31 Days of Horror Special! Chucky: A Retrospective

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Hello here it is! My super special complete franchise post! If you haven’t guessed by the image above, I am doing the Child’s Play series (or the Chucky series, depending on who you ask). Let me start off by saying I greatly enjoyed every entry in this franchise. They are very funny, intelligent slasher movies. To get such a goofy-looking doll to strike fear into the hearts of children everywhere, you absolutely have to craft an intelligent movie. And Chucky is a hilarious psychopath, not unlike Freddy Kreuger or the Deadites from the Evil Dead series.

Okay so basically what I am going to do is go over each movie as I normally do with my daily blog posts, but then I am going to go into like a little comparison and contrast thing for each entry and then I’m going to give you a vague order in which I consider them, as far as quality. Basically a best to least best. Or vice versa.

Anyway let’s get started

1
Child’s Play (1988)
Ah, here we are. The first one. The one that started it all. This isn’t the first time anyone had ever seen a living, evil doll movie, but it was the first one that became basically a household name.

Anyway so let’s get plot out of the way. Detective Mike Norris (Fright Night‘s Chris Sarandon) is hunting notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif, who played Grima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy!). Ray goes into a toy shop, where he is shot. Little does the Detective know, Ray’s consciousness has transferred into the body of a “Good Guy” doll (irony!). Flash to Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) and his mother, Karen (Catherine Hicks). It’s Andy’s birthday and he REALLY wants a good guy doll. His mom can’t afford one but gets an offer from a sketchy back alley toy merchant (?) which proves to be a less-than-stellar idea (obviously).

So Andy is super excited about his new good guy doll, Chucky. Chucky keeps saying terrible, unkind things to Andy who, as a child, simply repeats them. This gets Andy in trouble and obviously nobody believes him because dolls can’t talk. Chucky, meanwhile, is attempting to transfer back to being human. He needs to transfer into the body of the first person who learned his secret, according to old voodoo man, and that person is Andy. So Chucky messes with Andy in an attempt to get him to submit to the possession ritual. So basically everyone thinks Andy is crazy until Chucky attacks Andy’s mom and the Detective and they fight and finally burn Chucky, killing him. then everyone thinks SHE’s crazy and they put her away.

Ade due damballa! Give me the power, I beg of you!

Ade due damballa! Give me the power, I beg of you!


Anyway so this is the launching point. The first entry into a classic horror franchise. It has fewer entries than most, which is nice because in my opinion they’re all pretty good (unlike Friday, Nightmare, and Halloween) which I think is probably because the story isn’t so spread out and convoluted. Another great thing about the Chucky movies is that none of them really take themselves TOO seriously. Even the worst ones are good because they know just how wacky they are. It’s a wise-cracking psychopathic living doll. No one ever thought it would win any Oscars.

So this first movie here was where we meet Andy, our hero all the way through number 3. We’re also (obviously) introduced to Chucky. We’re ALSO introduced to one of the core tenets of this series, which is that nobody believes the protagonist. This concept, in my opinion, never really gets stale, because guess what? Dolls aren’t alive. So to use this is a plot device in 4 of the 6 movies makes perfect sense to me. And it’s presented in a few different ways throughout the series as well.

This movie is also where all the gore starts. Chucky’s signature kills vary from a simple backstab to choking somebody out with a yo-yo. I suppose the only real complaint one could have about this movie is that it doesn’t QUITE get into the whole groove of the later Chucky films and what Chucky is famous for, which is his mouth and, as I said, the creative kills. The first one is a LITTLE more straight-up slasher rather than slasher with comedic elements. That’s not to say there AREN’T any, they’re just way more limited than they are in later entries into the mythos.

2
Child’s Play 2 (1990)
So now that Andy’s mom is in a mental hospital, Andy is in the system. His first foster family is a pleasant couple who has another foster, the teenaged Kyle (Christine Elise), who is a super stereotypical 80s new waver or punk or something. Probably new waver. Anyway Chucky gets rebuilt because the Good Guys company wants to prove there is no fault in the dolls. Which I mean come on. SO obviously one of the guys working on the restoration gets electrocuted so the CEO orders the doll be disposed of. So then back and Andy’s new house, one of the old fosters had a Good Guy doll and it falls out of the closet and scares the BEJEEZUS out of poor little Andy and nobody believes him and the dad thinks he’s crazy. So Chucky takes it upon himself to bury that doll and replace it with himself.

As Chucky begins once again to cause mischief and torment Andy, nobody believes him and the parents think he’s crazy, to the point that Andy wakes up in the night and gets a knife and goes to the basement to try to kill Chucky. The foster father was awoken by this and goes down to check. Chucky kills him. Then Andy gets taken from the foster mother’s care, Kyle finds the original Good Guy doll, realizes Chucky is alive, finds her foster mother dead, and is ordered by Chucky to drive him to the foster center where Andy is. He gets to Andy, orders him to head to the Good Guys factory, and Kyle follows. Thus begins the final showdown in which Chucky is killed yet again.

You've been veeeerrry naughty, Miss Kettlewell!

You’ve been veeeerrry naughty, Miss Kettlewell!

The thing about Child’s Play 2 is that THIS is the one that really shows what is to come. It’s much funnier and gorier than the first, but it suffers from sequelitis, which is that it has basically the exact same plot as the first. Oh and I forgot to mention that Chucky can’t go into Andy’s body anymore because it’s been too long since he turned. That’s relevant plot info.

3
Child’s Play 3 (1991)
So our final film in the first half of the series was made one year after 2, but takes place a WHOPPING eight years later. They clearly did not see fashion changing at all from 1990 to 1998 (it did). There’s also the fact that Bride was actually made in 1998, but since Andy isn’t in that one I guess it doesn’t REALLY matter. Anyway, plot.

So Andy is like 15 or something now and he’s in military school because no one believes him and they think he’s just a delinquent. Chucky is not dead because the Good Guys have recovered from all that bad press and they just went ahead and recycled Chucky’s melted remains. So whatever. Anyway Chucky makes it to the military school and finds a new little stupid kid to try to put his soul into. Long story short, Andy kills him again. This one had the least interesting plot overall, I think.

This particular entry suffers from what I, and many others, call “beating a dead horse.” I think the problem is that while is was a wild change in setting, they struggled finding a way to make the story different in any way at all. The acting here is the worst it is in the series too. I would say this is the one that takes itself most seriously. Some great kills though. And, during a war game, Chucky replaces paint rounds with live rounds which is a really creative way to have children kill each other. Nice one, Chucky!

Bride
Bride of Chucky (1998)
This is where the series goes nuts. We start off in a warehouse full of horror movie eater eggs and a cop gets Chucky out of a locker. He delivers it to a woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), who promptly kills him. So then she takes the Chucky doll back to her house and attempts to bring him back to life with her current creepy boyfriend (Alexis Arquette). She is successful, and Chucky promptly kills the boyfriend, meanwhile revealing to the audience that Tiffany dated Charles Lee Ray before he became Chucky.

On the other side of things, two young lovebirds (one of which is a 19-year-old Katherine Heigl in her single best performance to date because she is terrible) are the bane of her Uncle, who is her legal guardian and the sheriff. I mean basically Chucky turns Tiffany into a doll and they need to go dig up the corpse of Charles Lee Ray to get the voodoo amulet back so they can be human again and so they convince the young couple to drive them to New Jersey, killing people along the way (which the young couple is blamed for in a sensationalized media firestorm akin to Bonnie and Clyde) until eventually they reach the graveyard where Charles Lee Ray is buried and they are defeated at the hands of the lovely young couple. Also a creepy fetus pops out of the husk that was the Tiffany doll.

This one was when everything got super wacky. You had a cross-country murder spree, Jennifer Tilly becoming a doll, Alexis Arquette being some goth loser boyfriend and then get killed, a romance between two dolls, a doll sex scene well before Team America’s puppet sex, and the actual impregnation of a doll. The only thing weirder is… (this is so corny)

Seed
Seed of Chucky (2004)
Wow. Seed of Chucky. I’ll just go ahead with the plot.

So we start off with some SWEET first person doll action involving the murder of a family. Then Shitface wakes up. Shitface is a doll. A sentient doll. He is part of a ventriloquism act, but he escapes that on a search to find his parents, Chucky and Tiffany, who have a feature film coming out. When he finds them, he realizes they’re just normal dolls, so he does that fun voodoo chant and bring them to life.

So begins the journey Chucky, Tiffany, and Shitface (now known as “Glen” or “Glenda” yea that’s a subplot) to gain human form. Enter Jennifer Tilly. Playing herself AND the Tiffany doll. Yeah. So Tiffany decides she needs to be in Jennifer Tilly’s body, Chucky can create a sperm sample (yes… you read that right…) and impregnate Jennifer with it, and then take the body of her chauffeur. The baby can then become Glen’s body.

I mean. This plot is so weird and so much crap happens that I’m just going to go stream of consciousness: Red Man casting audition, John Waters paparazzi, Chucky masturbates, Jennifer Tilly seduces Red Man who had a vasectomy, the baby grows really fast, Chucky gives a really good speech about he embraces his form and Tiffany and Glen become Jennifer Tilly and the baby. Oh and there are twins. So Glen and Glenda.

Also Glen is voiced by Billy Boyd, who was Pippin in Lord of the Rings!

Curse
Curse of Chucky (2013)
The last(?) one. I really enjoyed this one. 9 years after Seed, you’d be forgiven if you thought this was a reboot. It sort of starts out like it might be but you quickly find that it is, in fact, another sequel. Sorry if that was a spoiler (it wasn’t).

Anyway so this one starts out we meet a wheelchair-bound girl (Mika? I’m too lazy to make sure so she’ll be Mika) and her mom. After Mika dropped out of college she moved in with her mom. So they get Chucky in the mail and her mom suddenly “commits suicide” (yeah OKAY). So Mika’s sister, and her sister’s husband and daughter come into town and bring a priest and their live-in nanny (ooh scandal). Sister wants Mika to move into some care facility to they can sell the house. Mika and the little girl make chili and Chucky puts rat poison in one of them. And actually I’m not going to go into so much detail because this one had some majorly unpredictable twists going on, including a little more light shed on the mythology of the man inside Chucky, Charles Lee Ray.

Without revealing too much, I’m super excited that this one showed a little more on Charles Lee Ray. I’m kind of a sucker for horror movie lore, I know some people aren’t but I really am. I like the idea of mystery surrounding a character and that’s GREAT for the first installment of a series, but as the mystery wears away, the same formula can get old. So I like when they ad a little depth to the villain. I don’t want to be sympathetic, I just want to know more about who the person was before they were a full-blown horror movie monster.

That, and this one was just all-around great. I mean you have the comedy, you have the creative kills, you have the wisecracks. It’s the full package. And while I do like Bride and Seed, they were getting a little too BUSY. This one strips away all the wacky stuff and returns to the dry black humor I loved in 1 and 2.

OKAY
OKAY
THAT is ALL SIX
NOW I am going to rank them and provide justification for those rankings.

The least good
6. Child’s Play 3
The worst thing about this one is that it was kind of boring. As I said, I enjoy every one of the movies, but this is the one I enjoyed least. It had a great final battle, some great opening stuff, and the really cool scene with the live rounds, but overall it just seemed kind of boring. It didn’t suck me in like the others did. It was like they kind of ran out of ideas so they thought a change of setting might be refreshing but I just don’t think it really worked. I don’t know. It’s still worth the time though, especially if you’re a completist.

5. Bride of Chucky
Yeah weird isn’t it? I feel like most would have put Seed here but I disagree. I loved weird little British Glen/Glenda/Shitface. Anyway this one was kind of the Chucky version of the story of Bonnie and Clyde, except they were dolls. And also I can’t STAND Katherine Heigl. This is one of the funnier ones though, so it absolutely has that going for it. And Jennifer Tilly is a welcome addition to the cast, as she not only plays her live part well, but her voice acting stands right alongside the unstoppable Brad Dourif. So while this one was kind of similar to 3 in that I feel like they were going for something new but it still KIND OF fell flat, it’s still really worth watching.

4. Seed of Chucky
This one is definitely without a doubt the most bizarre. With cameos by Redman and John Waters and Jennifer Tilly playing herself and having twins go to full term in one day because she was artificially ensemenated by a doll whose son (oh yeah and two dolls had a son) is a gender-confused pacifist, it’s really all just one giant ball of wet, stick plot. And I really, really liked it. Quite a lot actually. Presumably more than most. But this was just so bizarre and strange and convoluted that I held on for every minute.

3. Child’s Play 2
The third of the three actually great Chucky movies, this is sort of where the series became what it. I guess became. It brings the series into its own. The only thing it suffers from is, as I said, a bit of sequelitis. It’s basically the exact same plot from the previous entry. Other than that, it was great.

2. Curse of Chucky
A fitting end(?) to the franchise, Curse tied up whatever loose ends there were, captured the spirit of the original two films in the series, created its own SOLID entry into the franchise, and didn’t forget any of its many facets, from the funny, to the odd, to the downright absurd. This movie is a celebration of the series as a whole, while also being it’s own excellent entry into the series.

1. Child’s Play
In horror, 99 times out of 100 you can not top the original, and this series is no exception. This is the one that started it all. Brad Dourif as the voice of an angry little doll that kills everyone he sees and hates everyone else. It kind of revolutionized horror. Here we have something a little creepy but in no way legitimately intimidating and it was turned into a terrifying, seemingly immortal serial killer. And ON TOP of that, the AMAZING practical effects, puppetry, and robotics involved in making Chucky come to life is still impressive 26 years later.

So that’s it. That’s our franchise. Child’s Play. I remember being TERRIFIED of Chucky when I was little. I’m not afraid of him anymore, but I’m now a HUGE fan.

DISCLAIMER: I apologize for any typos. It’s late, I proofread, but I may have missed some.

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