CHILD’S PLAY. 1988. DIRECTED BY TOM HOLLAND. STARRING CATHERINE HICKS, CHRIS SARANDON, BRAD DOURIF AND DINAH MANOFF. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
CHUCKY…! I love, love, LOVE this film. It fits perfectly into that whole family of horror films from the late ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties that includes the FRIDAY 13TH, HALLOWEEN, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, HELLRAISER and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies. These are quite literally some of the best, most iconic horror flicks ever made, containing iconic characters that will never, never die because they’re loved so much by the cinema-going public. Also, ahem, because some of them are, in fact, unkillable…
Let’s have a look at the plot. The Lovely Mom from sickly-sweet, uber-wholesome ‘Noughties drama serial SEVENTH HEAVEN, Catherine Hicks, plays the Lovely Mom in this film, too. She’s Karen Barclay, a hard-working single mom to the cutest little boy ever, her son Andy.
Times are tough in this little one-parent family, so when Karen gets the chance to buy a toy on the cheap which her son desperately covets, she grabs it with both hands. (She kind of has to ’cause the box is pretty big, snigger…) Andy is thrilled beyond belief with his talking doll, Chucky, a red-haired, blue-eyed little tyke in dinky blue dungarees and a stripy sweater. Awwww…!
This particular Chucky doll is a wee bit different to all the other dolls, though. This one is inhabited by the soul of an evil serial killer known as the Lakeshore Strangler, who manages to transfer his less-than-pure soul into the doll by using voodoo just as he is dying, shot to death by Chicago cop Detective Mike Norris. It’s pretty ingenious, isn’t it? Way to cheat death…
Chucky’s first official evil deed is to push Andy’s babysitter and Karen’s best friend, Maggie, out the window of their high-rise apartment with a hammer in her eye. Dinah EMPTY NEST Manoff does a great job of being the possessed doll’s first victim.
Naturally the cops come round to investigate, led by the aforementioned Detective Norris and his obviously fake, hammier-than-ham-itself ‘cop’ accent. He’s played by super-cute Chris THE PRINCESS BRIDE Sarandon, whom I’ve always thought was a jolly nice piece of eye-candy.
Norris has great trouble at first in believing young Andy’s story, namely that it was Chucky who pushed poor Maggie out of the window. Well, wouldn’t you…? I mean, it sounds a bit unlikely, doesn’t it? An evil walking, talking doll who goes around killing people and pushing them out of windows with hammers in their eyes…? Pish-posh. What a load of old hooey. Or is it…?
The good Detective has to come round to Andy’s way of thinking, however, and so does the Lovely Mom, when Chucky uses Andy to help him to kill his former partner in crime, on whom he’s seeking revenge. When Mom and Norris work out the full story, namely that Chucky’s gunning for the cop who shot him (Norris) and also that the pint-sized Devil In The Blue Dungarees is planning to transfer himself into young Andy next, there’s a race against time to save both Andy and Norris…
The action is fast-paced and doesn’t really drag at all, which is great, and the special effects are terrific. Chucky is adorable, and it’s so funny to hear such nasty, inappropriate profanities spewing forth from the mouth of a child’s toy. There are definitely plot-holes, especially when it comes to police procedure at a crime scene, but sure, what harm, as we say here in Ireland.
It doesn’t matter because the film is such great fun, and sweet, diabolical little Chucky certainly deserves to be hoisted onto the capable shoulders of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers in the Great Horror Movie Villains Of Our Time Hall Of Fame, if there is such a thing. And if there isn’t, well, there certainly should be.
This film has a load of sequels which is brilliant because I can’t wait to watch ’em all, curled up on the couch with my Good Guy doll nestled safely beside me. Oh, and look, he comes with a tiny little stabby knife as well, isn’t that absolutely precious…? Oh, wait, shit…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: