TAGLINE: You’ll wish it was only make-believe.
SYNOPSIS: A single mother gives her son a doll for his birthday. Eventually, they discover the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer, who resumes his killing spree in doll form. But Serial Killer Doll recognizes his murderin’ days are numbered, unless he can assume human form. And the kid seems like his best prospect.
EVALUATION: High camp, bad period dress and hair, a stillborn – and spectacularly silly – concept, and leaden execution: Yes, folks, it’s all here, the hallmarks of bad 80’s horror. The score is OK, though, and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Catherine Hicks, but sweet fluffy Buddha, this thing stinks. Part of the problem is the premise. It’s nearly impossible to create plausible horror using the hoary mannikin/dummy/doll premise. “Magic” did it OK, and “Dead Silence” had its moments; I can’t really think of anything else, save for a strong “Night Gallery” episode with Karen Black. That one gave me nightmares.
And horror movies with children as main characters are particularly vulnerable to failure. The performance of the child makes or breaks the film. Alex Barclay either can’t act, or the director was absolutely unable to draw a believable performance from him. Calling Spielberg. Think “The Shining.” Think “Poltergeist.” Believable kids you really cared about – and then horrific things happen to them. Now that is total horror. This most emphatically is not.
BEST SCENE: They’re all pretty good if you approach it as an amazingly stupid movie to be viewed as such. Grab a big bowl of popcorn and a case of beer, and laugh your way through. Deserving of MST3K treatment, if only that wonderful show was still around.
BLUNDERS/GAFFS: Too many to mention, but my favorite: When Detective Mike Norris (a rivetingly bad Chris Sarandon) is pummeling the “peddler” (Juan Ramirez) who sold Karen the Chuckie doll, he insists he answer a woman’s questions: “Ask the lady’s question!” Priceless.
EFFECTS (1-5): 2
SCORE (1-5): 3
OVERALL (1-5): 2
TITLE: Child’s Play
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1988
MPAA RATING: R
DIRECTOR: Tom Holland
PRODUCER: David Kirschner
SCREENPLAY: Story by Don Mancini; Screenplay by Don Macini, John LaFia, Tom Holland
SCORE: Joe Renzetti / Rick Kline (first claimed in opening credits; second in closing credits)
Catherine Hicks: Karen Barclay
Chris Sarandon: Mike Norris
Alex Vincent: Andy Barclay
Brad Dourif: Charles Lee Ray
Dinah Manoff: Maggie Peterson
Tommy Swerdlo: Jack Santos
Jack Colvin: Dr. Ardmore
Neil Giuntoli: Eddie Caputo
Juan Ramirez: Peddler
Alan Wilder: Mr. Criswell
Richard Baird: News Reporter at Toy Store
Raymond Oliver: Dr. Death
Aaron Osborne: Orderly
Tyler Hard: Mona
Ted Liss: George
Roslyn Alexander: Lucy
Robert Kane: Male TV Newscaster
Leila Hee Olsen: Female TV Newscaster
Ed Gale: Chucky Stunt Double
Full credits may be found at IMDB.
UPDATE JULY 2013: Apparently, four sequels/reboots of this tired franchise just aren’t enough. Come October 2013, the Powers That Be will unleash yet another Chucky film. This time it’s called Curse of Chucky, the trailer for which may be found below. (You’re welcome.)