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
Music by Joe Renzetti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Edward Warschilka
Roy E. Peterson
Distributed by MGM/UA Communications Co.
Release dates
November 9, 1988
Running time
87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $44.2 million[2]

Child's Play is a 1988 American supernatural horror film directed by Tom Holland, written by Tom Holland, Don Mancini, and John Lafia, and starring Catherine Hicks, Dinah Manoff, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, and Brad Dourif. The film tells about a single widowed mother giving her son a Good Guy doll for his birthday, unaware that the doll is possessed by a serial killer's soul.

The film was released on November 9, 1988 to positive reviews and became a moderate success. It has since developed a cult following among fans of the horror genre. The film is the first in the Chucky franchise, 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.


Serial killer Charles Lee Ray, also known as "The Lakeshore Strangler", is a wanted fugitive on the run from the police in the streets of Chicago, Illinois on the night of November 8, 1988. After being fatally shot by Detective Mike Norris, Ray transfers his soul into a "Good-Guy" doll via a voodoo ritual which destroys the store in an attempt to cheat death. Mike, who survives the explosion, finds Ray's body, thinking he killed him.

The next day, widow Karen Barclay buys the same Good Guy doll at work from a peddler as a birthday gift for Andy, her 6-year-old son. That night, Karen's friend Maggie Peterson comes to babysit Andy. The doll, now named "Chucky", kills Maggie by striking her on her forehead with a hammer, sending her falling to her death out an open window after she stopped him from getting live updates on TV of his former accomplice, Eddie Caputo, who abandoned Charles Lee Ray the night he got shot. The police soon arrive and Mike thinks Andy had something to do with Maggie's death, much to the fury of Karen, who orders the police to leave.

The next morning, Andy, on Chucky's apparent orders, ditches school and takes Chucky to a rough part of Chicago where Eddie lives. Chucky sneaks into Eddie's home while Andy is urinating and turns off the pilot light and turns up the gas which explodes after Eddie shoots at it destroying the building and killing him. When Andy is again questioned by the police, Andy blames it on Chucky. Andy is then sent to a mental hospital, much to Karen's dismay.

That night, Karen discovers Andy was telling the truth when she realizes Chucky's batteries were never placed inside, meaning Chucky has been functioning without batteries. When inspecting Chucky, Chucky comes alive, curses at her in Charles Lee Ray's voice, bites her and escapes; Detective Norris finally agrees to help after Chucky almost kills him in his car. Chucky goes to a man named John, aka Dr. Death, Charles Lee Ray's former voodoo teacher. When asked why he bled after being injured, 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 John rejects Chucky's plea for help, Chucky fatally wounds John using his own voodoo doll and stabs him. Chucky escapes just before Karen and Detective Norris arrive on the scene. Before dying, John tells them 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. Dr. Ardmore finds Andy and unsuccessfully tries to sedate him. Chucky violently electrocutes 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, 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 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.


  • Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray/Voice of Chucky, a well known voodoo serial killer who transfers his soul into a "Good-Guy" doll in order to cheat death after being killed by Mike Norris.
  • Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay, an innocent 6-year-old boy who is framed for Chucky's crimes.
  • Catherine Hicks as Karen Barclay, Andy's mother
  • Chris Sarandon as Detective Mike Norris, Chucky's arch-enemy.
  • Dinah Manoff as Maggie Peterson, Karen's sarcastic best friend and Andy's babysitter.
  • Tommy Swerdlow as Jack Santos, Mike Norris's partner
  • Jack Colvin as Dr. Ardmore, the head doctor of a mental hospital
  • Raymond Oliver as Dr. John (Dr. Death), Chucky's old Haitian voodoo mentor.
  • Neil Giuntoli as Eddie Caputo, Chucky's ex henchman
  • Alan Wilder as Mr. Criswell, Karen and Maggie's boss
  • Aaron Osborne as the Orderly
  • Juan Ramirez as the Peddler


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.[citation needed]

David Kirschner produced all six movies in the Chucky series.[citation needed]


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 is not shown to be alive on screen for the first 40–45 minutes of the film. However, it does become increasingly obvious that Chucky is the killer. Holland, on the other hand, affirms that My Buddy played a role in Chucky's design.[4]

Chucky's full name, Charles Lee Ray, is derived from the names of notorious killers Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray.[5][6]

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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

The film holds a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews; the average rating is 6.4/10.[9] Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it a "cheerfully energetic horror film".[10]


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?"[11][12][13] 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."[14]



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.[16] 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.[17]

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 titled Chucky. 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.[18][19] 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.[20]

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.[21][22] 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. ^ Cheng, Cheryl (2015-07-30). "N. Brock Winkless IV, the Puppeteer of Chucky in 'Child's Play,' Dies at 56". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-08-23. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hamblin, Cory (2009). Serket's Movies: Commentary and Trivia on 444 Movies. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 9781434996053. 
  6. ^ a b Case, Lindsay (25 October 2014). "Six Things You Didn’t Know About the Child’s Play Franchise". AMC. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "November 11-13, 1988". Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  8. ^ "Child's Play". Retrieved 2011-04-19. 
  9. ^ Child's Play Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ Child's Play review Ebert, Roger
  11. ^ January 28, 1996 Sex with 'Chucky' killer Sunday Mirror
  12. ^ 18 December 1993 Horror fiction became reality The Independent
  13. ^ Computers, curriculum, and cultural change: an introduction for teachers By Eugène F. Provenzo, Arlene Brett, Gary N. McCloskey. Published 1999
  14. ^ December 19, 1993 Chucky films defended The Independent
  15. ^ November 20, 2006 Devil's Due to publish "Chucky" comic
  16. ^ Child's Play (Anniversary Edition) on DVD
  17. ^ "Holland Does Child's Play Commentary!". Dread Central. September 16, 2008. 
  18. ^ September 8, 2008 EXCL: Child's Play's Mancini & Kirschner
  19. ^ "Child's Play Remake to Relaunch Franchise With Darker Spin (Updated)". 28 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  20. ^ Brad Dourif Returns as Chucky for Childs Play Remake
  21. ^ Goldman, Eric. "New Child's Play Sequel, Curse of Chucky, Coming to DVD". IGN. 
  22. ^ Chitwood, Adam. "Direct-to-DVD Sequel CURSE OF CHUCKY to Begin Production This September". Collider. 

External links[edit]