Years ago, sci-fi and horror movies were low budget affairs. Albeit a lot of them were very cheesy, often times because of the budgets. Yet, the creativity and ingenuity in making these films stretched beyond their budgets, which in turn made for some great movies. Thus our memories of these great pieces give us a higher sense of nostalgia and betterment compared to the countless imitations and recreations looking to capitalize on new niches in the genre.
Child’s Play is on par with Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween as far as the Horror/Slasher genre is concerned. These movies continue to be produced because Chucky, Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers all have a loyal cult following. Yet, none of their later movies seem to measure up to their lower budget predecessors. The tone has gone from thoughtful horror, thriller, and suspense-filled tale to outright camp.
After so many sequels, telling the same story in different ways is a challenge. There should be time between the movie releases and a sequel or reboot for fans to mentally and emotionally turn the cannon into mythology.
WARNING: There are some spoilers ahead.
Child’s Play (1988)
31 years ago, Child’s Play (1988) hit the theaters. It was initially titled “Batteries not included” and was a commentary on commercialism aimed at children. The script used inspiration from the “Talking Tina” episode of Twilight Zone & Trilogy of Terror.
Charles, with his last dying breath, transfers his soul into a Chucky/Good Guy doll using “Hollywood VooDoo” as he dies in a shoot out with the detective Mike Norris. Karen Barclay picks up that same doll for her son, Andy in a shady back-alley deal. Norris later begins investigating a string of murders surrounding the Barclay family — with the added irony that he caused this situation in the first place. This movie was a hit and very fun to watch.
Child’s Play gets to the point and thrills you. Suspending disbelief isn’t hard, and the humor lands well. Child’s Play is a cheesy idea that actually works. Most of the budget went to making a good movie with stunt doubles, practical effects, and some animatronics. The acting, on the other hand, was passable, especially Alex Vincent. Catherine Hicks was a little over the top, but it worked! It was suspenseful, scary, and entertaining. I thought using a little person along with the animatronics; gave a believable feel to the movie and Ed Gale does a phenomenal job as Chucky’s stunt double.
Child’s Play has thrilling jump cuts, even with its predictability. This movie has great pay off, and a nail-biter twist when the mother discovers there are no batteries in the doll. The final action sequences are excellent! I wholeheartedly recommend a second viewing of this movie — or a first if you haven’t yet.
Presently MGM has retained the rights to the first movie allowing them to reboot it. I won’t get into all the legal mumbo jumbo that goes with why this happened, but I understand Don Mancini isn’t happy about it. Mancini’s first script did get its origin story changed, and there were some touch-ups to the plot back then. The collaboration worked well for him at the time, as sometimes complete control over a project, doesn’t spell success. Mancini did go on to write all seven Child’s Play films, and he directed the last three installments.
The Child’s Play Reboot
31 years later, MGM has produced a remake without creator, writer & director Don Mancini, even though Mancini has been working on a series. Now we will have two separately produced Child’s Play releases. Likely with opposing canons.
Is it a matter of integrity or just plain ‘ole ego that kept the people who created Chucky, away from Child’s Play(2109)? I personally think it would have been awesome for MGM, Mancini, and Kirschner to be involved in the movie and the intended television production. Alas, this is Hollywood.
So let’s discuss Child’s Play (2019). This cautionary tale about our dependency on automation and technology starts off with a predictable disgruntled employee scene. The lone employee programs a “Buddi Doll” and disables all its safety protocols in a last act of defiance before being dismissed.
Karen Barclay moves into a crappy neighborhood with her hearing-aid dependent son Andy. She acquires a returned and defective Buddi Doll from her crappy job at a Wal-Mart type store to give to her son. It’s a bit formulaic, but thankfully the clichés end after the typical horror movie set up. The rest is a fun, edge of your seat, homage to horror. The acting is excellent, the special effects are great, and the suspense is well executed.
The doll shows early signs of being an issue when Andy names him Han Solo and the doll insists on calling itself Chucky. Despite the obvious signs, everyone ignores Chucky’s “glitches.” The doll bonds with Andy and immediately takes on a protective and jealous persona and attempts to murder the family cat.
Chucky begins to show his bad side when Andy’s new friends Faylan and Pugg prank Karen’s boyfriend Shane. The children’s initial reaction is realistic, but the fun quickly turns to fear. The addition of Omar as the fourth believer gives the movie a “Strangers Thing” friendship vibe that pays off in the end.
By the beginning of the third act, the mayhem is seamless, and it works, even when anticipated. The movie has the ominous elements of the Terminator/Skynet theme, mixed in with Carrie like mayhem.
Mark Hamill voices Chucky, and he is perfection. I actually forgot he was the voice until the end credits when Hamill’s vocals add