Child's Play Franchise (1998 - 2017)
Directed by: Don Mancini, John Lafia, Ronny Yu, Tom Holland
Written by: Don Mancini
Starring: Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, Christine Elise, Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly
Its been 28 years since a Good Guy Doll named Chucky came into my life. I was only eleven years old and having been spoilt on what seemed by endless sequels to my first loves Michael, Jason and Freddy, because back then a new Halloween/Friday/Nightmare film was the norm – how I miss those days – I never expected for another bogeyman to share my love.
On paper, Chucky should not work! A killer doll where even from the original and especially the sequels, you have probably shouted at the screen saying “Just kick him” or just “run!”…….I mean how much damage can the little guy do? But then that is the charm of the entire franchise. Helped by the unique tones of Brad Dourif, Chucky has long entered into pop culture and he is the only original 80’s bogeyman that is still running on his original timeline.
While his killer friends have been rebooted, Chucky is still going strong and with the seventh film Cult of Chucky now out and with many reviews giving it a glowering four out of five (our David has reviewed it – link below-) I have spent all weekend watching the films on a massive binge, preparing myself for Chucky’s next murderous adventure.
Now before I rank the films, I must admit to you and say apart from one entry in the franchise, I love the films as they all have moments of sheer quality and I have endlessly moved entries back and foe and even as I post this, I am questioning my choice, but that is the beauty of Child’s Play…its a proper old fashioned Slasher franchise that makes you happy whatever entry you watch (well -bar one) and as a slash genre fan you just wish that the likes of Freddy and co still had the same respect!….
No 6: Seed Of Chucky
Best Quote ” If this is what it takes to be human, then I’d rather take my chances as a supernaturally-possessed doll! It’s much less complicated! Think about it! What’s so great about being human? You get sick! You get old! As a doll, I’m infamous! I am Chucky! The killer doll! And I dig it!”………..
This was an easy choice! Despite numerous watches over the years, I just don’t get Seed! I can understand why creator and writer Don Mancini went for this approach after the huge success of “Bride“, but this addition is badly focused on too many laughs, that it totally forgets that its supposed to be a slasher movie.
Despite an inspired Peeping Tom beginning where we introduced to the son or maybe daughter of Chucky and Tiffany, Glen/Glenda. the film feels quite odd from the moment we move to Hollywood where they are working on a new Chucky film, starring the one and only Jennifer Tilly. Its here that the previous film haunts every frame of this movie as while Bride had the right balance to bring inventive scare scenes to go with some fantastic witty dialogue, Seed gets badly lost by a script that fails to do both.
The moment Chucky apparently kills Britney Spears and utters the words “Oops I did it again!” – a joke that Austin Powers pulled off, two years previous- you knew that the franchise had probably jumped the shark and it did for a massive long nine years. The film can’t fall back onto its killings either as despite them being at times being the most goriest of the series, they also the weakest and come across lame and dull!
Its odd re-watching this now and seeing just how much of a Psycho homage this comes across. But it shares more in common with the Norman Bates remake than the Hitchcock original especially with a masturbating scene (is there anything more scary than witnessing Chucky doing this act), that comes across more more bewildering than actually funny. I still can’t work out which film is worse, the Vince Vaughan stinker or this!
There are some brief moments of goodness! The “I am watching Bound and getting fingered by Gina Gershon” line by Tiffany is a delight and there is something quite surreal watching Jennifer Tilly more than happy insulting herself, but by the time Chucky snaps out of this happy family bullshit and starts to be the good guy doll we all know and love, you just feel its way to late too care, not just for this film, but for the franchise as well. Little did I know what was to come next!
N0.5 Bride Of Chucky
Best Quote: “Go ahead and shoot! I’ll be back! I ALWAYS come back!… Yeah… but dying is such a bitch!
And yes, I have shocked myself. Don’t think for one minute that by placing Bride in a measly 5th place that I don’t like this film. I was blown away when I went to the cinema way back in 1998 and its still a film I very much have time for. But if you are judging it purely as an entry in a long running slasher series, then it falls just under Seed as while the quality is 100% times better than the sequel that followed, its still more of a comedy than a downright horror.
I totally get why for many this is their favourite Chucky film as the jokes are sharp and its the sequel that introduced the quite fantastic Tiffany to the mix. This sequel is so self aware of its own franchise and limits that its a joy at times to watch, but as it was made on the back of the Scream success, you can see why it was made this way.
Bride works as a typical 90’s slash tale, a comedic take that at times exceeds Ghostface in the meta stakes, but for me, it lacks a dark cutting edge that would have raised it further on this ranking, something that the film below did perfectly!
NO.4 Child’s Play 3
Best Quote “Don’t fuck with the Chuck.”
The much criticised and notorious third sequel ends up in a surprisingly 4th place, above Bride, which even shocked me and I am doing this ranking. Why? Because if you watch all the films back to back, then you realise a sad thing about Chucky’s third outing, it was the last time (well before Curse), that this was the killer doll in all his vengeful glory.
Unfairly tagged due to a real life crime on its release (the film was hated for a while in the UK), Child’s Play 3 originally left me cold. I hated the fact that they changed the original Andy, it was little things like that that drove me insane when I was younger, but re-watching for the first time in a while, I really appreciated every little thing about this film.
While I admit its not perfect, its still an old school slasher at its best and Chucky through out is deliciously evil. This sequel quite possibly as his finest moment, swapping paintball for real bullets during an army exercise is incredibly dark and yet fantastically brilliant and the Army setting itself is quite unique. Any Chucky film that has its climax in a fake Haunted house with a roller coaster also gets a massive thumbs up and if you are like many who haven’t seen this for years, then give it a re-try. It might surprise you!
NO.3 Curse Of Chucky
Best Quote “25 years. Since then a lot of families have come and gone; the Barclays, the Kincaids, the Tillys. But you know Nica, your family was always my favorite. And now, you’re the last one standing… So to speak!”
The reason why I totally love the Child’s Play franchise is simply because out of all the bogeymen, Chucky is still the only one who is running on his original timeline. For years, many thought that a reboot was coming and that the doll we all knew and loved was long dead, but creator Don Mancini managed to do what everyone thought would be impossible, release a straight to DVD sequel that carries on with what we know.
And it worked!
Curse in many ways is the perfect reboot, a film that for the majority of the running time plays in a timeline you believe was set before the events of Bride but a mini twist halfway through throws everything we thought we knew out of the window and what we got is was a continuation from Seed! Where is Glen/Glenda? Who cares, as by stripping back the gags and the meta, Mancini delivers a fantastic return to form that is as close to a proper horror slasher than any fan expected.
Adding Brad Douif’s daughter Fiona to the the cast was a masterstroke and the intended slow pace to it all, raises the quality above its low budget. The only negative is that Chucky looks kind of weird, but then I stopped caring after he finally started running amok and carnage occurred. A Sixth Chucky film has no right being this good, but it shows that all those involved actually care for the characters, the franchise and the long time fans, something you wish those who own the rights to Freddy and Jason would look across to this franchise and realise that the market is still there and they are missing out. A sixth film that didn’t bother with a cinema release should not have been this good! The fact it was, is something we should all be grateful and cherish!
No.2 Child’s Play
Best Quote “Fuck you!”
Its usually very rare that the original film is not on top of a ranking list and I know many readers will think “what is he doing?” but while I love Child’s Play, the simple reason why its not my favourite is simply because Chucky is not the fully fledged bogeyman as of yet.
Its a brilliant introduction to the world of the Good Guy Doll and for an 80’s slasher film that came out in 1988, long after the horror boom had died, its still holds up pretty well.
I’ll never forget the moment Chucky reveals himself to Karen for the first time, I was only 11 years old and when he turned as she realised this toy had been talking and moving without the need of a battery, I was instantly in love and already I smelt a franchise brewing.
Tom Holland who has directed so many of my favourite all time horrors with the likes of Psycho II and Fright Night, surely knew how to make such a daft idea work and I sometimes think in lesser hands, this may have become another forgotten film, but from the moment Charles Lee Ray is laying there, shot, dying and places his hand over that doll while uttering that chant, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you’ll end up thoroughly enjoying it again.
There are hints of what Chucky and Dourif could do together but it would take a further film to show the horror genre that what we had was something real special!
N0 1: Child’s Play 2
Best Quote: ” You’ve been veeeerrry naughty, Miss Kettlewell!”
The reason why I place the first sequel at number one is simply because without the need of a backstory, this follow up just amps the chaotic world of this manic doll!
With Chucky having more screen time, its here that the vocals of Dourif really came to the fore and there are some great one-liners that eventually become the signature of not just the doll but for the franchise itself!
While I hate the fact that poor Karen is packed off to some mental asylum, never to be seen again, its great that Andy, this time with a foster family, is once more in danger, but by having the great Kyle (Christine Elise) by his side, the film’s dynamic is quite possibly the best it will ever be within the franchise.
There are some memorable death scenes that sparkle and the climax at a toy factory is quite possibly the best of the franchise. I had been watching horror from such a young age, but the moment when Chucky’s arm is trapped and he rips if off before putting a knife through the flesh wound was one of the first times in my life I actually winched at what I was seeing!
I love this sequel. Its like Elm Street 3 and Jason Lives, in that its just total fun throughout. Chucky is having a riot and because of that so are we. I totally get why fans will disagree and think I am mad as a Glenda, but to be honest this was quite an hard thing to do. Apart from Seed, Chucky has always been consistent in what it delivers for the horror genre. Each sequel brings its own style and vision and its all thanks to Mancini who has not only wrote every film but has also moved onto directing them as well.
Its his love that makes the franchise work and why the franchise is still in canon. Who would have thought that 29 years after the original was released that a good guy doll named Chucky would still be going strong while Michael, Jason, Freddy and Pinhead are left in a confused mess of remakes and a total lack of respect from their studios.
“I’m your friend till the end” Chucky loves to utter and with the franchise showing no sign of slowing down, we are truly happy that this good guy doll has come into our lives…..roll on Cult!
Cult of Chucky is available on DVD 23rd October 2017
My review of Cult Of Chucky is due this week!
But David S has already managed to have quick peek at the film at Frightfest and his review is here:
You can also read an in depth look at the Child’s Play franchise as our Doc reviewed them a few years back, from the original to Seed which you can read right here: