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.

City of the Doll

Cult of Chucky is pending. I noticed I’ve only reviewed two of the other films in the series, so let’s countdown to the release by rectifying that…

Day One:

 

child's play 1988CHILD’S PLAY

3 Stars  1988/15/84m

“You’ll wish it was only make believe!”

Director: Tom Holland / Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland / Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff, Brad Dourif, Jack Colvin.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “He said Aunt Maggie was a real bitch and got what she deserved!”


The inauguration of a horror icon begins here with the hokey but fun enough debut, which gives us all the information we need as to how the spirit of the Lakeshore Stranger – Charles Lee Ray – projects his soul into a talking Good Guy doll using voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Said talking doll is purchased from a homeless guy by hard-up widow Karen Barclay, for her six-year-old son Andy’s birthday. Andy is overjoyed with his new friend, and soon begins relaying the slightly odd things Chucky is apparently telling him. This is bad news for his babysitter, who receives a blow to the face from a toy hammer and tumbles out of an apartment block window.

The homicide detective from the Strangler case is assigned and immediately suspects Andy of the killing and the death of the Strangler’s accomplice soon after. Andy is packed off to a clinic for observation, blaming Chucky who, of course, just prattles off his three phrases.

child's play 1988

Karen is quick to discover that there is more to Andy’s story when she finds the batteries that came with the doll are still in the box, in what’s easily the film’s creepiest scene. She tries to convince the detective but his instinct is to believe she’s just trying to protect her son from the consequences but then stumbles upon some coincidences between the case and that of the Strangler. Da-da-daaaaa!

Chucky himself finds that the longer he stays a doll, the harder it will be to find rebirth into a human soul and the more vulnerable to harm he becomes, and the only viable soul is that of the first person he revealed his true self to – Andy.

Relatively high-end production values distinguish this film from the dying slasher genre at the end of the 80s, raking in decent profits as Jason, Freddy, and Michael experienced diminishing returns. Child’s Play achieves its distinction – and probably a chunk of its success – to avoiding most slasher movie rules, at least in this first one, with murders by accident or voodoo as opposed to the doll-with-a-blade in the sequels.

child's play 1988 hicks sarandon

A fair amount of debt should be owed to Freddy Krueger, as Chucky soon becomes efficient with his potty-mouthed one-liners in Brad Dourif’s inimitable drawl. Imitators soon appeared in the shape of Puppetmaster (and its ten sequels!), Demonic ToysDolly Dearest, and even the more recent Annabelle, proving a degree gold had indeed been unearthed.

A lot of weight also rests on the shoulders of Alex Vincent who, aged just seven, does well with the dark material without descending into territory of annoying child who the audience secretly wants to see thrown into a meat grinder (see Absurd for that kid). He also gets to utter that awesome climactic line: “This is the end, friend!” For her part, Hicks does a great job as his beleaguered Mom and defacto final girl.

child's play 1988

Mancini’s original script was far more psychologically based, with the doll serving as an excuse for Andy’s psychosis and a critique of the marketing-to-children boom in the greed-obsessed 80s. Everyone remembers the urban legend about Cabbage Patch Kids right? As it is, despite the final act descending into outright parody as the doll that just won’t fucking die, something of a modern classic in spite of itself.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hicks was another Mom-on-the-run in 1982’s Death Valley, which featured another pre-teen kid as the lead; Alex Vincent returned for the next film as well as Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky; Brad Dourif was also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, Trauma, and Urban Legend.

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