An early film directed by future blockbuster machine Roland Emmerich, 1985's Making Contact is a weird mix of horror, fantasy and sci-fi clearly inspired by the eighties films of Steven Spielberg. The story tells us what happens when the father of a boy named Joey Collins (Joshua Morrell) passes away. Understandably, the kid is more than a little upset, but after the funeral has taken place young Joey's life starts to getů interesting. It all starts when, seemingly by chance, he discovers that he has telekinetic abilities that allow him to move various objects around the room using only his mind.
From there, the toy phone in Joey's room starts ringing, taking calls from his dearly departed old man! Shortly after, Joey winds up coming into the possession of a ventriloquist's dummy which he brings home after finding it in an old abandoned house. As luck would have it, the doll is possessed by an evil spirit and is not only murderous in intent but also gifted with psychic powers like Joey. After the doll tries to kill off his mother, Joey starts to take all of this very seriously indeed, his problems only made all the more trying when he finds himself the victim of a local school bully. It all more or less ties together by the time it reaches its genuinely unexpected finale.
A decidedly strange film that wears its Poltergeist influence clearly on its sleeve, Making Contact is pretty interesting stuff. Cleary intended for the semi-kid friendly PG market, it's not a particularly ghastly picture though younger viewers might be taken aback by some of the more intense scenes in the film (though really the scariest thing about the movie is the friggin' ventriloquist's dummy!). There's some weird imagery on display more or less throughout the movie and the picture does deal with some fairly dark themes such as the loss of a parent and of course, the supernatural aspects of the picture, but it definitely does stay within the confines of a PG rated picture.
Also known as Joey, the film benefits from some nice visuals and a pretty solid score. It goes at a good pace and features enough oddball antics throughout its running time to hold our interest. In hindsight, gearing films like this to kids was an odd sort of trend, but hey, it was the eighties, and the eighties was an odd sort of decade. Emmerich would obviously go on to much bigger things like Universal Soldier and Independence Day to name just two, while young leading man Joshua Morrell doesn't seem to have done any more acting after his appearance here. He's pretty decent in the lead. Not perfect, mind you, as there are times where he overdoes it and times where he underplays things, but he's perfectly watchable. This one is definitely a product of its time and not everything about it has aged so well (some of the optical effects are pretty dated) but the movie is nothing if not entertaining.
Note that the version of the movie contained on this Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber is the U.S. theatrical cut that was originally released by New Line, it is not the longer German cut of the movie with the alternate score and extra footage (that was released on DVD domestically by Anchor Bay Entertainment years ago).The Blu-ray:
Making Contact is presented on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded transfer framed in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35.1 widescreen. Some of the cinematography is a little soft here but overall, the picture quality is pretty good. There isn't very much in the way of serious print damage, just some white specks here and there, though the film's natural grain structure remains intact, as it should. Colors are nicely reproduced and black levels are quite strong. There aren't any obvious compression artifacts to note and the image is free of any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction issues.Sound:
The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, with optional subtitles offered up in English only. No problems here. The dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow while the levels are properly balanced throughout. There are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion and the score and effects sound pretty solid here as well.Extras:
Extras are slim here, limited to a pair of American trailers for the feature, a German trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for Solarbabies and Zone Troopers. Menus and chapter selection are included.Final Thoughts:
Making Contact is a fun watch, a relic of a bygone era and an interesting footnote in the early part of Emmerich's career. It's not a perfect film but it is an entertaining one and Kino's presentation, while light on extras and containing only the U.S. cut of the film, does look and sound pretty good. You could do a lot worse than this, if weird eighties kid-friendly horror films are your thing, consider this one recommended.