I’m not sure what it is about dolls that is creepy, but I know for damn sure I am not alone in finding them so. Creepy doll tales have been around in movies almost as long as movies have existed. The oldest one that comes to mind is 1945’s Dead of Night, a fantastic horror anthology that still chills to this day. The 70s gave us some memorable doll nightmares with films like Magic with Anthony Hopkins and Trilogy of Terror as well as the underseen and underrated Tourist Trap (although that was technically mannequins). The 80s were a heyday for doll movies with Poltergeist, Dolls, Puppet Master, and of course, Child’s Play. Child’s Play was a huge hit in 1988 and spawned five sequels giving it’s star, Chucky, a massive cult following. This month Shout Factory brings us a new 2 disc special edition of the original film and this one can pretty much be considered definitive.
When serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is mortally wounded in a police shoot out, he needs to find a quick escape from the cop on his tail, Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). Using a voodoo spell, he transfers his soul into a ‘Good Guy’ doll so that he might live on in some form. But when young Andy Barclay’s (Alex Vincent) mom gets him the one thing he wants more than anything, it happens to be that same Good Guy doll. Now in the body of the seemingly harmless doll, Ray continues his killing spree until he can find a way to transfer his soul back into a human body to continue his reign of terror.
Child’s Play is a wonderfully fun horror flick with incredible practical effects bringing Chucky to life and a fantastically maniacal voice performance by Brad Dourif. The direction by Tom Holland is solid, well paced, and keeps a perfect balance of humor, horror and drama. Sarandon, whom Holland also used in his classic Fright Night, is great here as is Catherine Hicks, but it is young Alex Vincent who really anchors the film with a great performance opposite a murderous doll. I don’t imagine it is easy, especially as a little kid, to have most of your scenes opposite a puppet. But he does a great job. And there is a reason Chucky himself has become so beloved and iconic. The puppeteering and voice work really bring the character to life and imbue it with a very distinct personality that is both terrifying and hilarious. Child’s Play is a genre classic and this is the best way to own it thus far.
The new Child’s Play Collectors Edition features a brand new 2K restoration that looks great, a new commentary by Tom Holland, and almost 200 minutes of new special features covering all aspects of the film’s production. Plus you still get all the vintage special features. This is absolutely the best version of Child’s Play out there, highly recommended.