SLASHER MONTH: Child’s Play (1988)

Don Mancini took his trouble relationship with his dad, his experiences of being alienated as a gay man and his worries about the impact of 80s sell sell sell on children and turned it into a series of films that still exist to this day. It’s a cauldron brimming with influences, from Trilogy of Terrror‘s evil doll — literally the POV shots in this come from that seminal made for TV movies –to the Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll” and no small bit of cultural appropriation from the Cabbage Patch Kids to make Chucky into a horror icon.

The best part of this movie is that it knows to hold back from revealing Chucky. Tom Holland is a great director and he made the most of this film, which starts with Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) finally bringing Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) to justice. After being shot, Ray remembers the voodoo imparted to him by John “Dr. Death” Bishop (Raymond Oliver) and his soul transfers to a Good Guys doll.

Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) is trying to raise her son Andy (Alex Vincent) all alone. She wants to get him a Good Guy doll, but they’re as expensive as they are hard to find. Yet when she gets one from a homeless man, things seem too good to be true. Well, they are, because the film continues tease the existence of Charles Lee Ray inside Chucky, but when Karen tries to burn the doll, it unleashes a torrent of expletives and begins chasing her through the apartment.

As part of the voodoo, Ray can only leave the doll to take over one body, the first person he revealed himself to. If Andy is to survive, his mother and Detective Norris must stop Chucky by taking out his heart.

For as iconic as Dourif’s voice is, he wasn’t the first choice. John Lithgow was going to play the role, but Holland had worked with Dourif on the movie Fatal Beauty. Then, they wanted Chucky to sound like an electronic toy before deciding on Jessica Walter as the voice. I mean, it worked for Pazuzu having a powerful female actress voicing those lines. Luckily, when Dourif got his schedule free, he made Chucky’s voice the one we know, love and maybe even are afraid of.


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