THE CHILD’S PLAY FRANCHISE (1988-2013)
Child’s Play came my way in Junior secondary school; by a stroke of fate Iwatched Child’s Play 2 first but several class mates had given me the “low down” on Chucky- that it was a doll possessed by the devil. That wasn’t true of course; I found out in the first film later that he was a doll possessed by a serial killer, Charles Lee Ray; who dabbled in the occult and voodoo. Even if I watched it first and saw the parts where it was vaguely hinted it was Andy( Alex Vincent) behind the killings, I wouldn’t have believed it anyway- not after the dramatic scene where Charles (Brad Dourif; who also voiced Chucky from then on) took a doll out of its box and chanted some voodoo words and the camera close-ups on the doll’s face. The whole time I wondered when exactly would they finally believe Andy’s story and that scene was unforgettable- Andy’s mother Karen (Katherine Hicks) discovers the batteries were still in the doll box and Chucky had been moving his head and chanting, “Hi, I’m Chucky and I’ll be your friend to the end!” all that time... without the batteries. She is nervous and tests Chucky by lighting a fire and threatening to throw him in if he didn’t speak and surprise, surprise... he snarled at her in Charles’ voice; beats her off, bites her arm and flees! One theme I saw there was scepticism, who was going to believe a story about a possessed doll? So many people in the movie were inclined to think Andy needed professional help. I played this movie on my laptop for my colleagues to watch in the staff room and they were spellbound; the Geography teacher said something like this could actually happen but every one else said ‘Rubbish!’
‘Ah, but evil is real; the devil is real but we have God’s protection,’ was the answer. Any how, Child’s Play made a huge impression in my country.
I don’t know people’s opinions about Child’s Play 3 here but my brothers and I didn’t enjoy it as much as we enjoyed 1 & 2. We saw there’d been a several year jump since 2; Andy was now a teenager (played by Justin Whalen), people viewing him with suspicion and his mother still at the mental institution. Chucky decides to try his luck on a younger child and kills a few people here and there. Andy gets his first kiss and there’s a showdown where Chucky is ripped to shreds. I don’t know... it just didn’t have what 1 and 2 had, an aura of suspense.
Bride of Chucky was unexpected and a disappointment. Oh there was the violence but it wasn’t as dark as part 1 and 2 and Seed of Chucky was complete rubbish; half the movie was spent guessing if Glen (Chucky & Tiffany’s spawn) was a boy or a girl and the movie, like most horror movies, ended ambiguously. I remember thinking if Don Mancini should bring in a new Chucky story, he should at least let Andy be the one to kill Chucky once and for all. But with the way Seed of Chuckyended (the human Glen finding his father’s arm in a box); I gave up on the idea.
Then came Curse of Chucky; Don Mancini returning his story back to its dark roots. The viewers are introduced to Chucky's new main victim Nica (Brad Dourif's real life daughter, Fiona Dourif), got to see an important part of Charles’ past and then... oh joy!!! We see grown up Andy at long last (a now 32 year old Alex Vincent) aiming a shotgun at Chucky and saying, ‘Play with this!’ and firing.
Will there be a new one? If so, I hope Andy is in it again; let him be the one to end Chucky’s circle!
I dimly remember Anthony Hopkins’ (I didn’t know his name at the time) 1978 movie Magic where he played a disturbed ventriloquist “dominated” by his dummy, Fats (charming name by the way). I’ve been scared of ventriloquist dummies since then; it’s almost like they have a mind and a life of their own as opposed to puppets. And Fats is very memorable, he was the creepiest craved figure I’ve ever seen. No wonder the initial trailer was pulled away from T.V, apparently it was far too creepy and children at the time were having nightmares because of it.
Magic is described as a horror love story and it was adapted from William Goldman’s novel of the same name (he wrote the screenplay as well). Fats, the dummy isn’t possessed like his much later counterpart Chucky; it was more like Corky (Hopkins) was possessed by Fats. A ventriloquist provides the voice of the dummy and chooses it personality- it could be childlike, solemn, funny or cheeky; Fats was quite insolent. What was the odd connection between Corky and Fats and why did he choose to give Fats such a personality to begin with? Apparently, Corky has multiple personality disorder; Fats is his supposed to be his instrument but he was actually a means of unleashing his ‘other’ personality - a dominant, homicidal personality who controls him. Yeesh... sounds somehow like The Ventriloquist in the Batman comics!
Like Psycho, his ‘other personality’ is jealous of Corky’s lover, Peggy. Corky imagines Fats ‘telling’ him to kill and he does; his agent and Peg’s husband. He and Peg have a fight and Fats ‘orders’ him to kill her. But Corky, who we can see is really mental, commits suicide instead; to save Peggy and I guess himself ...from Fats’ ‘influence’.
Peggy has a change of heart and goes looking for Corky; but her voice has creepily changed to a female version of Fats’ voice... to this day, I still don’t understand why. Psycho’s ending was easier to understand than Magic’s.
PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE (1996)
First off, I don’t like the title because I felt children who saw this would probably see the character Pinocchio from the actual kids’ story in a negative light from then on. And the movie’s plot is a real head scratcher; at the end of the film we (my family and I) couldn't draw a proper conclusion.
A lawyer, Jennifer (Rosalind Allen) gets hold of a wooden doll (or is it puppet?) that was buried with a boy and his father was executed for the murder but the lawyer felt the man was hiding something important that could’ve cleared him. The lawyer’s daughter, Zoe mistakes it for a present for her and takes it for herself; taking to it like she talks to her dolls. But then things start happening to people who upset the child... a bully is pushed in front of a bus, her mother’s boyfriend is injured then later killed. The child says Pinocchio did it, but the viewers don’t see him do it. We see scenes of her talking to Pinocchio and he answering back but a video tape at her therapist’s office of her doing so with no one else around, it glaringly showed the child is talking to herself!
Zoe’s babysitter ended up beaten to death with a poker, again we don’t see who is doing it.
The climatic fight in the house; Jennifer sees Pinocchio with his strings cut and standing in the room... she runs for her life , he catches up with his knife in hand and they struggle and at the last minute she body slams him and he crashes onto a glass table. But hold on, it’s not Pinocchio... it’s Zoe lying there. Zoe is placed in psychiatric care; she doesn’t look nor speak to her mother and Jennifer still believes Zoe wasn’t the one who attacked her that night nor was responsible for the killings.
Like I said a head scratcher. What really happened?
Was the doll possessed by the devil? The accused child killer... if it was truly the doll who killed his son, he obviously kept quiet about it because of course no one will believe it. But, why did he bury the doll with the boy in the first place if it was responsible for the murder? Was he possessed by the doll or simply insane?
Who pushed the bully, who killed David and Sophie; who did Jennifer really fight with that night; Zoe or Pinocchio? Did Zoe have hidden mental problems or did the doll drive her insane, like it probably drove the child killer insane?
What happened to the wooden doll in the end?
The movie was just left like that, with the viewers trying to decide who the real culprit was.