- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
So, how did a silly tale about a serial killer 'voodoo-ing' his way into the body of a child's toy manage to stay afloat through an entire 90 minutes, let alone 5 sequels? Well, by being pretty good and having that killer – and then the voice of the killer doll – supplied by the inimitable talent of Brad Dourif. Starting quite darkly and steadily lightening up as the humor grew in importance and the human characters less so, the series should not be nearly as successful as it has been, or as entertaining. But somehow it is.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC, 1080P/VC-1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 87, 84, 90, 89, 88, 95/97, Min.
Package Includes: Blu-rayDigipac with slipcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/08/2013
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
“Hi, I'm Chucky. Wanna play?”
4/ 5Notorious killer Charles Lee Ray, cornered and gunned down by police, recites a voodoo ritual transferring his soul into a Good Guy doll, a red-headed talking toy known as ‘Chucky’. The doll is later sold to a single mother who gives it to her young son, Andy. Before long, the Chucky doll, inhabited by the soul of the serial killer, begins to exercise his dark impulses, but Ray – trapped in the body of Chucky - needs to find a human vessel to take over, and young Andy Barclay looks like a perfect fit.As preposterous as the set up sounds, Child’s Play is a surprisingly effective little horror film. Directed by Tom Holland from a story by Don Mancini, the premise is given a serious tone and performances support that tone. Catherine Hick’s as Andy’s mother who fails to believe Andy’s claims of his evermore threatening doll, is fine in the role, as is Chris Sarandon as Mike Norris, the detective investigating the deadly events that surround the doll. The slowly evolving menace is paced well with Andy looking like a troubled little boy as Chucky’s initial mischievousness shifts into more serious and violent expressions.I’ve long been a fan of Child’s Play. I was relatively young when I first saw the film (on VHS) and my appreciation for its cleverness and cheek has only grown in the intervening years. Brad Dourif gave Chucky an indubitable cheekiness; a tone that was not so much outright malevolent and darkly mischievous, and that perhaps was the most notable augur of the sequels eventual slip into the pursuit of horror comedy.Though the execution shows some wear after these years, director Holland achieves suitable tension in the dark corners of the script and from the unsettling look of a child’s toy turned murderous menace..
Child’s Play 2
3/ 5Young Andy Barclay, having been separated from his mother who was committed following the malevolent killing spree of the Chucky doll possessed by the spirit of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), finds himself placed with a foster family. He’s a fish out of water, stuck with the stigma of sounding crazy at the claims that his toy is a killer. At the same time, the makers of the Good Guy doll, faced with bad publicity, rebuild the Doll in an attempt to diffuse the strange but damaging story, unwittingly giving rise to Chucky’s murderous return.Child’s Play 2 stays well within the confines of the first film’s storyline and beats. Andy, placed with a foster family, can’t escape the Chucky Doll who makes his way into the new – but uncomfortable – family home. Once again the parental figures are disbelieving of Andy’s claims (and concerned about his mental health given the events from the first film), and fail to see the reality of the possessed killer doll until it’s too late.Despite playing it safe, Child’s Play 2 has a few things that work in its favor. First, Alex Vincent as young Andy remains good in the role. Innocent looking with vulnerability in line with his age, he isn’t verbally snappy or physically capable beyond his years, all things that help sell the danger. Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham play the foster parents, the Simpsons, who take Barclay in, and they’re good and likeable in the roles that don’t require that much from them. They are dispatched, not unexpectedly, in quick order once the ‘Chucky as killer’ cat is out of the bag, but, as with Catherine Hicks and Chris Sarandon’s presence in the first film, there presence lends some weight to the absurdity of the horror. Christine Elise plays Kyle, another resident of the home where Andy finds himself, providing the role of guardian during the climax at the house and then at the Doll assembly facility. It is there, as perfunctory as the setting of the sequence might be, that the more inventive elements come alive – so to speak.A good sequel that doesn’t mix things up too much, comfortably continuing the events from the first film and finding a nice way to give Chucky a violent end.
Child’s Play 3
2.5/ 5Andy Barclay (Justin Whalin) has been sent to a military academy, looking to escape the notoriety of being the young boy who claimed a doll was out to get him, he struggles with the trauma of Chucky’s murderous pursuits. Meanwhile, the makers of the Chucky Good Guy Doll decide it’s time to get back in the business of selling their former top-selling toy – as much to repair their reputation as to keep profits up – and once again give Chucky another pint-sized vessel in which to spread his bloody mayhem. When Chucky makes his way into the military facility where Andy is staying, and strange deaths begin, Andy must face his attempted killer and the hard-nosed, disbelieving members of the academy, to stay alive.Every horror franchise has that one film so low in quality, sparse in imagination, or weak in reigning in wilder, sillier impulses that it neatly forms the bottom of the U on the quality scale. Child’s play 3, like A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Dream Child or Friday The 13th: The New Beginning for the Freddy and Jason franchises respectively, more than earns that honor for the Chucky series.Perhaps the most disappointing facet of Child’s Play 3 is its inability to seriously handle the serious elements or capably handle the humor within its script. Tripping from kill to kill with the occasionally likeable character (such as Cadet Harold Whitehearst played by Dean Jacobson) but with barely a fresh idea between them, this second sequel feels cheap and rushed. It would be fine to acknowledge the absurdity of the premise. That’s what tongue in cheek wit can do (and what the next sequel understood). But to be resigned to nonsense without the cheek in the script to hold it up leaves the entire second sequel feeling like an empty, dry, uninspired exercise.
Bride of Chucky
3.5/ 5Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) is a murder fetishist (of sorts). Former lover of Charles Lee Ray, the serial killer who would transfer his soul into the doll of Chucky, Tiffany is gifted the remains of the Chucky doll. She reenacts the voodoo ritual to resurrect his soul in the doll she has now stitched together. She is surprised when it works. With her former lover back, but not quite as she remember, a spat between then ensues; Chucky offs her, and then transfers her soul into a female doll. Together they hitch a ride with two eloping teens, and a death spree follows them.Some horror franchises make the most of the shift from earnest horror pursuits to horror films with heavy doses of humor. Freddy Krueger took that turn by the time the Nightmare franchises reached its third and fourth outings, but Chucky’s transition was steadier as the doll enjoyed its penchant for verbal torment before and during the dispatch of a victim. With the fourth film in the franchise, any attempts at drumming up tension or fear had segued completely to parody. It may have been inevitable. A talking doll with a saucy tongue and obvious completion issues (he never could get his soul transferred into the body of young Andy Barclay), could never seriously sustain the type of dark frights its initial entries had offered. Like any franchise that takes this turn, it will eventually find itself back looking for chills over chuckles when the franchise finds itself needing to be reborn, but for Bride of Chucky, and the follow-up Seed of Chucky, this series has parody as priority.The introduction to the series of Jennifer Tilly is like a breath of fresh air; darkly comedic and sexy, with that husky voice and innate sensuality, Tilly amps up those characteristics to great effect. As the teen couple looking to escape the girl’s imposing and strict Chief of police (played with glee by John Ritter) is a young Katherine Heigl (as Jade) and Nick Stabile (as Jesse). A good cast quite frankly that seems to enjoy the ride.There’s much to enjoy with this entry and the cast capably provides the right flair to the script. What should have been an eye roller winds up as a deliciously entertaining killer romp, with Tilly and Dourif voicing the homicidal dolls with aplomb.
Seed of Chucky
3/ 5Rather than stabilizing the series descent into the absurd (whether that’s your cup of tea or not), Seed of Chucky is exemplar of a franchise trying hard to capitalize on the capital it earned from embracing a tongue in cheek paradigm. Following-on from the closing moments of Bride of Chucky, where Tiff (the doll inhabited by Jennifer Tilly’s character, Tiffany) had given birth to a sharp-toothed off-spring, the series picks up a few years later where that child, having been discovered in the cemetery by a foul-mouth, indolent British tourist, had been taken back to the UK where he is now the talking partner in a faux ventriloquist act. The child, unsure of his gender or origins, watches a news report from the set of the latest Chucky movie, and noticing that the doll has the same ‘Made in Japan’ mark that he does, escapes to find his parents.Besides the child of Chucky idea, Seed of Chucky enjoys its Meta notions, having Jennifer Tilly play herself (in addition to the voice of Tiff the doll), as an actress in the in-movie Chucky film. The death sequences are played for giggles over terror, and some earn that giggle, but it’s a far cry from the series’ darker origins. Seed of Chucky is perhaps too keenly aware of what it is and the point in the Chucky series it arrives.Voicing the seed of Chucky, Glen (or Glenda), is Billy Boyd (Lord of the Rings Trilogy). A highlight of this production, Boyd brings innocence and tragedy to the Glen/Glenda character. What could have easily been an unwelcome gimmick – or evidence of ‘too little, too late’, the pale child of Chucky and Tiff holds his own among the mayhem as he tries to redeem his parents, pulling back their instincts to murder for as long as he can. Though the plotting trips a little down the silly lane, the sum result is better than it should be when you see the pieces on paper. Appearances by Redman and John Waters are welcome as well.
Curse of Chucky
3.5/ 5In a large house off the beaten path, a reclusive, wheelchair bound young lady, Nica (Fiona Dourif), lives with her Mother. A strained but amicable relationship is tested when, after a strange doll is delivered to the house, the mother is found dead the next morning from an apparent suicide. Returning home to grieve is Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti), her husband and daughter, and their nanny. Nica’s niece takes a liking to the doll, but the family get-together is about to take a turn for the worse.The shift back to genuine horror for the series, this direct-to-video entry is surprisingly polished and effective. Fiona Dourif, daughter of Brad Dourif who once again voices the Chucky doll, is terrific. Believable as the strong willed daughter of tragedy, Dourif’s Nica balances the frailty of stress with a wit that lends her character a certain charm. As Nica’s sister, Danielle Bisutti is intentionally unlikeable. Her surprising relationship in the film offers something unexpected, though when her time comes it isn’t a moment too soon. The remainder of the cast, Brennan Elliott as Nica’s brother-in-law, Ian, Maitland McConnell as the Nanny, Jill, Summer Howell as the niece, Alice, and A Martinez (of Longmire fame) as Father Frank, services the script ably.Curse of Chucky’s influences from recent successful horror films are quite clear. Director Don Mancini, writer or co-writer of every entry of the series so far (and director of Seed of Chucky), lets the camera drift or pan slowly to reveal (or withhold) the scares. How he chooses to move the camera – with precisions - remind of films like Insidious and Dead Silence, another killer doll film from director James Wan. Influences (or inspirations) aside, Mancini crafts some delightful doses of atmosphere and more than capably handles the frights and blood. Most of the film’s events in the film play out over a single night and so dispatching characters in a tight setting without descending into untethered mayhem takes some mastery of plotting and pacing.A return to form for the horror franchise that trades goofy and parody for atmosphere and chills, without abandoning wit, Curse of Chucky should have been given its due in the theater. Still, if Chucky is to exist in the direct-to-video medium, if the quality stays this high, its future is bright.
Child’s Play - 4/5MPEG-4 AVC. 1.85:1 Aspect RatioThe original in the series is the same disc offered (and still available) as a standalone via the MGM label. The colors are more muted then those later in the series but look fine. Film grain is present and welcome, black levels decent and clarity good. Contrast is not the strongest, but again, serves the experience nicely.Child’s Play 2 - 3.5/5MPEG-4 AVC. 1.85:1 Aspect RatioSimilar in quality to Child’s Play, part 2 seems a little flatter by comparison, though contrast is again nicely presented, colors still a tad muted though flesh tones are stronger here. Generally a good image for its age and likely marginal effort to strive for the highest quality.Child’s Play 3 - 3/5VC-1. 1.85:1 Aspect RatioChild’s Play 3 is probably the softest of the series. Sharpness is in each scene though a touch lesser than the other films. Colors are for the most part rich though hue warmer and detail remains fine. Black levels are rather good.Bride of Chucky - 2.5/5VC-1. 1.85:1 Aspect RatioI am not a fan of this image. Digital messing around is omnipresent. While it may not be terribly intrusive, it’s hard to appreciate the strong colors and nice contrasts between light and dark with the edges have been manipulated so.Seed of Chucky -3/5MPEG-4 AVC. 1.85:1 Aspect RatioFaring better than Bride, Seed is still the recipient of too much interference. The full band of digital bandits are in play (edge enhancement, haloing, etc.) to varying degrees through the film. I was entertained enough by the production to not be totally distracted by the issues, but this is a far cry from what you’d want as a fan of the film.Curse of Chucky -4.5/5MPEG-4 AVC. 1.78:1 Aspect RatioCurse of Chucky is the finest transfer of the series. The beneficiary of its youth (2013), Curse sports lovely detail. Close-ups of chuck are the most welcome as we get to enjoy the quality of the killer doll’s construction. Lighting choices throughout the film lend atmosphere are beautiful – and cold.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
Child’s Play - 4/5DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1A healthy audio for the 1988 original, with occasional surround effects, clean dialogue at all times and an effective presentation of Joe Renzetti’s score. More enveloping than you might expect, the serious tone of this original film provides for higher tension explored by the soundtrack, all the better for the experience, and the audio meets the challenge.Child’s Play 2 - 3.5/5DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0The lossless 2.0 track works fine for the film. Not as menacing or commanding as it could be, but all the elements are without issue (dialogue, music, effects work). Not as immersive or as ranging as others in the series sporting 5.1 audio of course.Child’s Play 3 - 3/5DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0As with part 2, the third in the series comes with a lossless 2.0 track that does the trick well enough not to complain; it is issue free with clear dialogue and reasonably representation of the action in the associated channels. Thinner at times than I recalled from my first viewing, however.Bride of Chucky - 4/5DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1As the series descended into cam, the sound design for the films became more adventurous – particularly the music scores. A fuller audio experience than the previous outings, Bride of Chucky is embracing of the audio for that sense of fun, with booming low-frequency effects (LFE) and zippy directional sound elements.Seed of Chucky -4/5DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1Seed of Chucky is another rambunctious audio as the final tongue-in-cheek entry to the series gleefully slashes its way through 90 minutes of fun. Musically, the score by Pino Donaggio is highly entertaining, handling the swing between ham and horror comfortably. Good directional effects, crispness throughout.Curse of Chucky – 4.5/5DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1The best audio of the series courtesy of some well-placed directional effects in the creepy house, a wonderful clarity offered up in each of the channels, and a healthy boom when the moment howls for it. Music is relatively understated (score provided by Joseph LoDuca) but well-balanced. Heavier in the front channels, lighter in the surrounds, the music serves the onscreen tension very well.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
The collection of special features for each film varies from the barest of bones (Parts 2 and 3), to well-stocked. No new extras have been produced for this collection, save those accompanying the newest entry, and so given the age of some of the discs, the majority of the special features are in standard definition. The best offerings, where available, are the feature commentaries, mostly afforded by actor talent (Jennifer Tilly in particular) and writer/director Don Mancini, and a few production crew members (notably Puppet master Tony Gardner).All special features are in standard definition unless otherwise notedDisc One: - Child's Play Feature Film - Feature commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, and Chucky Designer Kevin Yagher. - Feature commentary with producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini - Scene Specific Chucky Commentaries: - Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play - Evil Comes in Small Packages: The Birth of Chucky, Creating the Horror, Unleashed - Chucky: Building a Nightmare - A Monster Convention - Photo Gallery - Theatrical Trailer Disc Two: - Child's Play 2 Feature Film - Theatrical TrailerDisc Three: - Child's Play 3 Feature Film - Theatrical Trailer Disc Four: - Bride of Chucky Feature Film - Feature Commentary with Director Ronny Yu - Feature Commentary with Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, and Don Mancini - Spotlight on Location - Theatrical TrailerDisc Five: - Seed of Chucky Feature Film (Unrated Cut) - Slashed Scene with Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Don Mancini and Debbie Carrington - Heeeeere's Chucky - Family Hell-iday - Conceiving the Seed of Chucky - Tilly on The Tonight Show - Fuzion Up Close with the Seed of Chucky Stars - Storyboard to Final Feature Comparison - Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Don Mancini and Puppet Master Tony Gardner - Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Don Mancini and Actress Jennifer Tilly - Trailers Disc Six: - Curse of Chucky Feature Film (R-Rated and Unrated Cut with additional 2 minutes) - Playing with Dolls: The Making of Curse of Chucky (HD) - Living Doll: Bringing Chucky to Life (HD) - Voodoo Doll: The Chucky Legacy (HD) - Storyboard Comparisons (HD) - Feature Commentary with Director Don Mancini, Puppet Master Tony Gardner and Fiona Dourif. - Deleted Scenes (HD) - Gag Reel (HD)
Special Features Rating: 4/5
The Child’s Play series on balance has sought as many giggles as kills. Not as brutal as the Friday the 13th series, not as chilling as the Halloween franchise, and not as elaborate as the Nightmare on Elm Street films, Chucky still rightfully earns its place as a reasonably respectable horror series. As with all horror films which produce a myriad of sequels, there is quite the spread of quality among them. Spread over 25 years, these 6 films retain a charm for the genre. Collected and presented here, the quality isn’t the best it could be – new transfers would be required for that, but the 6 films remain entertaining and, if Curse of Chucky was as popular as it was good, we’ll be seeing more of him before too long.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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