Child's Play (1988 film)

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Child's Play
Childs Play.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Holland
Produced by David Kirschner
Screenplay by Don Mancini
John Lafia
Tom Holland
Story by Don Mancini
Starring Catherine Hicks
Chris Sarandon
Music by Joe Renzetti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Edward Warschilka
Roy E. Peterson
Distributed by United Artists
MGM/UA Home Video
Release dates
November 9, 1988
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $44.2 million[2]

Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film directed by Tom Holland, written by Tom Holland, Don Mancini, and John Lafia, and starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Brad Dourif. The official taglines of the film are "You'll wish it was only make-believe" and "Something's moved in with the Barclay family, and so has terror."

The film was released on November 9, 1988 in 1,119 theatres and met with moderate success. It has since developed a cult following among fans of the horror genre. The film is the first in the Child's Play film series, and is the first movie to feature the killer doll Chucky. It was the only film in the series released by MGM/UA, as the rights to the series were sold to Universal Studios in 1990, right before production on Child's Play 2 started.


Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a voodoo-practicing serial killer known as the "Lakeshore Strangler", is on the run from Chicago police after escaping custody. After detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) shoots him down in a toy store, Charles transfers his soul via a voodoo ritual into a "Good-Guy" doll, which then causes the store to explode. Detective Norris finds Charles Lee Ray's body next to the doll, thinking he has killed him.

Now named Chucky, the killer doll is purchased from an alleyway hobo by single mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) as a birthday gift for her six-year-old son, Andy (Alex Vincent). While babysitting Andy that night, Karen's co-worker, Maggie Peterson (Dinah Manoff), hears a news story about Eddie Caputo (Neil Guiantoli), an associate of Charles Lee Ray who abandoned him the night he was shot. Maggie is later killed when she is hit in the head with a hammer, thus backing through a window falling several stories to her death. Detective Norris arrives at the scene of the crime initially suspecting Andy of the murder, and Karen furiously tells him and the police to leave.

Andy skips school the next morning (apparently on Chucky's orders) and travels with Chucky to downtown Chicago. Once there, Chucky breaks away from Andy and enters an abandoned home, the hideout of his former associate, Eddie Caputo. While Eddie is asleep, Chucky turns on the gas stove, but blows out the pilot light. Eddie awakens and searches the house, causing it to explode when he fires his revolver in the kitchen, igniting the gas. After Andy is again suspected of the murder, he is placed in a mental hospital, overseen by Dr. Ardmore (Jack Colvin).

That night, Karen discovers Andy was telling the truth when she realizes Chucky's batteries were never placed inside, meaning Chucky has been functioning despite lack of batteries. When inspecting Chucky, Chucky comes alive, bites her and escapes; Detective Norris finally agrees to help after Chucky almost kills him in his car. Chucky goes to Dr. John (Raymond Oliver), a witch doctor and Charles Lee Ray's former voodoo teacher. When asked why he bled after being injured, Dr. John reveals to Chucky that the longer his soul remains trapped within the doll, the more human he becomes. In order to escape the doll's body, Chucky must possess the first person to whom he told about his possession, which is Andy. When Dr. John rejects Chucky's plea for help, Chucky fatally wounds Dr. John using his own voodoo doll and a knife, leaving him for dead. Chucky escapes just before Karen and Detective Norris arrive on the scene. Before dying, Dr. John tells the pair that although Chucky is a doll, his heart is fully human and vulnerable to fatal injury.

At the mental hospital, Chucky steals the key to Andy's cell, but discovers Andy has escaped. Chucky kills Dr. Ardmore, then follows Andy home and knocks him unconscious with a wooden baseball bat. As Chucky begins possessing Andy, Karen and Detective Norris arrive and stop him. Chucky slashes Mike, then goes after Karen and Andy. The pair trap Chucky in the fireplace and burn him. Thinking Chucky is dead, Karen and Andy leave the room to help Mike, but Chucky follows them and attempts to kill them. Chucky is again thought to be killed when Karen shoots Chucky, severing an arm, a leg, and his head. Jack Santos (Tommy Swerdlow), Mike's partner, arrives at the apartment, and disbelieves the trio's story. Chucky's body then bursts through a ventilation duct and tries to strangle Jack. Karen, remembering Dr. John's last words, tells Mike to aim and shoot for Chucky's heart. After Mike kills Chucky, they go to the hospital. Karen turns off the bedroom's lights and Andy looks back at Chucky before closing the door as the screen fades out.



Child's Play was filmed in Chicago, Illinois for on-location scenes. The Chicago landmark the Brewster Apartments located at Diversey and Pine Grove served as the location of the apartment where Andy and Karen lived and is pictured on the film's poster. In-studio filming took place at Culver Studios in Culver City, California.

David Kirschner produced all six movies in the Chucky series.


It is rumored[by whom?] that the "Good Guy Dolls" were based on the My Buddy dolls created by Hasbro. However, during an airing of the movie on the morning of January 7, 2007, AMC claimed the creator modeled the doll after the Cabbage Patch Kids. This was confirmed by an interview with the creator, Don Mancini, which was featured on the Seed of Chucky DVD. Don Mancini has stated that his original script was a whodunit story which dealt with the effect of advertising/television on children. Mancini's original script was also written to toy with the audience a bit longer, making them wonder whether young Andy was the killer rather than Chucky. This technique was still somewhat achieved in the film, as Chucky isn't shown to be alive on screen for the first 40–45 minutes of the film.

Chucky's full name, Charles Lee Ray, is derived from the names of notorious killers Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray.[3][4]

Maggie's death was originally going to be by electrocution while taking a bath. The idea was abandoned, and was later used for Tiffany's death in Bride of Chucky.[4]

Box office and reception[edit]


Child's Play was produced on a budget of $9,000,000. The film was released on November 9, 1988 in 1,377 theaters, opening at #1, out of the other 12 films that were showing that week, with $6,583,963.[5] The film went on to gross $33,244,684 at the domestic box office and an additional $10,952,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $44,196,684.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Critical reviews were generally positive. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "cheerfully energetic horror film."[7] The film currently holds a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews.[8] Areas of the film that were commonly praised were the original concept, special effects, and acting. The young Alex Vincent, who played Andy Barclay, was said to have played a generally convincing role as a terrified boy, while Brad Dourif was praised for the creepy and realistic voice acting of Chucky.


Award Category Winner/Nominee Result
Saturn Awards Best Actress Catherine Hicks Won
Best Horror Film Child's Play Nominated
Best Performance by a Younger Actor Alex Vincent Nominated
Best Writing Tom Holland,John Lafia,Don Mancini Nominated


During the initial release, a large crowd of protesters formed at the main entrance of MGM calling for a ban on the film because, they claimed, it would incite violence in children. Local news reporters from two TV stations were broadcasting live from the scene. The producer, David Kirschner, was watching the demonstration on TV and was disturbed. Jeffrey Hilton, who had been working in Kirschner's office at MGM, indicated that he could quell the disturbance in 10 minutes. While Kirschner was watching from the safety of his office, Hilton spoke to the group's leader and shook his hand. The group instantly dispersed, much to the chagrin of the newscasters. Hilton did not reveal to Kirschner whether it had been a threat or simple diplomacy that saved the day.

Hilton's diplomacy notwithstanding, the film's franchise was plagued with accusations of inciting violence in children. Child's Play 3 was cited as the "inspiration" for two murders, which took place in the United Kingdom in December 1992 and February 1993 respectively: the murder of Suzanne Capper and murder of James Bulger. In the Suzanne Capper case, the 16-year-old was forced to listen to recordings of the gangleader repeating the catchphrase "I'm Chucky, wanna play?"[9][10][11] Tom Holland, in response to both murders, defended the film, stating that viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were "unbalanced to begin with."[12]



Child's Play has been adapted into two comic book series:

Home Video and DVD releases[edit]

Child's Play was originally released on home video in North America on April 25, 1989.

The film was first released on DVD by MGM in 1999. The film was presented in an open-matte full screen presentation and included a theatrical trailer and a "Making Of" booklet. The Australian DVD release by MGM featured the film in non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. The DVD was re-released in 2007 with a lenticular cover.

A 20th Anniversary DVD was released by MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on September 9, 2008.[14] The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 Widescreen format (for the first time in the U.S. in 20 years) enhanced for 16x9 monitors and includes an English 5.1 surround track and English, French, and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks. Special features include two audio commentaries with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, Kevin Yagher, producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini, a "Selected Scene Chucky Commentary", "Evil Comes in Small Packages" featurettes, a vintage featurette from 1988 titled "Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play", and "Chucky: Building a Nightmare" featurette, theatrical trailer and a photo gallery. The film received a Blu-ray Disc release on September 15, 2009. The DVD does not feature any contributions from director Tom Holland, who claims he was not asked to contribute to it. In response, the website Icons of Fright contacted Holland and asked if he would be willing to record a commentary track that would be free for download on their website. He agreed, and the track is downloadable from here.[15]

On October 8, 2013, the film was re-released again on DVD and Blu-ray in a boxset for the respective formats, containing all 6 Child's Play films.


Child's Play spawned a series of films. After four sequels, Don Mancini and David Kirschner spoke in a September 2008 interview of a planned reboot of the franchise to be written and directed by Mancini, although nothing was official.[16][17] They described their choice of a remake over a sequel as a response to the will of the fans, who "want to see a scary Chucky movie again," and "want to go back to the straightforward horror rather than the horror comedy." They stated that if the remake was made, they would want Brad Dourif to reprise his role as Chucky, because "no one could fit the part like he could."

In a subsequent interview, Mancini described the script as a darker and scarier retelling of the original movie, but one that, while having new twists and turns, will not stray too far from the original concept. Additionally, Brad Dourif confirmed that he will reprise his role in the remake.[18]

On June 23, 2012, it was announced that the next movie would instead be a direct-to-video sequel to the original series titled Curse of Chucky.[19][20] Production on the movie began in September 2012 and filming ended in November. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8, 2013 marking the 25th anniversary of the original Child's Play.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Budget". The-Numbers. 
  2. ^ "Box Office Gross". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ Hamblin, Cory (2009). Serket's Movies: Commentary and Trivia on 444 Movies. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 9781434996053. 
  4. ^ a b Case, Lindsay (25 October 2014). "Six Things You Didn’t Know About the Child’s Play Franchise". AMC. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "November 11-13, 1988". Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  6. ^ "Child's Play". Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  7. ^ Child's Play review Ebert, Roger
  8. ^ Child's Play Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ January 28, 1996 Sex with 'Chucky' killer Sunday Mirror
  10. ^ 18 December 1993 Horror fiction became reality The Independent
  11. ^ Computers, curriculum, and cultural change: an introduction for teachers By Eugène F. Provenzo, Arlene Brett, Gary N. McCloskey. Published 1999
  12. ^ December 19, 1993 Chucky films defended The Independent
  13. ^ November 20, 2006 Devil's Due to publish "Chucky" comic
  14. ^ Child's Play (Anniversary Edition) on DVD
  15. ^ "Holland Does Child's Play Commentary!". Dread Central. September 16, 2008. 
  16. ^ September 8, 2008 EXCL: Child's Play's Mancini & Kirschner
  17. ^ "Child's Play Remake to Relaunch Franchise With Darker Spin (Updated)". 28 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  18. ^ Brad Dourif Returns as Chucky for Childs Play Remake
  19. ^ Goldman, Eric. "New Child's Play Sequel, Curse of Chucky, Coming to DVD". IGN. 
  20. ^ Chitwood, Adam. "Direct-to-DVD Sequel CURSE OF CHUCKY to Begin Production This September". Collider. 

External links[edit]