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The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part II: #90-81

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

Thus, remember that this isn’t just another countdown of the ‘best’ or most influential films the genre has to offer. If it were, the same old titles would crowd the top end and who wants that?

#100 to #91 can be found here.

90: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

An intensely creepy TV-movie made at the peak of the slasher craze: A quartet of big fish in a small town murder slow Bubba after mistakenly accusing him of killing a young girl. Soon after, the men fall victim to a series of weird ‘accidents’, the only connection between which is the eerie scarecrow that appears all over town prior to each death.

Crowning moment: The super-eerie murder at the mill.

89: Madman (1981)

Another of the many Friday the 13th summer camp clones, this time with a camp for ‘gifted children’ (all six of them) crashed by a legendary psycho-farmer who murdered his family and was unsuccessfully hanged by the local townsfolk and, if you call his name, he will ‘come for you’. Good job it was a horror and not a porno.

Crowning moment: Frizzy-haired counsellor finds a decapitated head under the hood, sees her boyfriend murdered, gets chased through the woods, and has to hide from the killer in a fridge… and it’s still NOT enough to save her.

88: Child’s Play 2 (1990)

One of just two appearances from our plastic buddy in this countdown; the Chucky doll is resurrected and, along with it, the soul of Charles Lee Ray trapped within. He manages to get himself sent to the foster home where little Andy Barclay has been sent and reaps more havoc on all the Doubting Thomases who cross his path. This represented the peak of the comedy-horror formula that ushered in the 90s.

Crowning moment: Chucky realises every school kid’s dream and reaps a ruler-tastic revenge on a strict schoolteacher.

87: Camping Del Terrore (1986)

More sexy campers up against another forest legend in Ruggero Deodato’s (Cannibal Holocaust) entry in the teenie-kill canon. The Italian-pretending-to-be-American production values are diverting and the mid-80s Euro-fashions colorfully amusing. But it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense.

Crowning moment: 80s-tastic aerobics – complete with headbands.

86: Final Exam (1981)

An anonymous and motive-free killer stalks the campus of a small college in this unimaginative and dry Halloween wannabe. But it’s charm lies in its purity: Everything that happens is 100% predictable but there’s a likeability to Final Exam and its characters often absent in the genre.

Crowning moment: Camp almost-hero Radish discovers a body and does his best to raise the alarm and rescue the girl. But fails.

85: Club Dread (2002)

Whatever happened to Broken Lizard? Their sophomore outing came in the shape of this amusing but self-indulgent slasher parody, which has a killer running around a Caribbean island resort machete-ing the employees and some of the guests. Bill Paxton is fun as good-time stoner Coconut Pete and there’s adequate bloodletting, even if it does grind on 25 minutes longer than it should.

Crowning moment: A fleeing victim tries to make her escape in a golf buggy, finding it futile when the killer manages to out-walk her.

84: Boogeyman 2 (2007)

A sequel to the goddamn awful 2005 PG-13 horror that wasn’t really a slasher flick… A girl who lived through the murder of her parents as a child is admitted to an institution alongside several other youngsters with quirky phobias. Natch, they’re done in by a masked killer twisting their fears into reality…

Crowning moment: An anorexic beauty queen is pumped full of fat until she, well, bursts.

83: Wishcraft (2001)

Michael Weston is a high school nobody who receives an enchanted bull’s penis that grants three wishes. While he toys with what to use it for, somebody is murdering the unpleasant kids from his high school. An amusing mix of paranormal slashenings and comedy, plus Meatloaf is in it.

82: Opera (1987)

The outcome of Michele Soavi’s Stagefright was Dario Argento’s sticky tale of a young stage ingenue who is repeatedly kidnapped and forced to watch a series of murders by a killer who tapes needles under her eyes to ensure she witnesses his slayings… The usual flair and flourishes make this a little better than the film that influenced it.

Crowning moment: Casanova William McNamara’s gruesome demise, courtesy of a grinding pole through the chin into the roof of the mouth. During sex. Ouch.

81: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

One of the nominal fan favourites of the series, this was the last of the original Paramount films I saw and so I’ve never loved it as much as some others do. Anyway, Jason rises from the ‘dead’ and returns to Crystal Lake to kill more vacationing teenagers, only this time he’s met his match in the form of 12-year-old horror nut Tommy…

Crowning moment: Jason’s grisly denouement, cut from UK versions for years, with the infamous ‘machete slide’ courtesy of Tom Savini.

Sequel Showdown: 6s, Sixes, and VIs

The further you venture into the cave, the darker it gets… Or, the less franchises there are that reach that sacred sixth installment. In fact, there are but five slasher films (that I know of) that have reached this pinnacle, so this time we’ll take ‘em one by one…

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Often held as the last true hurrah for the hockey masked one, writer/director Tom McLoughlin weaved a witty thread of comedy through Jason’s resurrection adventure, pleasantly elevating Jason Lives over and above the previous few entries.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

“They saved the best for last.” No. No, they did not. The sixth and ‘final’ outing for Mssr. Krueger was chucked out with a 3D finale, and cameos from Alice Cooper, Roseanne, and Tom Arnold, but everything else is as forgettable as can be, from the dismal body count of THREE to Freddy’s quips, which by this point were more dated than disco.

One bizarre anecdote was that the films staggered US-UK releases were punctuated by the death of Freddy Mercury in November 1991, so TV adverts proclaiming “Freddy’s Dead!” were a tad lacking in the tact department.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Largely unloved by fans of Mikey M., I actually wrung a fair amount of enjoyment from this one, which was the last of the original films to maintain a really ‘Halloweeny’ atmosphere – plus it was the possibly the first sequel I saw of the lot.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999)

John Franklin returned to his creepy role from the original film fifteen years previously, which would surely mean the corn sprogs would want him dead as he’s well into adulthood? Who knows with this series. Nancy Allen was in it, I’ve only seen it the once, but it was definitely better than the horrific TV movie/remake and the recent Genesis episode.

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Don Mancini has, for the time being, successfully resisted the remake-demons getting their paws on his property and, instead, a quasi-reboot was thrown together in the shape of this made for DVD flick, which opted for a back to basics approach with Chucky seen neither moving nor speaking for a good half of the running time. It seems to have done the trick.

The Finalists

Essentially, all five films are finalists, but it’s easy to eliminate Freddy’s Dead and Children of the Corn off the bat: Neither managed to ding the bell of decency.

Next out would be Chucky; it was a good film but the cut-price one-place/one-night setting made it drag just a little.

So, surprise, surprise, it’s between two genre icons who have already bagged prizes in Rounds 2 and 4 respectively, but for being both witty and maintaining a ‘classics’ summer camp feel, it’s gotta be the J-man:

The Winner

Next time, all the sevens!

Death at a funeral

CURSE OF CHUCKY

3 Stars  2013/18/93m

Director/Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Fiona Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, Brennan Elliott, Maitland McConnell, A Martinez, Summer Howell, Chantal Quesnelle, Brad Dourif.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “It’s just a doll – what’s the worst that could happen?”


While there are some good ones, I’d rather take endless sequels over remakes and reboots any day, and so it’s comforting (if such a verb is applicable to a cheesy horror film) that Child’s Play has so far eluded the suck of the remake whirlpool.

Last time we saw Chucky, he and Tiffany were reanimated and fought over the gender of their plastic offspring, Glen/Glenda, killing friends of Jennifer Tilly as they went, including Redman (what happened to him??), John Waters, and one of S Club 7.

I was lucky enough to catch the European Premiere of the straight-to-DVD Curse of Chucky at London’s FrightFest, and both Don Mancini and lead actress Fiona Dourif were present to introduce and perform Q&A, which informed us that Mancini would like to see Chucky go up against Freddy Krueger and Dourif was a little reticent about conversing with the profane doll voiced by her own father.

The ‘handsome’ doll kids mysteriously continue to fawn over

Without explanation of his resurrection, a box containing Chucky is delivered to the home of Sarah and her wheelchair-bound daughter, Nica. Who sent it and from where it came is a mystery, but after Sarah apparently commits suicide later that night, Nica is visited by her acerbic sister, Barb, brother-in-law, Ian, their daughter, Alice, nubile au pair, Jill, and Father Frank.

Barb wants to sell the house and split the profits, leading to tension between the sisters. Meanwhile, Alice adopts Chucky as her own. Creepy things begin to happen that only Nica observes, the doll disappears, cupboards are left open, the doll reappears… Unbeknownst to her, Father Frank, who left feeling unwell after drawing the soup seasoned with rat poison, has run off the road, killed some poor schmucks, and gotten decapitated by sheet metal.

Chucky does his usual schtick of whispering sweet nothings to little Alice and then systematically killing the adults by electrocution, axe, and knife-in-the-eye, until it’s just him and Nica and he reveals the link between her late mother and Charles Lee Ray.

Given the reduced budget, the film is almost entirely set on the one night in the same house, though Mancini pulls some tricks out of his sleeve towards the end, with a couple of awesome cameos that had the audience cheering, albethem seeming to retcon happenings from earlier instalments – just make sure you wait until the credits are over for the ultimate cameo.

It’s on par with the pre-Tiffany films – good but not life-changing – and reigning in Chucky’s mobility until the second half creates a little tension lacking in the last few episodes. The gags are also reeled tighter, making them more effective, and in terms of the script and dialogue, Curse of Chucky is the most taut instalment since the first. The only real flaw is the pacing, evident from use of the one location, it does drag here and there.

Free Chucky masks!

Don Mancini and Fiona Dourif at FrightFest 2013

If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love this one as much as the rest, and it’s admirable Mancini has stuck with it all this time and I hope he continues to put off any plans for a remake in favour of more sequels if they’re as good as this one.

Blurbs-of-interest: other than voicing Chucky in the other five movies, Brad Dourif can be seen (actually acting!) in Urban Legend, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II, Dead Scared, and Trauma; Maitland McConnell was in Detention and Killer Movie.

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