Curse Of Chucky (2013) review

Curse Of Chucky posterDirector: Don Mancini

Starring: Fiona Dourif, Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Maitland McConnell

ALICE – “Chucky, I’m scared.”

CHUCKY – “You fucking should be.”

The success of Bride Of Chucky and its follow-up Seed Of Chucky mean these days Chucky is commonly considered a horror comedy star. Despite this, there still remains a core following of long-time horror fans who have been hoping for years that everyone’s favourite killer doll would return to his roots and appear in another ‘proper’ horror film in the style of the original Child’s Play trilogy.

Curse Of Chucky is that horror film, with nary a dick joke, sex scene or zany sidekick in sight. Although it’s the first Chucky film to go straight-to-video, don’t let that put you off, because this is old-school Chucky doing what he does best – pretending to be a doll while trying to steal a small child’s soul.

Set four years after Seed Of Chucky, Curse begins with a mysterious package turning up at the house of Nica (Fiona Dourif), a wheelchair-bound paraplegic who lives with her mother. Predictably, the package contains Chucky, but Nica’s at a loss as to who would have sent this odd-looking doll. It’s a wonder she’s never heard of Chucky – she should probably get out more. Oh, right, the wheelchair. Continue reading “Curse Of Chucky (2013) review”

Bride Of Chucky (1998)

Director: Ronny Yu

Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Heigl, John Ritter, voice of Brad Dourif

Jesse: “How’d you end up like this?”
Tiffany: “It’s a long story.”
Chucky: “Let me put it this way. If it were a movie, it would probably take three or four sequels to do it justice.” 

A lot can change in seven years. When Child’s Play 3 was released in 1991 the idea of a killer doll was still considered scary. By the time Chucky’s fourth film went into production however horror was in its post-Scream phase and slasher films were being taken less seriously when their killers were human, let alone a tiny ginger plastic midget. Chucky would have stood no chance as a convincing horror star anymore had his fourth film stuck to the super-serious Child’s Play formula, so things would have to change.

"Nice work eBay, you bastards... minor imperfections my arse"

And so, rather than following the tried-and-tested “Chucky stalks a young child” routine as seen in the previous three Child’s Play movies, Bride Of Chucky instead became a knowing, tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating movie that knew audiences wouldn’t take killer dolls seriously anymore and so chose not to take itself seriously either.

The film opens with Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), an ex-girlfriend of Chucky’s when he was still a human, tracking down the remains of the Chucky doll and bringing them home. After performing voodoo on the doll and bringing Chucky back to life, she tells him she’s going to help him find a human body so they can finally get married like they’d planned. Problem is there’s been a little misunderstanding and Chucky never wanted to get married, so a dejected Tiffany locks Chucky in a cage, vowing to keep him in his doll form.

Laugh it up now mate but your hand isn't articulated enough to pull the trigger

After breaking loose, Chucky decides to give Tiffany a taste of her own medicine and voodoos her soul into the body of a bride doll. The plastic pair grudgingly form an alliance to seek out the corpse of Charles Lee Ray (Chucky’s original form) so they can find the amulet he was buried with and use its power to turn them both human again.

Whereas the Child’s Play trilogy played things out with a stony-faced solemnity as if it were Cape Fear, Bride Of Chucky knows it’s a bit mental and because of this it’s far funnier than Chucky’s previous films. The one-liners come thick and fast and the characters of Chucky and Tiffany play well off each other. They’re an odd couple both literally and figuratively – Tiffany wants a happy home where she bakes cookies for her loving man, while Chucky is a foul-mouthed sleazeball who doesn’t have a romantic bone in his plastic body – so it’s fun watching their personalities clash.

When Mick Hucknall met Debbie Harry, it was awkward to say the least

Humour aside, Bride Of Chucky’s level of violence is also brought killing and screaming into the late ‘90s. At one point being told his traditional knife is “too ‘80s”, Chucky is encouraged to improvise new ways of offing his foes and this results in some interesting kills. Safe to say you’ll never sleep in a water bed, break into a car or step into the middle of the motorway again – though if you do the latter you’re sort of asking for it anyway.

Bride Of Chucky may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s really the best direction the series could have taken. Chucky just wasn’t scary anymore by the time this went into production (though the upcoming Child’s Play remake may change that) and so it’s ultimately better to get audiences laughing with him than laughing at him. With this change in tone, what could have become an ‘80s slasher character long forgotten among the Leprechauns, Critters and Ghoulies of this world is now a cult hero among genre fans, with merchandise up the wazoo and a horde of followers. Bride Of Chucky was a big risk but, as the film’s poster says, Chucky got lucky.

Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Director: John Lafia

Starring: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Christine Elise, voice of Brad Dourif

“Why fight it, Andy? We’re going to be very close. In fact, we’re gonna be fucking inseparable. ” (Chucky, Child’s Play 2)

You just can’t keep a bad doll down. Even though it seemed fairly clear Chucky was dead at the end of the original Child’s Play, it turns out while the body was weak the spirit was still willing. So when the company responsible for Good Guy dolls gets hold of Chucky’s remains and sets about cleaning the doll up as a publicity stunt to show it wasn’t cursed, Chucky’s soul awakens again and shit goes down. He then sets about finding Andy, the kid from the first film (who’s now staying with a foster family after his mum was deemed… well, a bit mental), to finally take over his body.

Mick Hucknall resorted to extreme measures to get youngsters to attend his gigs

In a way, Child’s Play 2 is faced with the same dilemma as Jaws 2 – when you know who the killer is and you’ve already had a good look at them at the end of the previous film you can’t spend another 50 minutes playing it all mysterious. Half the original Child’s Play was spent trying to guess if Andy’s doll really was the one doing the killings, or whether it was just Andy using the doll as an excuse. Now we all know it’s Chucky, that whodunit angle goes right out the window for the sequel, which is why this time Chucky springs into life and starts the bodycount before your arse has even started to warm the seat.

"Of course you're winning, you've got Mr Blue reading my cards, you fucking crook"

Andy’s foster home provides a refreshing change of scenery while still keeping the story grounded in reality a little – his foster parents understandably think all the events from the first film were in Andy’s head and so they aren’t having any of it when Chucky finally tracks him down and he tries to convince them to kill it. Instead they think it’s Tommy, a different Good Guy doll they bought which, unknown to them, Chucky has already buried in the back garden. Having Andy trapped in an unfamiliar house with his would-be killer with no way of convincing anyone to help him creates an interesting tension which at least brings back the whodunit angle in some form, even though we’re all in on it this time.

"This head scratcher is marvellous"

A few unconvincing kills later (it’s hard to imagine a small doll can effectively beat someone to death with a ruler or be strong enough to suffocate someone with a plastic bag) the film finds itself in its final location, a huge toy factory where the Good Guys are manufactured. It’s a fun setting for the typical fifteen minutes of “killer stalking the heroes” shenanigans you’d expect from an early ‘90s slasher, with loads of conveyor belts and dangerous equipment lying around to keep things lively.

It all has to end eventually though, and Chucky’s demise this time is even more decisive than it was in the first movie, leaving absolutely no chance that they could put him together for a third film… or could they?

Although its predecessor was a stronger film when it was first released, now we all know Chucky is the killer these days Child’s Play 2 is the more entertaining movie. It’s got more action, more tension and more Chucky quips. It’s still not exactly a classic, but if you’re looking for one Chucky film to watch from the pre-comedy trilogy this is the one to go for.

Brits can get the UK DVD version here fairly cheap. Americans, meanwhile, can get either the the US DVD here or get it as part of the Chucky Killer DVD Collection, which contains Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3,  Bride Of Chucky and Seed Of Chucky.

Child’s Play (1988)

Director: David Kirschner

Starring: Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, Chris Sarandon

“Hi, I’m Chucky. Wanna play?” (Chucky, Child’s Play)

It’s hard to truly appreciate Child’s Play nowadays, since the first 40 minutes of the film are completely ruined. When it was first released it was genuinely chilling, a gripping whodunnit with a paranormal twist. Of course, nowadays everyone already knows ‘whodunnit’ and so the first half of the movie is spent waiting for the film’s characters to catch up and find out what the rest of the world already knows – that the killer is a doll.

Poor little Andy (the adorable Alex Barclay) wanted a Good Guy doll for his birthday, but his mum couldn’t afford one so she just got him clothes and a shitty Good Guys tool kit instead. Noticing his disappointment, Andy’s mum thinks she’s struck it lucky later that day when a peddler near her work is selling knock-off Good Guy dolls stolen from a burnt-out toy shop. She buys one for $30 and is suddenly the greatest mum in the world again.

"And you're sure this operation will work doctor? I really don't want to be a Siamese twin any more"

This doesn’t last, because it soon emerges that this particular doll is possessed by Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a serial killer and voodoo nut who transforms his soul into the doll just before he’s killed by a police officer. The doll, Chucky, sets about killing Andy’s babysitter as well as the other criminal chaps who screwed him over before his ‘death’. Cue various explosions and voodoo doll stabbings.

Since it’s the first film, the audience isn’t supposed to know Chucky is the killer. There are plenty of moments where it’s suggested (he leaves footprints on a table, seemingly blows up a building and so forth), but every time someone’s killed Andy’s close by, leaving some doubt in the audience’s mind – isn’t it just Andy doing the killing and blaming it on his doll?

Chucky was amused at the dog licking its balls in the room opposite

The special effects used to create the Chucky doll vary in quality throughout the film. In some scenes where Chucky speaks – most notably when he talks at length with his former voodoo mentor – the lip-syncing doesn’t really work too well due to the limitations of the robotics in the face and as such the illusion is shattered a bit. Other shots, particularly the far ones where Chucky is instead a midget actor wearing a Chucky mask, are far more effective and much creepier because the realistic movement makes it look more like a human in a doll’s body.

Child’s Play shouldn’t really have taken off the way it did. While the cast all put in great performances the kills are fairly dull and the two “he’s dead, or is he” endings are just silly to watch. The reason it was a success, and rightly so, is that Chucky is a fantastic movie monster. He’s a child’s best friend one minute, a foul-mouthed strangler the next and since his target victim is a six-year-old boy there’s something very sinister to him.

"Stop checking my ruddy temperature Margaret, I said I'm fine woman"

In a way, it was Child’s Play‘s own success that ultimately ruined the first movie’s impact. Once Chucky became a household name and every knew Child’s Play as “the film with the killer doll”, it instantly rendered the film’s first 40 minutes useless. Nowadays even the DVD cover has a big photo of Chucky brandishing a knife, making sure you definitely know what the surprise is just in case you’ve managed to avoid it.

If you’re able to forget for a while that Chucky’s the killer and can try to watch the film in its original context, Child’s Play is good fun. Otherwise, the sequels are better because they kick off with the Chucky action right from the start and don’t spend half the movie trying to make you guess what you already know.