The Main Differences Between The Original And New Child’s Play Movies

Chucky in Childs Play 1988 and 2019

(Image credit: (Orion))

Hollywood’s nostalgia trip through our favorite ‘80s horror classics has continued with a modern retelling of Child’s Play. It’s the movie that may have single-handedly set off the downfall of the doll industry, inspired the look for one character in Rugrats (?), and had the backbone to go up against Toy Story 4 at the box office… because irony and brutal advertisement crossovers.

Is has been more than 30 years since the original Child’s Play was released and I’m happy to report this new version is not a cheap imitation. Both movies cover the same main points: A young boy receives a doll named Chucky for his birthday from his mom; Chucky becomes a problem for them when he goes on a murderous rampage. However, the story is executed differently enough in each movie that it sets them apart and allows room for both.

When I went into 2019’s Child’s Play, it was without recent memory of what goes down in the original... except the terror in his blue eyes and his filthy baby fingers around a kitchen knife. I walked out of the theater surprised about how intrigued and unnerved I was by the horrors Chucky’s comeback offers audiences. Naturally, it was time to dig up the 1988 classic to see how it all started.

What’s different about the two Child’s Play movies? No jump scares here, you’re about to find out:

2019 A.I. Chucky, Child's Play

(Image credit: (Orion))

What Brings Chucky To Life

In the original Child’s Play, a serial killer is being chased through a toy store when he realizes it’s the end of the line for him. He does have one more scheme up his sleeve: transferring his spirit into the soul of the best-selling “Good Guy” doll. In the ‘80s classic, he repeats a bunch of foreign spells while placing his hand on the doll, and a cheesy amount of thunderbolts and lightning shower over the store, right as his human body is found and killed.

The remake decided to make a major change to the original with this aspect of the film. Instead of Chucky being a vessel for a serial killer’s misuse of magic, he is a piece of A.I. technology gone terribly wrong. In the new movie, Chucky is a “Buddi” doll who is a product in a line full of devices made to sync up to the cloud and work together to make its consumers' lives easier. Chucky is different than the other A.I.s because all the safety controls are turned off by a factory worker who gets pissed off by the way he’s treated by his boss.

Alex Vincent as Andy with Chucky doll in 1988 Child's Play

(Image credit: (Orion))

His ‘Best Friend’ Andy

Another difference between the two movies is the age of the boy who is given the doll for his birthday, Andy. In the first movie, he’s a seven-year-old boy who so desperately wants a “Good Guy” doll that his mother scrapes for a discounted one off a peddler to make him happy. With Andy being such a young age, it’s terrifying to see him hug, sleep with and befriend the serial killer doll. Chucky whispers things into Andy’s ear about where to take him or what to say, and because the film is from the perspective of the mom and the cop, we’re more removed from this boy’s interactions with him until later in the story.

The 2019 version has Andy being played by a 13-year-old who receives the doll as a joke from his mom (Aubrey Plaza) but also because he’s a lonely child. She nabs it for free after someone returns it from the store she works at. This Andy is more central to the story and we watch more closely as they form an unlikely bond with each other. Andy underestimates Chucky because he thinks of him as a “kids” doll, but this ups the scare factor when Chucky really shows him what he’s capable of.

murderous chucky in 1988 Child's Play

(Image credit: (Orion))

Chucky’s Motivations For Murder

In the original Child’s Play, Chucky is established as an all-around bad guy that should already be dead for all of his horrible crimes. When he’s turned into the doll, his motivations are to finish what he started and kill the victims he has his sights set on. When he learns that the only way to become human again is to kill the first human he’s touched, he goes back to murder young Andy.

The new one establishes a much more sympathetic Chucky. Since he’s just a faulty A.I. doll, he really does want to be Andy’s best friend. It’s his purpose he was programmed to carry out, but because all his limits on violence and such are turned off, he reverts to some crazy antics in order to “please” Andy and make sure the two can be together. This Chucky starts off as an innocent (albeit twisted) child who just wants to love and be loved. His murders may be out of control, but they actually have a legitimate reason behind them that audiences understand.

Gabriel Bateman as Andy in 2019 Child's Play

(Image credit: (Orion))

The Fears The Movies Tap Into

The original Child’s Play really makes us question and fear dolls such as Chucky. There’s a certain paranoia we have after witnessing young Andy cuddle up to a serial killer in the body of a “harmless” doll. Is it really just lifelessness behind the eyes of our toys or do they have souls? It does what Toy Story accomplishes with bringing more life and personality to everyday toys and objects, but with a much more sinister message behind it.

Since the original Child’s Play came out, dolls aren’t as popular of a toy anymore among children. New technology is what’s going into the hands of kids today, so it makes complete sense for the franchise to update with an A.I. Chucky. Because this Chucky can sync up to the cloud and control webcams, cars, air conditioning, phones, televisions, etc. the movie becomes a scary reminder devices have over us.

Between the two Child’s Play movies, there’s a ton of changes that were made! Above all else, the changes in the times in the last 30 years. The first movie went for a unique take on the popularity of the slasher subgenre, while the new one goes for a Black Mirror-esque style to ponder the dangers of advanced technology.

Did you like the changes made in the new movie? Which Child’s Play movie do you like better? Let us know in the comments below!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.