18 – 87mins – 1988
BATTERIES NOT INSERTED
“Hey, wanna play?!”
The Conjuring‘s breakout star Annabelle – who has since been granted not one but two origin stories, reviewed HERE and HERE – may have recently reawakened the public’s fear in perturbed porcelain playthings, but the first toy to terrorise audiences (and court controversy for allegedly invoking violence in children) was creator Don Mancini’s possessed Good Guys doll, who over a near 20-year period has headlined a further six supernatural serial-killing sequels.
Rewinding back to his first appearance, 1988’s Child’s Play sees gunned down murderer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), AKA. “The Lakeshore Strangler”, use black magic to transport his soul from his expiring body into the talking-and-blinking, perma-smiled “Chucky” – which widow Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) then unknowingly buys her son Andy (Alex Vincent) for his sixth birthday.
When people start dying, Andy attempts to inform the authorities of Chucky’s involvement, but rather than believe the young lad, they institutionalise him! Will Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) realise the twisted truth in time, or will Chucky track down his imprisoned new best friend and be able to transfer Charles’ soul back into a living body once more?
For a film of this era, the animatronic work is incredible and despite being aware that diminutive stand-in actors were occasionally used to orchestrate certain shots, I was never pulled out of the illusion by noticing when this change was implemented. Chucky’s wickedness leads to some gloriously horrific deaths (the lead doctor’s head-frying is a sadistic stand out), while Andy’s ingenuity when faced with attack from his killer toy makes him a proto-Kevin McAllister!
But for all the fun I had with Child’s Play, I was still a little disappointed that more wasn’t made of the potential to wrong-foot the viewer with a whodunnit plot device. We know right from the get-go that Chucky is possessed and definitely the killer; even the police discount Andy immediately from suspicion, while the boy’s assertions falling on deaf ears is simply frustrating when we know he is telling the truth.
CR@B’s Claw Score: