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CHILD'S PLAY
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Tom Holland

Starring:
Catherine Hicks
Alex Vincent
Chris Sarandon

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
All Andy wants for his birthday is the cool new toy that is sweeping the nation. The Good Guy dolls seem to be every kids “best friend ‘til the end” except for his. When his mother who is unable to buy the doll, finds a street peddler selling it for cheap, she jumps at the chance. It’s too bad that her doll has the soul of a serial killer living inside Alex’s new best friend.
Is it good movie?
My memories of the original Chucky were good. But I guess with all the sequels and the increasingly over-the-top antics of a wisecracking killer doll, I was sort of surprised at how good Child’s Play really is. Tom Holland directed a very stylish suspense thriller with top-notch performances and a really creepy bad guy (or “Good Guy” depending on how you look at it). We all know the story of Chucky and how Charles Lee Ray used some magic to transfer his soul from his dying human form. And once inside the doll, he causes havoc for a little boy named Andy (Alex Vincent) and his mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks). Yet the “living doll” is barely shown for the first half of the film. Instead, Mr. Holland focuses on the relationship between mother and son, and a detective (played by Chris Sarandon) investigating Chucky’s first kill.

But the suspense is still very strong throughout the first half of the film. Even back then I knew the doll was going to be alive, but when you cast talented actors like Catherine Hicks and a very believable Alex Vincent to play mother and son, it really makes you feel like investing in them. And of course, Chris Sarandon is effective as a detective who thinks that it is just a simple case of a mother protecting a murderous child. Speaking of murderous, Brad Dourif, who plays Charles Lee Ray in the opening sequence, and of course voices the doll, really gives a terrific performance. He is terribly creepy as his nasty growl calls Karen Barclay a “f*cking bitch” when she finds out his true nature. Both of the actors are in top form here. And thanks to a pretty nifty group of FX artists, they created a disturbingly believable doll. Although it is not hard to tell the difference between the little person in the suit and the animatronics. Yet I find this much more interesting to look at than much of the lousy CG we see in most genre efforts today… twenty years later.

Looking back on the film, I remember the voodoo mumbo jumbo and still find it questionable why Chucky uses this on his mentor, but nobody else. But I think you just have to go with it and not question the how too much, and more so the why. The original idea by Don Mancini had a different reason for Charles becoming Chucky so you know that may have been rushed to make it work. I also felt the lightning storm that assisted the voodoo soul exchange session was pretty bad, but hey, it was twenty years ago. And truthfully, I think I like the film more today then I did when I first saw it. No matter what, there are no special effects that can equal the power of a well directed, well acted and a mostly well written horror tale. And yes, for the time, the practical effects by Kevin Yahger are very impressive. They were good enough to put a talking doll in the same league as Jason, Freddy and Michael.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a damn good 1.85:1 Widescreen transfer. It is nice to see Child’s Play look this clean.

Audio: Also quite good is the 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. It is great to see such a quality version of this film.
The Extras
There is a little sticker on the cover of this DVD that claims “You’ll Love my ALL-NEW Special Features” and I tend to agree.

First up, the film has two Audio Commentaries. The first is with Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent and Hicks now hubby, Kevin Yagher… lucky man. I really enjoyed this, even though Catherine and Kevin are separate from Alex’s recording. But each of them offer up some fond memories of the making of the film. And not only is Mrs. Hicks still gorgeous, she has an incredibly sweet voice.

The second commentary comes from Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini. This is also an interesting listen. I would have liked to have heard what the films director, Tom Holland would’ve had to say, but this will have to suffice. Luckily, Kirschner and Mancini give a whole bunch of good info regarding the film.

Oh wait, there is more when it comes to commentaries. I forgot to mention that Chucky himself talks about a select few scenes. They include “Chucky’s Thoughts”, “The Advantages of Being Chucky”, “Chucky on Filmmaking” and “Up Close and Personal with Chucky”. A funny idea, but he doesn’t talk too much and it just isn’t as entertaining as it should have been.

We get a few futurities with Evil Comes in Small Packages. They include “The Birth of Chucky” (7:19) where Kirschner and Mancini talk about the beginnings of the little killer doll. Next comes “Creating the Horror” (12:23) which steps into Kevin Yagher’s territory. There is some terrific behind the scenes footage, and a couple of nice interviews with the cast of the film. Finally, we have “Unleashed” (5:22) which talks about the films release and how it is still remembered. Not surprising since it holds up rather well. Too bad we didn’t get any love for Tom Holland on this disc though.

Next up is a featurette on its own called Chucky: Building a Nightmare (9:59) which delves even further into the creation of the several dolls used for the film. I have to give props to Kevin Yagher. The dude was only around twenty-four years old when he created Chucky, and the animatronics are really quite incredible. This one is well worth your time.

In A Monster Convention (5:21), you get a quick look at a Q & A for the film held at Monster Mania 2007. This cast reunion is edited much too short, I would have liked to have seen the whole panel. But it is still a good watch.

Looking to go retro, you’re in luck with a “Vintage Featurette” called Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play (6:07). We even get to hear from Mr. Holland on this one. I had a bunch of fun watching this and seeing how they marketed the film back then.

Finishing up the disc, we have the Theatrical Trailer which is quite good. There is a Photo Gallery which you may enjoy… personally, I didn’t care all that much. And finally, Trailers for “Mr. Brooks” and “Pathology”.
Last Call
It was a nice feeling going back to the original Chucky film and realizing that it holds up as well as it does. Here is a good script, good actors and a good director telling a scary tale of a child’s doll coming to life. Before the wisecracking and before the excessive gore, there was a scary and suspenseful film that was more than just a hack and slash. While in this day and age where some people want a kill happening every couple of minutes, some may find this a tad slow. But I prefer the suspense and the stylish direction found on this classic horror film. And yes, from the special features, we learn that Catherine Hicks is still really hot!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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