The Chucky / Child’s Play series marathon (Review)

So let’s get this straight. Child’s Play is about a kid’s toy that comes to life and kills people?

Really? They made a movie about this? Like a real honest to goodness, 80 minute long, cinema released motion picture?

Fi… Fi… FIVE MOVIES!!!

HOLY COLECO! That premise seems stretched as tight as Nicole Kidman’s face though 80 minutes, let alone… *thinking*… *concentrating*… *perspiring*… whatever seven times 80 is. Damn it Jim I’m a Doctor not a… math talking guy.

I think I saw a ‘Chucky film in the 90s somewhere’ and gave it exactly the attention it deserved, meaning I can’t remember a thing about it, so the thought of watching five of these things is more scary-sad than scary-horror.

We’ll see how we all get along shall we?

Child’s Play

The first five minutes sets the tone for all seven films that follow: the spirit of a dying full time murderer, part time Satanist named Charles Lee Ray is transferred into a previously inanimate ginger haired ‘Good Guys’ doll – that truth be told was creepy enough to begin with without the evil soul.

Of course the toy is sold to a Mum – 6 year old Andy’s Mum – who gets it on the cheap as shop soiled and only slightly possessed…

Within minutes of being taken home, presented to Andy and upwrapped Chucky manages to cartwheel the babysitter out the window to her death (of course landing on the requisite car waiting patiently in the street below). Mum arrives home understandably perturbed that not only has her best friend been pancaked but her formerly adorable 6 year old son is blaming the new presso, talk about ungrateful. When I was a kid I would have been stoked to have a new toy. Any toy! Even if it did kill off innocent bystanders.

But our ginger-haired assassin is by no means finished. Not by a long shot. The very next day he and Andy take a road trip into the seedy side of town to kill off a scuzzy ex-associate of the doll possess-or Charles Lee Ray, news of which leads to a brief interlude during which Andy has his sanity tested, given that he is now a pint sized prime suspect in two murders.

He again blames the doll. (My sister had a Barbie poster that influenced me once… don’t think it made me want to kill.)

With Andy in the nuthouse Mum takes Chucky home, fearful for her son’s sanity but apparently not yet willing to turf the alleged plastic perpetrator – and by association the fifty bucks she blew on it. This changes when Chucky chomps a hole in her arm, leading to an animated discussion with Detective Norris (Chris Sarandon) where she affirms that indeed Andy is being framed by something that was as recently as the day prior waiting patiently in a cardboard box.

Of course now she is nuts.

We’re now half way through what has been an incredibly underwhelming experience. Thankfully from this point on both Chucky – and the film – really come to life. All thoughts of patience and stealth are (toy) shelved as Chucky finally gives up his formerly inanimate lifestyle in lieu of a violent killing spree, at least an attempted one. Chucky takes it to Detective Norris, Mum and anyone else in his way, as it becomes evident to one and all that young Andy actually holds the key to Charles Lee Ray’s survival.

This leads to Chucky abandoning the pre-programmed limitations of movement designated by his Chinese manufacturers and scuttling about with his red hair flapping, adorable overalls rustling and a determined gleam in his big eyes. And another gleam emanating from the big fucking kitchen knife that he has taken to brandishing about.

It’s actually quite fun (and blackly funny) watching people shoot, punch and otherwise maim a doll, and at least initially the fact that Chucky’s ‘spirit’ has a particularly angry and profane disposition is also amusing. Not sure how I’ll react in five film’s time, but for now Child’s Play is one hook-based 80’s horror film that has just a little substance behind the sizzle… Not enough to demand that you look it up mind you, but I was a whole lot more relieved at the 80 minute mark than I was at the 40 when things seemed to be going nowhere.

Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. This Good Guy doll is not suitable for kid’s under 3. And anyone that the evil spirit inside might hold a grudge against. And anyone without a sense of humour.

Child’s Play 2

The first film wasn’t the factory recall I expected. Let’s see how the inevitable sequel goes. Will Child’s Play be a long lasting GI Joe, or a Furby-like fad?

Following on from the original, with a Good Guys corporation cover up removing all trace of potential doll-icide, we open Child’s Play 2 with Mum in the nuthouse and Andy being released to foster parents after remaining under observation for a period of time.

Meanwhile for no known reason the Good Guys Corp big-wigs decide ‘we can rebuild him’, and of course in the span of only a few hours the new improved Chucky reanimates, escapes and infiltrates Andy’s new digs.

From here this gets even lazier, adhering to the following formula:

  1. / Chucky does something naughty
  2. / Andy blames Chucky
  3. / Whoever is around ignores Andy and blames him (he’s still around 6 by the way)
  4. / Chucky kills the adult.

Given that new rebuilt Chucky V2.0 is still somehow gradually becoming human the longer Charles Lee Ray remains inside him at least the filmmakers this time around decided to ramp up the Chucky-gore, he bleeds, loses limbs and is otherwise mistreated, all in the name of horror-comedy. It is still funny watching a 2 foot tall doll get the shit kicked out of him, only slightly less so…

There are no memorable kills, witty death lines or even strange doll-human moments, Chucky 2 proves too rudimentary and bland for any of that, even the finale which takes place in a warehouse full of Chucky’s ignores the multi-Chuck possibilities and instead becomes the standard ‘almost unkillable psycho’ continually cheating death to terrorise the innocent again and again.

Final Rating – 5 / 10. All in all Chucky 2 is very disappointing. I hope by the time the next sequel arrives the toy designers have added a sash, or alternate outfits or even a Chucky-car, because this is one toy that should be left on the shelf.

Child’s Play 3

We were about ten minutes into Chucky 3 when my wife asked me how the reanimated – for the third time – serial killer trapped in a plastic Good Guy doll knew the address to post himself to so he could once again terrorise a now teenaged Andy.

I ignored some obvious sarcastic replies, grateful for the fact that she didn’t actually ask ‘why do you waste literally weeks of your life each year attached to a couch watching shitty movies?’ As the answers to that question would only depress me (not to mention my poor wife), I thought sensibly for a second and also came up with these:

Yes, how did Chucky find out Andy’s new address?

But also;

How did he find a Good Guys box in the first place to enclose himself?

And most importantly;

How did he close the box, wrap himself, address the package and mail himself?

Oh and by the way, he’s still a vengeful spirit trapped in a plastic doll capable of independent thought, malicious actions and occasional conjuring of mystic forces.

So there’s that too to wonder about…

If it only takes a few melted plastic drips containing Chucky’s blood to bring new life to this frequently killed possessor of plastic, how is it so damn hard to clone animals for food? Regardless of the answer to yet another question, that’s how Chucky manages to re-enter the scene to kickstart Child’s Play 3 – easily the laziest episode in the series so far.

After the miracle of re-birth and the unnecessary murder of the Good Guys CEO, Chucky does the locate/wrap/mail thing and lobs on Andy’s doorstep at the military academy in which he is enrolled.

The academy has the usual bully (*now with bulliable nerd in the box for hours of teasing fun!) and a bunch of faceless gits, among whom are the strong, independent woman, the afore-mentioned nerdy teen and for some reason an overly aggressive barber hell-bent on cutting heads as regularly as possible.

All of them bite it or almost bite it in some of the most underwhelming set-ups in horror history. Consider that in at least three or four sequences Chucky just appears after a couple of rustles and fake-out camera pans, to kill in uninspired and especially non-creative means that serve no purpose aside from adding a notch to his plastic utility belt.

In the requisite War Games finale, featuring the most out of place wartime sacrifice I can ever imagine, the crescendo inexplicably jumps into a fairground House of Horrors before the film mercifully ends thanks to a ‘just here because something has to chop Chucky up’ huge ground level fan.

Final Rating – 4.5 / 10.  I was bored with Child’s Play before this film started. I am especially bored with it now. If this sets the tone for the next few films we might see this marathon end at a quadrilogy…

Bride of Chucky

Bride of Chucky wants to be a self aware road movie with dolls. In that I guess it succeeds, regrettably it doesn’t seem to aim to be any more than that.

Chucky is lovingly rebuilt from the battery casing up by his evil spirit Charles Lee Ray’s former girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly).

It has taken her over a decade to find all the pieces and painstakingly piece them together, which makes it strange that within hours of bringing his cantankerous plastic corpse to life she remembers that above all Charles was a right shit to live with, and that they are better off apart.

So in summary, a decade long search involving illegal activity and ultimately murder, followed by a satanic ritual. And the next day she decides to call it all off!

Women! (Right guys?)

After a short while Chucky himself gives up on being human, after all for three and a bit films it hasn’t gone too well for him so far. So he turns the tables and switches the spirit of Tiffany into a female goth doll that conveniently happened to be available.

Now inseparable again, Chuck and Tiff decide that they need to recover the amulet Charles Lee Ray was buried with and transfer their spirits into human form. They use eloping teens as transport (one of whom is Kathryn Heigl) and set off on the road to pointlessness…

Look some of the kills are gorier but as with the last couple of Chucky’s there is little rhyme or reason to them, someone just shows up and lingers around until Chucky – or Tiffany – kills them in gory fashion.

I also didn’t notice it in earlier films but Brad Dourif’s voice grows increasingly Danny De Vito-ish as this film series moves along. Here he sounds like the spitting image of Homer Simpson’s big brother.

To be truthful the writing was on the wall from the jump with this series, the original was built around a flimsy premise, so the fact that they squeezed 4 more films could almost be looked upon as admirable. That is if you are one of the lucky ones who aren’t sitting through this eight combined hours of butt numbing dross.

Final Rating – 4.5 / 10.  Barbie and Ken as Mickey and Mallory or Bonnie and Clyde – only not really. If I wanted to watch vacuous lumps of plastic rag on each other constantly I’d watch Desperate Housewives.

Seed of Chucky

So the most evil and toxic lump of plastic this side of Megan Fox is back to put a bloody full stop to this painful paragraph of pointlessness.

Or more accurately a sentence, as this marathon feels like more like something that I have been enduring against my will.

Despite the laws of physics, nature, common sense and fairness to the audience it seems Chuck and Tiffany consummated their wedding. The result of which is a creepy looking character of ambiguous gender who grifts a living teamed with a ventriloquist who lazily moves his lips while the doll talks – kinda like David Beckham does while Posh Spice wastes oxygen with her shrill IQ draining nonsense.

As always TV gives us the way forward. In this case Lil Dolly spies Chuckles doing a TV spot for the latest crappy Chucky film (how very meta) and instantly thinks ‘Daddy’ due to the ‘Made in Japan’ family tattoo on Pop’s wrist. From there it’s just a hop, step and a continent skip later – along with a quick accidental parental reanimation – and the family are reunited.

For the first time.

There’s precious little plot beyond that. Chuck wants to raise a son and dubs the kid Glen, who he hopes will grow up to be a precocious little mass murdering chip off the old block, while Tiffany names her daughter Glenda and hopes to raise the girl to be a loving caring angel.

Despite the duelling parental instincts, even a plastic leopard can’t change its spots, and both Tiffany, Chucky and even Glen/Glenda manage to slay a few gormless morons who hove periodically into their view at consistent intervals.

Jennifer Tilly is back as a version of herself that isn’t above doing some extra-curriculars – or the director – if it nabs her a role (in this twisted universe Redman is apparently a visionary director), and John Waters and Jason Flemyng have minor cameos that neither should post high on the resume.

Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Seed of Chucky is kind of amusing, not a bit scary and only mildly inventive. I rate it marginally higher than the other lamentable sequels only for the scene in which Jennifer Tilly has to somehow deliver her own plastic twins…

Trilogy Rating – 4.5 / 10. 16 years. 5 movies. 1 Brad Dourif career.

Every film starts with a Chucky doll being infused with the spirit of a serial killer. Every film ends with a botched doll to human conversion amid an electrical storm and much noise. Every film is built around the same premise lazily regurgitated again and again.

The entire series provoked maybe three chuckles and raised one eyebrow. Once.

Now comes the news nobody has been waiting for, Chucky is being resurrected yet again for apparently not one, but two new projects, a reboot and a sequel.

Surely a series spanning sixteen years is already way too old to be playing with dolls and awful puns? Surely an audience deserves better than having the same inane idea trotted out and wrung dry, especially when the end result is this bland?

It’s one thing to support mediocrity in the spirit of irony, another again to keep throwing cash at what should be a factory recall.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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