ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 2, 1988
By Steve Newton
Were you ever frightened by dolls or other inanimate objects as a kid? Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night, and thought you saw something grinning evilly at you through the darkness of your bedroom? If so, then Tom Holland’s new movie Child’s Play is just the right vehicle to make you feel like a (scared) kid again because it features a three-foot-tall plastic menace that walks small but carries a big knife.
Chucky is its name, and it’s an ever-popular “Good Guys” doll that’s gone bad thanks to mass murderer Charles Lee Ray. Played by character-actor Brad Dourif–who has portrayed loonies in such movies as The Eyes of Laura Mars, Blue Velvet, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest–Ray is seen in the film’s opening sequence as a killer pursued through the streets of Chicago by detective Mike Morris (Chris Sarandon of Fright Night).
When Ray stumbles inadvertently into a toy store, and is mortally wounded there by Sarandon’s character, he uses his last words to breathe unholy life into one of the hundreds of Good Guys dolls on display. Well-versed in voodoo, he manages to transplant his nasty soul into that of Chucky, a talking doll made popular via TV cartoons and kids’ cereal boxes.
As (bad) luck would have it, the possessed Chucky doll winds up in the arms of a sweet little six-year-old boy (Alex Vincent), and the poor kid gets into all kinds of trouble by following Chucky’s instructions and then saying, “But Chucky told me to!” Actually, it’s the doll itself that commits the really evil deeds, but the boy gets blamed.
Just when the hapless child is about to be committed for Chucky’s crimes, his mother (Catherine Hicks) finds Chucky’s batteries still in his display box, puts two and two together, and prepares to roast the doll in her fireplace unless he talks.
That’s when Chucky really comes to life, and–via the expert use of various radio- and cable-controlled puppets–steals the show with its miniature brand of murderous mayhem.
It’s hard not to chuckle whenever the former cutie-pie doll makes deranged faces, and it’s hard not to squirm when the little rascal’s threatening someone with a blade that’s made for choppin’.
With equal portions of frolic and fear, Child’s Play is a hilarious hair-raiser that is highly recommended for horror fans.