CHILD’S PLAY (1988)
Child’s Play is a fun 80s horror thriller that proves that a talented director can turn even a silly premise like this into an entertaining movie. The film opens with psychotic killer Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) being hunted and shot by police. The mortally wounded maniac finds temporary solace in a toy store long enough to use his skills in Voodoo to transfer his soul into a Good Guys doll before his body expires. Enter widowed mom Karen (Catherine Hicks) and her 6 year old son Andy (Alex Vincent) who is a huge Good Guys fan and wants nothing more then an expensive talking Good Guys doll for his birthday. But when gal pal Maggie (Dinah Manoff) finds a street peddler selling one, she alerts Catherine who buys one for Andy. The doll announces itself as Chucky and no sooner is the doll in the apartment when bad things start to happen like babysitting Maggie taking a dive out of the apartment window. When Andy is found at the scene of another death, that of a former associate of Charles Lee Ray, the police begin to expect something is wrong with Andy, but the boy insists it was Chucky’s doing and his mom starts to investigate the doll’s origins, refusing to believe her son is a killer. But the more she investigates the more she starts to believe the impossible, that the soul of a killer inhabits the doll and she, her son and anyone that crossed Ray are in mortal danger… but who will believe her? Worse still is that Ray must transfer his soul into Andy’s body as his doll body becomes more human and thus vulnerable as time goes by.
Directed and co-written by Tom Holland, who also gave us the 80s classic vampire flick Fright Night, Child’s Play is a fun thriller despite it’s silly premise and the fact that the killer is a 3 foot tall doll with the voice of Brad Dourif. Holland and his cast, including Fright Night‘s Chris Sarandon as Det. Mike Norris, take the proceedings seriously and not making a joke out of it helps us to go along with it to enough of a degree that it entertains us. As a child with a pretty demanding role, Alex Vincent is quite good as Andy, which also goes a long way in making this flick work. Holland crafts some suspense which is an achievement since our villain is a plastic doll in overalls. He imbues Chucky with a lethality that, along with Dourif’s vocals, which give him quite the personality and some excellent FX to bring him to life, also help make this work far better then it should. The film moves very quickly which gives us little time to question plot holes or the sheer audacity of what we are watching. Once the film is over, you’ve had a good enough time to not really care that you just spent 90 minutes watching a homicidal maniac possessed doll killing people.
The film’s not perfect, the story moves a little too quick for it’s own good and it basically get’s it’s principles believing there is a killer doll on the loose far too early and easily when it was far more intriguing to have Chucky let Andy take the blame and having his mother deal with the possibility her son is a killer. The Terminator-like finale is borderline ridiculous, but somehow works and works well. But by the time the credits roll, you’ve let Holland and Co. convince you to take this nonsense seriously enough to enjoy yourself, so you can forgive the film some of it’s flaws and enjoy the fact that you’ve spent the last 90 minutes in fear of a kid’s toy.
Fun flick that created a horror icon and inspired a franchise that got more twisted and outrageous as the series when on… and mostly in a good way.
A solid 3 killer dolls!
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