SPOLER WARNING: The following article gives away all the most essential plot details from Child’s Play. If you have not seen the 1988 classic by now, don’t say we didn’t warn you by the time you get the to end, friend.
Just like any of the greatest horror movie villains, it really is impossible to get rid of Chucky. Case in point: the otherwise cuddly-looking doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer (voiced by Brad Dourif) is back at it for another murderous rampage on the second season of his self-titled TV show.
The upcoming premiere of Chucky Season 2 — which airs simultaneously on USA and SYFY, Wednesday, October 5, at 10 p.m. ET — got me in the mood to revisit the film that started it all, and is the best of the franchise in most people’s eyes: 1988’s Child’s Play. “I beg of you” to take a look at this breakdown of what was going on in my head during my most recent viewing of this fun, creepy, and sometimes hilarious horror classic, starting with some much-needed praise for the actor behind deadly toy.
Brad Dourif Is So Underrated
It is no wonder why an icon like Mark Hamill was intimidated by the chance to voice Chucky in 2019’s Child’s Play remake, because even he realizes that the role is owned by Brad Dourif. With an Academy Award nomination for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the killer doll still remains his most famous role, but even I think the unending praise he receives for giving the villain a voice is not quite enough. His performance as Charles Lee Ray in the original film’s opening scene, even before the dying fugitive transfers his soul into the Good Guy, boasts a remarkably compelling combination of fury and desperation.
You Know A Horror Movie Is Good When The First Kill Is This Insane
The quality of a slasher movie villain is determined by the effectiveness of their kills and Chucky earns himself a seat among the best in the business the moment he claims his first victim in Child’s Play. Dinah Manoff’s Maggie Peterson — watching young Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) while his mom, Karen (Catherine Hicks), is at work — takes a child-sized hammer to the forehead, which sends her hurtling through a window and falling several stories before landing on a pickup truck parked outside the Barclay’s apartment building. The way director Tom Holland (no, not the Spider-Man actor) ramps up the tension in the moment leading up to the brutal attack really sells it as a frightening classic.
Karen Discovering Chucky Has No Batteries Is Never Not Chilling
However, Maggie’s death might not even be the scariest scene in Child’s Play, which really only hints at the fact that Charles Lee Ray is still alive in “Chucky” until one very clever and creepy reveal. The look on Karen’s face when she finds the doll’s batteries still in the box before opening him up to discover he isn’t powered by electricity, after all, is priceless. The now iconic moment never fails to send a shiver down my spine.
Norris’ Face-Off With Chucky In His Car Is Truly Thrilling
Chris Sarandon may be recognized better from the Princess Bride cast, but I especially love his performance in Child’s Play as Det. Mike Norris, who finally realizes that Andy and Karen were telling the truth about Chucky when the doll hides in his car and attacks him from behind while he is driving. It is a thoroughly intense sequence, both for the vengeful, yet still playful, ferocity Chucky exudes when facing the man who killed him in his human form. Not to mention, the idea of having to fight off an assailant when behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is horrifying enough in concept.
The Movie’s Scariest Element, Really, Is How Often Andy Comes Close To Death
However, if there is one thing that truly frightens me the most about Child’s Play, it is all the ways that Andy’s life is put in jeopardy throughout the film. Seeing the six-year-old skip school to take a train across town while accompanied by no one but his homicidal doll is enough to get my blood boiling. However, I was audibly shouting when he walks way too close to the home of Chucky’s former partner-in-crime, Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoli) just seconds before Chucky blows it up.
How Did Alex Vincent Not Have A Bigger Career After A Performance This Good?
While it is really no challenge for a child character to earn my sympathies, I don’t think I would have such a soft spot for Andy if it were not for Alex Vincent’s performance. His enchanting wonderment while watching a Good Guy ad on TV, his plea for protection when he spots Chucky coming for him from his psych ward window, and the way he delivers the heroic line, “This is the end, friend!” is so perfectly convincing. I really believe it is one of the best children's performances in a horror movie, and I’m glad Vincent is still part of the franchise to this day, having appeared on the Chucky series, most recently.
Charles Lee Ray Has The Most Cliched Serial Killer Apartment Ever
While searching for any leads that might point them in the direction of where Chucky may strike next, Norris and Karen scope out Charles Lee Ray’s apartment which, upon first glance, made me wonder how this creep wasn’t caught any earlier. With a collection of undressed mannequins crudely placed in front of a window, paintings of graphic, ritualistic imagery all over the walls, and some weird table made out of legs, this is the definitive serial killer’s home, and I feel more uncomfortable with every passing moment the film spends showing it to us.
How Did This Movie Not Get An Oscar For Its VFX?
An element of Child’s Play that always leaves me amazed is the visual effects work that brings Chucky to life with animatronics that were very impressive for the late ‘80s and still hold up fantastically today. I know the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never been too kind to horror (save a few notable exceptions), but I cannot imagine why this film’s VFX were left completely ignored. I would call it one of the horror genre’s worst Oscar snubs ever.
Not Sure What’s Creepier: Chucky In Standard Doll Form Or A Walking Hunk Of Burnt, Melting Plastic?
On second thought, maybe the Academy couldn’t nominate Child’s Play’s VFX work because they were too frightened to look at it and I cannot say I blame them. I mean, even before Chucky reveals his true self, the soulless grin on the Good Guy’s face is already pretty unsettling, if you ask me. Then again, the tension escalates quite a bit after Andy sets Chucky on fire and he comes back as a hideously burned, dripping shell of himself. Even then, the jury is still out on what his scariest appearance really is, in my book.
I Forgot How Much I Loved Child’s Play
One think I can definitively say about Child’s Play upon what was my second viewing is that I did not realize how much I unironically enjoy this movie is until now. Despite its inherently ridiculous concept, its genuinely effective scares and clever plot structure honestly qualify it as one of the best horror movies of its time as far as I am concerned. You could even watch it as an earnest thriller or just a good horror-comedy (shots of Chucky when he is clearly played by a little person in a mask are done in an especially hilarious way), and have a good time either way.
This Child’s Play re-watch actually has me thinking a few other things. One: maybe I should finally watch some of the sequels for once (yes, I admit, I have never seen any past the original); and two: I still firmly stand by my belief that Chucky is the scarier horror movie doll over Annabelle from the Conjuring Universe.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.