LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Happy 30th Birthday Chucky!
By James Whittington, Friday 9th November 2018
When you were a child, did you ever think that your toys came to life when you were asleep? Or, did you even think they could come alive and gut you like a fish? This second idea is the premise behind Child's Play, one of the most successful slasher series of all time.
OK, the idea of a killer doll or toy wasn't new, one only has to look back at movies like Dead of Night (1945), Magic (1978), and The Pit (1981) and countless episodes from anthology shows, but the way Child's Play was done totally straight gave it that special edge over what had come before.
Written and directed by genre master Tom Holland, Child's Play was based on an idea from Don Mancini and quickly become a slasher favourite thanks to its fast paced premise and slices of jet-black humour. A serial killer labelled the "Lakeshore Strangler" is but moments from death after being shot by the local police. He uses an ancient spell to transfer his soul into a large "Good Guys" doll with the plan to transfer into a real body just as soon as he can. Unfortunately for him he's sold and becomes a present for a young boy, Andy. So begins a deadly game of cat and mouse and possession.
With a cast that included Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Brad Dourif as bad guy Charles Lee Ray and the voice of Chucky, the movie was a huge hit across the globe. Audiences loved the fast-talking smart-ass Chucky who had a vicious streak to rival that of any Jason, Freddy or Michael.
Chucky was given no morals, no nice side that the audience could sympathize with, instead he was a cold-hearted killer with only two things in mind; to survive and be "reborn" into another body. Its this selfish and twisted side to Chucky that makes it truly chilling.
Viewed thirty years since original release the film does look slightly dated but its concept is smart enough to remain engaging and let's face it, Dourif is on top form as the voice of the little monster. This wouldn't be the same without him performing Chucky's lines, a bit like Freddy being played by anyone else, sorry Jackie Earle Haley.
As we all know a sequel soon arrived and in 1990 Child's Play 2 and set just two years after the first and like the original quickly made back its money and so Child's Play 3 followed a year later and was the first of the series to falter it wouldn't be until 1998 until the next movie came around and this time Jennifer Tilly was on hand to play Charles Lee Ray's girlfriend, Tiffany. She added a welcome fresh twist and anarchy to the series which was also the first to be directed by Don Mancini. From here on in, she would become a focus for some of the franchise.
Seed of Chucky in 2004 gave the little terror a child, the gender confused Glen/Glenda who would end up being as deadly as his/her parents. It wouldn't be until 2013 where Curse of Chucky took the series back to its original rawness and gave us the character of wheelchair bound Nica played by Brad Douriff's daughter, Fiona. One of the strongest of all the movies it gave the series a new direction. Cult of Chucky in 2017 continued Fiona's story as well as introducing the idea of "multiple Chucky's"!
The story doesn't end here though as Mancini is planning a TV series based on the film franchise but there's is also a remake of the original movie, not connected to any of the original crew in the pipeline. Only time will tell if this new Chucky will be our "Friend till the end!"
Fact fans might like to know Charles Lee Ray's name was derived from the name s of three notorious killers; Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray.
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