Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 87 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Brad Dourif (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, WISE BLOOD, DEADWOOD, SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION), Chris Sarandon (FRIGHT NIGHT, THE RESURRECTED, DOG DAY AFTERNOON), Catherine Hicks (STAR TREK IV, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED), Alex Vincent (CHILD'S PLAY II, MY FAMILY TREASURE). Music by Joe Renzetti (THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, DEAD & BURIED). Written by Don Mancini (CELLAR DWELLER, all the CHUCKY movies). Cinematography by Bill Butler (JAWS, GREASE, ROCKY III). Chucky designed by Kevin Yagher (TALES FROM THE CRYPT, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2-4, FACE/OFF). Directed by Tom Holland (FRIGHT NIGHT, FATAL BEAUTY, THINNER, writer of CLASS OF 1984, PSYCHO II, and CLOAK & DAGGER).
Tag-line: "Andy Barclay has a new playmate who's in no mood to play."
Best one-liner: "BATTER UP!" [Brad Dourif cackles]
Maybe you have an affinity for killer dolls. Maybe you're a die-hard Dourif fan. Maybe you're a devotee of Chucky's complex, Miltonian love affair with the word "bitch," a relationship that is only rivaled by Fred Krueger's. Hell, maybe you thought you were seeing the film adaptation of Robert Marasco's Tony-winning CHILD'S PLAY. Nevertheless, you're here- so prepare yourself for a journey in murderous My Buddies and Reaganist ultra-consumerism– it's my top nine things about CHILD'S PLAY!
#1. The movie is sort of like an alternate ending to FATAL BEAUTY. For those not in the know, FATAL BEAUTY is one of the most incredible wisecrackin' cop movies that the 80's had to offer. Also directed by Tom Holland, also starring Brad Dourif as a murderous villain, and also featuring a Dourif vs. good guys showdown in a store. Only this time it's a toy store, and it's not the finale– it's the opening scene!
Do the "Barbie Rockers" in the background make Dourif's death scene more of less powerful? I don't know if I'm qualified to answer that.
Check it out: Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaurs, Mouse Trap, and Fireball Island. The goddamned trifecta of board games that took three hours to set up and were sprinkled with malfunctioning AA battery receptacles and malformed, ill-fitting plastic parts. That doesn't sit so well with Dourif, so he:
And yeah, that's a Little Tykes car... ON FIRE.
#2. The "Good Guys" commercial that's 700 times scarier than the actual Chucky.
What if Dourif just donned that grotesque, adult-sized Good Guy costume and began terrorizing everyone? I'd watch that movie, too.
#3. Schweet puppetry and animatronics.
A blend of puppetry, performers in costume, and animatronics, Chucky himself is certainly an achievement in practical special effects. Co-writer of SLEEPY HOLLOW and known for the Cryptkeeper, some Freddy Krueger sequels, and various other horror and sci-fi projects, Kevin Yagher led the Chucky design team, though it featured contributions from Howard Berger (CREEPSHOW 2, HOUSE III, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS), Carl Sorensen (TREMORS), Christoper Swift (TERMINATOR 2, JURASSIC PARK), Mark C. Yagher (FACE/OFF, STARSHIP TROOPERS), Rick Lalonde (DARKMAN, MISERY), Ron Pipes (DR. GIGGLES, SIN CITY), Zandra Platzek (GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE), and James Kagel (THE THING, DEAD & BURIED, THE ABYSS). The result is alternatingly stilted and fluid (whenever called for by the script) and simultaneously uncanny and hilarious. Bravo!
#4. YOU STUPID BITCH I TEACH YOU TO FUCK WITH ME and Brad Dourif's cackle.
One might assume a general diminishment of the Brad Dourif factor as soon as he's no longer physically "on screen," but his deranged, spirited voice acting imbues Chucky with genuine presence– you feel the bloodthirsty, claustrophobic frustrations of Dourif's Charles Lee Ray, trapped inside the body of a doll: and Dourif's voice-acting bridges the gap and suspends our disbelief. Also, his evil cackle is magnificent.
#5. A nuanced Chris Sarandon performance.
Well, maybe he's not at his best here, but let's face it: the man is never bad.
Chucky attempts a razor-edged Chris Saradon low-blow.
#6. Chucky battles.
Whenever anyone must fight Chucky, there is a certain lightheartedness that can't help but emerge from the horror: I mean, he's a doll. As such, he gets flung about the room on occasion, battered, punched...he bites people with his little doll teeth. I guess this is just the sort of stuff that I enjoy.
#7. The kiddie gets a one-liner!
Just as in NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD, a kid gets to deliver a crucial one-liner. (In that fine film, it was "School's out, Krueger!") Here, Chucky has been penned inside a fireplace. He turns up the charm, effectuates his best "sad eyes" and says:
Whereupon the kid ruthlessly prepares to fling a match and bellows with élan:
#8. Chucky comes back more times than the Terminator. And exactly like the Terminator.
Seriously, there even comes the point where he's dragging himself on the floor by one arm, his robotic skeleton revealed beneath the charred doll-flesh.
#9. Select scene Chucky commentary. Now, this is one that I only recently discovered with the DVD. Chucky, in character, delivers audio commentary on several crucial scenes. I couldn't tell if it was Brad Dourif or a very skilled impersonator, but regardless Chucky begins exactly as you'd expect: "Killin' this bitch," "Here, I'm toying with her," "at least in 1988 they still made real fuckin' hammers for kids," insane cackling, etc., etc. Then, as the obvious gimmick begins to wear thin, he begins to get slightly existential– he speaks about the difficulties of adjusting to the doll body, how it feels to kill as a human and then as a doll, etc. Ultimately, the fourth wall is broken, and Chucky's conversing in character with one of the producers. A truly great and bizarre addition to the film. I can't help but wish that this practice would become more frequent, at least amongst cult– imagine Robert Englund doing in-character Freddy commentary, or Rutger Hauer as "The Hitcher" for THE HITCHER, or, shit, how 'bout Clu Gulager in character on THE KILLERS! The possibilities are endless.
– Sean Gill