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

richard e. Grant Mary Tyler Moore crime SundanceTV PBS Martial Arts First Look sequel SDCC dceu TIFF CMT Extras Country American Society of Cinematographers robots elevated horror TCM Superheroe boxoffice MTV Action ITV Quiz adventure Lifetime Captain marvel Video Games harry potter Certified Fresh jamie lee curtis Crackle Song of Ice and Fire VH1 Winners Food Network RT History MSNBC diversity 2015 Sundance Now Ellie Kemper crime thriller NYCC Cosplay Mary poppins GIFs Shudder OWN Sneak Peek DC streaming service talk show cinemax Hulu TCA 2017 Women's History Month Premiere Dates Trophy Talk Emmys green book Music finale 24 frames PaleyFest Rom-Com Drama Year in Review serial killer IFC Rocky dc Cartoon Network TV Land El Rey ABC ratings Nickelodeon romance BET Disney true crime History based on movie Horror Best and Worst Lucasfilm Awards spy thriller sports Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 2017 NBC Apple Watching Series APB sitcom Mudbound Super Bowl Winter TV technology period drama Toys YouTube Premium Comedy Central Amazon Musical The CW Musicals Brie Larson thriller Trivia DGA Writers Guild of America miniseries Teen biography Black Mirror Holidays mutant RT21 Sci-Fi travel Ovation AMC Pirates Anna Paquin Universal 45 Western Pop science fiction FX cops natural history Reality Oscars transformers Showtime GoT Election docudrama A&E Valentine's Day 007 VICE aliens Freeform CBS WGN supernatural dragons DC Comics Logo Pet Sematary Dark Horse Comics 21st Century Fox BBC America President Character Guide Ghostbusters Christmas SXSW GLAAD Podcast Amazon Prime zombie Marathons Chilling Adventures of Sabrina USA Network TLC Grammys Syfy Sony Pictures Animation blaxploitation anime Rock what to watch Biopics Infographic Fox News theme song Masterpiece police drama Photos E! Marvel New York Comic Con Paramount The Arrangement cooking teaser E3 Box Office CNN Trailer Calendar Stephen King Awards Tour comiccon Nat Geo unscripted political drama Disney Channel YA mockumentary 2019 Warner Bros. Tomatazos Starz psycho TCA National Geographic Comics on TV crossover MCU Esquire Mystery dramedy Tumblr Interview Comedy zero dark thirty CW Seed historical drama facebook Epix Fall TV BBC Thanksgiving Polls and Games Comic Book DirecTV San Diego Comic-Con 20th Century Fox festivals psychological thriller Spike composers discovery war TV cats Nominations IFC Films Superheroes Countdown Acorn TV Sundance 2016 Britbox DC Universe politics FOX Reality Competition Summer anthology Columbia Pictures Lionsgate YouTube Red comic crime drama Spectrum Originals award winner Star Trek spider-man Kids & Family Schedule witnail adaptation doctor who X-Men Pixar ABC Family ESPN Creative Arts Emmys vampires television Netflix streaming 2018 hist justice league Adult Swim cults Spring TV Walt Disney Pictures golden globes Mary Poppins Returns See It Skip It Set visit casting nature Bravo USA social media Paramount Network Red Carpet singing competition CBS All Access Star Wars FXX Shondaland Opinion Fantasy TruTV HBO TBS medical drama TNT zombies binge Mindy Kaling LGBTQ