In Defense Of: “Child’s Play 2” (1990)

Child's Play 2 (1990)

And the self-awareness doesn’t really stop with Chucky, either, as the film has a tongue-in-cheek tone that Bride of Chucky would really seize and elevate to whole new levels eight years later. After Child’s Play, the franchise made its way to Universal – where it’s remained to this day – and, fittingly, the opening of Child’s Play 2, armed with an almost operatic score by Graeme Revell set over a sequence in which Chucky’s burnt head has its skin surgically scraped away so that the endoskeleton can be refurbished as part of a new doll, feels just as much like a rebirth for Chucky as it does the arrival of a new monster to Universal’s own pantheon. Throw in the fact that a surge of electricity seals the deal in bringing the killer back to life like a modern day Frankenstein’s monster and the idea of the film being aware that there’s no point in being self-serious seems evident.

And like Chucky’s own personal Van Helsing, Andy Barclay is there to go toe-to-toe with the doll. Andy is to this franchise what Laurie Strode and Nancy Thompson are to the Halloween and Elm Street franchises, respectively, and – despite being so young – Alex Vincent proves a good lead to root for. Child’s Play 2 highlights how Andy’s pure innocence has been lost to Chucky’s corruptive, evil influence; he’s lost his mom, everyone thinks he’s crazy, he’s taken from the city and into the suburbs, and his life isn’t (and never will be) the same as it once was.

When he sees a Good Guy doll in the film and says, “I hate you,” it’s played for laughs, sure, but it’s also pretty tragic, the young kid aware enough to take all sorts of precautions, like checking if the doll has batteries, and desperate enough to later descend into his foster home’s basement – where he knows Chucky is – to do battle with his nemesis on his own with an electric knife because he has no other choice.

Child's Play 2

At one point, after Chucky kills the social worker who oversaw the foster care center Andy was assigned to right in front of the boy, Chucky taunts him by saying, “You act like you’ve never seen a dead body before,” and it only serves to underscore the real horror that Chucky has wrought. That he’s unremorsefully robbed Andy of his childhood, the only upside – if you can call it that – being that he’d brought about a lifelong archenemy in return.

Their conflict drives the film in a way that feels like a natural extension of the first, with Chucky running out of time to possess Andy and thus dead set on making it happen, and it all leads to a final act that dives deep into the funhouse vibe coursing through the sequel and takes Alex, Kyle and Chucky on a chase across the city and into the Play Pals factory, from the warehouse where Good Guy dolls are stacked high up to the ceiling, creating a claustrophobic maze in which countless plastic faces plastered on vivid packaging loom like a ghoulish audience over the proceedings, to the factory floor where the dolls are being manufactured on an assembly line.