This latest release of all Child’s Play movies is quite timely as Chucky is more popular than ever. Aside From these 7 films, there has also been a remake of sorts made by “other” people. But this timeline and iteration of Chucky has now leapt to the small screen and is currently enjoying its third season release with creator and writer Don Mancini leading the way – with the help of course of many returning talents, not least of which is Chucky voiced by Brad Dourif.
Arrow video have given us the box treatment here and it is jam packed and all largely in glorious 4K. The set comes in limited edition deluxe packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Mark Bell; An illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by John-Paul Checkett, Kat Ellinger, Barry Forshaw, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Cerise Howard, and select archival material. There are also three double sided fold-out posters featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mark Bell
The original movie hasn’t stood the test of time perhaps as well as we might have hoped. And it’s largely down to the fact that it seems so apart from where the series went after it. But for a first off venture of a serial killer’s soul inhabiting the body of a child’s toy, and then going on a murder rampage, is still kind of fun.
The Bonus material was not available to review for this disc, but it comes with a lot of previously released material including more than one commentary track and various featurettes:
-Audio commentary with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and “Chucky” designer Kevin Yagher.
-Audio commentary with producer David Kirschner and screenwriter Don Mancini.
-Scene specific Chucky commentary
-Evil Comes in Small Packages, three-part featurette: The Birth of Chucky, Creating the Horror and Unleashed
-Chucky: Building a Nightmare featurette
-A Monster Convention featurette
-Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play vintage featurette
Child’s Play 2
Continuing directly on from the original film we find young Andy Barclay being sent off to a foster family (Hello Gerrit Graham and Jenny Agutter). Catherine Hick’s mother does not return having being institutionalised due to coming out of the events of the first film (We are curious as to what happened to Chris Sarandon’s copper!)
Child’s Play 2 may come with some decent supporting character actors (regardless of how little screen time some of them get), but it does also suffer from the fact that the story has to retread old ground with Andy not being believed by anyone all over again which becomes very tiresome quickly. If there is one horror trope that is done to death it’s that one: And this means that the few kills you get in the mid to late section of the film are all set up and “surprise!” payoff. The film, however, handles its more tense scenes quite well, but it’s all about the action of the third act that makes the second film as memorable as it is.
The film also comes equipped with decent actors and especially the introduction of fun character Kyle. Easy to see why she is a fan favourite; she’s the cool big sister anyone would love to have in their corner.
Child’s Play 2 became a fan favourite and as part of the first trilogy of movies that go for a direct straight slasher approach it probably does stand out.
There is a lot to like about the extras package. There is plenty of old material carried over, but there are also some newer interviews with some of the cast/crew that help bring it up to standards.
John Lafia provides a very engaging commentary. Lafia was a co-writer on the original film and stepped into the directorial role for this sequel.
Don Mancini does a new interview talking about the second film and the changes he and other co-creator/director Lafia wanted for the franchise after the first film. He also hits on subjects like why Jenny Agutter ended up not being in the films so much.
Alex Vincent has a short reminiscence about the opportunity to doing a sequel to then very quickly falling out of sight for a while.
Series producer David Kirschner also puts thoughts down on the second film.
Robert Latham Brown – a short interview focussing on more of the shoot aspect of the film.
Christine Elise – Fan favourite character kyle (who went missing after this film until the 7th film and TV series), provides a very endearing memory of working on the film and provides a ton of knowledge about some of the more technical aspects of working on the film.
Beth Grant has a short but very lively online chat to camera – proving that even smaller character actors are worth their weight in gold and are happy to talk about their experiences.
Over 10 minutes of deleted material (a lot of which belongs to Agutter and Graham!)
As we didn’t have disc one to check – The 4K quality check begins here and it’s a happy result that has been provided. The film looks clear, colours pop (that factory scene at the end looks incredible). So, job done on the brush up for this film.
Child’s Play 3
Probably seen as the black sheep of the series; The third film relocates Andy and Chucky to military school.
Being made just one year after Child’s Play 2, original Andy actor Alex Vincent had to be replaced with a more age-appropriate actor (enter Justin Whalin).
In the UK Child’s Play 3 has the unfortunate media history connection to a notorious murder. The film was dragged through the mud as a possible influence on the killers and opened up a massive can of movie censorship worms onto the newspaper reading public – thankfully it was all spurious; but it certainly tainted the brand for a while in the UK. The filmmakers hint at this on the audio commentary, but it isn’t gone into in any great detail (which is probably fair enough). It was probably a good thing that the series took a 7-year break and when it came back it was in vastly different form.
Child’s Play 3 would not have survived as long as it had if the series and not continued beyond film 5. The fact that it made it to 7 films in this series so far and the multiple season TV show has given Child’s Play 3 a little more attention, and it works best this way. On its own it’s kind of a rushed sequel that feels slightly uneven next to the first two films. Although the meta-aspect of the series hadn’t come to the fore yet, at least the marketing was on the ball in 1991 with the rather apt subtitle “Look Who’s Stalking”.
There are two commentaries here. One from director Jack Bender, and the other from producer Robert Latham Brown.
Bender gets interviewed over the film and is quite the get considering how huge his career has been on TV since, so it’s nice that he’s taken the time out to recollect the making of the film.
Brown does his solo interview as well. There is a bit of crossover details with the chatter about each set-up, but both tracks have good recollections of the shoot.
A recent Mancini interview where he gets very frank with his view on the third film and the issues that comes along with it.
Perrey Reeves provides an enthusiastic short interview and should be an indicator of someone Mancini could bring back on the series if he anted to.
David Kirschner – again gives a fairly frank talk on the third film.
Robert Latham Brown adds more views on the shoot.
Actor Michael Chieffo – A bit role player as a security guard (but also married to Child’s Play 2 actor Beth Grant) adds more beef to the talking head extras.
Makeup artist Craig Reardon. An interesting peek at effects work done other than the chucky doll.
Production designer Richard Sawyer talks about the end circus finale scene where Chucky is dispatched.
There is also 5 minutes of nasty looking deleted scenes (and we mean the quality of the picture).
It’s not as colourful a film as the last one, but the image does look good. But it is a darker shot film with a lot of night scenes with teenagers in combat gear. The picture quality of just fine, it’s just not the best shot of the series.
Bride of Chucky
Bride of Chucky was well timed. The character had been away long enough for him to be missed, but also we were in the revolution of 90s horror where everything went meta and Chucky was brim-full of black humour ready to burst onto the scene. So, therefore, this film took a much more comedic route.
On top of that we are also introduced to the titular “Bride” character of Tiffany played by the superb Jennifer Tilly. Tiffany is Chucky’s old girlfriend who is here to bring him back from the dead; but gets disappointed with the results and by turns ends up in a doll herself. We then get a great bickering duo of killers on a road trip together with a couple of imperilled teens.
Ronny Yu (who would go on to also direct Freddy vs Jason) brings visual flair to the upgrade, but Mancini really has managed to strike a chord with the balance of tone in this film – throwing in a bit of soap-opera human drama into the black comedy cauldron of ideas.
The stitched-up Chucky looks his most menacing, and even the Tiffany doll looks great. The attention to facial expression combined with the actors’ voices goes a long way and can’t be taken for granted. Bride was an easy win for the series.
Annoyingly, the extras are all pulled over from the DVD release. So, nothing new really added. But that isn’t to say the extras here aren’t worthwhile.
2 commentaries. One by Director Ronny Yu, and a second with Tilly, Mancini and Dourif. Ronny Yu is decent enough, but the real pull here is Mancini with his doll actors.
The picture quality is great. A very clean image.
A true highlight of the series; Chucky and Tiffany make for a deadly duo, and yet at the same time look utterly cute!
Seed of Chucky
Changing things up again – Don Mancini finally takes the directorial chair (where he has remained since) and this time takes Chucky down the weirdest alley yet. Mancini retains Jennifer Tilly, this time pulling double duty as her actual self as well as the voice of killer doll Tiffany. This means the meta is stretched further setting it in the pseudo-real world. But Mancini doesn’t stop there. We also have the offspring of the Chucky and Tiffany dolls, a strange, confused character who has spent time being raised as a side-show freak. Meet Glen, who has gender issues (points for being ahead of its time there) who is thrust back into the arms of his less than adoring parents. They love Glen/Glenda, but they are also homicidal dolls themselves and Glen/Glenda finds themselves as the rope in the tug of war.
Mancini makes for an visually ambitious director, often putting the camera in the view point of the dolls. He plays with horror conventions and can’t seem to stop paying homage to other films. He also throws in humour from most angles which sometimes bounce off the walls and land with a thud (Do we need to see a Chucky masturbating visual gag?).
Some see Seed as a misfire, or just too strange. It does wear its representation content with pride and yet nothing feels too forced or preachy; perhaps overly comical – plus a John Waters cameo for good measure. Glen/Glenda makes for an interesting character in turmoil. You wouldn’t tell that it was Pippin from Lord of the Rings doing the voice as he opts to cover his Scottish accent with a southern English brogue.
Dourif continues to do sterling work as the voice of Chucky, but Jennifer Tilly gets to have perhaps the most fun sending herself up as well as having herself terrorised on screen whilst playing the vocal work for Tiffany to perfection.
Seed of Chucky also has an interesting music score from Brian De Palm mainstay, Pino Donaggio that is worth mentioning.
Seed may be the red-headed plastic step-child of the series; but it remains an important chapter in the Chucky legacy going forward.
Despite Bride of Chucky getting zero love in terms of brand-new extras, Seed of Chucky does get some attention. Effects supervisor Tony Gardner (who gets to do a cameo in the film as, erm, an effects supervisor – who gets beheaded!) does a 20-minute interview.
Director John Waters also chimes in with a newly made short interview, clearly added to the cast having been a vocal fan of the series.
There are some archival extras including a fun interview and made-up spots involving the dolls. One particularly funny short shows Chucky, Tiffany and Glen watching family holiday slides at home.
A divisive film then, but one that could have done with a few more recent extras for the new release.
Curse of Chucky
After another multi-year break Mancini is back again and hits the reset button on the tone of the series. This time Chucky goes back to a more serious tone of the original films.
With that comes a slower pace, but also the age-old dilemma of a character coming to terms with the fact that a killer doll is in their life and having no one around them believe them. This time, instead of a child, it’s a young woman (Played by Fiona Dourif – daughter of Brad) immobilised by the fact that she is in a wheel chair and trapped in a big family house.
The film is still entertaining, but if the series ever returns to the simple set up again it needs to address a fresh way to build tension for a sole survivor.
Jospeh Loduca provides a creepy score – and would return for the next film as well.
The casting of Fiona Dourif in the lead was simply genius. Already an established character actor, Dourif slips into the role of tormented heroine Nica with ease. With another film down the line and three seasons of a TV show included, she has now become a part of the franchise family along with her dad Brad, Jennifer Tilly, Christine Elise and Alex Vincent.
Fans of the previous films might miss some of the characters there, but there are easter eggs for sure to behold at the end of movie credits. Thus far Curse is the longest of the Child’s Play movies – and at 96 minutes – it’s just the length a horror fan wants their horror film to be!
Mancini, Tony Gardner and Fiona Dourif show up for the feature commentary and have a jolly old time going over each scene, talking about the effects work and Fiona’s casting opposite her dad.
Effects man Tony Gardner returns for a short interview as does Andy Barclay actor Alex Vincent. Danielle Biscutti (who plays Barb) also provides a detailed account of working on set.
There are archive featurettes on the making of the film, the effects work, storyboards, deleted material and trailers.
Not too bad in terms of extras old and new and the film looks very good. Being one of the newer films it wasn’t going to suffer in anyway despite it being one of the darker shot films.
Cult of Chucky
A direct sequel to Curse of Chucky. Chucky comes back in an insane asylum where Nica’s character from the previous film has ended up. So, yes, Chucky is not done with her by any means or the other patients at the facility. It does at least add credence to the idea of someone not being believed as they are officially in the nut house.
The very much missed Jennifer Tilly returns in a larger supporting role this time round, but is still very much off to the side most of the time. But her presence is felt and she does a good job; as does returning actor Alex Vincent. Despite having a very quick post-credits scene on the last time, Vincent gets to plant his teeth into something all-together much meatier this time round as we get to see the kind of man Andy Barclay has become.
Vincent has perhaps been away from acting for a while that he feels slightly unsure of his expressions from time to time, but he puts in an effort worthy of a cheer from scene to scene and gets some of his best ever Andy moments in the series in this film alone.
Cult is perhaps one of the more successful in terms of story, plotting and convolutions. The plot has all kinds of twists and turns along the way to keep surprises going, but also may give some people a bit of a headache. But it is a broad and daring step to take and Mancini usually thrives when he is taking chances.
The look of the film is quite beautiful – swapping out the dark, thunderstorm lit halls and rooms of the house from the previous film for a sanitised, empty and very white walled corridors of the insane asylum. Never a dull image in these Chucky movies!
Don Mancini and special effects makeup artist Tony Gardner provide the only commentary for this film.
Good Guy Gone Bad: The incarnations of Chucky featurette. It may be very short but you get a good glimpse at the puppet control on set.
Do the Chucky Stomp features returning actor Alex Vincent on his more prominent role in the seventh film. There is also an odd short video on Vincent’s recording studio.
Tony Gardner also provides his comments in a recent interview.
The Dollhouse is essentially a long trailer for what would become the Living with Chucky documentary (see disc 8) Kyra Gardner (Daughter of Tony)
There is also an archive making of (Inside the Insanity of Cult of Chucky”. There are also deleted scenes, trailers, TV spot and an image gallery.
Disc 8 was not available for review but contains the feature length documentary Living with Chucky by Kyle Gardner. It also features her commentary over the documentary and a few featurettes.
All in all, it’s an impressive boxset worth checking out. All of the decent pre-exisi9ting bonus materials are here with some newer interviews added for good measure, plus the documentary at the end. The only major gripe is the inconsistency of these extras not spanning across all the films – Bride of Chucky being the one that suffers the most from any recent extras.
If you don’t own the chucky films then this is well worth it. If you do own them all or some of the films then it will come down to how much you want that pretty 4K image or some of the new extras that have been provided. But it’s a decent boxset anyway you cut it.