Flashback: Recap on the past "Child's Play" movies!
Writer: Casey Chong
Mark Hamill provides the voice of Chucky in "Child's Play" reboot.
The last time the local audiences got to watch a "Child's Play" movie in the cinema was... "Child's Play 3" back in the early '90s!
"Child's Play" (1988)
The subsequent sequels including "Bride Of Chucky" and "Seed Of Chucky" released in 1998 and 2004 were unfortunately banned in our country due to its respectively inappropriate content (read: sex and violence), but this year, local audiences will finally get to watch a new "Child's Play" movie in the cinemas!
Even though it is not a sequel, but more of a reboot of the franchise, we still greatly anticipate the arrival of the "Child's Play" reboot where Chucky himself is voiced by the great Mark Hamill.
So without further ado, it's time to recap all seven "Child's Play" movies that have been released so far since 1988.
Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) attempts to transfer his soul into Andy's (Alex Vincent) body in "Child's Play".
Believe it or not, it has been over 30 years since the first "Child's Play" movie hit the big screen and gave us the now-iconic Chucky -- the murderous Good Guy doll possessed by the evil soul of a wanted serial killer, Charles Lee Ray (played with sinister perfection by the incomparable Brad Dourif).
"Child's Play 2" (1990)
Looking back at the movie today, it's easy to forget that "Child's Play" was originally conceived as a straightforward horror movie before the franchise subsequently switched gears and made (most of) the sequels laced with a dark sense of humour.
In case you have forgotten what the first movie was all about, here's the brief recap to refresh your memory: A single mother (Catherine Hicks) buys the hot-selling Good Guy doll for her six-year-old son, Andy (Alex Vincent) as a birthday present. However, little do they realise that the doll houses a possessed living soul previously transferred by the dying serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) using his voodoo power on the night where he was shot by a police detective (Chris Sarandon).
The concept of a killer doll is actually nothing new, with similar movies like Stuart Gordon's "Dolls" already preceding it by one year before the late 1988 release of "Child's Play". But "Child's Play" is easily the most recognisable "killer doll" movie that remains popular even until today.
The movie itself is blessed with an impeccable voice performance by Brad Dourif who would go on to portray Chucky over the next six sequels to date. You could say he's the MVP of the movie that made the "Child's Play" franchise stay alive (no pun intended) over the course of three decades.
Kudos also goes to then-twentysomething Don Mancini, who actually wrote the screenplay when he was still a film major at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). Then, there was Tom Holland, the horror filmmaker behind 1983's "Psycho II" and 1985's "Fright Night", who help put together Mancini's script and turned it into a slasher-horror movie equivalent of Steven Spielberg's "Jaws". Unlike the subsequent sequels, Holland prefers a more stripped-down approach, using "less-is-more" filmmaking style as well as the power of suggestion to evoke a constant foreboding sense of dread over the course of this well-paced movie (it only ran 87 minutes long). The physical appearance of Chucky himself was considered a milestone in successfully combining animatronic effects along with alittle-person actor in suit and Brad Dourif's voice performance that helped bring the "living doll" to life.
Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) during the climactic finale in "Child's Play 2".
Let's face it, the first "Child's Play" sequel released two years after the critical and financial success of the 1988 original was admittedly inferior by comparison, but viewing it as a standalone sequel, "Child's Play 2" actually stood on its own. Replacing original director Tom Holland is John Lafia, the co-writer from the first movie making his then-feature directing debut. Again scripted by Don Mancini, the sequel more or less follows the same formula where Andy (Alex Vincent) once again becomes the target of the resurrected Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif), who attempts to possess Andy all over again. But at a scant 84 minutes, John Lafia made good use of its short running time to keep his pace brisk enough with an ample dose of violence, thrills and yes... a sense of dark humour. "Child's Play 2" is best remembered for its climactic third act that takes place in a Good Guy toy factory.
"Child's Play 3" (1991)
Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) in "Child's Play 3".
Released just over nine months as a result of the sequel's ("Child's Play 2") financial success, the third "Child's Play" movie was clearly a victim of rushed production. This time, the story follows Andy (Justin Whalin) who is now a grown-up teenager enrolling in a military school. But it doesn't take long before he faces -- what else -- a resurrected Chucky again. However, Chucky's target is no longer Andy but a new human body in the form of a young Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers).
"Bride Of Chucky" (1998)
"Child's Play 3" is easily the weakest entry of a then-movie trilogy, as director Jack Bender -- a TV veteran of "Falcon Crest" and "Beverly Hills, 90210" fame making his feature-length debut -- and returning screenwriter Don Mancini basically rehashing the same formula with some minor tweaks here and there. No wonder it was poorly received upon its release in 1991 and was even responsible for nearly killing off the franchise for good... until the arrival of "Bride Of Chucky" seven years later.
Even though "Child's Play 3" suffers from a "been there, done that before" syndrome, it still has its few moments, notably Brad Dourif's joyously unhinged performance as Chucky. He's the least lifesaver that made the otherwise inferior sequel fairly watchable, along with the final showdown set in a carnival.
Chucky and Tiffany (voiced by Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly) in "Bride Of Chucky".
At the time of its release in 1998, horror movies in general, has changed into a more meta and self-referential approach. This can be evidently seen in Wes Craven's then-groundbreaking "Scream" two years prior, which briefly revived the otherwise formulaic slasher genre and gave it a new spin. "Bride Of Chucky" apes the same filmmaking approach, as renowned Hong Kong director Ronny Yu of "The Bride With White Hair" fame along with screenwriter Don Mancini largely embraced black comedy in a gleeful fashion. They even give Chucky an unlikely bride in the form of Tiffany played with trashy perfection by Jennifer Tilly -- an obvious homage to James Whale' black-and-white classic sequel of "Bride Of Frankenstein" (1935). Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly made a great pair as they possess terrific chemistry as two living dolls stuck in a love-and-hate relationship. Although some fans might feel indifferent over the drastic tonal shift in "Bride Of Chucky", it was admittedly a refreshing change of pace from the usual stalk-and-slash horror formula previously seen in the original "Child's Play" trilogy.
"Seed Of Chucky" (2004)
The dysfunctional doll family of Chucky, Tiffany and their child Glen
(voiced by Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly and Billy Boyd) in "Seed Of Chucky".
Just when some of the fans thought "Bride Of Chucky" was too unconventional for a "Child's Play" movie, along came "Seed Of Chucky" where creator Don Mancini himself finally called the shots in his directing debut. The story focuses more on the dysfunctional family side between Chucky (Brad Dourif), Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and their long-lost child Glen (Billy Boyd) in a quest to transfer their souls into human bodies. "Seed Of Chucky" amps up the irreverent sense of humour more than ever and while it was less scary, Mancini doesn't skimp the excessive gore and graphic violence. Frankly, he executed the latter parts well enough and also proved to be a unique visual stylist after all. This is particularly evident during the earlier sequences where he pays homage to the POV opening scene of John Carpenter's "Halloween" and another nifty set-piece that contains an obvious callback to the elaborate sequence of the little-seen "Mute Witness". "Seed Of Chucky" also features Jennifer Tilly playing a dual role of Tiffany and even portraying herself as a real-life actress along with Nadia Dina Ariqat as Britney Spears look-a-like, and cult filmmaker John Waters shows up as an ill-fated paparazzi. This fifth "Child's Play" instalment would mark the last movie in the franchise made for the big screen.
"Curse Of Chucky" (2013)
Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) in "Curse Of Chucky".
"Curse Of Chucky" marks the first time ever that a "Child's Play" movie was not released theatrically. Given its "direct-to-DVD" stamp, it's easy to assume that the franchise is now relegated to a cash grab that relies heavily on the popularity of the title to sell the movie. Which is thankfully far from it, since writer-director Don Mancini made the smart choice by shifting the self-referential horror comedy approach seen in the last two movies (1998's "Bride Of Chucky and 2004's "Seed Of Chucky") and dialled back to a more stripped-down tone of the first "Child's Play". It was nevertheless a sigh of relief for most die-hard fans of the franchise, with Mancini even setting his movie largely in a single house and made Chucky an intimidating doll again. At the heart of the movie is Fiona Dourif (yes, she's the daughter of the legendary Brad Dourif) who made quite a lasting impression as the wheelchair-bound protagonist, Nica.
"Cult Of Chucky" (2017)
Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) in a scene from "Cult Of Chucky".
It's amazing how a horror franchise like "Child's Play" could survive this long, particularly the amounts of ups-and-down each sequel has gone through. But you have to hand it to creator Don Mancini for being able to reinvent his franchise over and over again. And for the third time in a row, he's calling the shots as both writer and director for the seventh instalment in "Cult Of Chucky". Fiona Dourif also reprised her role as Nica, who is now committed to a mental hospital but likewise, Chucky is back with a vengeance.
Cinema Online, 03 July 2019
Interestingly enough, Mancini introduced more than one Chucky this time around -- a nifty concept that added more sense of fun into the otherwise straightforward horror movie (yes, he has again shifted the tone with a blend of dark comedy). The movie is both scary and funny altogether, proving that the "Child's Play" movie still has a few lives left in the franchise.