Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tom Holland|
|Produced by||David Kirschner|
|Music by||Joe Renzetti|
|Editing by||Roy E. Peterson|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||November 9, 1988|
|Running time||87 minutes|
|Followed by||Child's Play 2 (1990)|
Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film written by Don Mancini and directed by Tom Holland. It stars Chris Sarandon and Brad Dourif, who were both nominated on the same year in 1975 for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It was released on November 9, 1988. The film met with moderate success upon its release, and has since developed a cult following among fans of the horror genre. The film is the first in the Child's Play film series, which was originally a whodunit film in contrast to the latter sequels. This was the only film in the series released by MGM/UA, as the rights to the series were sold to Universal beginning with the sequel.
While being chased by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer known as "The Lakeshore Strangler" (Brad Dourif), is shot and mortally wounded. Before dying, Charles takes cover inside a toy store, finding boxes of "Good Guy" dolls and uses a voodoo ritual to transfer his soul into one of the dolls. The store is then struck by lightning and it burns to the ground.
Later that morning, 6-year-old Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) tells his widowed mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) that he wants a Good Guy doll for his birthday after watching a TV commercial for it. Unable to afford the full price, Karen buys a stolen doll from a street peddler, which is the same doll Charles Lee Ray had earlier transferred his soul into.
That night, as Andy is playing with the doll (who has introduced himself as "Chucky" through the talking feature of the doll), Karen's friend, Maggie Peterson (Dinah Manoff), who is babysitting Andy, scolds him for turning on the evening news and placing Chucky in front of the TV. When Andy tries to tell Maggie that he did not put Chucky in front of the TV, she doesn't believe him. Maggie is then viciously struck with a toy hammer and falls out of the apartment window, falling several stories to her death. The killer's identity is left ambiguous. Andy, when questioned, insists that Chucky has revealed himself to be alive and that he killed Maggie, though he defends Chucky's decision by stating that Chucky told him that "Maggie was a real bitch" and that she "got what she deserved".
The next day, Andy, apparently upon Chucky's request, visits the house of Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoli), Charles Lee Ray's accomplice, who had betrayed him and led him to his death. Chucky is revealed as being alive. He sneaks into Eddie's house and blows out the pilot light on the stove and turns up the gas; Eddie, in panicked self-defense, fires his gun and the house explodes, killing him.
Later, authorities place Andy in a psychiatric ward after he is found near the crime scene. Karen believes the doll to be the culprit after she realizes that his batteries had never been put in and she threatens to throw him into the fireplace unless he reveals himself to her. Chucky comes alive in her hands, bites her and runs out of the apartment. She contacts Detective Norris, who is now investigating Maggie's death. Although he initially doubts her story, the homeless man who sold Karen the doll confirms that he retrieved it from the burnt down toy store where Charles Lee Ray was killed. Norris becomes a firm believer after he is attacked by Chucky in his car and survives only by shooting the doll.
Chucky later meets with John Simonsen (aka Dr. Death), his voodoo instructor from years past, and asks why his gunshot wound bled. John, under torture via voodoo doll, informs him that his body is slowly conforming to that of a human's and that he will soon be trapped in the body if he does not transfer his soul into the body of the first person he revealed himself to, which is Andy. Offhandedly remarking that he will "get to be six years old again," Chucky stabs the voodoo doll in the chest and leaves John to die. Karen and Detective Norris, following leads from Charles Lee Ray's case file, find John as he lay dying and receive instructions on how to kill Chucky; although Chucky is a doll, his heart is fully human and vulnerable to fatal injury.
Andy escapes from the psychiatric unit and Chucky brutally kills the head doctor (Jack Colvin) in the process. The authorities believe Andy killed the doctor while escaping. Mike and Karen rush back to the apartment hoping that Andy is there. Chucky reaches the apartment where Andy is and knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat to steal his soul. After a prolonged struggle, Chucky is thrown into the fireplace by Karen and is lit on fire by Andy after he throws the match in the fireplace.
Andy and Karen, thinking Chucky is dead, go to help the injured Mike Norris. After Andy gets the first aid kit from under the sink, he discovers Chucky is gone. Very burnt but alive, Chucky chases after Andy and Karen, who barricade themselves in the bedroom; Karen shoots him several times, missing his heart, but scattering his head, an arm and a leg in the hallway. After Norris' partner, Jack Santos, arrives, the scattered doll parts attempt to attack at the instructions of Chucky's screaming, severed head. Karen, remembering John's last words, tells Mike to shoot Chucky in the heart. Norris does so and makes a direct hit, killing Chucky (Charles Lee Ray), again.
An ambulance arrives to take Mike to the hospital. Karen and Jack help Mike walk out the door, but Andy stays and looks over the remains of Chucky. Karen returns and leads Andy out of the room and turns off the lights. Andy turns to look at Chucky one last time before leaving.
Child's Play was filmed at the following locations:
David Kirschner produced all five movies in the Chucky series. While Kirschner and others claim credit as creator of the titular character, respected special effects and make-up artist Kevin Yagher is the actual designer and executor of the Chucky doll.
It is rumored that the "Good Guy Dolls" were based on the My Buddy dolls created by Hasbro. However, during an airing of the movie on the morning of 7 January 2007, AMC claimed the creator modeled the doll after the Cabbage Patch Kids. This was confirmed by an interview with the creator, Don Mancini, which was featured on the Seed of Chucky DVD. Don Mancini has stated that his original script, which was a whodunit story, toyed with the audience a bit longer, making them wonder if young Andy was the killer rather than Chucky. The actual film does make the viewer wonder for more than a few minutes, although it grows increasingly obvious that Chucky is the murderer.
Maggie's death was originally going to be by electrocution while taking a bath, and though abandoned, the idea was later used in Bride of Chucky.
Child's Play had a budget worth $9,000,000 and was released in 1,377 theaters, having an opening weekend of $6,583,963. The domestic gross was $33,244,684 with it making $10,952,000 overseas. Worldwide, the film made $44,196,684 and was #1 at the box office.
Critical reviews were very positive. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it "cheerfully energetic horror film". The film currently holds a 70% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews (19 positive, 8 negative). Areas of the film that were commonly praised were the original concept, the special effects,and the acting. The young Alex Vincent, who played Andy Barclay, was said to have played a generally convincing role as a terrified boy. Brad Dourif was praised for his creepy and realistic voice-acting of Chucky.
While at the MIFED film market in Milan Italy, film business consultant Jeffrey Hilton noted a lack of sales for Child's Play at the MGM/UA tent. Hilton confronted the MGM/UA sales rep, who was not aware that Child's Play was in his inventory - and had not even heard of the film, despite its recent box office success. Hilton sourced a theatrical poster and had the rep hang it himself prominently on the concourse so that the rep would remember the film.
During the initial release, a large crowd of protesters formed at the main entrance of MGM calling for a ban on the film because, they claimed, it would incite violence in children. Local news reporters from two TV stations were broadcasting live from the scene and the adverse publicity could undermine the primary theatrical audience. The producer, David Kirschner, was watching the demonstration on TV and was disturbed. Jeffrey Hilton, who had been working in Kirschner's office at MGM, indicated that he could quell the disturbance in 10 minutes. While Kirschner was watching from the safety of his office, Hilton spoke to the group's leader, shook hands, and the group instantly disbursed, much to the chagrin of the newscasters. Hilton did not reveal to Kirschner whether it was a threat or simply diplomacy that saved the day.
Hilton's diplomacy notwithstanding, the film's franchise was plagued with accusations of inciting violence in children. Child's Play 3 was cited as the inspiration for the murder of James Bulger. A gang in Manchester England kidnapped and murdered a 16 year old girl. While they tortured her they forced her to listen to recordings of the gang leader repeating the catch phrase "I'm Chucky, wanna play?" Tom Holland, in response to both murders, defended the film stating viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were 'unbalanced to begin with'.
The soundtrack for Child's Play was released in the US for the first time on October 28, 2009 but it is a limited edition of 1200 copies made. The soundtrack is now discontinued.
The soundtrack for the film was only released in France in 1989 with different tracks.
Child's play has been adapted into two comics:
The film was first released on DVD by MGM in 1999. The film was presented in an open-matte full screen presentation and included a theatrical trailer and a "Making Of" booklet. However the Australian DVD release by MGM featured the film in non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. The DVD was re-released in 2007 with a lenticular cover.
A 20th Anniversary DVD was released by MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on September 9, 2008. The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 Widescreen format (for the first time in the U.S. in 20 years) enhanced for 16x9 monitors and includes an English 5.1 surround track and English, French, and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks. Special features include two audio commentaries with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, Kevin Yagher, producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini, a "Selected Scene Chucky Commentary," "Evil Comes in Small Packages" featurettes, a vintage featurette titled "Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child's Play," and "Chucky: Building A Nightmare" featurette, Theatrical Trailer and a Photo Gallery. The film received a Blu-Ray Disc release on September 15, 2009.
In a September 2008 interview, Don Mancini and David Kirschner spoke of a planned reboot of the franchise to be written and directed by Mancini, although nothing was official yet. They described their choice of a remake over a sequel as a response to the will of the fans, who "want to see a scary Chucky movie again," and "want to go back to the straightforward horror rather than the horror comedy." They stated that if the remake was made, they would want Brad Dourif to reprise his role as Chucky, because "no one could fit the part like he could".
In a subsequent interview, Mancini described the script as a darker and scarier retelling of the original movie, but one that, while having new twists and turns, will not stray too far from the original concept.
Not too long afterward, Brad Dourif confirmed that he will reprise his role in the remake.
On January 17, 2010, Horrorbid.com reported that Universal has given the green light for the remake and that pre-production has already begun.
[Chucky is sitting in the elevator going up.]
[Chucky comes alive]
Child's Play is a charity organization started by Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade. The organization raises funds from the gaming community and uses it to purchase games, toys and movies for sick children on Christmas.
The charity was started for two reasons. The first and most obvious reason is to help the kids out, because, you know, it's gotta really suck to be stuck in a hospital on Christmas.
The second reason is to reverse the negative way gamers are portrayed in the media. The gaming community is a powerful force, and the guys at PA believe that that force is ultimately benevolent. Year after year Child's Play has raised millions of dollars for sick children. This is real genuine compassion coming from a demographic that is stereotyped as selfish and psychotic.
The organization starts taking donations around early November each year and sends millions of dollars in toys and gifts to hospitals around the world.
To learn more, or make a donation please visit the official website, ChildsPlayCharity.org.