Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Wisecracking Killer Doll From the 80’s, or Thoughts on Child’s Play

From director Tom Holland of Psycho II (1983) and Thinner (1996), Child’s Play (1988) was actually supposed to star Chris Sarandon as Detective Mike Norris.  Brad Dourif gets second billing in what would become an iconic role in his career.  He only appears in the first ten minutes as Charles Lee Ray, the Lakeshore Strangler before he transforms, thanks to some voodoo mumbo jumbo and some convenient 80’s pyrotechnic lightning into a variation of the Zuni fetish doll
Chucky, the red headed Good Guy doll is an entire brand of Good Guy cereal, cartoon, complete line of accessories and toys and started an entirely new theme for the horror genre; what I call the reverse Boy Who Called Wolf, or Blame the Kid and Not the Doll.  With Catherine Hicks, the mom from Seventh Heaven as Andy’s mom, who has to defeat Chucky before he can transfer his soul into her son.  We’ve spoken about Chris Sarandon before from The Sentinel (1977) and his portrayal of Jerry Dandridge, the casual apple munching vampire in Fright Night (1985).
What’s interesting about Child’s Play is that there’s two realities here; you have the audience perspective of an evil doll possessed by the soul of a killer, and then you have the movie’s perspective of an imaginary friend compelling a child kill, which is even more horrifying.  No one ever believes the kid until it’s too late; it’s like when Jason hides the bodies to make the Final Girl doubt herself.  Also an adult, evil (and often lascivious) voice coming from the form of a seemingly innocent-looking doll crosses a lot of buried boundaries that the audience isn’t initially aware of.  It’s great as a horror movie, but it really takes on the form of a nightmare when approached as a psychological thriller.









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