Child’s Play (1988) – Tom Holland

For kids of the 80s is there a more terrifying killer doll than Chucky as seen in director Tom Holland’s 1988 film? It’s been awhile since I’d seen this one, so when it popped up in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies I was excited to see how it stood the test of time.

Long before the chain of sequels was created for it, it stood alone, and it freaked a lot of us out. Brad Dourif lends his voice to the Good Guys doll, the must-have and expensive toy, that young Andy (Alex Vincent) wants for his birthday, and in a fluke of apparently good luck, his mother (Catherine Hicks) is able to score one from a street peddler.

Unfortunately, this Good Guys doll was recovered from a burnt out toy store that served as the dying spot for a murderer named Charles Lee Ray (Dourif) who is killed in the opening minutes of the film by homicide detective, Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon).

But Ray transferred his soul into the plastic and mechanical trappings of the Good Guy doll, and Chucky was born. He’s intent on killing those who left him, betrayed him, and killed him, and when he learns that he’s trapped in doll form unless he transfers his soul into the first person he revealed himself to as a doll, young Andy is in trouble.

CHILD’S PLAY, Chucky, Alex Vincent, 1988, (c) United Artists/courtesy Everett Collection

It’s a fun movie, watching it now, it feels rushed. It doesn’t even clock in at 90 minutes, and everything seems to take place over the space of 48 hours. I’m not sure why Chucky waited until he came into Andy’s life to start wreaking his revenge, perhaps the doll had to be addressed first…

The majority of the effects, for the time, and now, remain pretty solid. Occasionally you can see a hand at work puppeteering Chucky, and sometimes the body double for the doll doesn’t seem quite right, but overall, it comes across as very enjoyable.

I especially love the subtle changes the doll goes through as Ray’s personality becomes more prevalent, the change in hair style, the changes to the face. Dourif is perfect as Chucky’s voice, and its his performance as the doll that sells the suspension of disbelief.

Vincent is surprisingly solid for a young actor, but I get the feeling that both Hicks and Sarandon had more to do, and had it cut to make it a sleeker film. A little more character development and story for both of the characters wouldn’t have been remiss.

Still, the film, as mentioned, spawned a series of sequels, all of which are surprisingly solid, and builds a universe for the character of Chucky. It’s not my favourite Tom Holland film of the 80s, that’s reserved for Fright Night, but it’s still damned enjoyable.

And there are more monsters to come in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. Pick one up today, and find something monstrous to watch tonight!

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