This might be my shortest film review yet because, well, I don’t have a lot to say about this one. Okay, well, it’s still hard to take a doll seriously as scary or frightening. That’s my main takeaway from my first re-watch of 1988’s Child’s Play in quite a few years. The way I’ve always looked at it, Child’s Play (or as I thought of it growing up, like I’m sure many others did, Chucky), Leprechaun, Candyman and Hellraiser, were all adjacent to the trio of Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. I primarily spent my youth with the first two, somewhat the third, and rarely ever the adjacent ones. After that, it was Scream, Saw, and the like.
I can stretch my imagination for a film, even a film about a serial killer who transfers his body into that of a doll and still goes on killing — and in fact, the premise is actually promising and maybe it would’ve been a better film if it turned out that the kid really was crazy and the one doing the killings, but trying to blame it on his doll? — works because something about dolls does creep me out. But at the same time, it’s a doll! How can it be that strong? How can it be that hard to fight back against? Yeah, it’s a doll piloted by a serial killer psychopath, and if he catches you by surprise with a butcher knife, okay, but in one vs. one combat? Come on! It’s a doll! Kick the darn thing.
And if Detective Mike Norris (played by Chris Sarandon) isn’t the biggest sack of crap at the end. He gets a slight cut across his leg, and is easily taken down again with a baseball bat by Chucky, and is more or less incapacitated while Karen Barclay (played by Catherine Hicks) and Andy Barclay (played by Alex Vincent) are left to fend off Chucky.
The best thing you can say about Child’s Play is that the special effects are incredible, especially at the end when the burning Chucky is still moving about, and then the charred, Monty Python-ed Chucky is still trying to attack. Those special effects are impressive. Whenever you make me go, “How did they do that?” then you got me. Even the death of Maggie (played by Dinah Manoff), where Chucky hammers her in the head and she takes a nosedive out of the apartment building, looked believable and great. Also, even though he’s a sack of crap, the car scene with Norris, where Chucky tries to strangle and stab Norris while he’s driving, looks great. There’s something to be said for how cool car scenes looked in the 1980s (and into the 1990s).
Also, I give credit to Andy. A six-year-old kid is able to get (with the guidance of Chucky giving him directions, I’m sure) to Eddie Caputo’s house from his school, and then get from the hospital back home by himself in Chicago in the 1980s. At six!
Overall, there’s a reason I subconsciously grew up putting Child’s Play as adjacent to the titans of the horror genre. Sorry, Chucky. But, it is still worth watching for the neat practical effects.
Are there fans of the original film who can explain to me what I’m missing about this one?