Friday, March 11, 2011

Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments:#94-Child's Play (1988)

By Eric Polk-
By 1988, the golden age of the slasher was on the wan. Oh sure, Freddy, Jason, and Michael were still alive on the screen but the studios were getting diminshing returns on their investments(Exception was NOES 4). People were growing tired of hack-slash-nudity-hack-slash-nudity. Enter Chucky, the final 80's horror beachhead.

Child's Play is about a notorious serial killer who transfers his soul to a Good Guy doll just as he's about to die. Later that morning, 6-year-old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) tells his widowed mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) that he wants a Good Guy doll for his birthday. Unable to afford the full price, Karen buys a stolen doll from a street peddler, which is the same doll into which Chucky had earlier transferred his soul.

Chucky then begins his killing spree anew, taking out Andy's Aunt Maggie.The next day, Andy visits the house of Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoli), Charles Lee Ray's accomplice, who had betrayed him. Chucky sneaks into Eddie's house and blows out the pilot light on the stove and turns up the gas; Eddie discovers Chucky is alive and, in panicked self-defense, fires his gun and the house explodes, killing him.

While Andy is placed in a psychiatric ward at the request of Mr.Mcgee...

Karen believes the doll to be the culprit after she realizes that his batteries had never been put in and she threatens to throw him into the fireplace unless he reveals himself to her. Chucky comes alive in her hands, bites her and runs out of the apartment. She contacts Detective Norris, who is now investigating Maggie's death. Although he initially doubts her story, the homeless man who sold Karen the doll confirms that he retrieved it from the burnt down toy store where Charles Lee Ray was killed. Norris becomes a believer after he is attacked by Chucky in his car and survives only by shooting the doll.

Chucky meets with John Simonsen, his voodoo instructor from years past, and asks why his gunshot wound bled. John, under torture via voodoo doll, informs him that his body is slowly conforming to that of a human's and that he will soon be trapped in the body if he does not transfer his soul into the body of the first person he revealed himself to, which is Andy. Offhandedly remarking that he will "get to be six years old again," Chucky stabs the voodoo doll and leaves John to die. Karen and Detective Norris, following leads from Charles Lee Ray's case file, find John as he lays dying and receive instructions on how to kill Chucky; although Chucky is a doll, his heart is fully human and vulnerable to fatal injury.

Andy escapes from the psychiatric unit and Chucky brutally kills the head doctor (Jack Colvin) in the process. The authorities believe Andy killed the doctor while escaping. Mike and Karen rush back to the apartment hoping that Andy is there. Chucky reaches the apartment where Andy is and knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat to steal his soul. After a prolonged struggle, Chucky is thrown into the fireplace by Karen and is lit on fire by Andy after he throws the match in the fireplace.

Andy and Karen, thinking Chucky is dead, go to help the injured Mike Norris. After Andy gets the first aid kit from under the sink, he discovers Chucky is gone.

I find this film very entertaining. Oh sure, it's not scary once you've made it past your seventh birthday, but who doesn't like Brad Douriff's performance as the killer doll? I also enjoyed the subtext of child consumerism and the cat and mouse between Chucky and Andy. You had to feel for the poor kid, being terrorized by someone he thought was his friend 'till the end.

One thing I've also noticed is the fact that many folks who don't like horror films love this movie. Maybe, unlike Freddy, Michael, and Jason, Chucky can't be taken too seriously.

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