Sunday, 5 October 2014

Film #5: 'Child's Play'

One of the aims for this 30 days/ 30 horror films challenge I've set myself is to watch films that I haven't seen before. It'd be very easy for me to do 30 days of "Evil Dead 2", "The Shining", "An American Werewolf in London", "Slither", "The Thing", "The Fly", "The Wicker Man" or any of the big classics because these films are burnt into my mind and I could gush about why you should watch them and how great horror films are.
However there are films that I've seen years ago, popular films, whose stories I know, that I've somehow completely forgotten. 

'Child's Play' is one such film.

So, it's about a murder crazy doll who is, in fact, possessed by the soul of a killer - that much I remembered.
As the years have gone on Chucky (the psychotic doll of the film) became a franchise, the films got progressively more tongue-in-cheek and, well, stupid. I'm not a fan of Chucky movies. He's one of those horror icons who has a creepy concept, but as the films have gone on the concept and possible jokes have been used/ re-used/ worn down that they just get grating. Embarrassing to watch, actually, 
The same thing happened with Freddy Krueger from 'Nightmare on Elm Street', say anything about those early films and you will be justifiably lynched. But with 'Wes Craven's New Nightmare' and 'Freddy Vs. Jason' the character kinda got run into the ground, being a weird pseudo-parody of the original films & character. Die hard fans of the character will watch them, but for anyone who wants their films to be something more than glorified fan service there is nothing there to enjoy.
This is Chucky's career path, a character weighted down pandering to fan service, the last few films (especially the dire 'Seed of Chuck') could be seen as completely inaccessible to people except those who really want to see a Chucky film for the sake of it.

Which is a shame if it puts people off watching ANY Chucky movie because 'Child's Play' isn't a bad movie, it's pretty good actually. It had a completely insane idea - a voodoo obsessed serial killer uses his voodoo magic to transfer his soul into a child's toy - and it had quite a bit of fun with this while still being a little shocking.
That the doll is the murderer or can talk/ move isn't revealed until just before halfway through the movie; until then it's played out like the kid who owns the doll is killing people.

Andy, the kid, gets the doll for his birthday from his mother, who bought it from a homeless man. That this homeless man's only possession is a fully boxed child's toy would be enough to put you off buying it, but Karen risks being fired from her job to go to a nearby alley to buy the doll off this homeless man, so there are a whole range of bad decisions here before the thought of "could this doll be possessed by a serial killer?" raises its head.
Not wanting to risk pissing off her boss more she then agrees to work late on her son's birthday, while her friends babysits Andy and the new toy. Andy bonds with the doll, and tells her sitter that the doll wants to watch the news.
The sitter puts them both to bed, then - as payback or as a practice murder - ends up getting a hammer between the eyes and pushed out a window onto the roof of a van.
The main suspect is Andy, the friendless blond kid who claims that his toys enjoy watching current affairs programming. You can see why he would remain a suspect when Andy bunks off school to go to a bad neighbourhood with his doll resulting in a house being blown up.
The occupant of the house was a former associate of Charles Lee Ray, but no one cares about that because the potential serial murdering Andy's story of a talking doll is crazy enough to have him institutionalized.
Karen then discovers that the doll is alive, after it attacks her in her home, then gets back to tracking down its origins. So, to compound her bad decision making abilities she heads back to the homeless man she bought Chucky off who immediately attempts to push himself on top of her while his hobo buddies gather around to watch. Luckily the detective investigating her murderous child appears, disperses the crowd and the fact that the doll came from the same location where Charles Lee Ray died is revealed, and everything moves along at a crazy pace from then on.

Very few films give you the simple joy of watching a possessed doll trying to kill a detective in a moving car, stabbing through seat cushions, before the car flips and the doll tries to encircle the trapped man in a ridiculous but claustrophobic knife vs. gun fight, which is worth the watch alone.
The ending is also well played out, it reminded me of the end of 'The Terminator' with the bare steel skeleton robot lurching towards its intended victim, but with a mutilated doll.

This film was definitely worth a revisit, something I might easily have kept putting off. It's also worth a recommendation, but forget the sequels.

'Child's Play' is available on Netflix UK & Ireland, so you don't even have to get up to find a copy.
'Child's Play 3' and 'Seed of Chucky' are also on Netflix, but you can always hope that there's a power outage before it comes to watching those.

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