Frightening Film Franchise Marathon: Ranking The Chucky & Child’s Play Films
In the fourth week of the Frightening Film Franchise Marathon, Pop Break’s George Heftler sat down and ranked the Child’s Play franchise. –George Heftler
7. Seed of Chucky
The first movie in the franchise to miss the mark with the opening credit, we start off the film by following some doll sperm. There’s a nice Psycho homage in the opening dream, but it’s not quite enough to redeem it.
There’s Jennifer Tilly being funny, John Waters, weirdly detailed doll boobs… but not a lot of fun kills, which is what we come to these movies for.
I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like this movie. I did. Redman is hilarious, “It’s a voodoo pregnancy, it’s accelerated” is a funny way of saying “don’t think too hard about how this works,” and it’s very progressive. But I just didn’t really connect with Glen(da). This doll is voiced by a fool of a Took, but they’re very passive, and I just never was particularly interested.
Couple things I DO want to give a shout out to are Jennifer Tilly’s driver having a full character arc with like… 10 lines, a great subversion of the Shining reference, and weirdly effective gore when it came to the dolls. Particularly that guy opening Tiff’s back and Glen(da) cutting up Chucky.
Overall this is the weakest, but it’s still worth watching.
6. Curse of Chucky
After a bunch of horror comedies, Curse of Chucky brings us back to real horror, which I can appreciate. I was delighted to see after lacking a bunch of cool kills in Seed, Curse has them in spades. There’s a great spinning shot of a dinner table where one dish is poisoned, someone gets their jaw knocked off, and more. Worse than those though is WASPy Barb’s fear that she “might have to send (her daughter) to public school.”
The character of Barb is such a bitch in this and I love it. This is the right kind of “asshole” character, where you still kind of like them, unlike the antagonist girl in F13 VII and Trent or Chad or Devin or whatever his name was in the F13 reboot. But I digress.
I have to say though, something seemed off about Chucky’s design to me. I don’t know if it’s new animatronics, or just the budget showing, or what, but it just didn’t look quite as good as usual to me. That said, his return to an unblemished face leads to a cool scene later, which I appreciate.
The budget also appears when they hilariously use an “internet search” brand search engine. It’s 2004, you couldn’t spring for at least askjeeves?
Budget can’t affect that writing though. Everything in this movie sets something up later or moves story/characters forward. Don is also at it again with great trope subversions, in particular the “Dad is lusting after the nanny” cliché. The quality difference between some of the later, direct-to-video Hellraisers and this was remarkable. Here I am, remarking on it.
Conversely for writing, I didn’t love the flashback about Nica’s mom… honestly, this movie could have worked as just “Hey, Chucky is insane and now he’s killing these people”. I guess it works to keep the universe small, and I don’t begrudge people who DO like it, but not everything needs to be connected in my opinion.
There’s also a neat stinger after the credits. Won’t spoil it, but worth sticking around for.
5. Child’s Play 3
Unlike Seed, Child’s Play 3 delivers an awesome opening credit scene, with Chucky getting melted down and then reforged in plastic.
The acting is quite good, with top honors going to Perrey Reeves who played Kristen De Silva, and Travis Fine, who REALLY sinks his teeth into the “shithead drill sergeant” role of Lt. Colonel Brett Shelton.
Chucky really revels in his movie monster-ness by Child’s Play 3, and he seems very aware of how crazy this all is. That said, I do like that Chucky’s reasoning for why he can stop trying to possess Andy makes sense. The benefit of a consistent writer!
Chucky gets more cool kills, like the dumpster kill and even the CEO at the beginning, but I actually laughed out loud at the Colonel stealing his kill by having a heart attack. Chucky also sets up a handful of very tense scenes by tampering with paintball rifles, and there’s also plenty of cool effects which have become fairly par-for-the-course in this series now.
The fair/house of horror at the end deserves rebuke for several unsafe practices though. Tsk tsk.
4. Cult of Chucky
Poor Andy. Google would REALLY fuck up his dating life. Guess the relationship with De Silva from 3 didn’t work out? I am glad however that they kept Nica from Curse even as they brought in Andy, and they put the movie in an interesting setting.
Cult of Chucky definitely kept me gripped; There’s a lot of cool imagery, like “not so fast” written in blood, a neat glass falling death that seemed to be an homage to the previously mentioned honeymoon kill in Bride, and an arm shoved through someone’s face.
While it is definitely still more horror than comedy, flashes of that comedy do shine through… especially when they ask “Mrs. Valentine” if anyone has ever told her she looks just like Jennifer Tilly.
As far as acting, I thought it was very solid. Special props go to Michael Therriault who does a great job playing the kindly therapist, only to uh… betray that role later on.
One thing I want to be sure I mention is my appreciation for their commitment to the violence. I’m so used to the MPAA censoring the kills in movies like F13 that when they show a death in this, I kept expecting them to cut away. Nope. You see every gory detail of that kicked in face, or the glass slicing someone’s neck, etc. This is an adult’s movie, and we’re adults, so let us see what we signed up to see!
This movie does so much right. I like the kills, and I like Andy, and I like Nica, but unfortunately the one thing I don’t really like… is the idea. Several versions of Chucky/him spreading takes away from the specialness in my opinion. This knocked it down a bit for me, but I did like the bleak ending, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one… especially after another fun stinger!
3. Bride of Chucky
There’s a neat homage to all the other movie killers with a bunch of iconography at the beginning… Jason and Michael’s Masks, and Freddy’s glove. There’s also a pinhead reference later on, and maybe even more that I missed. Add in a good theme song by Rob Zombie means a this is yet another solid opening for this franchise.
Jennifer Tilly is introduced to the series (reading Voodoo for dummies, which didn’t quite get a laugh, but it did get a nose exhalation) in this movie as Tiffany, and she is GREAT. Sexy, but very creepy. Kind of a black widow vibe. She also has delightful banter with Chucky, a weird doll sex scene years before Team America, and overall just brings her doll to life. Pun intended.
The rest of the cast falls between acceptable and good. Katherine Heigl is in this, and she’s not bad, just kind of… meh. John Ritter is pretty good playing against type, and of course, Brad Dourif is doing his thing.
Overall, it’s a pretty decent ensemble who bring together a very funny script, and there’s a few good kills in there too (especially the honeymoon kill). It’s not scary, but it’s a good movie made great on the back of Jennifer Tilly.
2. Child’s Play
There is some very snappy dialogue in this. Andy is kind of whiney, but honestly, so was I at that age, so I guess it’s just good acting. Chucky himself is fun as well, with Brad Dourif seeming to delight in his evil. He’s good at that *cough Grima Wormtongue cough*.
There’s a lot of little things I like about this movie. They constantly hint that Chucky is indeed alive, but you don’t see him break character until 45 minutes in, and when he does, it’s hilarious. They also explain why Chucky knew the spell, when I fully when expected it to just be a “Plot driving thing he knows.” There’s also some fun kills like the voodoo doll kill, but to me, the scariest part of these movies is always the dismissal by authority figures. Nobody believes anyone, and I can’t imagine how awful that is.
This is a dang good movie!
1. Child’s Play 2
This is how you bring back a bad guy. It’s a goofy resurrection, but Child’s Play 2 gets away with it because it was sufficiently goofy.
While not everyone returns (“She’s undergoing psychiatric evaluation” seemed to be a pretty obvious way of saying “We didn’t want to pay for Andy’s mom to come back”), there’s some fun new characters like Andy’s foster sister Kyle and Andy’s teacher who essentially drops a “snitches get stiches” on him.
Child’s Play 2 isn’t short on intensity though. They smartly trade in established goodwill from the first movie to keep us on edge from the beginning. We know Chucky is alive, and we’re waiting for him to talk. We don’t need another 45-minute wait to see if Andy is nuts.
Don Mancini hits you with spooky scenes like a suffocation that goes on for a long time, a tense basement search, and more. There’s also fun kills, with my personal favorite being the photocopier. Chucky is a funny guy, with plenty of one-liners, and at one point he rips off his own hand and replaces it with a knife, so that’s neat.
I didn’t have anywhere else to put this, but there’s also a better melting scene than Jason Takes Manhattan, and there’s an exploding head that reminds me of Robocop acid guy.
This is excellent, but only if you’ve seen the original. Not really a franchise you can just “jump in anywhere.”
This was definitely the hardest franchise so far to rank, with the films having all relatively similar levels of quality… I really enjoyed them all.
Don Mancini is clearly the lynchpin of this franchise, and without him guiding with his writing/sometimes directing, I can see this easily becoming awful schlock. As is, there’s an awesome consistency to it that I greatly respect. Also, I think I might be in love with Jennifer Tilly, so feel free to hit me up, Jen.