Twenty-five years after his first rampage, Chucky is back. loaded talks to the killer dolls creator, Don Mancini, to find out why playtime is far from over
Back in the 1980s, horror cinema was ruled by an exclusive club of lovable psychopaths. There was Freddy Kruger, the flame-grilled nonce with blades for fingers; Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing mummy’s boy; and Michael Myers, the boogeyman who’s a knife short of a full murdering kit. Over the years they’ve mostly faded into obscurity – the result of piss-poor sequels and even worse remakes. But in 2013, there’s one character who’s keeping the nightmare alive, and stands heads and shoulders above the rest. Which is kind of funny, because he’s only about two-feet tall.
First appearing in Childs Play back in 1988, Chucky is one of horror’s most iconic characters a killer doll possessed by the spirit of cheeky murderer Charles Lee Ray. This month sees the release of Curse Of Chucky on DVD and Blu-ray, the sixth instalment of the hugely popular series. What keeps Chucky alive, so to speak, is original creator Don Mancini. Other horror icons have been passed around from writer to director, each hoping to make an easy buck from their respective franchise, but Mancini has written every Chucky movie so far, and even directs this latest one – proof he has real affection for the bloodthirsty little bugger. And now, nine years after the last Childs Play movie,
Mancini has a good reason for reviving Chucky once again. With the last two we took the series into a comedic realm,” Mancini tells loaded. At the time, we didn’t want to keep making the same movie over and again. If we embraced the absurdity of a two-foot tall doll who kills people, we knew we could reinvent the series as a comedy.
But after two films of that, I had a yearning to return to straight horror.”
It’s a difficult transition to make, especially when you have already gone from horror to comedy. Similar characters [we’re talking to you, Kruger] had trouble doing scary after years of being treated like a figure of fun. But Mancini – and more importantly Chucky himself – nails it. The trick to making it work is going back to basics. We ditched the bride and the seed to have him fly solo again,”
Chuckys basically a dick. He not only kills you, he finds a way to rub it in the previous movies, bringing the series full circle by returning to the events of the original and giving a deeper insight into Chucky. I wanted to create a new story” says Mancini, but wanted it to have a very specific link to Chucky’s origins, to explain Charles Lee Ray’s desire to kill.”
Though moving away from pure comedy, Chucky is still good for a post-murder quip -He’s basically a dick. He not only kills you, he finds a way to rub it in,” adds Mancini – and the film maintains a sharp, self-knowing wit beneath the horror. With Mancini returning to the seriesroots, this was inevitable. After all, Childs Play was conceived as pitch-black satire about the effects of advertising on children.
And when the hugely popular Cabbage Patch Dolls came along – the advertising campaign of which emptied the wallets of many hapless parents – Mancini put the two ideas together.
Though he was created in the mould of a wimpy doll, Chucky became a part of the horror elite – the killerati, if you will. And while he was getting married and having kids in the late90s and early 2000s, his contemporaries Freddy and Jason were fighting to the death, starring in the appropriately titled mash-up movie Freddy Vs Jason. For a character of Chucky’s stature, surely he deserves a crossover beatdown with another iconic monster. But which one? says Mancini, referring to Chucky’s wife and child, who were added to the fold in the last two films. Then we created a story where Chucky is kept in the shadows. The killer doll concept is creepy when it is stripped down and simple.
He functions in a different way to other horror monsters. He is not outwardly horrible looking so you do not run from him, and he can hide in plain sight among these other characters who are oblivious to the fact they are in terrible danger.”
The characters in question are Nica, a wheelchair-bound hottie played by Fiona Dourif [daughter of Brad, Chucky’s long-time voice actor], and her doomed family. Needless to say, after Chucky mysteriously arrives on the doorstep, everyone is in for a bloody long night. What’s special about Curse Of Chucky is it starts afresh without completely wiping the slate clean. It connects
Not Leprechaun,” Mancini says, which is the one often mooted, but it seems too obvious. The one I always thought would be fun is Freddy Kruger. For me, Freddy Vs Jason is not what I’d do with a versusfilm because Jason does not have a personality or speak. You want the characters to have a real chemistry and to function as a horror genre double-act. My fantasy is to do Childs Play On Elm St, like a horror version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, where Chucky ends up on Elm St and at first they admire each other’s work, but they soon realise Elm St is not big enough for the two of them. So they have a competition to see who can kill the most teenagers before the sun comes up.”
I had a yearning to come back to straight horror While loaded gets the petition together to make sure that film happens, we will have to settle for Curse Of Chucky, which is hardly settling at all. After its huge reception at this year’s FrightFest in London, Curse has proved itself as one of the year’s best horror movies – not bad for a haunted doll that’s pushing 30.
Five-day horror-a-thon FrightFest takes place every year in Londons West End. Chucky might have been the star of 2013’s event, but there were plenty more terrifying highlights.
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