Tag Archives: My name’s Chucky wanna play?

Morality, Mistruths, and Military School

Day Two: I reviewed Child’s Play 2 some while ago, so it’s a hop, skip, and a jump (unless you’re three-feet-two, Chuck) on to the one that got blamed for a few things, Part 3…

 

child's play 3 1992CHILD’S PLAY 3

3 Stars  1991/18/86m

“Look Who’s Stalking!”

Director: Jack Bender / Writer: Don Mancini / Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Brad Dourif.

Body Count: 8


Just as the folks at Camp Crystal Lake never learned and keep re-opening the joint, so the Good Guys toy manufacturer fails to learn from all the deaths linked to their product and keep resurrecting it.

Some of Chucky’s blood from the molten plastic heap he ended up as at the end of CP2 leaks into the production of a new batch and thus gives him a new body. He celebrates by tormenting and killing the CEO of the company, after he brands consumers idiots.

Eight years have passed and Chucky uses a computer to track down Andy’s whereabouts (he does this in about 16 seconds despite eight years of software upgrades), discovering he’s been packed off to the Kent Military Academy.

child's play 3 1991 justin whalin

Naturally, Chucky appears soon after but instead of being unwrapped by Andy, he’s picked up by pre-teen cadet Tyler, who, under the new-body rules, is now the target of Hide the Soul. Andy’s attempts to stop Chucky rile bullying Colonel Shelton, but draw the affections of fearless female cadet DeSilva (watch her awesome hair shake-out as the sadistic barber happens by).

So it’s death by garbage compactor, grenade, and terror-induced heart attack until the ghost train finale, which seems a bit contrived, even by the standards of this series. Creator Don Mancini was allegedly pushed into writing this outing without much preparation time and considers it the least impressive of the lot, which is a fair summary.

child's play 3 1991

Now, the film’s bizarre legacy has gained more notoriety than the picture itself: When two 10-year-old boys abducted and murdered a two-year-old in the early 90s, Britain’s infamously shitty tabloid press decided not to question parenting or social issues that led to the crime, no, they pointed the finger squarely at horror movies, in particular this one, which had been rented by the stepfather of one of the boys some months prior.

the mirror child's play 3 banned

Complete bullshit. Nothing was banned.

Never mind the fact neither of them had seen it, or that none of its content tallied with the crime, it was evil and must be banned, said the likes of The Sun and The Daily Mail, unquestionably THE worst newspapers in the history of print media. One paper even tried to encourage people to burn their horror video cassettes in a sad echo of the 80s ‘Video Nasty’ bollocks, and The Mirror praised itself for ‘banning’ Child’s Play 3 on its own front page – about the only time Chucky will get that accolade.

Coinciding with this but hardly reported on at the time, a teenage girl tortured and murdered was played a sample of Chucky’s infamous ‘wanna play’ utterance at full volume by a group of scutty assholes who killed her over a stolen coat!

As with these papers and their ilk, it was all lies. The film was not banned, it was simply withdrawn by the distributor CIC, the knock-on effect of which was that incoming psycho-child flick Mikey was refused a BBFC certificate. Nothing banned, nothing achieved by hack right-wing morality play journalists. The film reappeared within a few years, notably sporting an 18 certificate instead of the 15 granted to the first two movies.

Homicidal cockwombles will always exist and moral guardian tabloid wannabes will always find a sub-cultural scapegoat, be it horror movies, video games, or Marilyn Manson tracks, but never their own media moguls who exploit tax loopholes and lie to the masses in order to save more money. Nope, never them.

child's play 3 1991

All this drama aside, it’s probably the least fun entry in the series, but a moderately enjoyable hour-and-a-half nonetheless and the military school setting is good, if not used to its full potential. And fuck you, tabloid liars.

Blurb-of-interest: Justin Whalin was later in Serial Mom.

City of the Doll

Cult of Chucky is pending. I noticed I’ve only reviewed two of the other films in the series, so let’s countdown to the release by rectifying that…

Day One:

 

child's play 1988CHILD’S PLAY

3 Stars  1988/15/84m

“You’ll wish it was only make believe!”

Director: Tom Holland / Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia & Tom Holland / Cast: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff, Brad Dourif, Jack Colvin.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “He said Aunt Maggie was a real bitch and got what she deserved!”


The inauguration of a horror icon begins here with the hokey but fun enough debut, which gives us all the information we need as to how the spirit of the Lakeshore Stranger – Charles Lee Ray – projects his soul into a talking Good Guy doll using voodoo mumbo jumbo.

Said talking doll is purchased from a homeless guy by hard-up widow Karen Barclay, for her six-year-old son Andy’s birthday. Andy is overjoyed with his new friend, and soon begins relaying the slightly odd things Chucky is apparently telling him. This is bad news for his babysitter, who receives a blow to the face from a toy hammer and tumbles out of an apartment block window.

The homicide detective from the Strangler case is assigned and immediately suspects Andy of the killing and the death of the Strangler’s accomplice soon after. Andy is packed off to a clinic for observation, blaming Chucky who, of course, just prattles off his three phrases.

child's play 1988

Karen is quick to discover that there is more to Andy’s story when she finds the batteries that came with the doll are still in the box, in what’s easily the film’s creepiest scene. She tries to convince the detective but his instinct is to believe she’s just trying to protect her son from the consequences but then stumbles upon some coincidences between the case and that of the Strangler. Da-da-daaaaa!

Chucky himself finds that the longer he stays a doll, the harder it will be to find rebirth into a human soul and the more vulnerable to harm he becomes, and the only viable soul is that of the first person he revealed his true self to – Andy.

Relatively high-end production values distinguish this film from the dying slasher genre at the end of the 80s, raking in decent profits as Jason, Freddy, and Michael experienced diminishing returns. Child’s Play achieves its distinction – and probably a chunk of its success – to avoiding most slasher movie rules, at least in this first one, with murders by accident or voodoo as opposed to the doll-with-a-blade in the sequels.

child's play 1988 hicks sarandon

A fair amount of debt should be owed to Freddy Krueger, as Chucky soon becomes efficient with his potty-mouthed one-liners in Brad Dourif’s inimitable drawl. Imitators soon appeared in the shape of Puppetmaster (and its ten sequels!), Demonic ToysDolly Dearest, and even the more recent Annabelle, proving a degree gold had indeed been unearthed.

A lot of weight also rests on the shoulders of Alex Vincent who, aged just seven, does well with the dark material without descending into territory of annoying child who the audience secretly wants to see thrown into a meat grinder (see Absurd for that kid). He also gets to utter that awesome climactic line: “This is the end, friend!” For her part, Hicks does a great job as his beleaguered Mom and defacto final girl.

child's play 1988

Mancini’s original script was far more psychologically based, with the doll serving as an excuse for Andy’s psychosis and a critique of the marketing-to-children boom in the greed-obsessed 80s. Everyone remembers the urban legend about Cabbage Patch Kids right? As it is, despite the final act descending into outright parody as the doll that just won’t fucking die, something of a modern classic in spite of itself.

Blurbs-of-interest: Hicks was another Mom-on-the-run in 1982’s Death Valley, which featured another pre-teen kid as the lead; Alex Vincent returned for the next film as well as Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky; Brad Dourif was also in Chain LetterColor of NightDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies, Trauma, and Urban Legend.

The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part IV: #70-61

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a few of your faves missing…

To provide some context, this batch all scored around 7 out of 10.

See #100 – 91 here
#90 – 81 here
#80 – 71 here

70: Coda (1987)

A music student at an exclusive conservatory is murdered and her classmate becomes hell bent on solving the mystery, thus making herself the next target of the masked killer. This Australian TV thriller comes equipped with a lush classical soundtrack and spooky Halloweenie stalking sequences, plus one of the actresses was in Prisoner: Cell Block H. Also known as Deadly Possession or Symphony of Evil.

Crowning moment: Remember when you were young (or in my case well into my 30s) and you ran along with a shopping trolley and rolled across the parking lot? In Coda, the killer does that down a corridor brandishing a sharp weapon.

69: The Funhouse (1981)

Tobe Hooper’s Halloween-inspired creeper follows two teenage couples when they dare themselves to spend the night in the funhouse of a travelling carnival, only to discover that the Frankenstein-masked attendant of the ride is a mongoloid who wants to kill them all! Surprisingly scary and in terms of the horror-at-the-carnival sub-sub-genre, it’s unbeaten.

Crowning moment: Jittery final girl Amy spots her Dad outside, picking up her traumatised kid brother, and shrieks for her life but is muted by the cooling fans between them.

68: Some Guy Who Kills People (2012)

Ken Boyd (Kevin Corrigan) is a simple-living malt shop worker not long out of an institution when the gang of bullies who pushed him to the edge years earlier begin showing up dead all over town. Meanwhile, he acquaints himself with his estranged daughter, but even she becomes suspicious… How can he balance fatherhood with killing folks? A rare thing: A slasher flick with a big, soppy heart.

Crowning moment: Ken has an amusingly clunky date with Lucy Davis and tries to stick up for his daughter to humiliating avail.

67: Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Crazy Jason is still killing kids up at Crystal Lake, this time a gaggle of vacationing friends fall foul of the maniac and he finds his trademark hockey mask for the first time – and all in 3D! Crap acting is buffered its camp appeal and some awesome demises, including the infamous ‘eyeball pop’.

Crowning moment: Jason follows shrieky final girl Chris (Dana Kimmell) into the barn for the epic final showdown, consisting of several take-downs that prove ultimately un-fatal.

66: Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012)

In 1977, horndog teenagers at a Bible Camp were laid to waste by homicidal nun, Sister Mary Chopper. Seven years later, another van load of religious teens stop by and the killings begin again. Friday the 13th collides with elements of Sleepaway Camp, lots of crude, sometimes stupid gags, and Ron Jeremy appears as Jesus.

Crowning moment: The opening kill-fest set in ’77, including doggy-style with a decapitated camper.

65: Pandemonium (1982)

Probably the most fun slasher parody (Scary Movie will not be gracing us with its presence): Bambi’s Cheerleading Camp reopens after it was plagued by unsolved murders and attracts six new recruits (Candy, Mandy, Randy, Andy, Sandy, and Glenn) who are soon the targets of the returning killer. Most of the jokes were hugely outdated by the end of the 80s, but it’s way better than Wacko, Student Bodies, and Class Reunion. Carol Kane plays the telekinetic final girl, and Judge Reinhold and Paul ‘Pee Wee’ Reubens appear in early roles.

Crowning moment: A toss up between the cheerleader shish-ka-bob that starts the film off or death by super-charged toothbrush.

64: Bride of Chucky (1998)

The dead and buried Child’s Play franchise was sparked back to life by this post-Scream reboot that pushed the comedy in front of the killing (in the wake of the falsified bad rep the previous film had in the UK) and paired Chucky with Jennifer Tilly’s excellent Tiffany doll, who is almost as homicidally motivated as he is.

Crowning moment: Either when Chuck n’ Tiff take out John Ritter’s slimy, crooked cop, or the moment they succumb to their carnal desires after offing a couple with the help of an over-the-bed mirror (“Honey, I’m all rubber!”).

63: The Pool (2001)

The private graduation party of a popular high school clique is foiled by the arrival of a masked and machete-swinging psycho. A joint venture of several European countries (shot in Prague) gives this one some cultural flavour and characters of varying nationalities. Though the identity of the killer was a bit naffly obvious. Future megastars James McAvoy and Isla Fisher are among those skewered.

Crowning moment: Easily the [pictured] waterslide kill, as a boobular babe slides towards a splash pool containing her lover’s corpse and notices a machete pierce the bottom of the chute and slides uncontrollably, legs akimbo, towards it. As my friend Kerry commented upon seeing the aftermath: “It looks like the period from hell!”

62: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

At the time, Elm Street 4 was a phenomenal box office hit, keying into the MTV generation and cranking up Freddy’s one-liners – and thus beginning the decline of his character as remotely frightening – he gets rid of the surviving Elm Street children and moves on to their friends, using the dream-joining power of dreary new heroine Alice.

Crowning moment: Freddy focuses in on Debbie’s (Brooke Theiss) bug-phobia, first letting her arms fall off before turning her into a roach. Eww.

61: Venom (2005)

Kevin Williamson produced, and I Know What You Did Last Summer‘s Joe Gillespie directed this swamp-set slasher in which a mechanic is bitten by snakes belonging to a voodoo-priestess and possessed by the souls of various killers. He sets about slaying a bunch of local teenagers who stand in between him and the surviving granddaughter of the voodoo chick.

Crowning moment: Unpleasant teen Bijou Phillips is caught stealing from the killer’s cash register, gets trapped under a car, and is sand-blasted to death.

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The 100 Greatest* Slasher Movies Part II: #90-81

*According to me. Me, me, me. So there’re bound to be a good few ‘classics’ missing.

Thus, remember that this isn’t just another countdown of the ‘best’ or most influential films the genre has to offer. If it were, the same old titles would crowd the top end and who wants that?

#100 to #91 can be found here.

90: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

An intensely creepy TV-movie made at the peak of the slasher craze: A quartet of big fish in a small town murder slow Bubba after mistakenly accusing him of killing a young girl. Soon after, the men fall victim to a series of weird ‘accidents’, the only connection between which is the eerie scarecrow that appears all over town prior to each death.

Crowning moment: The super-eerie murder at the mill.

89: Madman (1981)

Another of the many Friday the 13th summer camp clones, this time with a camp for ‘gifted children’ (all six of them) crashed by a legendary psycho-farmer who murdered his family and was unsuccessfully hanged by the local townsfolk and, if you call his name, he will ‘come for you’. Good job it was a horror and not a porno.

Crowning moment: Frizzy-haired counsellor finds a decapitated head under the hood, sees her boyfriend murdered, gets chased through the woods, and has to hide from the killer in a fridge… and it’s still NOT enough to save her.

88: Child’s Play 2 (1990)

One of just two appearances from our plastic buddy in this countdown; the Chucky doll is resurrected and, along with it, the soul of Charles Lee Ray trapped within. He manages to get himself sent to the foster home where little Andy Barclay has been sent and reaps more havoc on all the Doubting Thomases who cross his path. This represented the peak of the comedy-horror formula that ushered in the 90s.

Crowning moment: Chucky realises every school kid’s dream and reaps a ruler-tastic revenge on a strict schoolteacher.

87: Camping Del Terrore (1986)

More sexy campers up against another forest legend in Ruggero Deodato’s (Cannibal Holocaust) entry in the teenie-kill canon. The Italian-pretending-to-be-American production values are diverting and the mid-80s Euro-fashions colorfully amusing. But it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense.

Crowning moment: 80s-tastic aerobics – complete with headbands.

86: Final Exam (1981)

An anonymous and motive-free killer stalks the campus of a small college in this unimaginative and dry Halloween wannabe. But it’s charm lies in its purity: Everything that happens is 100% predictable but there’s a likeability to Final Exam and its characters often absent in the genre.

Crowning moment: Camp almost-hero Radish discovers a body and does his best to raise the alarm and rescue the girl. But fails.

85: Club Dread (2004)

Whatever happened to Broken Lizard? Their sophomore outing came in the shape of this amusing but self-indulgent slasher parody, which has a killer running around a Caribbean island resort machete-ing the employees and some of the guests. Bill Paxton is fun as good-time stoner Coconut Pete and there’s adequate bloodletting, even if it does grind on 25 minutes longer than it should.

Crowning moment: A fleeing victim tries to make her escape in a golf buggy, finding it futile when the killer manages to out-walk her.

84: Boogeyman 2 (2007)

A sequel to the goddamn awful 2005 PG-13 horror that wasn’t really a slasher flick… A girl who lived through the murder of her parents as a child is admitted to an institution alongside several other youngsters with quirky phobias. Natch, they’re done in by a masked killer twisting their fears into reality…

Crowning moment: An anorexic beauty queen is pumped full of fat until she, well, bursts.

83: Wishcraft (2001)

Michael Weston is a high school nobody who receives an enchanted bull’s penis that grants three wishes. While he toys with what to use it for, somebody is murdering the unpleasant kids from his high school. An amusing mix of paranormal slashenings and comedy, plus Meatloaf is in it.

82: Opera (1987)

The outcome of Michele Soavi’s Stagefright was Dario Argento’s sticky tale of a young stage ingenue who is repeatedly kidnapped and forced to watch a series of murders by a killer who tapes needles under her eyes to ensure she witnesses his slayings… The usual flair and flourishes make this a little better than the film that influenced it.

Crowning moment: Casanova William McNamara’s gruesome demise, courtesy of a grinding pole through the chin into the roof of the mouth. During sex. Ouch.

81: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

One of the nominal fan favourites of the series, this was the last of the original Paramount films I saw and so I’ve never loved it as much as some others do. Anyway, Jason rises from the ‘dead’ and returns to Crystal Lake to kill more vacationing teenagers, only this time he’s met his match in the form of 12-year-old horror nut Tommy…

Crowning moment: Jason’s grisly denouement, cut from UK versions for years, with the infamous ‘machete slide’ courtesy of Tom Savini.

Sequel Showdown: 6s, Sixes, and VIs

The further you venture into the cave, the darker it gets… Or, the less franchises there are that reach that sacred sixth installment. In fact, there are but five slasher films (that I know of) that have reached this pinnacle, so this time we’ll take ’em one by one…

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Often held as the last true hurrah for the hockey masked one, writer/director Tom McLoughlin weaved a witty thread of comedy through Jason’s resurrection adventure, pleasantly elevating Jason Lives over and above the previous few entries.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

“They saved the best for last.” No. No, they did not. The sixth and ‘final’ outing for Mssr. Krueger was chucked out with a 3D finale, and cameos from Alice Cooper, Roseanne, and Tom Arnold, but everything else is as forgettable as can be, from the dismal body count of THREE to Freddy’s quips, which by this point were more dated than disco.

One bizarre anecdote was that the films staggered US-UK releases were punctuated by the death of Freddy Mercury in November 1991, so TV adverts proclaiming “Freddy’s Dead!” were a tad lacking in the tact department.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Largely unloved by fans of Mikey M., I actually wrung a fair amount of enjoyment from this one, which was the last of the original films to maintain a really ‘Halloweeny’ atmosphere – plus it was the possibly the first sequel I saw of the lot.

Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return (1999)

John Franklin returned to his creepy role from the original film fifteen years previously, which would surely mean the corn sprogs would want him dead as he’s well into adulthood? Who knows with this series. Nancy Allen was in it, I’ve only seen it the once, but it was definitely better than the horrific TV movie/remake and the recent Genesis episode.

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Don Mancini has, for the time being, successfully resisted the remake-demons getting their paws on his property and, instead, a quasi-reboot was thrown together in the shape of this made for DVD flick, which opted for a back to basics approach with Chucky seen neither moving nor speaking for a good half of the running time. It seems to have done the trick.

The Finalists

Essentially, all five films are finalists, but it’s easy to eliminate Freddy’s Dead and Children of the Corn off the bat: Neither managed to ding the bell of decency.

Next out would be Chucky; it was a good film but the cut-price one-place/one-night setting made it drag just a little.

So, surprise, surprise, it’s between two genre icons who have already bagged prizes in Rounds 2 and 4 respectively, but for being both witty and maintaining a ‘classics’ summer camp feel, it’s gotta be the J-man:

The Winner

Next time, all the sevens!

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