset by some more traditionally black, grey and blue rooms and stands out really nicely with a few brighter scenes, such as a few of the outdoor moments and a classroom sequence, deliver a healthy, but stable palette of colour and skin tones are really good. Black levels are never problematic, but hints of a push towards a dark purple shade are occasionally evident. Overall, it was still a good visual and an enjoyable presentation and top marks to Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment brings us ‘CASPER’ a really spooky haunting experience with a very good scary soundtrack, especially with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound track, that is filled with lots of quality ambient sound effects that are frequently more aggressive than they are subtle. Blowing winds, thunder, creaks, moans, and assorted haunted house scary moment effects are playfully implemented in terms of volume and stage presence and gives a brilliant robust performance. Ghostly voices float naturally and effortlessly throughout your surround speakers to good effect and are totally naturally integrated. Bigger action elements, such as when a "train" powers through the listening area, all of it is full of great fun. The James Horner composed music is aggressively big and potent yet clear and precisely placed around the sound stage, with a wide front end performance and can sometimes get slightly aggressive, but not too dominant. Generally dialogue reproduction is very strong and centre-focused. So all in all it is a very a good overall sound performance and again top marks to Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Revealing CASPER: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Movie  [480i] [1.37:1] [47:10] Here we view a really nice detailed documentary with some humorous overtones, where we explore the cast and crew's familiarity with modernising the characters. We also hear why Brad Silberling was hired as the director on the recommendation of Steven Spielberg, because before that Brad Silberling had been working previously for four years in Television. We also get view the set design model of the inside of the haunted house, sketches from the Production Designer, and several sketches of Casper illustrations. We also get to see some early rough video footage with interaction between the ghosts and the actors. We also get to see the physical demands of the roles of the actors, but at the same time they had a great lot of laughs, we see them creating the CGI digital effects for the characters. We see James Horner with the orchestra conducting his composed film music score, plus we also get to view the cast and crew attending the cinema premiere of the film ‘CASPER’ and looks like they had a jolly time. Contributors include: Brad Siberling [Director], Cathy Moriarty [Carrigan Crittenden], Bill Pullman [Dr. James Harvey], Joe Alaskey [Voice of “Stinkie”], Christina Ricci [Kathleen “Kat” Harvey], Leslie Dilley [Production Design], Dean Cundey [Director of Photography], Malachi Pearson [Voice of “Casper], Steven Spielberg [Executive Producer], Colin Wilson [Producer], Sherri Stoner [Writer], Deanna Oliver [Writer], Eric Idle [Paul 'Dibbs' Plutzker], Bill Pullman [Dr. James Harvey], Phil Nibbelink [Animation Director], Brad Garrett [Voice of “Fatso”], Joe Nipote [Voice of “Stretch”], Joe Alaskey [Voice of “Stinkie”], Rosemary Brandenburg [Set Decoration], Ed Verreaux [Art Direction], Gary Hymes [Stunt Coordinator], Kyle Odermatt [Digital Character Modelling Supervisor], Scott Farrar [Visual Effects Plate Supervisor], Stefen Fangmeier [Digital Character Co-supervisor], Dennis Muren [Digital Character Supervision], Michael Kahn [Film Editing], Eric Armstrong [Animation Director], David Carson [Chrachter Design Supervisor], Matthew Hendershot [Digital Modeler] and James Horner [Music Composer]. Written, Produced and Directed by Joseph “J.M.” Kenny.
Special Feature: Deleted Scene #91: “Lucky Enough to Be a Ghost”  [480i] [1.37:1] [4:58] With this special feature, you have several ways of viewing this deleted scene #91: “Lucky Enough to Be a Ghost.” It informs the viewer that you have to Press “Enter” on your remote control to jump between the two different deleted versions of scene #91 and they are as follows: The First version of the deleted scene #91 is without the ghosts. The Second version is the animator’s reference which shows the actors holding models of the ghosts. You also have the option of playing the deleted scene #91 with an audio commentary by director Brad Silberling or playing the deleted scene #91 without the audio commentary. With the audio commentary we find out the reason the deleted scene #91 was not allowed to be fully filmed as the executives said the initial cost would be $100,000, but to actual get the go ahead to include it in the film complete would have come to a staggering $3,000,000. It is best to view it with the audio commentary as director Brad Silbering explains in great detail what you would actual see in the film if they had been allowed to complete the deleted scene #91.
Special Feature: The Harveytoons Show: Casper the Friendly Ghost: Penguin for Your Thoughts  [1080i] [1.37:1] [7:00] Casper the Friendly Ghost returns a baby penguin to the South Pole. Voice Cast: Jack Mercer [Mr. Penguin] (uncredited), Mae Questel [Baby Penguin's Cries] (uncredited), Sid Raymond [Policeman/Plane Passenger] (uncredited) and Cecil Roy [Casper] (uncredited). Director: Seymour Kneitel. Screenplay: Larz Bourne. Music: Winston Sharples, Jerry Livingston and Mack David. The "Casper" character was originally developed by Joe Oriolo and Seymour Reit.
Audio Commentary with Director Brad Silberling: Here we are personally introduced to the director Brad Silberling, and informs us that for the next 100 minutes and inform us he is going to subject us all to his personal ramblings about this film, but first of all informs us the film ‘CASPER’ took well over 2 years to bring to the silver screen, and was a film with a lot of firsts, and was also the first time the character of Casper was revisited to the big screen after a hiatus of over 50 years and was of course originally introduced to us as the “Friendly Ghost” via the famous animated cartoons that was created in the late 1930s by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, the former devising the idea for the character and the latter providing illustrations, as the basis for a 1939 children's storybook and then “The Friendly Ghost” was the first introduced by the Noveltoon that featured Casper, and was released by Paramount in 1945 with a few differences from the book and then eventually shown on American Television and began broadcasting post-September 1950 theatrical Famous shorts on a television show sponsored by Mattel Toys. But with this 1995 film it was able to combine CGI computer animation ghosts with the real actors, which were created via the wizardry of ILM [Industrial Light & Magic]. Brad also informs us that this was his first ever feature film, because previously over a four year period he had only worked in television. Brad Silberling also talks in great praise about some of the cast, especially the actress Cathy Moriarty and mentions some of the films this actress has appeared in like ‘Raging Bull’ , ‘Neighbors’ , ‘White of the Eye’ , ‘Soapdish’ , ‘Analyze That’  and ‘The Bounty Hunter’ . Brad also praises funny man Eric Idle, who he informs us that he was a massive fan of the British TV series “Monty Python,” and was totally honoured to have both actors in the film ‘CASPER.’ Brad Silberling talks about scouting for locations to shoot the main bulk of the film, especially seeking out a real spooky looking old house, but because none were found, decided that the only option was to build one in the studio and 90% of the film was shot on one of the Universal film stage. As to the interior design of the house, the design was based on the Spanish architect Antonia Gaudi. Brad also informs us that he wanted to cram in as much homage to previous classic films. When you get to around Chapter 5 and around 19:44 when Dr. James Harvey and Kathleen “Kat” Harvey walk into the haunted house for the first time, you get a view from above looking down on the two actors, and if you look closely at the floor carefully you would notice a certain pattern and brad points out that if the certain part of the pattern was yellow, you would realise it was another homage to the Judy Garland film and brad tells us the crew had a great time putting it all together. When you see Casper flies out of the window holding Kathleen “Kat” Harvey ankle and flies over to the lighthouse, the ocean they are looking at was actually filmed in Point Reyes National Seashore that is a 71,028-acre park preserve located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, California where Alfred Hitchcock filmed ‘The Birds’ and was filmed on a plate and Casper and Kathleen “Kat” Harvey sitting on the top of the lighthouse was actual shot on Stage 12 at Universal Pictures. Brad Silberling gives great praise about the film music composer James Horner and mentions of his work on the film ‘Titanic’ and was very keen to have him compose the music for ‘CASPER’ as he knew he would do a really excellent job and it certainly works for me and Brad Silberling feels the scene near the end of the film when Dr. James Harvey comes into contact with his dead wife, was a truly wonderful emotional part in the film, as well as Kathleen “Kat” Harvey meets the real Casper for a short while, both those scenes brought a tear to me. As we nearly come to the end of the film, Brad Silberling makes a comment that the film was a 2 year endeavour, and amazing learning experience, and sometimes never thought he would ever get the picture off the ground running, and looks back with great pride, and hopes you all enjoyed his audio commentary. Well some of it I liked and also some of it was quite interesting, but a lot of the time brad just rambled on about too many technical subjects that went right over my head and started to get a little boring, but despite this, it was still a nice audio commentary and to know that he really loved the film, especially as it was a 2 year experience, so please give it a try and see if you agree with me about Brad Silberling’s audio commentary.
Finally, ‘CASPER’ is a surprisingly brilliant wonderful funny film, and one that you might think it is going to be totally bland and generic around its edges, but you will find it has a much deeper scenario story line, much more welcoming, much more tender-heart of gold with emotions and I shed a slight tear near the end of the film. The characters are simple but strongly developed and definitely great performance from everyone in the film, even the CGI animated ghosts. The story is not all that novel, but the emotions that flow throughout the film are genuine and warm hearted and the special effects hold up extremely well. ‘CASPER’ may not be a classic, but it holds up for lots of repeat viewings, as there is so much action going on and never loses its wonderful charm and inner dramatic appeal. All in all the film ‘CASPER’ is a great deal of fun, fun, fun, and is especially at all age groups. Because I really enjoyed the film, I was hoping a follow up ‘CASPER’ film would be in the pipeline, but sadly this is not to be, that is such a shame. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso