I can keep my thoughts on the Child’s Play franchise mercifully brief, since I’ve already spent more time watching and discussing these films than I ever thought I would.
My thoughts on these movies can be summed up like this: “It did not occur to me.” I knew these movies existed, of course, but it never occurred to me to actually watch them. Why on earth would I do that? To me, the Child’s Play movies were a hideous sneering redheaded doll sneering on a poster next to a big red “2” or “3.” None of this appealed to me. Even when Bride Of Chucky was released in 1998 during the meta-horror revival inspired by Scream, I didn’t consider actually seeing it. I knew myself well enough to know that Child’s Play was not for me.
For what it’s worth, the first Child’s Play is a fun little horror movie, at least when it’s focused on Andy and his mom. It’s not particularly scary, but there is some good creepy imagery, and the effects are surprisingly well done. (I’m not sure how the Chucky effects got worse as the series went on… but I don’t really care, because the best special effects in the world wouldn’t have saved them.) The voodoo stuff is pretty stupid, and only grows more tiresome as the series goes on — it’s a miscalculation to start the story with Charles Lee Ray, instead of letting us “meet” him along with Andy. But I found the details surrounding a struggling single mom questioning her son’s virtue surprisingly strong, and there was just enough wisecracking from the evil doll without going overboard.Child’s Play 2 goes overboard. It starts off well, with Andy in foster care following his mom’s underexplained committal to an asylum. In Child’s Play, Karen wants to believe her son is telling the truth about his killer toy, even when adult logic would say otherwise. But Andy’s foster family in Child’s Play 2 is not so inclined. Andy’s relationship with foster teen Kyle (Christine Elise) is promising… until the movie essentially forgets all about story, and just becomes a barrage of schlocky effects in the My Buddy factory. This should have been called Child’s Play 2: Judgment Day, considering the similarities between this and the Terminator sequel, which was released a year later.
Child’s Play 3 continues the diminishing returns. You know what’s not a promising setting for a movie about a killer doll? A military academy filled with teenagers.
As for Bride Of Chucky? Fuck that movie.
Anyway, I watched the Child’s Play series. Over the course of four films, they ranged from a somewhat pleasant surprise to truly vile, one of the most abhorrent and vacuous films I’ve ever seen. The best part about this episode of the podcast is proving my instincts were spot on all along.