Hear Us Out

Hear Us Out: Thirty Years Since Child's Play, Chucky Has Become Horror's Most Fascinating Slasher

Chucky may be a doll, but he's more flesh and blood – with a wife, kid, and serious life goals – than any of his killer contemporaries.

by | November 9, 2018 | Comments

(Photo by © United Artists)

Back around 21 B.C., someone took some clay and fur and molded it into their image – presumably to either play with or to transfer their soul into, or both. Our fascination with dolls continued (who doesn’t love a mini-me?), and about 2,000 years later, we got Child’s Play, featuring a killer doll named Chucky who terrorized anyone foolish enough to get near him.

Since the film’s release 30 years ago – it hit theaters November 9, 1988 – Chucky has made it into the Horror Hall of Fame with seven films, beaten only by supreme baddies like Jason (Friday the 13th), Michael Myers (Halloween), John Kramer (Saw), and Freddy (Nightmare on Elm Street). On the 30th anniversary of the first films’ release, it makes sense to dive into why the plastic psycho endures longer than most monsters.


CHUCKY IS THE MOST WELL-ROUNDED SLASHER

Rogue Pictures courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by Rogue Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

While other slasher favorites have noteworthy moments of backstory we’ve learned about in their franchises – Freddy was burned alive by angry parents, Jason has mommy issues and experienced bullying, and Michael Myers escaped an institution – none of the classic slashers have experiences during the films that change them and make them more than just a killer. The only villain that comes remotely close is John Kramer of the Jigsaw films. In a quasi-twist (one of many in the Saw series), Kramer, after having survived cancer and his wife’s miscarriage and death, chose to give people a chance to be grateful for their lives by putting them in his tricky traps. And yet he never changes his staunch principles. Somehow, though, the hollow plastic doll at the center of the Child’s Play films manages to keep piling life experiences on top of his urge to kill – and we see him grow and change during his series, even if he never loses his taste for blood.


HE IS ONE OF THE ONLY HORROR MOVIE KILLERS WHO IS SPOKEN FOR

MCA Universal courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by MCA Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

In Bride of Chucky, we got more of Ray’s story before that fateful night in the toy store. It turns out, he had the kind of girlfriend named Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) who was fine with dating a serial killer. Just before he tangled with Detective Mike Norris in the first film, he had left out a diamond ring on the kitchen table, and Tiffany mistakenly thought it was an engagement ring. Even though she came to find out it was just stolen loot from one of his victims, she stays with Chucky, and over the course of Bride, they both accept each other as their far-from-perfect partners (he even eventually proposes in awe after she brutally murders a couple of con artists). Through the ups and downs of subsequent films, they remain together. Awww.


HE HAS A CHILD, AND BEING A DAD ALLOWS HIM TO GROW

While Seed of Chucky is arguably the biggest departure of the franchise – it veers far away from horror and into absurdist comedy – the fact remains that Chucky’s child Glen expanded his horizons as a person…er, person in a doll. After proving his parentage with Chucky’s same “Made in Japan” imprint, Glen shares his insecurities about murdering people, and eventually reveals his other personality, Glenda. While Chucky never gets to the warm fuzzy kind of parenting with Glen and Glenda, he does realize that his life is forever changed and much different from where he was in the first Child’s Play film. This kind of self-realization by the villain is unparalleled in the world of horror franchises. And it wears overalls.


HE STAYS UP TO DATE WITH TECHNOLOGY

Some killers, like Jason, enjoy offing girls running around in white button-down shirts and that’s about the scope of it. Chucky loves living that same glamorous homicidal lifestyle, but he has an additional supernatural motivation: transferring his soul into another body. He’s a doll with goals. That stopped being interesting in Child’s Play 2, but after shoe-horning it into the other movies, both the series and the doll evolved in Cult of Chucky, where he found a new spell on the internet that allowed him to finally dole out his soul to several bodies at once. This qualifies as a Horror Homo-Habilis moment, where an established villain employed the use of tools to progress their franchise. Sure, Freddy has varied torture methods from dream to dream, but he’s always using that glove. This particular point bodes well for the future of subsequent Chucky stories, since his interactions with the world around him – and its new technologies – mean that this series could continue on well past his contemporaries. Here’s to hoping.

Tag Cloud

Columbia Pictures MTV Epix zombie Mary poppins New York Comic Con USA Network WGN DC streaming service serial killer comiccon SDCC Superheroe TV Video Games OWN Mary Poppins Returns mutant The Arrangement Ellie Kemper Pixar aliens dceu Biopics ESPN spider-man Comedy See It Skip It sitcom ABC YA vampires based on movie Mary Tyler Moore Emmys discovery supernatural TCA Writers Guild of America Red Carpet thriller what to watch Showtime 2018 Horror Amazon romance miniseries cops talk show PaleyFest GoT Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tomatazos unscripted TCA 2017 anime Countdown Lifetime American Society of Cinematographers PBS sequel Awards Holidays MSNBC Hulu LGBTQ Teen biography RT History Ovation Sci-Fi adaptation technology Summer television VH1 Pop Photos war Walt Disney Pictures Box Office Amazon Prime green book period drama Reality TCM mockumentary Valentine's Day science fiction Watching Series Trivia E3 Cartoon Network Interview ratings Kids & Family X-Men Rom-Com Trophy Talk Star Wars cooking BBC Disney Warner Bros. Apple Netflix Paramount dramedy TLC GIFs Nominations Set visit Disney Channel jamie lee curtis Certified Fresh award winner IFC Films festivals Opinion 2016 Infographic golden globes DC Universe Pirates Universal Mystery IFC Crackle Musical Spike robots Musicals social media Lionsgate NBC E! Starz singing competition Awards Tour Nat Geo Trailer boxoffice NYCC Sony Pictures crime thriller Quiz Winter TV Character Guide A&E Rock cults Superheroes APB Premiere Dates Polls and Games Brie Larson HBO Drama Dark Horse Comics AMC politics Sundance Now Extras blaxploitation 2019 CBS VICE First Look Cosplay SundanceTV TruTV Oscars binge YouTube Premium 2015 composers cinemax Song of Ice and Fire Acorn TV Sneak Peek facebook Spectrum Originals Sundance 2017 Marathons SXSW TBS Britbox Black Mirror Syfy streaming Martial Arts Freeform Ghostbusters Best and Worst El Rey TNT Schedule TV Land cats DGA Super Bowl historical drama Country Action Captain marvel Creative Arts Emmys CNN USA President San Diego Comic-Con BBC America transformers comic Shudder Paramount Network political drama 007 Mindy Kaling Adult Swim Anna Paquin medical drama Lucasfilm ITV Comics on TV Shondaland Calendar Bravo Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Grammys Fall TV casting Fox News Masterpiece Christmas 45 Logo YouTube Red Marvel The CW Toys adventure Music Fantasy Comedy Central 20th Century Fox FOX police drama crime drama CMT DirecTV DC Comics harry potter Winners Reality Competition travel sports CW Seed zombies Western justice league National Geographic Esquire 24 frames Thanksgiving FX ABC Family doctor who CBS All Access 21st Century Fox crime Food Network History psycho Comic Book Nickelodeon Star Trek Spring TV dc Podcast Animation Tumblr Election crossover spy thriller TIFF FXX MCU GLAAD Rocky finale hist diversity docudrama BET Year in Review