[Choose your film or view the full report below]
CHILD'S PLAY (1988)
Matt: Ah, Child's Play. The movie that made kids scared to death of their dolls throughout the late 1980s, and which still resonates with the horror fan base today. It's hard to believe almost three decades later, this film is talked about as one of the greats of the era, and I gotta say, I have to agree. The premise of a killer doll is a little bizarre and far-fetched, but with the strong opening interaction between Chris Sarandon and Brad Dourif, it instantly became credible. You just knew that once Charles Lee Ray was gunned down that something evil was afoot, and little did we know the terror that would be unleashed upon poor Andy Barclay and his mother Karen, who was simply trying to give her son a birthday to remember. Boy, did she ever. This is the film that stands out above all in the killer doll genre. No matter how many I watch, I inevitably compare them to this. Director Tom Holland and the staff did a great job making Chucky menacing, even if some of the effects were cheesy. Hey, it was the 80's people. People actually thought this was real back then, and CGI simply did not exist. It did, however, force the producers to get creative, something Hollywood could sure use more of nowadays. But anyway, this is one of only two films in the series that is actually scary (read my other reviews to find out what the other is, it might surprise you). And the ending was certainly satisfying, albeit open-ended for the sequel that would come two years later. 10 out of 10.
CHILD'S PLAY 2 (1990)
Matt: As sequels go, 'Child's Play 2' proved to be one of the more solid entries of the 1990s. The setting is two years later, and Chucky is rebuilt by the toy company hoping to save their own skin. This sounds like something that would totally happen in real life. Could you imagine if this happened to a company like Mattel? You know damn well they'd be in damage control mode and would do something similar to what Play Pals did. As far fetched as the voodoo storyline continues to be, by this point, fans are more accepting of Chucky as an entity and as a result, more satisfied with the carnage that follows. Alex Vincent returns and delivers a strong performance as Andy, and Brad Dourif again voiced Chucky, allowing the strength of character continuity carrying over from the original. My main knock on this film is the fact that both Karen Barclay and Detective Norris are never heard from. We only get the measly explanation that Karen was committed. But what about Mike? And Santos, the only other cop who saw Chucky was alive? If they had explained that or brought back those characters in some form, this would have been a solid 9 or 10. But as it is, I give it an 8.5, with a bonus half of a point because this was the first Chucky film I saw, when it premiered on USA Network. 8.5 out of 10.
CHILD'S PLAY 3 (1991)
Matt: After a moderately successful sequel, there was no doubt that Chucky hadn't seen his last days, and it proved true a year later when 'Child's Play 3' came out. Watching the trailer, I found it hard to believe that a doll could terrorize a now-teenaged Andy Barclay and an entire camp full of military trainees, but the producers somehow pulled it off with semi-believability. Chucky, still trying to haunt Andy and steal his body, unsuspectingly finds another naive youngster (Tyler) and turns his attention to him instead. All hell breaks loose as no one will believe Andy's tale of a "killer doll", especially given his past. I found the Chucky animatronics to be very well done, and Brad Dourif pulls off the voice of the role flawlessly. The rest of the acting is half-decent, with Andrew Robinson (of 'Hellraiser' fame) nearly stealing the show in his supporting role of Sgt. Botnick. The musical score was passable but cliche. A throwback to Joe Renzetti's creepy tunes from the original would have been nice, but it's a few more sequels until we see that. The kills were well done for the most part as well, although only three came directly by Chucky's hands. He did, however, get the last laugh on the Play Pals toy company, so perhaps that's the silver lining to the entire thing. 6 out of 10.
BRIDE OF CHUCKY (1998)
Matt: 'Bride Of Chucky' was tough to rate. I think it was pretty obvious throughout that the producers never really could decide what film they were trying to make. At times, it seemed like a serious horror film, but just when you get comfortable with that, it does a 180 and turns into a comedy. Then back to horror, then back to comedy, etc. It was a bad sign of things to come unfortunately. I think there was a lot of potential for this film, and would have been much creepier if Tiffany had stayed in her human form while trying to help Chucky. But, as it is, I found the film entertaining, with some nice horror tributes (both old and new) and classic one-liners, which became the hallmarks of the 'Child's Play' films. The soundtrack was pretty awesome too, definitely a much-needed upgrade from the boring, run of the mill music from the past films. Still, despite that, this film did not deliver and was just not that scary, which was probably a product of its era (the late 1990s- early 2000s), where horror became a joke. 5 out of 10.
SEED OF CHUCKY (2004)
Matt: Heading into this one, I really wasn't sure what to expect. Given the way Part 4 ended, I assumed we would see something of a continuation of that storyline, but boy was I wrong. A gender confused son? Hollywood? What kind of weed was Don Mancini smoking when he wrote the script on this one? This movie was absolutely horrible in every way, shape, and form, and shouldn't even be categorized as a horror film. The acting was just as atrocious, and not even Brad Dourif as Chucky could save the day. So many scenes were just too absurd to even merit a mention, including an infamous bathroom scene where a photographer gets a snapshot of Chucky in a precarious position. God Bless the little people? I think not. I think even the "little people" were running for the exits on that one. The only good thing to come out of this film (no pun intended) was that it seemed to usher the horror genre out of the comedy/parody phase and into the shock-and-awe, reality phase with films like 'Saw' and 'Hatchet', among others. 1 out of 10, and I struggled to even give it that.
CURSE OF CHUCKY (2012)
Matt: Coming off of the last two efforts, I was beginning to wonder whether they could truly make Chucky scary again. Well, 'Curse Of Chucky' was just what the doctor ordered. It was a breath of fresh air that this franchise so desperately needed. This film attempts to right a lot of the wrongs done in past 'Chuckys', and nearly succeeds in bringing the entire franchise together. Don Mancini finally got it right, and Chucky was scary for the first time in a very long time. His jokes were still there, but they were more sarcastic than funny, which is just how it should be. It is obvious the producers took their time with this film and found a way to make a solid film despite a limited budget. Sure, there were plot holes, including the whole kidnapping and sunflower deal with Sarah that supposedly took place prior to the events of the first film, but it was at least believable to have occurred in the Chucky-verse, unlike its god-awful predecessor. The acting performances were top-notch, particularly Fiona Dourif in the lead role, and the kills were expertly done (and didn't skimp on the gore). Joseph LoDuca's musical score was a nice throwback to Joe Renzetti's from the original film and really added to the overall creepiness of the house. The cameos were a nice touch, too, and left me wanting more. Kudos! This definitely should have been in theaters. 9 out of 10.
CULT OF CHUCKY (2017)
Matt: I had high hopes for this one after 'Curse Of Chucky' really succeeded in making Chucky scary again for the first time in 20 years. Picking up where its predecessor left off, 'Cult' continues the story of Nica following her commitment to a mental institution, as well as the return of Andy Barclay, played cleverly once again by Alex Vincent. This one had all the makings of a classic up until all the Chucky clones showed up. It left me shaking my head for the first time since 'Seed Of Chucky' came out in 2005. My main question is, if Chucky knew as much voodoo as he claimed, why didn't he make the clones of himself before? Certainly they could have helped him transfer his soul into Andy way back when, or even Tyler in Part 3. I get they were going for something more psychological, but even this was a bit much. Chucky wasn't as scary this time around, and it seemed like he was relegated to extra status while the clones did all the dirty work. The kills were fine and better in the unrated version, but it really took away from the film knowing it was the clones doing it and not the main man himself. Fiona Dourif was again excellent as Nica, and it was nice to see Kyle (Christine Elise) return in the post-credits scene the way Andy did in 'Curse', but other than that, the rest of the acting fell flat. Joseph LoDuca brought it once again with the musical score, which was a nice continuation of the creepy tones he established in 'Curse'. As much as I enjoyed 'Curse', this one just didn't deliver and was a step back for the Chucky-verse. I can only hope the next one (or the proposed TV series) rebounds and brings the whole thing together once and for all. 5 out of 10.
CHILD'S PLAY (2019)
Matt: When I first heard of this movie coming out, my first thought was, "Why?!" The original Chucky series is still ongoing, with new films and a TV series planned from creator Don Mancini. So, why re-boot what never really ended in the first place? It sounded like a corporate money grab to me. And without any of the original cast members attached (or Mancini, for that matter), I was very skeptical. I did not go to the theater to see this, but when it came out on digital, I decided to give it a go. The result wasn't as bad as I expected, but it still wasn't good, either. Mark Hamill, the new voice of Chucky, did a fairly admirable job, but he'll never be confused with the great Brad Dourif anytime soon. The new Karen (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Gabriel Bateman) turned in fairly decent performances, but beyond that, the acting was very cookie cutter and bland at best. Chucky itself was a total design disaster, including the CGI. There was just something about that new look that didn't scare me at all. The A.I. touch was nice, but the fact that it was not a real human soul inside the doll really took away from the core of the film. If he wasn't Charles Lee Ray (or even that disgruntled factory worker) trying to transfer his soul out of the doll into Andy, then just what is his motivation? The out-of-control robot just didn't do it for me. The kill scenes were as good as could be expected, but lacked that classic slasher style that Charles Lee Ray personified to a T. Bear McCreary (of 'Walking Dead' fame) composed a very good score, which included snippets of previous scores as a reminder to fans that this is a 'Child's Play' film. Other than that, I can see why Mancini and Co. wanted nothing to do with this. 3 out of 10.
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