Child's Play (1988)

Andy Barclay has a new playmate who's in no mood to play.
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Child's Play - This doll is killer.

Child's Play is the first instalment of the slasher franchise starring the now notorious Good Guy Doll by the name of Chucky. The true marketing potential of the killer doll had not been realised at this stage and for this reason we are presented with a much darker horror movie than its numerous sequels. There is still a darkly humorous undertone but the movie follows the rules of horror movies in a stricter sense than the following Chucky focussed outings. This movie focuses more on the horror of the situation, which is quite an achievement as the main protagonist is a doll possessed by The Lakeshore Strangler.

The movie begins with Charles Lee Ray, The Lakeshore Strangler, being chased through the streets by detective Mike Norris. Abandoned by his partner, Charles takes refuge in a toy store but receives a fatal gunshot wound from the pursuing officer of the law. Vowing to get revenge on his backstabbing partner and Detective Norris, Charles Lee Ray performs a voodoo ritual to enable him to possess another body; unfortunately the only other body in the vicinity is a Good Guy Doll.

Later that morning we see Andy Barclay opening his presents for his sixth birthday. All he wants is a Good Guy Doll but unfortunately his mother, Karen, didn't have enough time to save up for one. Realizing her son's disappointment Karen jumps at the chance to buy a Good Guy from a homeless peddler when the opportunity presents itself. Karen delivers the doll to a now overjoyed Andy then shoots back to work leaving Andy with her best friend Maggie. It just so happens that this doll is called Chucky and is possessed by Charles Lee Ray (I suppose the movie wouldn't be too exciting if it wasn't).

The first victim of Chucky is Maggie, the babysitter, who falls from the apartment window after being attacked with a little hammer. At this point in the movie we haven't actually seen any evidence that Chucky is alive apart from the fact that Andy claims that Chucky speaks to him a lot more than the few standard phrases that all Good Guy Dolls have programmed with. There is a slight notion that Andy could be the killer but it's quite obvious where the story is going.

The bodies begin to pile up as Chucky get's his revenge with the help of the naïve Andy. Andy is obviously the main suspect as he is always found at the scene of the crimes, but he is adamant that Chucky is the killer. Andy is locked up for psychiatric evaluation whilst Chucky carries on with his murderous mission. His next stop is the Voodoo dude that taught him the black arts where Chucky discovers that he is becoming human in doll form and must transfer his soul to the first person that he revealed his true identity too. So after a bit of Voodoo doll action he set's off to find Andy so he can be free of his plastic prison...

Child's Play is definitely one of the defining slashers of the 1980's and sees the birth of a prominent slasher anti-hero, the concept of a possessed doll has been seen many times before in horror but Child's Play executes the concept in an innovative manner and delivers a darkly entertaining story with a star-quality character in the form of Chucky. Quite low on guts and gore but this is offset by a well constructed plot making this stand out from the other cookie-cutter slashers in the same era (and from the following Chucky movies which fit into the slasher movie template a lot easier).
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Categories: Slasher Movies
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