Child's Play (1988)
You'll wish it was only make-believe.
Year of Release: 1988
Running Time: 87 minutes (1:27)
Director: Tom Holland
Catherine Hicks ... Karen Barclay
Chris Sarandon ... Mike Norris
Alex Vincent ... Andy Barclay
Brad Dourif ... Charles Lee Ray / Chucky
Dinah Manoff ... Maggie Peterson
Tommy Swerdlow ... Jack Santos
Jack Colvin ... Dr. Ardmore
Neil Giuntoli ... Eddie Caputo
Juan Ramirez ... Peddler
Ed Gale ... Chucky Stunt Double
John Franklin ... Walkabout Chucky (voice)
Nobody believes 6-year old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) when he says that "Chucky," his new birthday doll, is alive. And when Andy's baby sitter is violently pushed out the window to her death, the boy tells his mother (Catherine Hicks) and the detective (Chris Sarandon) the simple truth -- "Chucky did it."
In this "clever, playful thriller" (New York Times), voodoo and terror meet when an innocent-looking doll is inhabited by the soul of a killer who wasn't ready to die. Only young Andy realizes that Chucky, who promises to be his "friend to the end," is responsible for the ensuing rampage of gruesome murders. But the real terror takes hold when the deranged doll becomes determined to transfer his evil spirit to a living human being!
Child's Play... yeesh. Even red headed DOLLS are ill tempered. I'll bet you wanna know who hates this movie, it's pretty good, after all. I'll tell you. Hindus hate this movie. Wanna know why Hindus hate this movie? Whaddya mean no? Get the fuck back here an sit down. The reason Hindus hate Child's Play is because they have to live out their entire lives from start to finish before they get a mulligan. Our guy, Chuck, gets one anytime he feels like it. Body getting too fat? Transfer into a new one. No muss, no fuss. Hate your girlfriend? She'll never be able to track you down after the spirit transference. It's kinda like the same way legal immigrants don't much care for the illegal ones. They go through the proper channels to make it happen, then some scrub just hops the fence. Oh, sorry, did that make you feel like a chump? Don't care, HA! So you can see why the movie gets them miffed a little. Not only that, they don't get any direct control over what they're reincarnated as. I guess that's measured by some guy with a bad desk job or something, but Chuck just picks an chooses. Hey, she's pretty hot, I'll hop in there for awhile just to fondle her/my breasts for awhile then find another place to chill. It's not hard to see where they're coming from, I think I'd be a little upset myself. But, since I haven't been able to get anybody to teach me Chuck's secret, I figure I'll just be worm food one day anyhow, so it's not worth getting upset about. Besides, I don't imagine they'd take me in considering some of the things I've said about religion anyhow. I swear, you make fun of one silly hat an they give you the ole Martin Luther treatment. Well anyway, the Child's Play concept has been done a few times before, and many more times after the movie was released, but never so well, so prick up your ears for this next part. First thing you can't help but absorb after watching the movie is that if something's cheap, no good will come of it. It's either broken, ill designed, or it has the blood thirst. Second, when confronting an intruder, here's something you'll wanna consider to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome: fire before you see what you're shooting at. You increase the chances of neutralizing the situation immediately. Now granted, you may destroy property unnecessarily, or shoot the wrong person, or waste ammunition you might have dire need for later, but I find that when I watch these movies I tend to have things all backwards. That's okay though, cause it's never too late to learn something new.
And third, when plummeting from a 10 story window, be sure to create as little crash as possible when you impact any cars below. The Russian judges are real hardasses about that, and it could seriously impact your final score. But what I found particularly enlightening about the movie was how critical it is to find a suitable location for soul transference. Now you wouldn't think this would be too important, a quick konk on the victim's gourd, a few magic words an presto chango, new identity, right? Wrong. Soul transference really gets nature's hackles up. Now, I'll grant that in the movie Brad Dourif didn't have much choice on account of him bleeding out all over the pre-teen toy aisle, but generally speaking, you wanna do this out in the open. Avoid buildings, metallic objects or large trees as they tend to increase the likelihood of lightning strikes. An whatever you do, don't try this in a swimming pool. You might also think a car is a suitable choice, cause the tires keep you grounded, but there's a couple problems with this too. One, all the glass is gonna shatter an leave you lookin' like somebody used your face to mop up after a bar fight. An two, you've gotta have your mind clear an focused while you're reciting the lines. Botch one syllable and not only does the whole ceremony go to hell, but you could end up raising an army of undead minions by mistake. Don't believe me? Your honor, I'd like to call my first witness, one Bruce Campbell to the stand. And how do you suppose you're gonna flawlessly utter every syllable when there's lightning crackling just a few yards away an you've still got that image I planted in your head about being a glass shard pin cushion dancing around in your coconut? So by now you're probably wanting to know what I, the big know-it-all, recommend you do. I've poo-pooed every logical spot, what do I, the all-knowing oracle of soul transference suggest you do? First thing I suggest you do is not take that tone with me or I'll give you a taste of the back o' me hand. But if you really can't figure it out on your own, I'll tell you. Rubber room. No place for the electricity to go. You're sound as a pound. It's like a bomb shelter for your soul. You don't want your soul lookin' like burnt toast, right? This is the only way to be sure, so I suggest you consider it long and hard before making any rash decisions about an altogether serious matter such as this.
The movie begins with a cop chasing some hippy in a trenchcoat for stealin' bread to feed to his starving head lice. All the guy wants is to get to his getaway car, only the big bully shoots 'em right in the derriere just before he can get in the car an pretty quick the block's got more cops than a Michael Moore rally in Arkansas an the getaway driver has to peel outta there to save his own bacon. So the poor bastard gets up an limps his way into a department store where after a second exchange of gunfire the cop is able to give 'em a second dose of lead poisoning an before too long things are startin' to get dark an the guy figures if he's got some ace in the hole he'd better pull it out now cause he's got a serious leaking problem that's gonna require a lot more than a little Dutch boy to fix. Bad news, Danno, the hippy does have an ace in the hole. He's a big bad voodoo daddy an he's gonna pull the ole spirit switcharoo on your ass an you won't have a clue where he is. So the hippy grabs up a doll from the display he collapsed into an starts speakin' in tongues until lightning strikes the building an the resulting explosion sends the cop hurtling through the air like a gopher that met the business end of a lawnmower. Once the cop (Norris) is able to collect himself, he finds that the hippy (we'll call him Chuck) has gone to the big welfare line in the sky an that he's won the day. The next morning, a well intentioned, if poorly trained, child is soaking up some Mattel-esque toy propaganda an making his mother breakfast. He's six, so it's at least slightly more edible than something you'd get at the Waffle House, but still not anything you want shoved in your face at 6am. So Mom gets up an lets him open his birthday gifts to shift the focus away from the toast that's blacker than Satan's heart an the carpet, which is soggier than teenage panties that just witnessed the latest Twilight movie. The kid (Andy) had his heart set on the hideous doll on TV, which BY THE WAY, he wouldn't even need for companionship if Mom would just go to Happy Hour sometime. But Mom didn't come through in the clutch, how surprising. Later that evening, Mom's at work an her friend (Maggie) comes by her station to tell her there's a guy out back that looks a lot like Pigpen on a 3 day drunk selling the doll Andy wants. So she heads out there an snatches it up, but doesn't quite get back in time before store manager Stickintheass shows up to make her work late. So Maggie offers to babysit, I mean, why not? She talks too much, nobody loves her an she's gonna die alone anyway. She's got nothing better to do.
So Mom takes the doll home to Andy an she feels much better now that she was able to buy Andy's love an heads back to work an leaves Maggie in charge. So later that evening, Chuck, now inside the doll, is tryin' to check out the highlights from the Bears game but Maggie keeps puttin' him an Andy to bed an won't quit tryin' to control his every move. So as you can imagine, Chuck's startin' to feel real disrespected an after she kills the TV set a second time he's really had it. So he braces the front door an starts makin' a racket in the kitchen til she hauls her big butt in there, an busts her right in the eyebrow with a hammer when she least expects it an she tumbles out the window, approximately 10 stories to the sweet embrace of a 1976 Bronco's canopy waiting below. Pretty good form, but the French judge dinged her for failing to tuck an the Russian judge thought there was too much crash as she entered the cab. By the time Mom finally gets home there's so many cops you'd figure a celebrity had an obsessed fan violate their restraining order, an Norris has to break the news about Maggie being out of medal contention to Mom. Norris has also noticed some pint sized footprints in some flour that spilled on the floor, and that they're similar to the shoes Andy's wearing. By now Mom's had about enough of Norris trying to pin this on Andy just so he won't have as much paperwork to do an she tosses him out with the kind of skill and experience you only see from the likes of U.S. Bank when it initiates a foreclosure crackdown. Afterwards, Mom puts Andy to bed, only she hears him talkin' to Chuck about how Maggie got a raw deal on her overall score cause the difficulty was higher than the judges were willing to acknowledge, an Mom comes in an starts tryin' to convince him Chuck's not really alive. Of course, as usually happens when men and women argue, Andy ends up conceding just to bring the argument to a conclusion. The next morning, Mom drops Andy off at school, but Chuck's got a few errands to run first, so Andy an Chuck hop on the train an get off in Crackton so Chuck can have a little talk with the guy that ditched him during the shootout. Chuck's understandably upset, so he heads inside an turns on the gas in the oven, only the accomplice he once called "my buddy" isn't his buddy anymore, an he starts kickin' doors open an shooting before he even sees what's inside. There's rats running for cover in all directions, it's horrible. Eventually he figures he's got his intruder cornered in the kitchen, unfortunately, Chuck's already outta there and his accomplice is extremely trigger happy. KABOOM.
Later, at the police station, Mom shows up an tells Andy he'd better start tellin' the cops that Chuck isn't really talkin' to him or they're gonna think he's insane in the membrane an make him share a padded room with Billy Bibbit. Andy doubles down an rages out on Chuck for not backin' him up, an the shrinks haul his butt off to the booby hatch. So Mom heads home, a little bummed. Most Moms don't have to pick up their kids at the police station until they're at least 13. So to take her mind off her problems she begins to tidy up, when she picks up the box Chuck came in an the batteries fall out. OH SNAP. So the wheels are turnin' now an she snatches Chuck up an threatens to melt his plastic ass if he don't start talkin'. An he starts talkin' alright, he doesn't say very nice things at all, an as if that wasn't bad enough he puts the bite on her before she can shotput his ass into the hallway. Chuck doesn't need this, so he storms right outta there an takes the elevator. Mom gives chase but, well, you ever try to run down 10 flights of stairs in heels? It's hard. Or so I'm told. Not that I'd... anyway, he gets away. So Mom takes a cab over to Norris's place where he's more convinced than ever that she's gone outta her cracker, so she goes looking for the scrub that sold her the doll. She eventually finds him, only he wants some return on the time he'll be investing giving her the info an goes for her groceries. Nobody wants to take a check anymore. I swear, all the trust has gone out of this country. Fortunately, Norris followed her an he groins the creep hard enough that he'll be singing a few octaves higher in the shower, if he showered. This loosens his tongue a bit an he tells them where he got the doll. Then Norris has to explain that he's the guy that killed Chuck, after which he takes her home. But she's still not ready to drop this nonsense an while she heads to Chuck's house, Norris goes back to the station cause his OCD is getting the better of him. He grabs Chuck's file an heads for home, only it looks like he's gonna get there a lot quicker than he expected cause Chuck's in the backseat an he wraps an extension cord around Norris' neck til he can get ahold of the cigarette lighter an leave a fiery hickey on Chuck's face. Chuck's real pissed now, he's done fucking around with this guy an he starts shankin' the front seat with blatant disregard for the fine upholstery until Norris flips the car up onto the roof an skids for a couple blocks.
By this point, Chuck's starting to cool off a little an starts trash talkin' Norris an scarin' the bejezus outta him for a while til he moves in for the kill. Too slow though, an Norris is able to put a round into his shoulder an send him flyin' through the air like a scud missile til he lands unceremoniously on the pavement. About that time Chuck figures it's probably a good time to make a tactical retreat an Norris is finally able to stop crappin' his pants. For now. Meanwhile, Mom's over at Chuck's place scopin' out all the freaky voodoo murals he's got painted on his wall til Norris shows up to give her a history lesson on Chuck an to say he's sorry for bein' a big skeptic face. Among that history, he reveals one of Chuck's good friends. So they figure they'd better get over there before Chuck does, but Chuck runs like the wind an he'd like to have a little chat with his buddy about dat voodoo dat he do. Chuck's a little miffed cause he didn't think he could be harmed. I mean, he's in a doll, right? It's plastic. Seems reasonable to me. Only his pal (John) reveals that he's becoming human an that if he stays in there too long he'll be a real boy. This is about the worst god damn thing to happen to Chuck all day an that's after being shot at by two different people. So Chuck don't really care much for this answer an he grabs up John's poppet an starts snapping limbs on it like asparagus stalks til John has a change of heart/skeletal structure and he reveals the only way out of the doll is to spirit hop into the body of the first person he revealed his true self to. Oh that's just fuggin' PERFECT. You mean he has to go back to school?! This just gets worse an worse, but Chuck'll take it cause it still beats being a doll that's not even anatomically correct. But he can't have John blowing his cover so he has to stab the poppet a good one before he heads off to find Andy. Should have stabbed twice though, cause John's only mostly dead, which as you probably know, means slightly alive, an he spills the beans about Chuck an his intentions to Mom an Norris when they arrive, including how to kill him. So Chuck heads over to the funny farm to get Andy, lifts the keys off a guard, an it looks like he's got free pickins on Andy as he approaches his bed. Oh Chuck, suckered by the oldest trick in the book, the pillow under the blanket. So Andy runs like Hell til the head shrink gets ahold of him, but about that time Chuck shows up an shanks the doc an straps the electro shock therapy dealie on him like a tiara an Kentucky fries his brains. When Mom an Norris arrive at the nut hut, they discover Chuck was here lookin' for Andy an that he's flown the coop. They figure he's gone home, so they head there as well, but Chuck's got a head start on them an he's gettin' real frustrated. We'll cut here to preserve the climactic showdown for the people under 21 that haven't seen this already.
This one's a classic. Most everyone's seen it, and most everyone is thoroughly familiar with it, because people who like it tend to watch it multiple times. Not surprisingly, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are extremely rough on it. The real surprise is *how* rough they are on it. They tend to agree that it's about a D-, which is an even larger pile of steaming Hershey squirt than they generally drop. I expect it when they do this to the sillier movies, but this is too far even for them. This movie's a classic, it's deathly serious, and it's executed flawlessly with just about everything you can ask from a horror movie. It does everything right, and still, they complain. So after a little research, here's what I can find, from the people who've been willing to spell out their complaints via review. First thing I'm noticing is a lot of bad grammar, spelling, punctuation, and disjointed thoughts. I'm also seeing people who just don't like the living doll angle. And lastly, people that find the acting to be sub-par. Which I suppose, is about what you'd expect. Idiots, skeptics, and Sophistos. Sadly, of these three objections I seem to be finding with some regularity, the one I find most forgivable is the problems with a doll taking on life and poking people with sharp things. Of course, this can't happen. Fair enough. But you knew that going in. Kinda seems like to me they willingly went into something they knew they wouldn't like, to find fault with it. That's only something I find acceptable if you're funny enough to get your own show, and mock it in real time. It also makes you feel kinda bad for 'em. I mean, how many other movies feature concepts which are impossible? Tens of thousands I'd imagine. I dunno, it's unfortunate is all. An as for the ones complaining about the acting of the 6 year old child, well, I'll admit he hasn't been phonied up with Hollywood's version of how children act, but where I disagree is that this is a bad thing. The kid is believable. I'll take believable over airbrushed every time. His dialog is not that of a child whose parents have rehearsed precisely what he's going to say before a trial. Which is not to say the ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes suggest the movie is unwatchable, they're not. They range from the mid to high 60s. I like a lot of movies for which I give ratings that fall into the 60% range. But those movies all have things inherently wrong with them to force that. This movie... I just cannot see what these people are seeing, it's great.
Scalpel? Check. Forceps? Check. Wipe please. Not sweat, I mean wipe my ASS with what those scrubs think about this movie. Onward, to the autopsy. The plot, while rather thin, is functional. It's real real simple. Guy with scary voodoo powers uses 'em to stick his spirit in a doll so he won't have to stare at the floor nervously in God's waiting room while St. Peter reviews his rap sheet. An to get back at the guy that shot him an the guy that ditched him, causing him to get shot up. It's a basic revenge movie with a twist. Nothing special, just adequate. The acting, contrary to what people who spend a lot of time playing Squash might have you believe, ranges from decent to exemplary. And we forgive Catherine Hicks for that horrible Seventh Heaven business she did so she could pay the bills, an we're not gonna throw rotten vegetables at her when we see her on the street, okay? We're better than that. Here's the list of important people and why: Chris Holland (Directed Thinner, The Langoliers and Fright Night), Catherine Hicks (Star Trek IV), Chris Sarandon (Fright Night, Reaper, Bordello of Blood, Nightmare Before Christmas, Shatterbrain, The Princess Bride, Frankenstein 1987, The Sentinel) Alex Vincent (Child's Play 2), Tommy Swerdlow (Howard the Duck), Neil Giuntoli (HENRY 2, The Borrower), Alan Wilder (Poltergeist III), Raymond Oliver (Forbidden World), Leila Lee Olsen (Vamp), Ed Gale (Demon Island, Mom and Dad Save the World, Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town, Phantasm II, Howard the Duck) and John Franklin (Children of the Corn, Children of the Corn 666, The Addams Family & Addams Family Values). And Brad Dourif. But honestly, if I have to explain who that guy is to you, then frankly, I'm embarrassed for you. Good acting.
The special effects are nothing short of miraculous. There are some moments where they need Chucky to move quickly, too quick for any puppeteer to pull off. That's Ed Gale's time to shine, but for the most part, they're conventional effects. Strings and animatronics. And you know something? They're 1000x times more believable than anything CG has ever done. The puppeteers on this movie were amazing, this is some seriously difficult stuff to pull off in a realistic manner, and they did it, in every scene. Otherwise, not much else to mention for special effects. There's not much blood, though the wounds that turn up here and there do look good. The soundtrack is one of the most effective sets of tracks to ever embolden a film, not just the standard atmosphere amplifying tracks that play during the suspenseful scenes, but also, one track that just stands out above the rest as a thing of beauty. The credits theme. Very ear pleasing. And lastly the shooting locations. Also great. The scenes filmed on the streets reek of authenticity, and probably trash. There's also a lot of nice scenery shots of the slummier areas where you'd expect guys like Charles Lee Ray an Eddie Caputo to live, including a particularly good one during the train sequence. The dilapidated buildings they both call home are both very believable and only add a great deal of realism in a movie that, to be fair, needs as much as it can get. It is about a killer doll, after all. More realism any place you can build it, increases the believability of the overall concept. So really, the plot is the only point that I wouldn't consider good to great, an even it isn't problematic in any way. Overall, this is a classic, if by some unfortunate circumstance you've not seen it, maybe born too late, maybe you only recently escaped an oppressive religious environment, buy it and enjoy. Highly recommended.