ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 15, 1990
By Steve Newton
The original Child’s Play was one of the surprise horror hits of 1988, a low-budget sleeper that justifiably went on to gross more than $40 million. Though it took about 30 minutes to get rolling—as long as was needed for the film’s demon doll Chucky to come to life—it turned into a sharply directed (by Tom Holland) rollercoaster ride of genuine thrills and chuckles—an ideal mix of fear and fun. Its sequel, however, takes about an hour-and-a-half to approach that same fever pitch—and then fizzles out after one jolt-you-in-your-seat scare and a few half-baked laughs.
Child’s Play 2 starts with the reconstruction of the first film’s Chucky doll by toy-factory execs bent on dispelling the negative publicity caused by the possessed toy’s rampage in the original. A serial killer by the name of Charles Lee Ray (perennial sickie Brad Dourif) had used voodoo to transfer his soul into the body of a popular Good Guys doll, and then went after its six-year-old owner Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) in the hopes of occupying a human host.
Chucky was decapitated and burnt to a crisp at the end of Child’s Play, but since Child’s Play 2 producer David Kirschner wanted to make some bucks on a sequel, the soul of Charles Lee Ray lives on. As soon as Chucky is back in one piece, he sets off after little Alex again, knocking off step-parents and schoolteachers alike if they get in his way.
Or even if they don’t.
Much was made in the horror press about the more technologically advanced, realistic doll effects in Child’s Play 2, and indeed Chucky designer Kevin Yagher has made the little bugger’s maniacal movements and facial expressions seem more human. But creepy doll flicks (like Dead of Night, Magic, and Dolls) prove scarier when the plastic villain resembles an actual doll—itself a frighteningly inhuman version of a real person. Too much effort went towards giving Chucky life in this film, while other things like the writing, acting, and direction were left for dead.