Review by The Headless Critic
Child’s Play – 1988
Production by: United Artists Releasing
Distribution by: MGM Studios, United Artists Releasing
Struggling single mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) was thrilled to be able to give her son Andy (Alex Vincent) the newest doll released from his beloved Good Guy television show. Karen worked a back alley deal with a homeless man to get seventy percent off the steep one hundred dollar retail price she would have paid for the toy in stores. Sometimes you get what you pay for.
Wounded and on the run from police, criminal Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) held up in a toy store hiding from Officer Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) with his life on the line. Facing death or incarceration, probably both, Charles Lee Ray transferred his very soul into the Good Guy doll that would end up in the Barclay home.“He wants YOU for a new best friend.” “Andy Barclay has a new playmate who's in no mood to play.” As the doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) tries to trick Andy into doing his bidding and exacting revenge on the partner who betrayed him. The rest of the world blames the small child for the violent actions happening around him. Andy and Chucky are “friends till the end”.
With a ridiculous concept a doll inhabited by a killer’s soul, a legendary horror villain is created. The immense popularity of the My Buddy doll in the 1980’s spawned Hollywood to recreate something every child has into a killer incarnation. The Good Guy doll is the latest toy line from popular the kid’s television show by the same name. As killer Charles Lee “Chucky” Ray is dying, he transfers his soul into one of these toy dolls. He just got sent home with the wrong family.
In his feature film debut unrefined seven year old child actor Alex Vincent plays the role of tormented kid Andy Barclay like a real child would. Catherine Hicks backs up her on screen son playing protective mommy who screams well. The real star of Child’s Play is Chucky himself Brad Dourif in what would go on to be the most iconic killer doll in film history. Dourif perfectly voices what we now know an evil doll should sound like.
Some unrealistic scenes in director Tom Holland's Child's Play mostly center around the way police were perceived in film which was common for the time. There’s still a charm to the Chucky movie that started it all from writer Don Mancini, that not many films in the series have been able to recapture since. The kills aren’t as elaborate and there as many laughs as later films but the story of a child’s most beloved toy turning against him is most frightening and best told the first time around.
4 out of 5 Headless Critics
Listen to the WYH Interview with Chris Sarandon