When I was a kid I watched a lot of movies, I still do, but as a kid television and movies were a major part of my life. Movies and television allowed me to escape that. It allowed me to go places outside of my reality. (Books, music and Video Games would later end up in that mix but that’s not what this is about.)
There were key movies in my life that helped to make me who I am today. Movies that I have loved from the moment the opening credit rolled and still love now. This blog series is about those, My guilty pleasures, my favorites, my escapes. Some were very popular, others not so much. Some of these will have some real life take-aways, others are just for fun. Today we discuss Child’s Play.
Today’s Key Movie:
After a Serial Killer’s soul is placed in the body of a ‘Good Guy’ Doll, it is up to Andy ( the kid who inadvertently receives him) and his single mother to end Chucky’s reign of terror before Chucky steals Andy’s body. Starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif as ‘Chucky’, this is one of the original Killer Doll slasher films.
Why this movie?
You know how nearly every holiday season there is one toy that every kid wants? In ’89 it was Cabbage Patch Kids, in ’84 it was Transformers, in ’85 it was Care Bears, then in 1986 something hit the shelves that forever changed how dolls and interactive Toys were made, it was a talking doll by the name of Teddy Ruxpin.
At first this story telling bear was a delight, with a kind voice and interactive movements, this bear would regale children with stories of adventure. Before long…however, people started noticing how dark he became when his batteries began to ran down. The cheerful voice turned into the stuff of nightmares and before long tales of the evil Bear begin to spread with people claiming it would talk…even when the batteries were no longer in him. To this day I am convinced that Teddy Ruxpin was one of, if not THE inspiration, for the diminutive killer Chucky.
Needless to say, as soon as the film hit theaters EVERYONE was talking about it. While many parents were determined to have this evil film banned, every kid wanted to see this tiny terror hack his way through the latest 80’s slasher film. We had already had nightmares, hockey masks and puzzle boxes, so of course there was room for kid’s dolls in the mix.
I was around 10-12 years old when this film hit our local theater and, at the time, my parents and their friends had a thing about chaperones on dates. I wasn’t really old enough to be dating at the time but, one of my parents friends had an older daughter that was dating and I was asked to accompany them on their dates, To make sure nothing happened of course. Going on these dates with them, I got a chance to see a bunch of films that I probably would never have seen in the theater, this being one of them. The Daughter, let’s call her Barbra, and I had an agreement you see. She and her dates would go to more mature films that I would never get to see and I…turned an eye when they wanted to kiss. It was always rather innocent and nothing ever really happened, but they made sure I had plenty of snacks and I got a chance to see several horror flicks I would have had to wait for VHS to see. It was a good deal and sadly only lasted for a short time.
Needless to say, this film stuck in my mind and has since been a favorite, but, is it really a good film?
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
It’s probably been at least a decade (or more) since I last saw this and I completely forgot just how solid of a film this is. My wife HATES any film involving killer children or killer dolls so this has been restricted territory in my life for the better part of twenty years. Heck, although she LOVES horror films, she has yet to make it all the way through the original Pet Sematary so, that should tell you all you need to know. There are limits for all of us when it comes to scary things so, I can respect that. Although I could always watch it on my own if I wanted to, it has only been in the past ten or so that she finally gave in and watched it with me. I wish I had been writing this blog when we watched it then so I could have shared her reaction with you but needless to say, that was the last time I watched that film until now. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t forbidden from watching it but it was much safer to not have this nightmare fuel in the house.
Watching this again for this review I was delighted at how well this film has aged. Not only is well paced and well written, it manages to create a sense of dread and uncertainty throughout the film even though you know going in that there is indeed a killer doll involved. In fact, for the first half of the film you wonder if it is not the child, Andy, committing the crimes and using the Good Guy Doll as a distraction. This is accomplished by not directly showing Chucky in action until much later in the film and even dressing Andy in the same outfit as the doll from the start. Much like Jaws, Psycho and other similar horror films, Child’s Play does a tremendous job leaving a lot of the action up to your imagination making Chucky all the more frightening.
Talent wise, this is possibly the perfectly cast horror film of it’s time. From child Actor Alex Vincent, to the incomparable Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky, every single moment in this film works with no one over or underselling their roles. You might also recognize Catherine Hicks and Chris Sarandon who are no strangers to film and television. These roles are only enhanced by the incredible pacing and direction of Tom Holland who clearly understands the importance of subtly in horror. Not once is there a dull or boring second, with even the quiet moments serving to only build the tension.
One interesting thing I noticed was the sheer amount of product placement that exists in this film. Whether intentional or not I noted everything from the classic Barbie and the Rockers, She-Ra and even the game Fireball Island clearly seen in the film. You will also notice brands like Fisher Price, Midas and several others. If not intentional, it does bring this film into the real world making it instantly relatable which is rather cool.
To say that I love this film is indeed an understatement. While as a kid this film was nothing but nightmare fuel, I have to say that as a horror fan, this is one of the best the 80’s have to offer.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This film is readily available pretty much anywhere movies are sold. I picked up a digital copy from VUDU. This film has spawned several sequels as well as a tv series and a fairly recent reboot with Mark Hamill. To say Chucky has a legacy is underselling, I have no doubt that Child’s Play will be around for many years to come. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Just make sure that Teddy Ruxpin is not within earshot… he might just want to chat with you after watching this film.
Late To The Game 10/8/2020
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!