Child's Play (1988)
Director: Tom Holland
Andy (Vincent) really wants a "Good Guy" doll for his birthday. His mom (Hicks) finally shells out for it (a used one) not knowing that it’s possessed by the spirit of a malicious serial killer. Murders ensue and the TV spot is proved right: they really are your friends 'till the end!
One of my 80’s favorites. Child’s Play sets up its premise with an explosive beginning and takes its sweet ass time letting the cat out of the bag. For the first 40 minutes we never see the living doll entirely, all is suggested. I appreciated that. It gives the film buildup, makes the suspense work, allows the characters to flesh out and when the doll is finally revealed it’s quite a kicker (love that scene!). I attribute half of the film’s success to Alex Vincent (Andy) who plays off the doll like a champ. I bought his scenes with Chucky and seeing him walking around holding the doll (which is almost as big as him!) is way cute. If a lesser actor had tackled the part it wouldn’t have worked. I hereby declare Alex Vincent to be The Arrow’s fav child actor. Where is he now??
The rest of the film is also very strong. Everything moves at a fast pace, some situational humor is slapped in, nice explosions are served up and the tension hardly ever stops. It helps that the script is solid (loved that whole "nobody believes the kid" thang until they're proven wrong). We get our developed characters plus some groovy action scenes (loved the Sarandon vs Chucky car scene) and some gnarly one-liners courtesy of evil Chuck.
Of course, the movie’s effects don’t fully stand the test of time. My homies and I were playing "spot the midget in a mask" often. The obvious visual trickery didn’t take me out of the film too much but after a couple of brews it did make me laugh it up. Another somewhat negative thang is the voodoo subplot. My advice is don’t think too hard about it. It’s funny cause I had no problem buying a living murderous doll running around but when Chucky meets his mentor with a mojo and snaps some limbs, I didn’t fully swallow it. The whole voodoo thang is handled in a very simple way. Avoid dwelling on it if you want to have a blast.
Having said that, "Child’s Play" is definitely a barrel of fun. The cast is spot on (Sarandon!!!!), the flick is full of surprises and it all ends in a "Terminator doll"-like funfest. What else do you need, beeyatch?? Of course like all successful horror films this one spawned three sequels where "Chucky" became the hero. It had to happen but we always have this entry to remind us that Chuck wasn’t always the good guy. Child’s Play delivers what it promises and in the end I wanted a "Chucky" doll for myself. "Hi! I’m Arrow, wanna play"?
Chucky is a naughty doll. He stabs some guy in the ankle with a scalpel and fries his head. The gore is not abundant but the film doesn’t really need it.
Catherine Hicks (Karen) is in top form and her credibility makes the somewhat silly happenings believable. What ever happened to Chris Sarandon (Mike)?? He rocked in "Fright Night" and delivers here too. Personally I’m a fan and would love to see more of him in quality flicks. Alex Vincent (Andy) is the perfect child actor. Not only is he genuine but he’s also non-annoying. He plays cute/ fear well and when he cried, it pulled my heart strings. What a find! Brad Dourif (Charles/Chucky) always plays a great nut. Here it’s mostly his squeaky voice that’s put to use and what a voice it is! Another great piece of casting.
T & A
Nathing…where’s Barbie when you need her??
Holland knows how to build suspense (doll under the couch scene anyone?). He cuts around the doll for the first 40 minutes therefore causing its first fully shown alive appearance to be a shocker. He likes the occasional slow motion, doll POV shots (love that steady cam) and slick angles. All is delivered in a tight package. Was it me or did we get some nods to Halloween? That's how I perceived the closet scene and doll POV shots.
A razor sharp score that complements the action of the film.
A lot of people thought the premise of this film was stupid but this horror fan gobbled it up whole. I remember seeing this one in the theaters and having a rollicking good time. Today, Child’s Play kicks arse and is one of my sentimental favorites. It’s scary, funny and action packed. This is the film I’ll show my kids one day. Fuck that "Disney" shite...Child’s Play is it!
Chris Sarandon used to be married to Susan Sarandon. Funny how she kept his name…I guess he had a big "Sarandon"…