The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

CHILD’S PLAY (1988) ****

Killer Doll Movies were kinda passé by the time the 80’s rolled around.  It took a sleeper horror hit like Child’s Play to revitalize the genre.  Not only was it a clever updating of an old hat, it also introduced audiences to one of the coolest screen slashers of all time:  Chucky.

 

Good Guy Dolls are the hot ticket toy item and Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) wants one for his birthday.  Unfortunately, his mom Karen (Catherine Hicks) is strapped for cash and has to resort to buying a doll from a creepy homeless man.  What she doesn’t realize is that a deranged killer named Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) has transferred his soul into the doll.  When Andy isn’t looking, “Chucky” goes around killing his former criminal associates until he comes to the guy who taught him Soul Transference 101.  He tells Chucky that the only way to get his soul out of the doll’s body is to put it into Andy’s.  Karen and Andy believe that Chucky is alive but detective Norris (Chris Sarandon) thinks they’re nuts.  Only after he gets attacked by Chucky does he finally agree to help them stop the terrifying toy.

 

Director Tom (Fright Night) Holland kinda takes his time with the first half of the movie.  It’s fairly obvious to everyone in the audience that Chucky is a walking, stalking killer doll, but Holland spends too much precious screen time on superfluous scenes of Andy trying to convince everyone that he’s real.  Once Chucky starts running around and fucking people up though, the movie really cooks. 

 

The scene where Hicks finds that there are no batteries in the Chucky doll is one of the greatest “Oh Shit” moments in horror history.  I first saw this flick in the theater when I was ten years old, and this scene fucking scared the shit out of me.  The finale when Chucky’s charred corpse comes back to life gave me the willies too.  There’s also a cool hammer to the face, a gnarly death by voodoo doll, and a toasty electrocution scene.  Holland delivers scares aplenty, but he even manages to give us some quality suspense as well.  I particularly liked the scene where Chucky tries to kill Sarandon while he’s driving a car. 

 

Brad Dourif’s creepy voice is what gives the movie its punch.  I can’t think of any other voice that would be as effective as Chucky.  He doesn’t really rely on wisecracks in this one but he still has enough of a potty mouth to make it hilarious whenever he drops the F-Bomb.

 

Another thing that makes Child’s Play memorable is the social commentary.  This flick really says something about fanatical consumer mentality of the 80’s.  Child’s Play was made at a time when parents would do just about anything to get their kid a Cabbage Patch Doll.  I bet if what happens in the movie really happened to your average Soccer Mom, she’d be gossiping to her friends:  “So what if my little Billy has a Good Guy Doll that’s possessed by a dead killer… at least HAS one.  I don’t see YOUR kid with a Good Guy Doll!”  I think the fact that every Christmas there is at least one toy that kids (and parents) go apeshit for (Nintendo Wii, Tickle Me Elmo, etc.) is partially what makes the film endure throughout the years.

 

Child’s Play is top notch in every department.  The acting is great, the direction is classy, and there are plenty of genuine scares.  I think Bride of Chucky is probably my favorite of the series, but Child’s Play remains one of the greatest Killer Doll flicks ever made.

 

Child’s Play is Number 10 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year for 1988, just below Not of This Earth.

 

<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Bride of Chucky>

Tags: c, child's play series, horror
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