TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHILD’S PLAY 3 (1991)

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CHILD’S PLAY 3 (1991)

Child’s Play threequel opened a mere nine months after the second installment and is the last Child’s Play movie involving Chucky’s pursuit of Andy Barclay. Flick takes place eight years after part 2, with Andy (Justin Whalin) now being sixteen and sent to military school. The Play Pals Company has decided to restart production of the Good Guys doll line and uses the plastic from the unfinished models still left in the warehouse where the Child’s Play 2 had it’s finale. Of course the bloody melted hunk of plastic that was Chucky is included and soon Chucky is back once again in action. He tracks Andy to the military academy, but soon sets his sights on shy eight year-old Ronald Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) as his new host. It’s up to Andy and his new romantic interest Cadet Kristin De Silva (Perrey Reeves) to stop him.

Third flick is directed by Jack Bender from a script by Don Mancini and wisely is the last film in the Andy Barclay story arc, as this installment shows it was running out of gas. It’s the same old shenanigans with a wisecracking Chucky killing anyone who gets in his way or pisses him off. The kills are getting routine and only the carnival funhouse set climax shows a little life. It’s not very scary or suspenseful, but is competently made and Dourif is as fun as ever as the serial killer in a doll’s body. It’s bloody and the military academy setting adds a few wrinkles, but otherwise the series was showing signs of needing some sort of rebooting if it was to continue. One does miss little Alex Vincent, but at least they tried to keep it from getting too stale by upgrading Andy to a teenager and even giving him a love interest with the pretty and spunky Kristin. When he is not trying to save Ronald and convince everyone Chucky is back, he is getting bullied by academy a-hole, Cadet Lt. Col. Brett C. Shelton (Travis Fine). The Chucky and gore FX are still very well done and still help maintain the illusion that the doll is possessed and and alive. It’s a functional enough sequel and has it’s moments, but one understands why the series was given a break and and a new direction after this flick performed only moderately at the box office.

The cast is again fine. Justin Whalin is good as Andy. He evokes the character, but appropriately eight years older. He is a solid hero as being a teen helps him go on the offensive for the first time. Brad Dourif is still excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is still as twisted and malevolent as ever, and getting the best dialogue in the movie…as he should. Jeremy Sylvers is likable and sympathetic as the shy, young Ronald and he makes a good target for Chucky’s plans to resurrect himself out of his plastic shell. Perrey Reeves is energetic and resilient as the tough, but cute Cadet Kristin De Silva. She makes a nice love interest for the now grown Andy Barclay. Travis Fine is a dislikable villain as the academy douche Lt. Col. Shelton and movie vet Andrew Robinson shows up as the twisted academy barber Sgt. Botnick.

In conclusion, Child’s Play 3 is an OK third installment, but shows a series in need of a fresh coat of paint. Andy is now a teen and that and the military academy location add a little something new, but not enough to really makes this an equal to either of it’s predecessors. Chucky creator Don Mancini realized it was time for a change and after a seven year hiatus, Chucky would return with a new story direction, new tone and a love interest of his own in 1998.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) killer dolls!

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)

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CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)

Child’s Play sequel takes place two years after the first installment with poor Andy (Alex Vincent) now living with foster parents (Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham), as his mother is institutionalized for corroborating her son’s story about a killer doll. As for Chucky, the Play Pals Corporation has regained possession of the remains of the Chucky possessed Good Guys doll and uses the inner mechanisms to build a new doll, in order to prove to investors, product malfunction was not a factor in the incident. Once reconstructed, Chucky resumes his hunt for Andy, to once again try to take possession of him. Obviously, the killer doll leaves a trail of bodies in his wake.

Second installment in the popular franchise is this time directed by John Lafia from a script by Don Mancini. It’s not quite an equal, but is an efficient enough sequel. Chucky is up to his old tricks and the kills are played a little bit more for laughs this time, though some are still potent and bloody. Chucky isn’t quite as scary as he was the first time around, as the novelty has worn off, but still can be threatening and his pursuit of Andy, who is again not believed, still is effective. The FX portraying the killer doll are very convincing prosthetics and the slightly larger budget gives the flick a chance to open up a bit with an impressive and fun last act chase and showdown at the Play Pals factory, echoing the climax of The Terminator. There is some suspense and a few chills, though one can see the franchise is trying to have a bit more fun here with a more wisecracking villain.

The cast is fine. Alex Vincent is still very likable and sympathetic as the little boy being pursued by a serial killer in a doll’s body. Brad Dourif is once again excellent in his vocal performance as Chucky. He is twisted, intimidating and gives so much life to a plastic prosthetic, while milking his dialogue for all it’s worth. Agutter and Graham are serviceable as Andy’s foster parents Joanne and Phil Simpson. They are not as endearing as Catherine Hicks’ spunky single mom Karen, but they are likable enough, especially Agutter, who is far more sympathetic to Andy’s traumatic past. Rounding out is Christine Elise as Andy’s tough, street-smart foster sister Kyle, who joins him in the fight against Chucky, and Grace (Galaxy of Terror) Zabriske as the kindly head of the boarding house Andy has been staying at before being adopted by the Simpsons.

Overall, Child’s Play 2 is a fun second installment. Chucky is still a fairly effective villain and there are some suspenseful sequences, some effective kills and a few chills. It’s not quite an equal to the classic original, but at least still played the franchise somewhat seriously before future installments got a lot goofier.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) killer dolls!

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS PART II (2020)

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IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS PART II (2020)

In Search of Darkness was a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from producer/creator Robin Block and writer/director David A. Weiner and you’d think after that lengthy runtime, they’d have said all there was to say about horror of that era…you’d be delightfully wrong. The 80s was a prolific time for horror and filmmaker David A. Weiner and his parade of interviewees are back for another four plus hours of in-depth coverage and this time, profiles some of the more obscure films, as well as, some of the classics that got left out in the last documentary.

Sequel documentary follows the format of the first one, covering each year of the decade and some of the films made during that that year. Weiner and his illustrious guests also cover sub-genres of 80s horror, such as nature run amok, Italian horror, Hong Kong horror, horror/comedy, kid centric horror and even acting techniques, while discussing another host of classics, cult classics and hilarious misfires, from the most prolific decade in horror. They even cover horror video games! Once again we get scenes from a vast number of films, including some of the more lesser known flicks like The Boogens, The Being, Alone in the Dark and even Don Dohler’s Nightbeast. A lot of the interview subjects return from the previous part, such as Robert Englund, Barbara Crampton, Kane Hodder and Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, but we also get some new perspectives like those of actors Robert Rusler, Gedde Watanabe, Clancy Brown, Nancy Allen, director Jackie Kong and rocker/wrestler Chris Jericho, for example. Actors, directors, FX legends, along with contemporary horror critics and bloggers, all provide their own point of view. As with the last installment, the mix of 80s personalities with some of the new generation horror fans, who have embraced the horror films of this decade, makes for a nice variety of perspectives. The stories from filmmakers and actors of the time are a lot of fun and informative, as are the tales of discovery and analysis from the new generation of horror lovers, such as Daily Dead’s Managing Editor Heather Wixson. The documentary even covers some more controversial subjects, such as the proliferation of gore and violence, nudity, sex and the extensive use of rape scenes as plot devices in numerous films. No tombstone goes uncovered. It’s a wonderful retrospective that really does not feel as long as it is and is delightfully uncensored in both scenes shown and commentary made by it’s multitude of guests.

As with the last In Search of Darkness, four and 1/2 hours sounds like a daunting sit to do all at once…not that you have to…but if you are a fan of these movies, or someone who is old enough to have been in a theater seat during this awesome decade of horror, then it is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. This second chapter…and yes, we’d sit through a third!… is almost more interesting and involving, as it covers some of the more obscure titles and foreign films, so even the most hardcore horror fanatic might see footage, or hear of a title, for the first time. A must watch for horror fans of any age and a sequel that is an equal in some ways and surpasses it’s predecessor in others. As said before, bring on In Search of Darkness part III!

Both documentaries are available on Blu-ray for a brief time at https://80shorrordoc.com/ and the first documentary can be watched on Shudder.

MZNJ PERSONAL NOTE: Being old enough to have been in a theater for a lot of these flicks, not only did this documentary sequel, once again, take me back to my favorite era of movies, but actually brought to my attention a couple of flicks I missed. Bravo Robin Block and David A. Weiner!

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

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IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS (2019)

In Search of Darkness is a four hour documentary about 80s horror films from writer/director David A. Weiner and producer/creator Robin Block. It might be one of the most comprehensive documentaries there is about one of the most prolific decades in horror film history. Weiner covers each year of the decade and some of the films that best represent that year. He also covers the main franchises that are now legendary and some other subjects such as scoring, FX and sound design. He accomplishes this, not only with scenes from a vast number of films, but with some impressive interview subjects from both the era itself, along with some contemporary talents and experts, too. We get legendary filmmakers such as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and Sean S. Cunningham. Actors like Doug Bradley, Heather Langenkamp, Kane Hodder, Kelli Maroney and even Paranormal Activity’s Katie Featherston. There is also commentary from horror aficionados such as Dead Meat’s James A. Janisse, the legendary Joe Bob Briggs and Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson along with former Fangoria Editor in Chief Michael Gingold and current Fangoria Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr, to name a few. It creates a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share, as well as, some really interesting anecdotes and stories from the talent who where part of this great era. Perfect examples of this are Kane Hodder’s gleeful recounting of almost being killed by a fire stunt in his first outing as Jason and John Carpenter’s apparent dislike of 80s hair fashion. Who knew? It’s a lot of fun and for the uninitiated, offers a large selection of movies to catch up with and is a virtual history lesson of this great time in horror.

The documentary’s flaws are minor and few. While never boring, four hours is a long haul, but if you can sit still for such a period of time, it is well worth it. The documentary only covers the mainstream titles, so if you were there during the era or well versed in the flicks of the time, there is nothing obscure or surprising for you. There was also a little too much commentary from the host/creator of Youtube’s Dead Meat, James A. Janisse. While one can appreciate the enthusiasm for films of this era from someone who doesn’t look old enough to have even been alive during the 80s, his over-animated delivery starts to get grating after a while and by the third and fourth hour, you wish he’d take it down a notch. The amount of footage of him used also seems uneven compared to the contributions from the other interviewees. Other than that, if you have a healthy attention span and love this era of horror filmmaking, this is definitely a recommended watch.

Take it from one who was there in the 80s and saw most of the films discussed, in a theater, this was a wonderful trip back to a favorite decade for horror films. It was great to hear stories and facts from the filmmakers and personalities involved and heartwarming to see some of the new generation horror fans embracing the style and films of the time. Four hours well spent returning to a treasured time and many a favorite classic. A must for horror fans of any age.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) hockey masks.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CULT OF CHUCKY (2017)

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CULT OF CHUCKY (2017)

It’s been four years since horror icon Chucky’s triumphant return to form in Curse Of Chucky. Now he returns again, this time roaming the halls of a medium security institute for the mentally ill. This installment finds Nica (Fiona Dourif) declared mentally insane after taking blame for the murders Chucky committed in the Pierce house and she’s been institutionalized since. Meanwhile, Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) has been keeping and tormenting Chucky’s possessed head and Nica’s doctor (Michael Therriault) decides to bring in a Good Guys Doll as part of her therapy. It also seems, though, that Chucky has been busy learning new spells and can inhabit more than one doll…and as more Good Guy Dolls show up at the institute, via Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) and Andy, all hell breaks loose with Nica at the center of it. With more than one Chucky stalking the halls and Andy and Tiffany on premises, the inmates will soon be running the asylum!

Don Mancini returns again to write and direct and again delivers one of the best of the series. Cult of Chucky is an absolute blast of bloody fun as the demented Chucky starts to off the inmates and staff of the Harrogate institute, all the while tormenting Nica. The gore is plentiful and the kills inventive and Mancini takes full advantage of the sterile environment of the institute in contrast to the old haunted house style setting of the last flick. He giddily splashes the clean white walls with bright red blood and really has come into his own as a visual director with some Kubrick-esque shots and hallucination sequences. He balances the mood very well here with playing things fairly straight, yet keeping and honing the series’ twisted sense of humor, especially in portraying Chucky’s enthusiasm for what he does. He also gets to have some fun with the fact that Chucky can inhabit more than one doll at once and there are at least three roaming the dimly lit halls at one point. Chucky also gets to delight in the fact that only Nica knows he’s real and the rest of the inhabitants are in dangerous denial. It’s simply a really fun, stylish and gory time with one of horrors most famous icons in top form, thanks to Mancini’s clever script and direction. Sure there area few plot holes, such as how did Chucky research new spells if he was only a disembodied head in Andy’s possession, but otherwise this is a solid entry in the Child’s Play franchise.

The cast are all in top form, too. Brad Dourif once again performs Chucky’s vocals with gusto and at this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it. Daughter Fiona Dourif is also solid as Nica. She takes the material seriously and plays the role with conviction, until the last act where the script allows her to go a little over-the-top and she has fun with what she’s required to do. Alex Vincent certainly is having a good time as the adult Andy and Jennifer Tilly is a delight as the demented Tiffany, playing it as if there was never a long break in-between films. The rest of the cast do well in portraying various inmates and staff, many of whom fall to Chucky’s homicidal antics.

This installment was really entertaining. Don Mancini has found a way to revive this series with two recent quality installments that further the adventures of Chucky and yet delightfully pay tribute to the earlier chapters in the franchise. Where most horror series slowly fizzle out as they go along, Don Mancini has found a way to keep this one fresh, inventive and lots of bloody fun. Sure there are a few plot holes, but you are willing to overlook them because you’re having such a gory good time.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated a solid 3 (out of 4) Chuckys.

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)

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CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)

It’s been almost ten years since we last saw Chucky, the homicidal doll possessed by the spirit of deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray, but Curse Of Chucky  brings him back in all his blood spattering gloryand turns out to be one of the best entries in the series.

The story takes place in an old house owned and lived in by Sarah Pierce (Chantal Quesnel) and her wheelchair-ridden young daughter, Nica (Fiona Dourif). When they receive a strange package that contains an old Good Guys doll named Chucky (once again voice by Brad Dourif), things obviously start to go wrong in the Pierce home. To start, Nica wakes up to find her mother dead, an apparent suicide…or so we are led to believe. Her sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) arrives to console her along with her husband Ian (Brennan Elliott), daughter Alice (Summer Howell) and nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Soon a night of family drama turns into a night of blood curdling terror as Chucky begins to slaughter the unsuspecting occupants one by one.

Directed and written by series writer and Seed Of Chucky helmer Don Mancini, Curse returns Chucky to his more menacing roots and for the most part jettison’s the goofy humor that permeated the last two installments. What we get is a nice and atmospheric haunted house slasher, that has some real nice tension and suspense along with a few effective and gruesome kills. The added element of Nica being confined to a wheelchair is used to maximum effect by director Mancini and there are some really intense sequences, especially when Nica comes to realize who and what Chucky is and she becomes his next target. There are some really nice surprises, too, especially when the film links to the previous chapters and we get some fun nods to past Chucky flicks that I won’t spoil here. The FX bringing the killer doll to life are some of the best in the series and the gore effects are well done and there is plenty of the red stuff spilled.

The film isn’t perfect. There are some flaws, mostly the film looses momentum somewhat during its final scenes which are fun, but in an effort to explain Chucky’s arrival in the Pierce house and why he is there, we are treated to flashbacks and scenes that interrupt the tension and take us out of the confinement of the spooky old house, which to this point added a lot of atmosphere and the isolation inside it added some tension. The scenes are fun as said, but don’t carry the same intensity of what preceded it. The film kind of ends on a much lighter note, more akin to the last two movies, while the earlier scenes of the film match the original’s more serious tone.

Flaws aside, this is a solid and entertaining horror flick that deserved better than being dumped direct to home media. It’s a welcome return of a modern horror icon and a nice addition to his movie legacy. Watch through the credits for a fun post credits scene that should delight and amuse fans of this long running series.

Rated a solid 3 (out of 4) Chuckys.

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