Gearing Up For Curse Of Chucky: Ranking The Child’s Play Franchise

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It doesn’t take much to get a horror franchise rebooted these days, but it does take a lot to get horror fans excited about it. Many icons have been unearthed with lackluster results, but Don Mancini’s foul-mouthed, killer doll Chucky is looking to turn that trend around. After getting married and having a child, it looks like Chucky is going back to his seriously horrifying roots with the upcoming sequel/reboot titled Curse Of Chucky, which will be released digitally at the end of September.

In paying respect to the soul of Charles Lee Ray, I decided to have myself a little franchise-wide marathon. I sat down once a night and powered through the Child’s Play franchise in order, keeping content fresh in my mind for when I embark on Chucky’s latest adventure. At the same time though, I started really thinking about the franchise as a whole – my favorite parts, least favorite parts, and so on – so I decided to fully tackle this legendary collection of slasher movies.

With so many different types of films in the genre, from true horror to muddled horror comedy, it’s hard to really compare films like Child’s Play 2 and Seed Of Chucky, because some people might actually favor a more laughable Chucky versus the grimacing murderer. For me tough, the franchise can be ranked in a pretty clear order, as some films are leaps and bounds above others.

Join me as I take a look at every one of Chucky’s films, starting with the worst and ending with his greatest. I wonder where Curse Of Chucky is going to fit on this list?

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5) Seed Of Chucky

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Honestly, I’ve never seen a film franchise derail itself so monumentally, as Seed Of Chucky was a confusing mess of a tonal shitshow that had me scratching my head the entire time. Nothing against anyone involved, but, what was anyone involved thinking? Chucky was stripped of all his horror, the movie itself resorted to abysmally ridiculous gags, Mancini failed to create any intelligent satirical Hollywood commentary, and audiences were weirdly introduced to Chucky’s gender confused son. What the what?!

Written and directed by Don Mancini, Jennifer Tilly stars as herself, currently working on the next Chucky film after Chuck and Tiffany were killed in Bride of Chucky. Their “corpses” were taken to Hollywood, and since then had become stars being nothing but lifeless props. But if you remember, at the end of Bride, Tiffany births a child, and he/she grows up to be a scared puppet with bad dreams after being abducted by a traveling ventriloquist. Blah blah blah, the kid finds his parents, brings them back to life, they struggle to raise a family without killing anyone, Redman shows up, John Waters pops in, Chucky masturbates to a Fangoria magazine, Tiff flashes her plastic tits, and Jennifer Tilly gives birth to Chucky’s babies in human form after being artificially inseminated.

Where Bride Of Chucky used fierce, dark comedy to compliment the overall bastard tone of Chucky, Seed Of Chucky loses grip of any darkness, and turns our once feared murderous doll into nothing but a jester. Where Bride of Chucky paid homage to the slasher genre, Seed of Chucky essentially mocked it, losing any bits of respectability. Chucky officially lost all of his bite with this ill-advised sequel, and the character Glen/Glenda absolutely failed at bringing the Child’s Play franchise into groundbreaking territory.

Chucky is a killer doll – I don’t need him playing father, I need him raising hell and trying to get out of his plastic prison.

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4) Child’s Play 3

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Child’s Play 3 is where we officially start to lose the original Chucky, as Jack Bender’s film marks this devil doll’s turn towards the violently comedic – but it doesn’t quite get there properly. Mancini’s script has some pretty funny one-liners and does have some scary moments, and you can tell he’s trying to push through some comedy as well, but the atmosphere throughout our second sequel doesn’t really permit such laughs. You’re stuck in a weird place where you’re not sure if you should laugh or hide, and you end up doing not much of either.

Playing off the ongoing feud between Chucky and Andy Barclay (played by an older actor now, Justin Whalin), Chucky is recreated once again by a toy company that just won’t let the Good Guy brand die, and he tracks Andy down to Kent Military School. A murderous doll in a place with weaponry, soldiers, and strict regulations, sounds like a recipe for success, no?

Sadly, the whole Child’s Play formula was becoming stale by this point, as this was now the third film where Chucky was hunting Andy. It almost gets to the point where you’re forced to ask, “How can Andy keep fighting this, and how many times can we keep watching it?” There are some indulgent kills, and Chucky has some shining moments, but as the credits roll, it’s hard not to think the franchise had lost much of its steam by this point.

Aside from the recycled feel, there were also some really hard points to swallow, especially towards the end when the cadets square off on a wooded hill. Chucky is seen sitting in plain view, talking and holding a grenade, yet when a boy gets shot by a rival cadet (Chucky switched the painball ammo with live rounds), other kids still freak out on Andy and blame him. Um, you just saw an evil doll sitting on a rock and threatening people – did you miss that whole exchange?

You can only resurrect a possessed doll so many times, and Child’s Play 3 didn’t bode well for future endeavors.

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3) Child’s Play 2

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The first sequel in the Child’s Play franchise, Child’s Play 2, benefits from not being handcuffed by a momentous reveal, as we already knew what to expect from Chucky. Director John Lafia didn’t have to keep our pint-sized killer hidden, as we were already used to seeing Chucky walking around and talking on his own. Getting right to the point, Mancini cooked up an acceptable way to bring Chucky back to life, and the rampaging began.

Comparing Child’s Play 2 to other slasher movies at the time, there really wasn’t a lot of killing or any strong emphasis on action. This was more a grudge match between Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) and Chucky that saw a few bystanders get in the way, but in terms of body count, we’re only looking at about five deaths, one of which happens off-screen, and another that isn’t all that memorable. In terms of horror kills, Chucky’s second outing is rather tame.

What remains consistent is Brad Dourif’s killer voice acting and another stellar performance out of Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay, making for a proper little fight. The shock factor from Child’s Play isn’t as prevalent this time around, and the first shades of Chucky’s comedian routine start to shine through here, but all in all, Child’s Play 2 is an acceptable sequel amidst the turbulent franchise.

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2) Bride Of Chucky

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As everyone could tell the Chucky franchise was growing stale, seven years passed before anyone thought of reviving the iconic killer, but after enough rest, Don Mancini got the itch to reinvent Chucky, and boy did his gamble pay off. Bride Of Chucky is easily my second favorite film in the Child’s Play franchise, and might even be one of my favorite ’90s horror movies. Where past films had hinted at Chucky’s comedic possibilities, Mancini completely embraced the humor for his fourth sequel – but didn’t go too over the top. We still got the Chucky we know and love, albeit with a Frankenstein makeover, but Bride Of Chucky works just as well as an homage to the slasher genre, as horror genre references can be found anywhere.

The introduction of Jennifer Tilly’s character Tiffany provided a much needed change of pace, setting up hilarious exchanges between a killer doll and his equally murderous wife, hitting on a Bonnie and Clyde vibe – but with a lot more cursing, mutilating, and John Ritter death scenes. Chucky had a partner in crime, but Mancini was able to present Tiffany in a way that wasn’t too inconceivable – for a Child’s Play movie.

The differences between Bride Of Chucky and Seed Of Chucky are very significant, even though both attempt to wrangle in dark comedy. Bride Of Chucky does so with the correct atmosphere, as Ronny Yu’s film stays maniacal, dark, ominous, full of scares, and loaded with strange twists that work on a highly comedic level. When Chucky proposes after Tiffany slaughters a couple during sex, this prompts one of the funniest sex scenes ever, but the act isn’t overdone like it would be in Seed Of Chucky. While completely ridiculous, Yu merely shows shadows against a wall, and Mancini’s condom joke makes the moment unforgettable – but the joke ends there. After that, we’re right back to the horror, and Chucky turns back into the hellspawn he is.

Mancini’s fresh take was all about the little things, such as Chucky telling the newly dolled-up Tiffany to “act natural,” and instead of just sitting there like a doll would, we see the Tiffany doll laying back with her arm on her forehead like a damsel in distress. It’s quick, doesn’t really grab your attention, but when you actually catch moments like this, you realize the new territory a sinisterly hilarious Chucky movie can explore.

Bride Of Chucky was the invigorating kick Mancini’s franchise needed, displaying hilarious horror comedy and a new side of Chucky that fans absolutely adored, rocketing the killer doll into an all new level of cult worship. It’s a damn shame Seed Of Chucky took such a nosedive, because it looked like Mancini was really on to something special here.

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1) Child’s Play

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You can’t get away from the original, it’s that simple. Without Tom Holland and Don Mancini’s brilliant introduction to Chucky, not a single sequel would have been possible. This is exactly where the franchise started, and this is exactly where it could have ended too. If Child’s Play failed, we wouldn’t be discussing one of the most iconic horror slasher villains in history, and certainly wouldn’t be amped about his return.

Child’s Play worked not only because of originality, and not only because of crazy horror, but because of the slow-burn build-up that takes its time keeping our killer doll hidden, and the tremendous payoff that happens because of it. For a long period of Holland’s film, we’re only seeing Chucky’s actions through his eyes, and nothing else. It’s not until that fateful moment when he comes to life in Karen Barclay’s arms that we get a true sense of Chucky, and from that point on, we’re continually amazed as we watch him walk around Chicago freely.

Sure, some scenes may be absolutely cheesy, specifically when Andy’s babysitter is “thrown” out the window, but the beauty in Child’s Play is the almost non-existence of comedy, and the more straight-laced attempt at horror. Chucky has his one liners, but he’s much more vicious and brutal, which is leaps and bounds ahead of the Seed Of Chucky type schlock.

This is the Chucky that terrified me for years. This is the Chucky that became an icon. This is the Chucky that started it all – and is still alive and kicking how many years later? I guess we’ll find out just how alive he really is in Curse Of Chucky.

So that’s my take on the Chucky franchise so far. This is only my opinion though, and I’d love to know what you think about my placement. Am I being too hard on Seed Of Chucky? Are there any purists out there who hated Bride Of Chucky? Also, where do you think Curse Of Chucky is going to end up when it’s finally released?

Feel free to hit the comment section – I’m always up for a friendly discussion!

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  • Chad

    Seed of Chucky was horrible, but I also liked Bride. I don’t think I’d place it in second if I created a list, but to each their own.

    I haven’t watched Child’s Play 2 and 3 in years.

  • Eros

    Bride of Chucky was a masterpiece. Curse of Chucky is also.

  • https://www.amazon.com/author/keithwhitejr Keith White Jr.

    Completely agree with this list!! Well done!