Don Mancini, creator of the iconic killer doll Chucky, has cemented himself in horror history with his storied franchise. While he only wrote Child’s Play, as time when on and the sequels piled up, Mancini gained more and more power, guiding Chucky’s path to glory. As we’ve seen Mancini’s creation wander into comedic territory over the last two films, fans expressed a want to see Chucky get back to straight scares, and Mancini listened. His latest sequel, Curse Of Chucky, gets back to the horror basics, utilizing a dark, gothic genre vibe that focuses on making Chucky nothing but a nightmare haunting villain.
In New York City last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Don while he was promoting his brand new sequel, but he wasn’t alone. Joining Don was Chucky’s legendary voice actor Brad Dourif and actor Alex Vincent, who played Andy Barclay in the original films. I’d already interviewed the ladies of Curse Of Chucky earlier, but on a special request, they joined their male counterparts for my interview time, and I had the distinct honor of interviewing both the horror royalty who started this 25 year old franchise, and the new blood taking over – at the same time. Oh yeah, and I even got to meet Chucky himself – although he didn’t do much talking.
Read on to hear Brad talk about how he almost wasn’t used for Chucky’s voice, what everyone wanted to accomplish with this new sequel, where Don wants to go from here, and which other horror icon Don thinks would be a formidable adversary for Chucky – and exactly how he’d script it. All I can say is Don’s idea is a surefire winner and I’d back it 100% – it makes Freddy Vs. Jason sound like, well, child’s play.
WGTC: Alright, let’s go back 25 years – could you predict just how big Chucky was going to become?
Don Mancini: [To everyone] Let’s all in unison say, “No!” [Laughs]
Fiona Dourif: I decided I’m not going to be self-conscious about repeating myself in front of people.
Don Mancini: I dreamed of it, being a horror fan, but I never expected it to happen. The fact that it did work out is a dream come true. It’s not a totally fascinating answer, but…
Brad Dourif: I don’t dream of things like that when I’m working. It’s a job. It’s a challenge to get to whatever is there, and to make it real, and to make it everything it’s supposed to be. There’s always promise in a script. There’s always something a script sets up that says, “We’re going to show you this.” It’s your job to do that. Now, the first time I do that, you’re not thinking about the future. You’re not thinking about anything but getting there, because that’s what it is. Now, that was Child’s Play. We went through a lot of ramifications, a lot of things had to be re-done. I was actually voiced out at one point, they got some comedian in.
Don Mancini: They also did a whole pass with Jessica Walters, because what Tom Holland was thinking was that Mercedes McCambridge, a woman, had voiced Satan in The Exorcist, so maybe that would work for Chucky.
Brad Dourif: At the time, I was shooting Mississippi Burning, so I couldn’t do it. They had to wait for me. So, they voiced these other two people, or that’s what I try and tell myself. But they showed it to an audience, and they hated it! They god damn hated it!
Don Mancini: In a way it was pre-cognitive, because Chucky seemed transexual – as he would, he’s a doll.
Brad Dourif: They also showed it with the guy who voiced him, and he did it as this funny guy. [Brad mimics a nasally voice with no terror present] You can’t do that! Chucky has to be absolutely dead determined to turn living human beings into meat, into nothing that breathes, into not alive, as in dead. That’s what a monster does. Without it, you have no movie, and they didn’t understand that.
Alex Vincent: Thank God you did!
Brad Dourif: I, on the other hand, did.
Don Mancini: Don’t forget, this was all driven by Tom Holland.
Brad Dourif: I understood that, so I went back in there and voiced the whole damn thing all over again, they showed it to people, and they went crazy, of course, because Chucky was scary! It was a horror film again! He might have some funny things, like, “Fuck you,” and…
Don Mancini: It just seems illogical to have the actor who’s Charles Lee Ray not voice the doll that his soul was transferred to…
Danielle Bisutti: One of the most delightful things about 25 years is that this doll never fucking dies! It just keeps coming back! I think that’s one of the things fans have come to love. I think I heard a few people go, “That doll is back?! How is it even possible?!” But here he is.
Don Mancini: In Bride Of Chucky, when Katherine Heigl is about to kill him, he says, “I’ll be back, I always come back!” Then she cocks the gun and he goes, “But dying is such a bitch.” [Cast says line in unison]
Fiona Dourif: Yeah! He’s mutilated to a stump of plastic in the second one…
Brad Dourif: Yeah, that was a fun day of ADR. Really, the ADR for the first two was brutal. Really, really brutal. I came out of there “talking like this for days.” [Barely understandable] So much screaming…
Danielle Bisutti: Don, you really put [Brad] to the test, didn’t you?
Brad Dourif: No! It was the third movie and after that where Don always showed up. Even though he didn’t always direct it, he was always the lead ADR guy.
Don Mancini: Yeah, I really took over on Child’s Play 2…
Brad Dourif: Yeah, on Child’s Play 2 you had less power, but as time went on, Don began to gain power, and as he gained power, he began to get more demanding, and I had to do it over, more times, and we really had to split hairs. We tried things that never worked. I wouldn’t get it, then a lot of times I did, and it was always worth it. We experimented and did a lot in ADR to really push things as far as we could push them. I’m sure the next time we’ll do it again!
Don Mancini: In every movie I think we always have one thing, not an argument, but one thing that we’re seeing differently. We’re usually on the same page about everything, but one thing we go back on forth on. Usually Brad turns out to be right, I’ll admit that…
Brad Dourif: That’s only because I’m doing it! I can do it, and he can’t, you see? Ultimately, I am right. [Laughs]