Horror franchises come and go, many start off well before descending into stupidity before ultimately meeting their death at the hands of popular culture (how can anybody find Freddy or Jason scary after seeing them in a Simpsons’ cough gag?) but last year one franchise seemed to have new life breathed into it. I’m talking here about the Child’s Play franchise. Now hear me out, I know what you’re thinking, how can anybody still take a franchise whose central villain is a talking ginger doll seriously? Well sit down and give the franchises latest entry, Curse of Chucky a watch and then come back to me.
Chucky has been through an awful lot in his relatively lengthy cinematic life. He started off with honest intentions, the first two entries being solid if a bit repetitive before hitting a low point with the third entry Child’s Play 3, where it seemed as though Chucky had pestered his last child.Writer and creator Don Mancini however then decided to take Chucky in a total different direction, realising and embracing the comic potential of the character Chucky’s next two outings, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky played out at a farcical but somewhat Meta tone, injecting new life into a franchise that had been running on empty.
Chucky had transformed from a maniacal serial killer into a quick witted, one liner machine. Every great criminal also needs their partner in crime so step forward Jennifer Tilly. The actress had the perfect look for the series, sleazy, crazy and somewhat sexy Tilly managed to provide the franchise with a new, b-movie like feel, which was took to the next level when she herself was transported into the body of a doll, Tiff.
Tiff provided the perfect chalk to Chucky’s cheese and the franchises funniest moments come when the two are sparring on screen, notably in Seed of Chucky when the two come to loggerheads over the gender of their child. After Bride and Seed of Chucky it seemed like there was no room for Chucky anymore as horror audiences began to flock to see the cattle prod scares provided by Paranormal Activity and the torture porn lashed out by the Saw franchise. However last year, after a 9 year absence Chucky returned, finding a new home on the home video market.
Don Mancini also returned to the director’s chair and what followed was a huge surprise. Curse of Chucky turned out to be, against all odds, a genuinely scary horror movie that provided scares and laughs in equal measure, combining the best elements of all of Chucky’s previous outings into one picture.The film was also smart enough to reward fans of the franchise(spoilers), with Jennifer Tilly and Chucky’s long time nemesis Andy Barclay both making brilliant cameo appearances at the end of the film. The film also managed to smartly loop Chucky’s story and pad out his character’s motives.
So 26 years after his on screen debut Chucky is perhaps stronger now than he has ever been. The franchise has just had its strongest entry and with movie number 7 in the pipe line and a rumoured cross over with Freddy Krueger also being discussed there has never been a better time to revisit everyone’s favourite homicidal doll.
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Photos from Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios