That little Chucky doll has come a long way since he first landed on our screens on November 9th, 1988, and to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the original Child’s Play, writer Don Mancini took to Twitter with an ironic reminder of the death which helped spawn this series.
The image posted by Mancini features the gravestone of one Charles Lee Ray, the serial killer played by Brad Dourif in the franchise-starting film. But while Charles’ soul may have left his body that November night, the murderer’s spirit was reborn in Andy Barclay’s mischievous new toy, and thus a legend was made.
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The funny thing is that Charles’ human form almost had no part to play in Chucky’s origins, with Mancini recalling earlier this week how the doll was initially planned to have a very different backstory.
“In the original premise, Chucky — or Buddy as he was called then — was not possessed by a serial killer. Instead, in my script, the supernatural inciting incident was different,” said Mancini. “The way that the doll came to life was that because Andy is a lonely kid — no dad around, his mom is a busy working mother — in that classic rite of brotherhood he cuts his own thumb and the doll’s thumb so they’ll be best friends forever —‘friends ’til the end’ — and after that the murders start.”
It was only when producer David Kirschner got involved that Chucky’s roots were changed to the voodoo origins we know today.
“That’s the Frankenstein moment,” Kirschner admitted. “That’s what brings the character to life from flesh — or plastic in this case — to a moving thing, a monstrous psycho whose soul is stuck in that of the doll. Charles Lee Ray were the guys that haunted my childhood: Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray.”
Since then, Charles Lee Ray has gone on to live quite a second life, complete with a wife and a child, and his story looks set to continue with Mancini and Kirschner’s Child’s Play: The TV Series. The show will have some unexpected competition, however, in MGM’s own Child’s Play movie reboot, which will reportedly be taking the flesh-and-blood serial killer out of the equation once more, and replacing Chucky’s voodoo backstory with that of an A.I. gone psycho.
Time will tell which of these two Child’s Play projects will do more to honor the 1988 original, but the backlash received by the new Chucky doll makes it all too clear that Mancini and Kirschner still have the fans on their side.