Child's Play (film series)

You'll wish it was only make-believe
You'll wish it was only make-believe
CHILD'S PLAY (18)
D: Tom Holland
MGM/United Artists (David Kirschner)
USA 🇺🇸 1988
87 mins

Horror

W: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Edward Warschilka & Roy E. Peterson
Mus: Joe Renzetti

Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay), Catherine Hicks (Karen Barclay), Chris Sarandon (Det. Mike Norris), Brad Dourif (Charles Lee Ray / voice of Chucky)

First and best of the Chucky movies, about a serial killer who uses a voodoo-like ritual to transfer his soul into a 'Good Guy doll' to evade capture and arrest, he then goes on a murderous spree whilst possessing the body of the child's toy and tries to devise a scheme so he can return to a human form, which he plans to do by passing his soul into the body of his infant owner.
It's all very silly and quite predictable, but the creepy animatronic effects make this a worthwhile horror movie. 
The film proved quite profitable for MGM, who made huge returns at the box office, as well as selling the rights for subsequent sequels to Universal for a significant amount.
6/10

Child's Play
Child's Play
Sorry Jack... Chucky's Back!
Sorry Jack... Chucky's Back!
CHILD'S PLAY 2 (18)
D: John Lafia
Universal (David Kirschner)
USA 🇺🇸 1990
85 mins
 
Horror
 
W: Don Mancini
DP: Stefan Czapsky
Ed: Edward Warschilka
Mus: Graeme Revell
 
Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay), Jenny Agutter (Joanne Simpson), Gerrit Graham (Phil Simpson), Christine Elise (Kyle), Grace Zabriskie (Grace Poole), Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky)
 
A rehash of the first movie with a different cast, but the main plot may as well have used the same script as the 1988 original film.
Alex, the young boy from the first movie is now with foster parents and has the same psycho-possessed doll pursuing him so he can replace the boy's soul with his own.
The story is much weaker in this sequel with no focus at all on characterisation, it also lacks the family unity from the first film for a more depressing opening act, in which Alex is adapting life in a foster home, away from his mother (whose story is barely mentioned). Jenny Agutter does a decent job working with the small role that she's given, but the talented actress deserved much better than this. 
A third film was eked out a year later.
4/10

Child's Play 2
Child's Play 2
Look who's stalking!
Look who's stalking!


CHILD'S PLAY 3 (18)
D: Jack Bender
Universal (Robert Latham Brown)
USA 🇺🇸 1991
89 mins
 
Horror
 
W: Don Mancini
DP: John R. Leonetti
Ed: Scott Wallace & Edward Warschilka
Mus: Cory Lerios & John d'Andrea
 
Justin Whalin (Andy Barclay), Perrey Reeves (Kristin de Silva), Jeremy Sylvers (Ronald Tyler), Travis Fine (Col. Brett C. Shelton), Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky)
 
Though released just a year after Child's Play 2 (see above), the story takes place 8 years after the events in that film to take the story on a different path.
Andy, the infant victim of the first two films, is now in his teenage years and has joined a military academy, where he is continually pursued by Chucky, the serial killer possessed doll, who seems to keep getting reborn by those greedy toy manufacturers.
The idea was clearly running thin with this third movie, which was classed as a 'video nasty' in Britain and became a scapegoat following an unpleasant real-life murder which became worldwide news.
The infamy the film suffered doesn't change the fact that it's rather crap.
Another sequel, Bride of Chucky (qv), was released in 1998 and was a huge improvement on both this and the preceding film.
4/10

Child's Play 3
Child's Play 3
Chucky gets lucky
Chucky gets lucky
BRIDE OF CHUCKY (18)
D: Ronnie Yu
Universal (David Kirschner & David Gilroy)
USA 🇺🇸 1998
89 mins
 
Horror
 
W: Don Mancini
DP: Peter Pau
Ed: David Wu & Randolph Bricker
Mus: Graeme Revell
 
Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky), Jennifer Tilly (Tiffany), Katherine Heigl (Jade), Nick Stabile (Jessie)
 
The fourth film of the Child's Play series, revitalising the story with the sadistic girlfriend of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Chucky) resurrecting his soul in the body of (yet another) Good Guy doll, then imports her soul into a female version of the toy doll so they can be together.
Despite the absolutely ridiculous story, it manages to be quite decent fun, with an occasional nod to Bride Of Frankenstein thrown in amongst the blood and carnage.  It resurrected a dormant franchise after a great deal of controversy in the mid-90's, when the third movie was deemed a 'video nasty' in Britain and subsequently banned.
Further sequels materialised (Son of Chucky, Cult of Chucky) but failed to gather any significant interest, as the series tended to get sillier and sillier after the original film (which itself was incredibly far fetched in the first instance).
5/10

Bride of Chucky
Bride of Chucky

CHILD'S PLAY (15)

D: Lars Klevberg

Universal/Orion/BRON Creative (David Katzenberg & Seth Grahame-Smith)

USA/Canada 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 2019

90 mins


Horror


W: Tyler Burton Smith [based on the 1988 screenplay by Don Mancini]

DP: Brendan Uegama

Ed: Tom Elkins & Julia Wong

Mus: Bear McCreary



Gabriel Bateman (Andy Barclay), Mark Hamill (voice of Chucky), Aubrey Plaza (Karen Barclay), Brian Tyree Henry (Det. Mike Norris), Tim Matheson (Henry Kaslan), Ty Consiglio (Pugg), Beatrice Kitsos (Falyn)


Of all the films that could have been served with a remake or "reboot", Child's Play is one choice that really doesn't make a lot of sense, especially since the original series is still churning out sequels, albeit to the home media market rather than the big screen.

In fairness, this is a very loose remake, keeping the names of the principal characters but shelving the central plot point of a doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Instead, the Chucky doll in this version is intended as a home companion that can interact with other technology, but the A.I. malfunctions and goes rogue. 

This theme, if done as an original film could have been a decent satire about the dependence of technology in the modern age and what could happen if it did turn against us, but by trying to tie this into the Child's Play films, it does this idea a great disservice.

I wouldn't consider the original films to be classics of the horror genre, but they're all reasonably good fun, if a little throwaway, and the first film holds up especially well, mostly due to the menacing vocal performance of Brad Dourif and the design of the doll.

In this version, Mark Hamill takes over the vocal work, and he doesn't do a bad job, but the design of the doll is so awful, that it robs the film of any tension and makes it more of a spoof than anything even resembling horror.

Some of the Child's Play sequels were a bit ropey, but they look like cinema classics beside this.

3/10


Child's Play
Child's Play