Child’s Play Review
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I’ve always been bewildered by the success (a relative term, I know) of the Child’s Play movie franchise. In my opinion, Chucky never had the same iconic impact as, say, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th or Freddie Kruger from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Sure, every good horror fan had to view the Child’s Play movies at least once. And, for me, back in the late ‘80s, once was enough. Yet, Chucky has thrived through five movies. And though I, for one, would never have thought that the Child’s Play movies would last this long, here we are, celebrating Chucky’s birthday with the 20th anniversary edition of the original Child’s Play flick.

We open on Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) in hot pursuit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (all great murderers have triple-barrel names), played with grinning menace by Brad Dourif. Cornered in a toy shop and on the verge of death, Ray transfers his soul (via voodoo incantation) into the body of a “Good Guy” doll. Soon, Ray—or Chucky as he prefers to be called—ends up in the home of Andy Barklay (Alex Vincent) and his mother, Karen (7th Heaven’s Catherine Hicks). Pretty soon, Chucky starts to reap his violent revenge on those who double-crossed him and Norris, the cop who killed his corporeal self.

  
 
Child’s Play is your quintessential b-movie (more oriented toward the modern meaning than the original). It moves at a clip and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The dialogue is cheesy, and the narrative is as hokey as all hell. However, even after all these years, I found myself enjoying the ride. The style certainly brought back some fond memories of ‘80s slasher schlock. The picture is crisp, and the actors play their roles sans irony. Brad Dourif, who’s played the voice of Chucky in all five movies, really sounds like he’s having some malevolent fun. And, surprisingly, the death toll and viscera splatter is relatively small by today’s standards.

In a featurette, Don Mancini, the writer of the original screenplay (two other writers re-wrote, but he retains the rights), explains how he wrote the script as a satire leveled at the toy industry. Much of that satire has been wiped away in the final cut, but one can still see traces here and there—particularly in the first act. Mancini didn’t get another chance at pointed satire until the series was reinvented for the new millennium with Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky. Both were entertaining post-modern attempts to keep the icon alive.

While I doubt that the 20th anniversary re-issue of Child’s Play will garner the franchise any new fans, the full complement of extras and the sharp commentaries will definitely keep lovers of old-school ‘80s camp horror happy.

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