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.


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.


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.


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.


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

BAFTA war french Tarantino Marvel Television nbcuniversal Apple First Look WGN TLC festivals Marvel award winner Western Shondaland TNT science fiction Music universal monsters reviews Amazon Prime Sundance TV green book 45 thriller PaleyFest Nominations directors blockbuster Sneak Peek Premiere Dates Amazon Prime Video DGA Vudu Writers Guild of America zombies Ovation football Amazon Studios festival National Geographic Heroines Certified Fresh a nightmare on elm street Pet Sematary cars Discovery Channel canceled LGBT Trailer die hard Toys parents Comics on TV Mary poppins japanese asian-american anthology YouTube Premium italian diversity comedies Funimation space sequel transformers Video Games discovery stop motion HBO dragons Hear Us Out spinoff Black Mirror cults sitcom Sci-Fi concert Comedy FX on Hulu 007 mission: impossible 2015 breaking bad rotten movies we love Apple TV+ Mary Poppins Returns Disney films Interview Pop cancelled TV shows Spectrum Originals Awards Cartoon Network Cosplay 2018 VICE Freeform television series Opinion Character Guide DC streaming service GoT docudrama OWN psychological thriller scary movies X-Men halloween all-time Countdown streaming hollywood video Academy Awards Arrowverse Brie Larson spy thriller DirecTV name the review comiccon El Rey MCU Horror Superheroes Kids & Family CBS All Access Apple TV Plus Amazon Podcast obituary Musical VH1 natural history IFC Films Tumblr NBC Reality Competition RT21 batman sequels 71st Emmy Awards disaster Infographic Song of Ice and Fire Crunchyroll toy story FXX E3 elevated horror Lionsgate Tomatazos doctor who Rom-Com ESPN Drama laika The Witch 2019 comic cops slashers Trivia VOD American Society of Cinematographers Pirates rotten Ellie Kemper Hallmark versus Netflix Calendar YouTube game show stoner best child's play 2017 TCM Adult Swim kids Film FX worst dogs Syfy ghosts Hulu Election Holiday finale Turner Classic Movies video on demand cancelled TV series franchise Travel Channel Television Academy emmy awards documentary The Academy strong female leads SundanceTV latino Valentine's Day Photos singing competition Country miniseries renewed TV shows Acorn TV Ghostbusters Comic Book DC Comics remakes Mary Tyler Moore BET Awards Columbia Pictures TIFF Cannes ratings WarnerMedia mutant werewolf chucky Pride Month Star Trek BBC One Disney streaming service hispanic Netflix Christmas movies APB spanish language ABC Family Holidays Nickelodeon hist supernatural romance reboot dramedy witnail PlayStation news Universal Sundance Disney+ Disney Plus Mindy Kaling classics binge 20th Century Fox FOX mockumentary The Arrangement Polls and Games Elton John adventure romantic comedy crime blaxploitation unscripted richard e. Grant crossover TCA 2017 medical drama satire Lifetime AMC Comedy Central social media period drama what to watch Hallmark Christmas movies Fox News Fantasy The Walking Dead boxoffice golden globes facebook Binge Guide Peacock Turner nature indiana jones DC Universe harry potter Television Critics Association Christmas movie Oscars San Diego Comic-Con Trophy Talk quibi superhero First Reviews police drama based on movie CBS venice Creative Arts Emmys Teen Reality sports spider-man Winners The Purge animated LGBTQ Esquire documentaries independent A&E HBO Max ITV cinemax spain Pixar See It Skip It ABC Anna Paquin Mudbound spanish Family TruTV GLAAD twilight Awards Tour Marathons robots historical drama USA Network canceled TV shows Schedule Women's History Month Crackle Biopics sag awards political drama joker Avengers TBS Rock Best and Worst Shudder worst movies Spring TV game of thrones Emmys casting fast and furious talk show MSNBC Red Carpet Quiz 72 Emmy Awards Winter TV screenings Super Bowl YA anime USA indie TV Land YouTube Red movies Marvel Studios 4/20 tv talk Captain marvel Pop TV vampires 21st Century Fox Fall TV south america Walt Disney Pictures SDCC Baby Yoda Year in Review TCA Winter 2020 Bravo Dark Horse Comics President zombie Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Sony Pictures TV renewals Spike children's TV Grammys 2020 Fox Searchlight Nat Geo HBO Go Epix zero dark thirty Black History Month stand-up comedy teaser Thanksgiving TV critics SXSW Masterpiece Chernobyl RT History CNN Starz true crime screen actors guild cats nfl free movies TCA Classic Film crime drama Set visit dc TCA Awards Emmy Nominations Action Mystery cancelled television justice league biography Stephen King serial killer E! scorecard Showtime Logo Lucasfilm christmas movies MTV CW Seed A24 PBS cartoon New York Comic Con History cooking Film Festival The CW aliens Rocky Watching Series Martial Arts CMT Star Wars politics GIFs OneApp Rocketman Disney Channel Summer Paramount Network BET travel comics Musicals toronto NYCC archives theme song BBC America Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Superheroe Food Network Box Office dceu Disney Plus IFC foreign technology crime thriller BBC Animation Paramount composers Tubi Britbox Sundance Now psycho Extras Endgame cancelled book Warner Bros. halloween tv revenge criterion 2016 adaptation Lifetime Christmas movies jamie lee curtis 24 frames dark