The Arrow interviews Don Mancini
In my quite disposable opinion, Chucky's latest foray into doll snapping, "Seed of Chucky" was a mucho fun ride that gave us what us fans wanted from the "Don't fuck with the Chuck" franchise and then some. June 7 2005 is the date when Chucky and his family hit the DVD shelves in all of their "extended" and "unrated" glory. I recently had the chance to exchange daggers with Chucky's daddy "Don Mancini" and here's what he had to say about the upcoming DVD release, the Chucky video game and the impending sequels.
In terms of the Theatrical Cut, how many visits to the MPAA did you make until you had your R Rating?
Believe it or not, just one. I was amazed, because over the years, the MPAA has really given us a hard time with this series. Not so much with the films themselves, but with the marketing materials. The MPAA seems to have a particular problem with Chucky, because he’s a doll, and therefore might have a special appeal to children. So, for example, in all the trailers and TV commercials for SEED, we had to digitally erase Chucky’s facial scars.
The scars were deemed inappropriate for general audiences – and yet, they okayed the tag lines “Get a load of Chucky” and “Fear the second coming.” I guess they just didn’t get the jizz jokes. Thank God. But considering that the film itself is so chock-full of gore, foul language, and semen, they were surprisingly lenient on us. I do wonder, however, how the film could ever play on anything but pay TV.
Looking back at the theatrical cut, what is your biggest peeve with it?
I’m pretty happy with it. The execs at Focus Features were fantastic to work with. They didn’t really force me to cut anything that was precious to me. Of course, during the editing process, they had concerns and ideas, and often they were right, and we’d implement certain changes. They’re smart people, and we were all pretty much on the same page regarding the kind of movie we were making – a horror comedy in the vein of EVIL DEAD II or RE-ANIMATOR. As on BRIDE OF CHUCKY, there was an ongoing concern as to the “scariness” of the movie, or lack thereof.
The studio’s overriding concern was that even though the comedy was working, they wanted the movie to be as scary and suspenseful as possible. Now, I’m not sure how successful we were in that regard. I think that the movie’s absurdity quotient is so high, given that the heroes are a family of dolls, that it may preclude traditional “scariness.” The movie asks you to identify with the killers and their problems, not with the victims. But that said, I’m quite happy with the finished film. Considering that it’s the fifth in the series, it’s an original and even eccentric movie. It’s not your run-of-the-mill, formulaic slasher sequel. I’m proud of that.
The “unrated and fully extended” SEED OF CHUCKY DVD comes out on June 7, how much longer will this cut be and is there added gore?
It’s a couple of minutes longer. Our budget was very tight – at $12 million, it was the least expensive of all the CHUCKY films – so we couldn’t afford to shoot much that wouldn’t end up on the screen. It was a very frugal production. In my original script, there was a sequence in which Tiffany stalks Little Actress Debbie Lee Carrington on the Universal backlot. It was hilarious – and suspenseful, incidentally – but as it was a bit of a diversion from the main storyline, I had to do the responsible thing and cut it due to budget and schedule.
We never shot it, but we did shoot the scene which sets up Tiffany’s animosity towards Debbie, and that scene is included as an extra on the unrated DVD. There’s another scene near the end of the film, which we cut for pacing, in which we see the aftermath of the movie’s final murder. The scene sort of ties up some loose ends regarding two major characters, and I think fans will get a kick out of it. And finally, the unrated cut contains a brief “below-the-waist” shot during Chucky’s masturbation scene. It’s just a little bit of puppet porno. We’re calling it “Chucky’s dirtiest deed.”
The DVD seems to be jam packed with fun features and extras. How conscious were you of the DVD while shooting and did it ever hinder your directing process?
You have to be very aware of the DVD version, because ultimately that’s where your film is going to exist in perpetuity. We had a documentary crew shooting behind-the-scenes footage all the time, but those guys are total professionals and they never get in your way. In retrospect, I wish I had had the wherewithal and the energy to flag certain takes for a full-on puppet blooper reel, but I had my hands full just making the movie! But we’ve got tons of features – two commentary tracks, the behind-the-scenes documentary, a storyboard-to-film comparison (the boards were drawn by Pete Von Sholly), Jennifer’s hilarious on-set diary, her video diary which first aired on THE TONIGHT SHOW , etc., etc.
One of the best things the DVD affords a director is the opportunity to fiddle with the picture – I’m talking about color manipulation and things like that. The picture resolution on the DVD is actually better than it was in theaters, and certain digital mattes and things like that look much better on the DVD. In the digital realm, you just have more time to play with that stuff, and the format gives you endless possibilities as compared to film.
I particularly adored the ending to Seed of Chucky where it offered new possibilities in terms of where the next film can go. Are you planning on re-visiting Chuck for another sequel and will you run with the ending of “Seed”?
Chucky is a bona fide icon of the genre at this point, so it’s probably only a matter of time before there’s a demand to bring him back. And whatever we might end up doing with such a film, I certainly would want to preserve some sort of continuity with the end of SEED.
Is there a spark in your mind that would like to bring back old characters into the next sequels (like Chris Sarandon, Andy…what not)?
You never know…
What’s next on your plate screenwriting and directing wise?
I’m writing a PG-13 horror-comedy in the vein of BEETLEJUICE or GHOSTBUSTERS, which I hope to direct next year. I’m also getting ready to pitch a TV series. My only experience with TV was co-writing a TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode for HBO many years ago. (Contrary to rumor, I didn’t direct that episode; Jack “THE HIDDEN” Sholder did.) But the pace of TV appeals to me, as compared to the usually glacial pace of feature film development.
As an avid gamer I have to ask; a CHUCKY video game…is that feasible in the near future or what? COME ON!
We’re talking about it. Stay tuned!
I'd like to thank Don for the groovy film that was Seed of Chucky! Looking forward to the next Chuck sequel or whatever warped dish you come up with next!