In terms of horror "icons", I feel like the 80s was an incredibly fertile period. True, our icons don't necessarily live up to the classic monsters that Universal pictures created way back when, but they certainly had personality. They also had some serious staying power, which is part of the reason we are still talking about them today. I mean, if you add up the number of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers films that came out in the 1980s - you are talking about a whole lotta stuff. Chucky was certainly part of that group too. I feel like times have changed so much that it's hard to have bad guys like those as much anymore. Though there are certainly lots of campy and self-aware horror films sill being made, I feel like overall - a lot of horror films these days take themselves fairly seriously and that seems to be what people want to see. So alas, there is no room for new icons really and that's a little bit of a shame. That's what makes a nice collector's edition like this new one from Scream Factory a very enjoyable thing for me. It allows me to reflect on one of those old icons I grew up with that scared the crap out of me as a kid.
Now the "killer doll" idea was far from brand new in 1988. You can go back to 1945 and the British horror anthology DEAD OF NIGHT for an early example of a deadly doll (though there are earlier examples than that). You have movies like MAGIC and TRILOGY OF TERROR in the 1970s that frightened kids for years afterwards. And the 1980s was littered with tons of dangerous dolls in various horror movies. Perhaps it has something to do with the remarkable Cabbage Patch Kids trend that blew up like crazy in the early to mid 80s. CHILD'S PLAY is certainly a response to that and I kind of love that about it. But dolls have always been a source of terror in that they are at once incredibly comforting and often quite creepy at the same time. Dolls can be the prized possession of a child. They will take them everywhere and sleep with them so the idea that they might become dangerous is terrifying on an almost primal level. They are already so close to children that if they could magically come to life they would be the last thing you'd suspect could harm your kids. From the point of view of a child they are a security blanket of sorts and thus if they somehow shifted it would be so so terrible.
So Tom Holland made this movie and he had already proved himself to be a self-aware horror filmmaker with scripts for movies like PSYCHO II and CLOAK & DAGGER even before he made FRIGHT NIGHT - which is still one of the better vampire films ever in my opinion. Like CHILD'S PLAY, it is a movie that is certainly of its time, but it is still an enjoyable and well made and structured to jab at and play with the viewer's expectations. Holland is certainly a director who has taken a lesson or two from Hitchcock in terms of manipulating his audience and taking pleasure in making them cringe or jump in fright. There is something about this movie in particular this movie and the Chucky character that is annoyingly engaging. One one hand, the viewer watching could be frustrated by the fact that a little toy doll is causing so much carnage and asking themselves why don't people just rip him to pieces, but Chucky isn't easily stoppable (like a small Terminator) like that. His size also makes it easy for him to hide and jump out of places to attack people so there are many inherent jump scares built in that keep you on edge. It's one of those kinda silly 80s horror premises that once you give yourself over to it is a fun little ride though.
Hats off yet again to Scream Factory for continuing to put out solid Collector's Editions and
this one is right in line with their best stuff. The disc sports a good-looking new 2K scan of the interpositive and a lot of bonus material:
-NEW Audio Commentary with director Tom Holland.
-Audio Commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and "Chucky" designer Kevin Yagher.
-Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini
Select Scene Chucky Commentaries.
-NEW Behind-the-Scenes Special Effects footage from Howard Berger (60 minutes),
-NEW Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til The End - interview with special effect artist Howard Berger (40 minutes).
-NEW Life Behind the Mask: Being Chucky – an interview with actor Ed Gale (40 minutes).
-Evil Comes in Small Packages featuring interviews with Don Mancini, David Kirschner, John Lafia, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif, Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent, Kevin Yagher (24 minutes)
-Chucky: Building a Nightmare featuring Kevin Yagher (10 minutes)
-A Monster Convention featuring Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent and Chris Sarandon (5 minutes).
-Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play Vintage Featurette (6 minutes).
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Still Photo Gallery
You can purchase CHILD'S PLAY on Blu-ray here: