Nearly thirty years have gone by since everyone’s favorite killer doll, Chucky, was introduced to the world in November of 1988 through Child’s Play, and it didn’t take long for the character to ascend into pop culture, standing shoulder to shoulder with slasher icons of the era including Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. To say that he arrived at just the right time to be relevant would be an understatement, as the franchises of many of his famous contemporaries had either begun to dwindle in popularity or were on the verge of their downturn as widespread interest in the subgenre was waning.
Michael Myers was dragged back out for the first time in seven years to revitalize the Halloween franchise with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers mere weeks before the release of Child’s Play only for that series to go back into hibernation following the failure of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers in 1989, while interest in the ongoing exploits of Freddy and Jason proved to be fizzling out thanks to the failures of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan that year as well.
As the newcomer, Chucky stood out in a subgenre that was burning out on over-saturation, both in terms of the icons being brought back year after year to declining returns and for the countless lesser slasher films permeating the market, and it’s no surprise that the success of Child’s Play meant that Chucky was granted a franchise of his own that’s lasted to this very day.
Unlike Michael, Freddy, Jason or even Leatherface, though, Chucky has the honor of having yet to undergo a reboot for the modern era (though that distinction may not last much longer). Through six sequels, original creator Don Mancini, as well as actor Brad Dourif, who’s been a vital part of Chucky’s lasting appeal, have stuck with the franchise, which has had one rocky, albeit interesting journey. After the chilly critical and financial reception to Child’s Play 3 in 1991, it wasn’t until 1998 that Chucky returned to the big screen in Bride of Chucky, a film that completely shifted the series away from more outward horror and into the realm of comedy-horror to notable success.
Unfortunately, that newfound goodwill was squandered away just six years later with Seed of Chucky, the failure of which put the series back on ice until 2013, when the franchise reinvented itself once again by moving back towards its horror roots and into direct-to-video territory with Curse of Chucky, which was followed up in 2017 with Cult of Chucky and a currently in-the-works television project.
All this is to say that the overall tale of the Chucky franchise has been a fascinating one, a story of tonal reinvention and introspection about the series’ legacy and ongoing place in the ever-evolving horror genre, and while many often cite the original Child’s Play and Bride of Chucky as the highest points, both financially and for what they did for Chucky’s pop culture legacy, I would argue that it is, in fact, Chucky’s second cinematic go-round, 1990’s Child’s Play 2, that deserves more credit for what it did for Chucky and the franchise as a whole than it tends to get.