POPCORN FRIGHTS: Living With Chucky (2022)

You may have grown up afraid of Chucky but you didn’t live the life of Kyra Elise Gardner, the director and writer (with Jason Strickland) of this documentary, as she’s the daughter of special effects master Tony Gardner, and in her house were the half-built parts of Chucky and Tiffany from the movie Seed of Chuckie onward.

She told Entertainment Weekly: “My mom said when I was leaving preschool (one) day, I told my teacher that I couldn’t go home because the bad people were there. My teacher almost called CPS on my parents because she thought that they were hitting me. I didn’t understand that it was dolls. It was scared of Chucky, so it was absolutely frightening.”

Building on the short Dollhouse that she made in college, Gardner has filmed moments with her father, as well as interviews with creator Don Mancini; producer David Kirschner; actors Alex Vincent, Lin Shaye, Marlon Wayans, Abigail Breslin and Jennifer Tilly; Chucky’s voice Brad Dourif and his actress daughter Fiona Dourif (who has been in two Child’s Play movies and the new TV show); and even John Waters, who gleefully recalls having his face burned off by acid in Seed of Chucky.

Beyond serving as a much needed documentary about this horror series, it’s interesting to get into the shared experiences and family feeling — Fiona Dourif and Gardner bonded over childhoods with often work-absent fathers — that have grown along the way. I’d also love a doc that tries to get to the bottom of how Jennifer Tilly stays so perfect all these years, if anyone would like to make that.

Living With Chucky makes its world premiere on August 13 at Popcorn Frights festival and is available to watch digitally nationwide during the festival.

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