“Hi, I’m Chucky, and I’m your friend till the end. Hidey-ho!”
In 1988, a young boy who could read a little earlier than the other kids was perusing the movies section of the local newspaper, when he spied the words “Child’s Play” with a picture of a doll. Being as he loved movies, the child assumed this movie was made with him in mind. He asked his parents if they would please take him, and they flatly refused. He asked again. “Wouldn’t you like to see Roger Rabbit again?” “I wanna see Child’s Play, for I am a child!” the child replied. Unfortunately, the adults would not relent, and the child would not see the doll movie. He did see Roger Rabbit again though, and that was pretty good. As an adult, however, he did see Child’s Play, and he thought it was a lot of fun and can’t understand why his parents wouldn’t let him see it. He knew that a doll wasn’t really capable of murder.
Guys, like I said before, this movie is a lot of fun. Inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids dolls (hey I had one of those!), a Twilight Zone episode, and the rampant consumerism of the 1980s, the original script apparently was called Blood Buddy, and Chucky would have been filled with fake blood that would leak out when he was injured. That would have scared the pants off of me as a child, and I’m sure my friends with more permissive parents would have been even more traumatized than they already were. The doll would have been fueled by Andy’s seething child rage, and the movie would have played with the idea that Andy might be the killer, which would have been interesting. What’s more scary than a child with murder in their heart? It’s scarier than a doll, for sure, which is probably why later sequels became straight up comedies (and a lot of those are pretty good too, like Curse of Chucky. It’s part of my personal code that I must recommend anything with John Waters in it, even if he’s only there for a cameo.).
Let’s talk casting, as we usually do in this paragraph. Chris Sarandon is pretty good as the cop trying to figure out what’s going on, but he’s usually pretty good. He’s honestly better in Fright Night, also directed by Tom Holland and which I will write about in the near future, and of course he’s very memorable in Dog Day Afternoon, which I will not be writing about because it doesn’t fit the parameters of this series. Catherine Hicks as Andy’s mom is great, and I’m kind of surprised she didn’t have a bigger career after this. She’s still working though, so that’s nice. Alex Vincent is pretty much a standard young child actor, but it’s serviceable. The best performance is easily Brad Dourif as the voice of the doll and Charles Lee Ray in the opening scene. It’s clear he’s having fun and I love that he embraced the role for all of the sequels.
Should I Show This To My Five-Year-Old?
Of course! Your child is never too young to learn about the evils of consumerism. Get them into minimalism and socialism early! This is a great object lesson about the pitfalls of being too into “things” and not as into “family” or “doing chores”. This is also a good way to teach your child about the wonders of electricity. After all, that’s partly what bonds Charles Lee Ray to the doll (the rest is voodoo, but maybe wait until they’re six to get into that). Electricity is a magical thing, in fact, it’s also bringing my words to life here! Wow! Maybe include that when you’re talking to your child. Hell, have your child follow me on Twitter! That’d be fun, me tweeting to your child. Think about it. What do you and your child have to lose?
This is an October staple for me. It’s a bit corny, but it’s a lot of fun (hey I’ve said that three times now, so it must be true!) and the series in general, besides the second and third, is a blast. Chucky is iconic. You owe it to yourself to find out why, assuming you’re one of the maybe five adults that hasn’t seen this movie. I’d also like to take a moment here to say that last year’s reboot wasn’t terrible. It takes a different approach to the killer doll idea and the child is much older, but it works. There’s some good dark stuff in there, and it plays up the gore a bit more than this one does. I was skeptical, but they did right by it and Mark Hamill does a fine job voicing the new Chucky. Anyway, why not give both of them a watch? This one is streaming on Shudder and also probably other places, and the reboot can be rented on Amazon or any of the other fine online rental sites. Bye now!
Greg Orme is a comedian/writer based out of Salt Lake City, where he lives with his five plants. You should follow him on Twitter. Your child already is!
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When I watched this as a child, I was legitimately scared by it. As a kid raised on “Twilight Zone” reruns, I had a healthy fear of mannequins, dummies and dolls that were just a touch TOO lifelike.
Rewatching as an adult, the thing that sticks out is how much fun everyone concerned is having with the rather ridiculous premise, and a lot of the rather overblown line readings and scenery chewing seem to be intentional stylistic choices rather than pure ineptitude. Doubly so on both points regarding Brad Dourif.
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