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cult of chucky 2017CULT OF CHUCKY

3 Stars  2017/18/88m

“You may feel a little prick.”

Director/Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Fiona Dourif, Michael Terriault, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Adam Hurtig, Zak Santiago, Elisabeth Rosen, Grace Lynn Kung, Ali Tataryn, Marina Stephenson Kerr.

Body Count: 8

“…The look on my victim’s face when they realise in that final moment that it’s all really happening: A children’s toy is actually beating them to death with a yardstick.”


Credit where credit’s due – the Child’s Play series has done an impressive job when it comes to continuity, more or less keeping on top of film-to-film plot lines for almost thirty years and seven movies. To that end, rather huge spoilers are necessary to ‘splain Cult of Chucky

Four years after the events in Curse of, original hero Andy Barclay – now mid-30s – has kept Chucky’s living head in a safe at home, and ritually tortures it. Nica Pierce, meanwhile, has been locked up in an institution and convinced by her shrink that she was the one responsible for the murders of her family.

cult of chucky 2017

Said shrink decides to move Nica to an isolated lower security clinic now that she no longer blames it all on a possessed Good Guy Doll, going so far as to bring in such a doll to a group session. Nica is fine with it, and the doll is summarily adopted by fellow inmate Madeleine, who treats it like a real baby. Bitchy Claire doesn’t trust Nica; away-with-the-fairies Angela claims she received a phone call from Chucky, warning them all he’s coming back; and multiple-personality sufferer Malcolm flips between thinking he’s Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Phelps.

cult of chucky 2017 alex vincent jennifer tilly

Nica receives a visit from Tiffany, who was somehow appointed guardian of her niece Alice, and breaks the news to her that Alice is dead. Broken, Nica attempts suicide but wakes in the morning to find her slashed wrist stitched up and a message for her left in blood. Meanwhile, another patient has successfully topped themselves, and the floodgates soon open in Nica’s memory.

Chucky stalks the halls, killing patients and staff by shattered glass and powerdrill, while Andy races to save the day, but has to get around Tiffany first.

The cult in Cult of Chucky is reached by a new voodoo curse that allows his spirit to possess multiple vessels at once, so ultimately we end up with this:

cult of chucky 2017

At the time Curse of was released, there was much hoopla over the back to being scary approach, which was the result of the remake falling through and the straight-to-DVD quasi-reboot coming instead. Though the film was sluggish in places due to its reduced budget, it succeeded in creating some atmosphere lacking in the Bride and Seed chapters.

Well, forget all that as Cult takes us back to the comic one-liners (albethem sometimes hilarious), wacky demises, Jennifer Tilly’s loony toon Tiffany back in the fray (but not centre stage), and a bit of a mess to try and untangle as things get weirder and weirder.

cult of chucky 2017

Mancini weaves things together well enough, leaving the door wide open for the eighth film – Christ knows what they’ll title it though – and as per Curse‘s post-credits gag, another face from pastures old puts in an appearance, giving the entire series a familial boost over its contemporaries. Fiona Dourif also gets to flex some reasonable acting muscle as well.

I’ve never been more than a casual fan of Chucky at best – he’s always entertaining and none of the instalments are crap, but I’d rank Cult in the lower echelons of the series, though it’s great to see the original creators still onboard and pushing things forward rather than phoning in a crummy remake or instalment-ignoring cash-grab as most of the others have done.

Blurb-of-interest: Adam Hurtig, who plays Malcolm, was also in Curse as Officer Stanton.

Baby Doll

Day Four… Getting a bit over-Chuckified by this point…

*

seed of chucky 2004SEED OF CHUCKY

3 Stars  2004/15/83m

“The family that slays together, stays together.”

Director/Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Redman, Hannah Spearritt, John Waters, Billy Boyd, Steve Lawton, Jason Flemyng.

Body Count: 13

Laughter Lines: “If this is what it takes to be human, then I would rather take my chances as a supernaturally possessed doll – it’s less complicated!”


I remember a criticism of the series at the time of the release of Seed of Chucky that it’s become a joke only Don Mancini and Jennifer Tilly are in on and, despite how hilarious this outing is, they weren’t far off the mark. The horror series with some comedy had done a one-eighty and was now a comedy with some horror.

A pint-sized doll slashes its way through a British household in what’s revealed to be a dream of Shithead, a living doll imprisoned and mistreated by a ventriloquist. Shithead watches a report from the in-production movie Chucky Goes Psycho and realises Chucky and Tiffany are their parents, escapes, and makes it to Hollywood. When Shithead discovers C&T are just prop dolls, they read from the amulet they’ve had since forever and restore life to them one more time.

seed of chucky 2004

Chucky and Tiffany awake, kill a poor schmuck, and discover Shithead is without gender-decisive parts. They rename them Glen. Or Glenda. Pending their offspring’s decision. Chucky wants a son, Tiffany wants a daughter.

The trio of dolls hide out in lead-role Jennifer Tilly’s limousine and set up home at her place, planning to transfer themselves into the bodies of her and rapper-turned-director Redman. Jennifer, disillusioned with her career, plans to sleep her way into Redman’s Biblical epic, much to the disappointment of Jennifer’s PA Joan (former S Club 7 member, Spearritt), who is then subsequently fired.

Tiffany convinces Chucky to give up killing to set a better example to Glen/da, which he dishonestly agrees to, but offs Britney Spears and John Waters’ paparazzi behind her back, taking Glen/da along with him. Tiffany meanwhile, sorts out a voodoo pregnancy for Jennifer, and tries to atone for her past sins in a hilarious scene where she calls the widow of a previous victim and apologises.

seed of chucky 2004 jennifer tilly chucky

The film begins to fall to pieces towards the end as everyone falls out, Glen/da appears in drag, then wants to be a boy, or a girl, and the dolls attack each other while the now-heavily pregnant Jennifer tries to escape, eventually writing itself into a bit of an inescapable corner that Curse of Chucky largely ignored nine years later, but at least didn’t entirely retcon.

Best viewed as a dark comedy – you’ll certainly get a lot of laugh-mileage. The confusing narrative with Tilly voicing Tiffany was well as playing herself is difficult to get to grips with at various points, but the fans’ ambivalence and only moderate box office success (about half of Bride of Chucky‘s haul) kept a lid on things for almost a decade, during which threats of a remake were rife. That at least hasn’t happened yet, rubber fingers crossed.

seed of chucky 2004 hannah spearritt

Blurbs-of-interest: Tilly was also in The Caretaker; Dourif can also be found in Rob Zombie’s Halloween re-do’s, Urban Legend, Chain LetterDead Scared, Color of Night, and Trauma; Jason Flemyng (who later stated he wished he could erase this film from his resume) was in From Hell;

Enter Tiffany

Day Three: Let’s get to the funny.

*

bride of chucky 1998BRIDE OF CHUCKY

3.5 Stars  1998/18/85m

“Chucky gets lucky.”

A.k.a. Child’s Play 4

Director: Ronny Yu / Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Alexis Arquette, Lawrence Dane.

Body Count: 14

Laughter Lines: “I knew you were obsessed… but Chucky? He’s so… 80s.”


After the series suffered the damage of the bullshit allegations levelled at Child’s Play 3, which was also Don Mancini’s intended jumping-off point, it looked like the world had seen the last of Chucky. While the likes of Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Dolls ground on straight to video, the slasher genre, all but dead and buried, was shocked back to life courtesy of Scream and, naturally, all those franchises that helped build it first time around were ripe for re-picking.

Halloween H20 was first off the marks in the summer of ’98 but Chucky Inc were quick to cash in, overhauling the unintentionally (?) funny schtick of the formula and going for all-out self-referencing black humour.

bride of chucky 1998

Shortly after the events of the last film, Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend Tiffany manages to get a crooked cop to hand over the dismembered remains of the Good Guy doll. She stitches and staple-guns him back together, adds new limbs, and consults Voodoo for Dummies to complete the resurrection spell. However, getting Chucky back does not result in the romantic reunion she hoped for, as the ring she assumed was a marriage proposal for the best part of a decade was in fact acquired from one of Chucky’s last victims.

Heartbroken, she imprisons him in a crib and gives him a talking bride doll as company. Ever resourceful, Chucky breaks out, electrocutes Tiffany in the bath and resurrects her spirit into the bride doll. Needing to get to an amulet that was buried with Ray’s body, Tiffany calls her hunky young neighbour Jesse and asks him to transport the two dolls to New Jersey.

bride of chucky 1998

Jesse collects girlfriend Jade, who is under the rule of her ass-hat police chief uncle (the late Ritter) and they drive off for a new life unwittingly with a body in the back of the van. Anxious to bring him into the 90s, Tiffany and Chucky trade inventive methods of dispatching their victims, including nails catapulted into the face, immolation by car, and a memorable shattered glass ceiling raining on to a couple on a waterbed.

In the meantime, Jesse and Jade – married in a drive-in chapel – suspect each other of the murders that are following them, eventually forcing Chucky and Tiffany to reveal who they are and what they need. The quartet continue on towards the cemetery before Ray’s body is exhumed (his fingerprints were found at an earlier crime scene) and the sexy teens manage to turn the two of them against one another and make a break for it.

bride of chucky 1998 katherine heigl nick stabile

Whereas the Child’s Play trilogy were horror movies with some comedy, the Chucky films (all titled Blah ‘of Chucky’ hereafter) are black comedies with some horror elements – but it works better given the central premise is that the killer is a doll that nobody thinks to just step on. The addition of Tilly’s Tiffany is gold and, while possibly the joke is overdone in the next film, it’d be near impossible to revert things to the unsettling is-it-the-kid? tone of the original.

While Tilly and Dourif relish in their voice-roles (and Tilly is also a blast beforehand), there’s great support from Ritter as the slimy patriarch, Alexis Arquette as Tiff’s wannabe-badass plaything, Kathy Najimy as a housekeeper, and – gasp! – a gay character! Well, he gets hit by a truck rather than murdered by the dolls, but there’s a little progress there. Jesse and Jade are acceptably highschool sweetheart leads, any presence they have dwarfed by their 36-inch counterparts, but Heigl and Stabile do their best with what they’re given, they’re just a little too perfect and beautiful.

bride of chucky 1998

Bride of Chucky is the epitome of a fun horror flick: It’s gloriously far-fetched and stupid, but never stoops to fart-gag level humour for its multitude of LOLs.

Blurbs-of-interest: Tilly was in Far From Home in the late 80s, and later featured in The Caretaker; Dourif was in TraumaUrban Legend (the cop at the start was also in this as the car accident victim in Alicia Witt’s flashback), Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes, Dead ScaredChain Letter, and Color of Night; Katherine Heigl cameo’d in Valentine; Alexis Arquette was in Children of the Corn V; Lawrence Dane was in Happy Birthday to Me. Ronny Yu directed Freddy vs. Jason a few years later.

TGI Friday (the 13th!): Nakeboarding

Woo! It’s Jason-day!

friday the 13th 2009 wakeboarding

love wakeboarding; my kinda sport… Although doing it without an impact vest seems a bit dumb, but then how else would we see boobs? Also, Chelsea’s feet fly off the board when she crashes out – not easy if you’re strapped in right! Also, the board totally disappears thereafter. Nayyyy… those fuckers float.

Anyway – be good, kids. No drinking, drugs, pre-martial sex or, as we see, naked adrenalin sports.

Morality, Mistruths, and Military School

Day Two: I reviewed Child’s Play 2 some while ago, so it’s a hop, skip, and a jump (unless you’re three-feet-two, Chuck) on to the one that got blamed for a few things, Part 3…

 

child's play 3 1992CHILD’S PLAY 3

3 Stars  1991/18/86m

“Look Who’s Stalking!”

Director: Jack Bender / Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Brad Dourif.

Body Count: 8


Just as the folks at Camp Crystal Lake never learned and keep re-opening the joint, so the Good Guys toy manufacturer fails to learn from all the deaths linked to their product and keep resurrecting it.

Some of Chucky’s blood from the molten plastic heap he ended up as at the end of CP2 leaks into the production of a new batch and thus gives him a new body. He celebrates by tormenting and killing the CEO of the company, after he brands consumers idiots.

Eight years have passed and Chucky uses a computer to track down Andy’s whereabouts (he does this in about 16 seconds despite eight years of software upgrades), discovering he’s been packed off to the Kent Military Academy.

child's play 3 1991 justin whalin

Naturally, Chucky appears soon after but instead of being unwrapped by Andy, he’s picked up by pre-teen cadet Tyler, who, under the new-body rules, is now the target of Hide the Soul. Andy’s attempts to stop Chucky rile bullying Colonel Shelton, but draw the affections of fearless female cadet DeSilva (watch her awesome hair shake-out as the sadistic barber happens by).

So it’s death by garbage compactor, grenade, and terror-induced heart attack until the ghost train finale, which seems a bit contrived, even by the standards of this series. Creator Don Mancini was allegedly pushed into writing this outing without much preparation time and considers it the least impressive of the lot, which is a fair summary.

child's play 3 1991

Now, the film’s bizarre legacy has gained more notoriety than the picture itself: When two 10-year-old boys abducted and murdered a two-year-old in the early 90s, Britain’s infamously shitty tabloid press decided not to question parenting or social issues that led to the crime, no, they pointed the finger squarely at horror movies, in particular this one, which had been rented by the stepfather of one of the boys some months prior.

the mirror child's play 3 banned

Complete bullshit. Nothing was banned.

Never mind the fact neither of them had seen it, or that none of its content tallied with the crime, it was evil and must be banned, said the likes of The Sun and The Daily Mail, unquestionably THE worst newspapers in the history of print media. One paper even tried to encourage people to burn their horror video cassettes in a sad echo of the 80s ‘Video Nasty’ bollocks, and The Mirror praised itself for ‘banning’ Child’s Play 3 on its own front page – about the only time Chucky will get that accolade.

Coinciding with this but hardly reported on at the time, a teenage girl tortured and murdered was played a sample of Chucky’s infamous ‘wanna play’ utterance at full volume by a group of scutty assholes who killed her over a stolen coat!

As with these papers and their ilk, it was all lies. The film was not banned, it was simply withdrawn by the distributor CIC, the knock-on effect of which was that incoming psycho-child flick Mikey was refused a BBFC certificate. Nothing banned, nothing achieved by hack right-wing morality play journalists. The film reappeared within a few years, notably sporting an 18 certificate instead of the 15 granted to the first two movies.

Homicidal cockwombles will always exist and moral guardian tabloid wannabes will always find a sub-cultural scapegoat, be it horror movies, video games, or Marilyn Manson tracks, but never their own media moguls who exploit tax loopholes and lie to the masses in order to save more money. Nope, never them.

child's play 3 1991

All this drama aside, it’s probably the least fun entry in the series, but a moderately enjoyable hour-and-a-half nonetheless and the military school setting is good, if not used to its full potential. And fuck you, tabloid liars.

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