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Slasher Summer: The Child's Play Reviews - Page 2

Bride of Chucky
Bride of Chucky

The Premise: Tiffany, an old lover of Charles Lee Ray, reassembles and resurrects Chucky, but when the two begin fighting, Chucky turns her into a doll of her own and the two set out to retrieve a mystical amulet from Chucky's human corpse.

The Verdict: As a wild left turn for the franchise, this movie is quite clearly a comedy. It's probably a wise move, given that the series, by its very nature, has a certain amount of built-in camp, and what little seriousness can be squeezed out of it was already seeing diminishing returns by the third installment. Thankfully, most of the jokes work, with fun nods to other slasher icons, some self-referential humor, and great vocal performances from Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly. Even the supporting actors, like Katherine Heigl and John Ritter, are known more for their comedic turns than their serious ones, and they accentuate the lighter tone even as they mostly play their characters straight. Still, the movie has some woefully bad CG, some weird pacing issues, and a lot of weak characters. On the other hand, this series lends itself more to comedy than most other slashers out there, making it a perfectly enjoyable, and occasionally hilarious, trip.

Seed of Chucky
Seed of Chucky

The Premise: The child of Chucky and Tiffany goes to Hollywood in search of his parents, unaware of their homicidal tendencies.

The Verdict: This movie goes all the way down the rabbit hole, into a full-fledged goofball parody of itself. It is crass, self-aware, self-depricating, borderline blasphemous, rude, offensive, and irredeemable. It features Redman as himself producing a biblical epic and casting Jennifer Tilly as the Virgin Mary because she agrees to sleep with him, all while John Waters plays a paparazzi photographer spying on them and noticing Chucky upstairs, masturbating, so that he and Tiffany can impregnate the actress with a baby who can act as a vessel for their dissociative, gender-confused British child who thinks he's Japanese. It's completely insane, and if I had known what it was going to be before I watched it, I would have expected to hate it the way I hate The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. There are plenty of fans of the series who do hate it, and I can't hold that against them. After all, this movie very nearly killed the franchise and ensured that the next entry wouldn't be released in theaters.

The thing is, though, I friggin love this flick. It's rocketed near the top of my all-time list of funny movies, because it has me laughing out loud throughout. This movie is great. I don't care that it has crappy effects or that there isn't an ounce of horror to be found in it. I don't even care that it breaks continuity with the previous entries in the franchise. In truth, this is easily my favorite Chucky movie, and the one I'm most likely to watch enough times to memorize.

Curse of Chucky
Curse of Chucky

The Premise: A wheelchair-bound woman who just lost her mother under mysterious circumstances begins suspecting that there's something wrong with the Good Guy doll delivered to her house a few days earlier.

The Verdict: If you go into Curse of Chucky blind, you'll probably think it's a franchise reboot. The tone and style are radically different, with Hitchcockian suspense and Serlingesque menace taking the place of sclocky fun and bizarre satire. Leading up to the film's release, series mainstays Don Mancini and David Kirschner even used the word "reboot" when discussing it. This allows the film to take its time to subvert expectations, with a slightly tweaked Chucky being used to build tension in silence while characters are layered together and the story grows organically around them. Of course--spoiler alert--the film is not a reboot, but it exploits the popularity of horror remakes to give it enough breathing room to reinvent itself before cleverly revealing that it's been in continuity the whole time.

The film is carried almost entirely by Fiona Dourif (yes, she's Brad Dourif's daughter), who plays the main character, Nica. She keeps the film going with her brilliant performance, taking would could easily be a whiny, uninteresting character and turning her into a wonderfully relatable human being. Most of the other actors are far weaker, with characters that are ultimately pretty undercooked (though most of them get good character twists that could have made them more interesting). Of course, Chucky himself is awesome, but with him relegated to the background until the halfway point of the film, there is a lot of build-up to his inevitable reveal. As such, the killing comes relatively quick and ends too soon, but the story does a good job keeping it more emotionally trying than the last few films, mostly by refusing to reveal the fate of a missing young girl until the movie is almost over. During the climactic rampage, the low budget shows itself a few times and there is a lot of unnecessary expositioning, and there's one major continuity problem involving Chucky's innards.

Ultimately, though, Curse of Chucky is the most well-crafted film in the entire franchise, despite being the sole direct-to-video entry. It's straight-up horror with plenty of clever twists and a fantastic soundtrack. It also has some depth and thematic weight, while borrowing heavily from the horror masters of previous generations. I love Chucky's new look, and the post-credits scene is just awesome. It's not perfect, there's a bit too much set-up for a sequel, newcomers will get lost in the last fifteen minutes, and fans of the previous entries might get impatient with it, but this film deserves a lot of credit for returning the series to its roots without sacrificing decades of continuity.

Cult of Chucky
Yes, please

The original draft of the first Child's Play tried to tap into a deep psychological vane by having Chucky represent young Andy's rage over his dead father or some such emotional baggage, but I'm glad that aspect of the story was lost in pre-production. If there is any meaning to be found in these films, it is an irreverant satire of American culture, especially consumerism from rabid toy fads to the Hollywood machine. It is only Curse of Chucky that omits that aspect of the series, and it's a little lesser for it. Still, one does not watch a Chucky movie for its thematic underpinnings; one watches it to see a psycho, foul-mouthed doll kill a bunch of people in increasingly ridiculous ways. Chucky is, therefore, an eminent slasher icon who belongs in the same class as Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, and Leatherface.

If you're a fan, as I now am, you'll be happy to learn there is a seventh Chucky movie coming out on October 20 of this year, entitled Cult of Chucky. It continues the story of Nica Pierce from Curse of Chucky, now trapped in a mental hospital and once again tormented by the killer doll, and it will feature the return of Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay. I'm really looking forward to it, and you can bet there'll be a review on this site as soon as it is released. [RIGHT HERE, in fact!]

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-e. magill 7/27/2017

  • The Halloween Reviews
  • Michael Myers' Top 10 Best Kills
  • Halloween's Top 10 Finest Moments
  • The Nightmare on Elm Street Reviews
  • Freddy's Top 10 Best Nightmares
  • The Friday the 13th Reviews
  • Jason's Top 10 Best Kills
  • Video Game Review: Friday the 13th: The Game
  • The Texas Chainsaw Reviews
  • Leatherface's Top 10 Most Intense Moments
  • The Child's Play Reviews
  • Chucky's Top 10 Best Kills
  • The Hellraiser Reviews
  • How to Make a Slasher Flick