Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Child's Play (1988)

Child's Play (USA, 1988) - Color, Director(s): Tom Holland
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 15]
Approx. 87 min.

Z-rating: 3 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 2.5 stars out of 5

The movie starts off with the vampire from Fright Night (Chris Sarandon) chasing down Charles Lee Ray (played by Brad Dourif), who we later find out is "The Lakeshore Strangler". Chucky is shot during the chase and left for dead by his partner (it's so weird hearing Chucky's iconic voice coming from an actual person and not a doll). The chase leads to a toy store where he takes another bullet and, knowing that he's on the verge of dying, transfers his soul into one of the Good Guys dolls. Because he's a serial killer who, as luck would have it, also happens to dabble in Voodoo, presumably when he's not strangling his victims. A lightning bolt crashes through the roof and the whole freakin' toy store explodes. We're not even 6 minutes into this movie yet!

"He transferred his soul into that doll SO hard!"

Cut to the apartment of a single mother and her son, Andy Barclay, who wants nothing more than a Good Guys doll for his birthday. Mommy didn't know about the doll early enough to save up for it but fortunately for her, a peddler in the back alley behind the department store where she works just happens to be slanging one. Because back alley transactions always turn out for the best, she snatches up the doll and surprises young Andy with it after work.

"Nevermind where I got it or why it smells like urine, Happy Birthday!"

Of course we now know that Chucky is a killer doll with the soul of a Voodoo psychopath trapped in it but if you were watching this movie for the first time, without any prior knowledge of the franchise, there's a moment in the film where Andy's having entire conversations with the doll but Chucky doesn't respond. They could've played it up as Andy's imagination or maybe he's got a split-personality that he's projecting onto the doll. The big reveal comes when Andy's mom finds the batteries included in the box then realizes the doll's been moving and talking without them.

"You can hide your weed in there!"

By this point, Andy's been at the scene of two separate homicides, which leaves the police wondering what his involvement is with their deaths. No one believes Andy or his mom about the killer doll until it goes after Detective Fright Night and he finally realizes that it might be Charles Lee Ray from the night the toy store exploded for no reason. During the struggle, Chucky gets shot and is surprised to find himself bleeding. Turns out, he's slowly becoming human the more time he spends inside the doll. The only way he can get out is if he transfers his soul into the first person he ever revealed himself to, 6-year-old Andy Barclay. As Chucky looks for the kid, the Vampire Detective does his best to find him first. Coincidentally, the only way to stop Chucky is to destroy his heart... almost like.... a vampire!

Nudity: None.

Gore: Not much, surprisingly. At this point, Child's Play was still very much a psychological horror as opposed to a full blown slasher film. This movie actually has a very low body count and the most violent death is a probably Chucky's. 

Awesome: Very! This film launched one of the most famous slashers in the horror genre. Sure, some people might find the idea of a killer doll to be silly but I know plenty of people who are absolutely terrified of dolls. If one started screaming like a maniac and coming at you with a knife, I'm sure even the toughest tough guy would shit his pants. On that note, check out this hilarious prank involving an advertisement for Chucky at a bus stop. All-in-all, the first Child's Play film takes its time building up to the scares and isn't a gory slasher like its successors. Despite inspiring a slew of imitators (Demonic Toys, Dolly Dearest, Toy Story), none can compare to the foul-mouthed King of Killer Toys.