Halloween Scene: Child’s Play (1988)

If you were to ask the average person over 25 to name five slashers with their own franchises you’d probably end up with a list that includes Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Leatherface and…Chucky. When I started my horror odyssey so many years ago, I was way more interested in those first four than the fifth. In fact, I completely disregarded the Child’s Play series as a bunch of goofy movies with a doll trying to kill people. I’ve always had a problem with killer doll/toy stories because you can either melt them or they’re magic and you’re screwed. So, these flicks were never a priority, especially after seeing bits and pieces of the sequels on TV here and there and not being impressed.

But, since it’s a somewhat long-running and popular horror series–and the first movie’s on Netflix Instant, though not the rest–I figured it would make for perfect Halloween Scene fodder. And you know what? It wound up surprising me. Much like the Freddy flicks, the Chuky movies started out pretty serious and then bought into their own hype, making Chucky an over the top wiseacre.

As you probably know, Chucky started out as a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray who gets gutshot in a toy store and winds up doing a voodoo incantation over a Good Guys doll, thus transferring his soul. He winds up in the home of a young boy and his mother, slowly wreaking havoc in the process.

What surprised me about the movie is how long they play up the mystery as to whether the kid is actually nuts or not. He’s always saying the doll told him things, but you never see it. I don’t know if I ever really bought the idea that it could be the kid, though. I mean, obviously I knew the story going in, but I also didn’t think the kid showed enough creepy tendencies to be a murderer. The weirdest thing you see him do is make breakfast for his mom that includes lots of sugary cereal with extra scoops of sugar and completely burnt toast with an ice cream scoop’s worth of Country Crock. Heck, he looks scarier on the French poster above than he ever does in the flick.

By keeping the truth a secret, the film also builds the creepiness and withholds the wisecracks and profanity from the murderous doll until the end, when the mom is in on what’s going on and Chucky’s on a rampage. I’ll even say that the movie has some good gore/effects scenes in that end series of events, especially when SPOILER the doll’s all burnt up. I had a My Buddy as a kid and would constantly kick the crap out of it, so I had no problem seeing this facsimile getting all messed up.

I’m not sure how the rest of the movies go. I doubt there’s a Dream Warriors in the bunch that stands apart as an awesome movie on it’s own, but I’m a lot more willing to give them a look now that I know that they at least come from an interesting source.

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