Child's Play (1988 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom Holland|
|Produced by||David Kirschner|
|Screenplay by||Don Mancini
|Story by||Don Mancini|
|Music by||Joe Renzetti|
|Editing by||Edward Warschilka
Roy E. Peterson
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release dates||November 9, 1988|
|Running time||87 minutes|
Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film directed by Tom Holland and written by Don Mancini, John Lafia and Holland. It stars Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif. The official taglines of the film were "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 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 was the only film in the series released by MGM/UA, as the rights to the series were sold to Universal in 1990, right before production started on Child's Play 2.
Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) also known as the "Lakeshore Strangler" and "Chucky" is a serial killer and voodoo practitioner, who is being pursued by Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), a homicide detective in the streets of Chicago in November 1988. Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoili) Charles's friend and driver betrays him by driving off without him after Charles gets shot in the leg as well as being caught by Jack Santos (Tommy Swerdlow), Mike's partner. In a toy shop Mike shoots Charles again. Discovering he is bleeding to death Charles swears revenge on him and Eddie, before transferring his soul by through voodoo magic into a "Good-Guy" doll, which causes lightning clouds. The lightning caused an explosion and destroys the store but Mike survives and finds Charles's apparent dead body.
The next day widow and single mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) purchases the same doll from a peddler for her only son Andy (Alex Vincent) after he wanted a "Good-Guy" doll for his 6th birthday. That night Maggie Peterson (Dinah Manoff), Karen's co-worker and best friend is babysitting Andy as his mother had to work late. When Andy is fast asleep his doll "Chucky" now possessed by Charles's Soul toys with Maggie before causing her to fall from the kitchen window to her death below after she stopped him from getting updates on the news about Eddie. Karen returns home to see the police including Mike being in the apartment and is cross when Mike suspects Andy may have killed Maggie. Karen then becomes concerned after Andy claims Chucky is alive.
The next day Andy on Chucky's orders skips school and goes to another part of Chicago by train. When Andy is urinating Chucky invades Eddie's lair and turns off the pilot light in the oven. As a result Eddie dies after shooting the appliance with his gun. Mike again suspects Andy is a murderer and Andy is sent to a mental hospital by Dr. Ardmore (Jack Colvin) after he blames Chucky. That night Karen discovers the batteries that came with the doll are missing, meaning he should not be working without them. After threatening to burn him, Chucky springs to life and bites her before escaping.
Despite this Mike refuses to accept that Chucky is alive. Frustrated Karen decides to find the peddler and finds him near to where Eddie was killed. After the peddler nearly rapes her Mike saves her and demands from the peddler where he found the doll. After the peddler says he found it at the toy shop Mike drops off an angered Karen at her apartment. On his way home Mike crashes his car after Chucky tries to attack him. Mike cheats death and shoots at Chucky wounding him. Finally accepting Karen was right he meets her at Chucky's old lair and discover he learnt black magic from a witchdoctor named John. The duo decide to find him before Chucky does.
Chucky though finds John first at his apartment and demands to know why he got wounded. John claims he is becoming human and will be trapped in the doll the longer he spends in it. Chucky demands a way out and John refuses at first as Chucky used voodoo to his advantage. Chucky though attacks him via a voodoo doll and John gives in by saying he has to possess the first person he revealed that he was alive. Discovering the person is Andy, Chucky thrilled at the idea of being "six years old again" kills John by stabbing the doll and leaves. Before he dies John warns Karen that her son is in danger and Chucky can be killed by shooting him in the heart as it is almost "human".
At the mental hospital Andy sees Chucky and tries to warn Dr. Ardmore but his pleas are ignored. Chucky sneaks into the hospital and steals the key for Andy's cell but the boy escapes. After Dr. Ardmore catches him he is killed via electrocution by Chucky. Andy escapes and heads back home. At the hospital Karen and Mike discover Andy is gone and go back to the apartment.
Chucky follows Andy home and gets in via the fireplace and chases after Andy to possess him. He knocks him out with a bat but before he can possess him Karen throws him into the fireplace and burns him. Despite being burnt to a crisp, Chucky survives and is now charred. He continues to go after Andy and wounds Mike in the leg. Karen shoots him a few times and Chucky is shot to pieces. Despite this he manages to strangle Jack Santos but is shot in the heart and finally dies.
Believing nobody will be convinced of their experience, Andy, Karen, Mike, and Jack leave the apartment to an ambulance waiting outside.
- Catherine Hicks as Karen Barclay
- Chris Sarandon as Detective Mike Norris
- Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay
- Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray/Voice of Chucky
- Dinah Manoff as Maggie Peterson
- Tommy Swerdlow as Jack Santos (Mario)
- Jack Colvin as Dr. Ardmore
- Raymond Oliver as John Simonsen (Dr. Death)
- Neil Giuntoli as Eddie Caputo
- Alan Wilder as Mr. Criswell
- Edan Gross as Good Guy Dolls (voice)
- Aaron Osborne as the Orderly
- Juan Ramirez as the Peddler
- Ed Gale as Chucky (Stunt Double)
- Michael Patrick Carter as the Kid in an Animated Commercial (voice)
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.
It is rumored 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 if young Andy was the killer rather than Chucky. This technique was still somewhat achieved in the film, as Chucky isn't shown on screen alive for the first 40–45 minutes.
Box office and reception
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. 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.
Critical reviews were generally positive. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "cheerfully energetic horror film". The film currently holds a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews. 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 his creepy and realistic voice acting of Chucky.
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, shook hands and the group instantly dispersed, much to the chagrin of the newscasters. Hilton did not reveal to Kirschner whether it was a threat or simply 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?". Tom Holland, in response to both murders, defended the film stating viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were "unbalanced to begin with".
Child's Play has been adapted into two comic book series:
- Innovation Publishing released a mini-series in early 1990.
- In the Spring of 2007, a comic book series which features Chucky was released by Devil's Due Publishing. The series is written by Brian Pulido, the creator of Evil Ernie and Lady Death.
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. However 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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