The ‘Child’s Play’ franchise will always be one I hold dear; it’s actually one of the earliest horror franchises that I’ve been a fan of since I was a small child, and I’m a pretty forgiving fan who will give every sequel a shot no matter how I felt above the previous film. With the remake out and fresh, I’ve decided to rank every film in the franchise thus far, from worst to best – all of which based on a series of biased opinions, and not so much on the technical quality from each film, which would probably be a whole different list.
Here is my ranking of the ‘Child’s Play’ series:
08) ‘Seed of Chucky’
The fifth film in the series marks the directorial debut of series creator and long time writer, Don Mancini, and it’s a huge misstep that was so awful that it nearly killed the franchise, and is the last of the original series to see a theatrical release. This campy, almost-parody entry follows Glen (Billy Boyd), the product of Chucky and Tiffany’s consummation, whose birth served as sequel bait at the tail end of ‘Bride of Chucky’. Glen is an oddity apart of a travelling side-show attraction who pisses himself, has dreams of killing people, and questions his life. After seeing prop Chucky and Tiffany dolls from a Hollywood set of a movie based inspired by what happened in the previous film, and a “Made in Japan” imprint on the prop’s arms, Glen deduces that they are his parents, and escapes from his owner, travelling to the United States to seek them out. Once he reaches Hollywood, he reaches the movie prop version of his parents and recites a single verse from the amulet, bringing them back from the dead and into new doll bodies. Freshly revived from the dead and suddenly confronted with their unexpected parenthood, Chucky and Tiffany are forced to not only find new human hosts for themselves, but also for their child, whom neither can agree on the child’s gender; Chucky believes that he fathered a son, while Tiffany believes they had a daughter. They set their sites on actress Jennifer Tilly, and plot to impregnate her with Chucky’s sperm to create new life, and a body for the now sometimes-known-as Glen/sometimes-known-as Glenda, but as their plan goes into action, Tiffany acts on maternal instincts, and looking to do what is best for the child, she seeks to retire from her murderous ways and tries to convince Chucky to do the same – he agrees, but struggles with his impulses for murder and to teach his son his methods.
I’ll admit that in the few rare times I revisit this movie, there are quite a few things that legitimately make me laugh, but for the most part, the humor is so over the top and stupid that it’s almost a chore to get through the entire movie. The third act is especially painful when it attempts to be clever by spoofing ‘The Matrix’. None of the human characters are particularly interesting or memorable, and the story itself seems to only serve the purpose of setting up one-liners. Speaking of one-liners, probably the best thing to come from this movie is a single line: “I’m Chucky, the killer doll, and I dig it!”
07) ‘Bride of Chucky’
The fourth installment hit theaters seven years after the third film, but is set within the same year as ‘Child’s Play 3’ due to that films eight-year time jump following the second film. This was a product of its time, and was released during the post- ‘Scream’, self-aware era of the horror genre. ‘Bride of Chucky’ relies primarily on laughs, even during the film’s horror sequences. Like other 80’s horror franchises, Chucky has gone from antagonist to anti-hero, front and center this time around.
‘Bride of Chucky’ begins with Charles Lee Ray’s old flame, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) obtaining the chopped up remains of Chucky’s second Good Guy doll body, and stitches him back together. Afterward, Tiffany uses “Voodoo for Dummies” to bring Chucky’s soul back to life. Tiffany has been under the impression that Chucky had meant to propose to her before being gunned down in the toy store by Detective Norris ten years earlier – but she becomes enraged by Chucky’s nonchalant reaction to this belief, and his confession that the ring she found belonged to one of his victims, and was taken for its value and not for his love of Tiffany. Tiffany locks Chucky in a cage and belittles him, until one night he escapes the cage, electrocutes Tiffany, and then transfers her soul into one of her dolls, just to teach her a lesson. Chucky easily forgets about Andy Barclay and Private Tyler, and the rule that he can only take over the body of the first person he tells he secret to, suddenly remembering that he had a special amulet when he died (he didn’t), and that him and Tiffany can use it to take any body they desire. Needing a lift to New Jersey where Charles was buried, Tiffany hires her teenaged neighbor Jesse (Nick Stabile) to make the trip to deliver the two dolls, via phone call, with money offered up front, and more to come when the dolls reach their destination. Jesse takes the opportunity as a way to run off with his girlfriend Jade (Katherine Heigl), whom he’s forbidden to see due to her over-bearing uncle (John Ritter); but as the Uncle’s constant interference threatens the killer couples plans, Chucky and Tiffany must spring to action to ensure the trip is a success, leaving a trail of bodies behind and putting Jesse and Jade in the spotlight as multiple murderers.
This movie is not the greatest in the series, and is the start of the franchise’s decent, but I will admit that it is a fun movie that moves at brisk pace. The cinematography is solid, the soundtrack and score are pretty damned good, and overall some of the jokes work. While the bulk of the teenage love story is bland and cliched, it does get a little fun when they realize they’re wanted in connection with the murders and begin to suspect each other of having a dark side. At the very least it’s miles better than ‘Seed of Chucky’, and is an easily re-watchable movie.
06) ‘Child’s Play’ (2019)
It’s a little difficult to place this remake on a ranking list with the rest of the franchise; as I mentioned in last week’s review of the film, I had fun and enjoyed this movie, and found a lot of interesting elements in it, but it just didn’t feel like a ‘Child’s Play’ movie; it felt like it should have been it’s own movie with it’s own franchise. On a technical level, this loose remake is better quality than some of the sequels I’ll be placing above it on the list, but when it comes to ranking the ‘Child’s Play’ series, I have to stick with how it holds up to the others that use the same title. I liked the remake, and will most likely own it when it comes out on Blu Ray, but I just prefer the Chucky with a demented personality, as played by Brad Dourif. That said, I felt it would have been a disservice to rank ‘Bride’ and ‘Seed’ above it, even though those films feature my preferred choice of the character, because let’s face it, the remake is just a much better movie than those two. I won’t be recapping or reviewing here, as the movie is still freshly in theaters and my spoiler free review was published a week ago, but I do find it to be a well put together film that’s entertaining and fun on its own merits. It’s not ‘Child’s Play’ to me, but it is a good horror movie.
05) ‘Cult of Chucky’
The seventh film in the original franchise continues on with Don Mancini’s re-invigoration of the series that took the franchise back to its horror roots. While not as good as the previous film, ‘Curse of Chucky’, it is still much better than ‘Bride’ and ‘’Seed’ combined. ‘Cult of Chucky’ see’s the full return of Andy Barclay, once again played by Alex Vincent from the first two movies. The character was absent from ‘Bride’ and ‘Seed’, and all of ‘Curse’ with the exception of an after-credits scene that teased the long-awaited return fans have been asking for. ‘Cult’ has a similar after-credits scene that teases the return of another fan favorite character from the original trilogy.
‘Cult of Chucky’ begins with the grown-up Andy Barclay keeping Chucky’s severed, half-blown-off head locked away; he pulls it out to torture Chucky, getting Revenge on the killer doll for messing up his life. Meanwhile, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif), the handicapped protagonist from the previous film has been locked away in an institution, accused of the crimes that occurred in ‘Curse’ and believed to be insane after trying to convince the authorities that it was Chucky. After accepting that it was her who committed the murders, and that Chucky was just a delusion, Nica is transferred to a medium security institution where she can receive visitors. Her first visitor happens to be Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) who inhabits the body of actress Jennifer Tilly, as seen in ‘Seed of Chucky’; Tiffany brings Nica a Good Guy doll (Chucky) and delivers the news that Nica’s niece Alice had been killed (which I’m calling bullshit on, because based on Tiffany’s reactions when the kid is mentioned, I’m thinking the kid is still alive somewhere, and will be the key to help Nica regain control in future installments. I could be wrong on that, but that’s my theory). That night, Guilt-Ridden Nica attempts to kill herself, but Chucky doesn’t allow it because he has plans for her. After more murders happen, Andy realizes the truth of what Chucky is capable of, and travels to the institution in an effort to save Nica.
Chucky is finally able to do the one thing he’s never successfully done before in the franchise: he can place his soul in anyone or anything he chooses. This I felt was an interesting touch that makes this film stand out from the rest and opens the door to whole new possibilities going forward. The explanation to this is very cringe worthy, but regardless, I very much liked this twist, and I can’t wait to see what Mancini has in store for his continuation with next years eight-part mini-series for SyFy and future movies. Acting wise, Fiona Dourif and Alex Vincent are great in this, and I love the way Mancini wrote Andy’s character; it’s just so natural, and I’m grateful that he has a bad-ass side to him instead of being a bitch consumed with fear. The setting, set design, cinematography and editing are also well done here as well. I really like that Mancini is experimenting in style with each new film, giving every sequel an identity of their own. A few lines of dialogue, particularly during the opening sequence of Andy’s date, and later on with the “Voodoofordummies.com” horseshit, are awful and cringe-worthy, but overall, I really liked this sequel and I am eager to see where Mancini takes this.
04) ‘Child’s Play 3′
10 years after the events of the first film, and 8 years after the second, the Play Pals Corporation attempts to recover from the crippling accusations of Andy Barclay, and from the deaths that occurred in their own Chicago based factory at the end of the second film. The company opens the factory back up and re-launches the Good Guy brand of dolls and merchandise, as enough time has passed between the controversy. As this happens, a machine removing the melted and very fucked up remains of Chucky’s body carries the heap of plastic over a vat being used to create new dolls, and Chucky’s blood leaks into it, thus causing the return of Chucky (It’s a stretch, but I think this would have been the better way to have multiple Chucky’s roaming about in ‘Cult’ rather then voodoo for dummies, but that’s just me). After killing the CEO, Chucky tracks down the now 16-year-old Andy Barclay (Justin Whalin – because this film was released one year after the second, and Alex Vincent wouldn’t have been old enough) at Kent Military School, believing he still needs Andy to escape from the doll based on the rules. Chucky mails himself to Kent, but his package his intercepted by a young boy, Private Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers). Realizing that he has a new doll body, Chucky has an epiphany; he doesn’t need Andy after all, because Tyler will be the first person he tells his secret to while in the new Good Guy body. Learning that Chucky has his sites on Tyler, Andy desperately attempts to track down Chucky, who lurks around the school, in an effort to save the boy.
This one may have been the one that escalated the jokes to a much higher degree than the first two films, but unlike some of the later movies, the majority of the jokes land in this one, and Brad Dourif’s voice-work only enhances these moments. The special effects and animatronics are also top notch in this movie; Chucky himself looks particularly sinister and is, in my opinion, the best he’s looked in the entire franchise. I also like that Andy has become the protector, similar to Karen and Kyle from the previous two films, and this gives him a good arc that changes his dynamic with Chucky. It is very corny in several scenes, particularly when the film tries to mimic ‘Full Metal Jacket’, but overall, it’s one of the better sequels this series has to offer.
03) ‘Curse of Chucky’
The sixth film caught me completely off guard; after all, the previous film, ‘Seed of Chucky’ had been a huge let down and killed the franchise’s theatrical run, rendering future installments to be released direct to DVD and Blu Ray – so how good could this film be? The series was surely going down a slope, and my expectations were really low. But I’m a fan and am willing to give any sequel a fair shot, and I’m also a completionist with my movie collections, so what the hell, I ordered it. As I watched it, I was very impressed and thankful of the fact that it did not pick up where ‘Seed’ ended, and I loved that it had dropped the campy humor, bringing it back to its horror roots. As I first watched it, it seemed to do its own thing and ignore some of the previous films, and I was fine with that, but then several reveals happen, sparingly through-out the film that confirms this was in fact a direct sequel following continuity, while also establishing its own new story arc, and I ended up loving it even more, especially with that after credits sequence that finally caught us back up with Andy Barclay. This movie re-established my love for the franchise, and is easily one of my favorites in the bunch.
The story begins with the crippled Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) signing for a package sent to her mother, Sarah (Chantal Quesnel). The package has no return address, and when Sarah opens it, she finds that it’s a Good Guy doll. Later that night, Nica is awakened by her mother’s screams, and eventually finds her dead body in the lobby downstairs. The next day, Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti), brother-in-law Ian (Brennan Elliot), niece Alice (Summer Howell), her niece’s nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) and a reverend named Frank (A. Martinez) arrive at the house in preparation for the funeral. Alice finds Chucky in the upstairs bathroom, which initially strikes Nica as odd considering that the doll had been in the downstairs living room when her family arrived; her suspicions are brushed off due to distractions, including her sister’s insistence that Nica is helpless and is in need of care and desperation for potential money earned from selling their mother’s house. As the day turns to night, Chucky begins to strike one by one, acting out a vengeance against the family whom it is discovered to have had a personal history with Chucky prior to incident in which his human form, Charles Lee Ray was gunned down in 1988.
This was a nice return to form for the franchise: the return of the horror over humor element; the slow building suspense; the likable protagonist; the score; the story and backstory; and the entire third act – it’s just a top notch sequel that showed franchise sequels can emerge from the pit despite a bad entry before it. Metaphorically speaking, as I’ve never actually met him, Mancini reminded me of why I love this series with this sequel. This is easily among the best for me.
02) ‘Child’s Play’ (1988)
By rights, this should be number one on the list; it’s a fantastically structured, and unique horror film from the combined efforts of series mastermind Don Mancini and Co-Writer/Director Tom Holland (who wrote the underrated gem ‘Psycho 2’, and also Wrote and Directed the excellent vampire film ‘Fright Night’).
It begins with known serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) being chased through the streets of Chicago by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon); after an accomplice flees the scene, leaving Charles to his fate with the police, the pursuit leads to a toy store, where Norris shoots Charles. Desperate to save his soul before death comes knocking, Charles uses voodoo to transfer his soul into a Good Guy doll. We’re then introduced to single mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) and her son Andy (Alex Vincent), who is just turning six. Andy has his hopes up when noticing a present that is in a rectangular box shaped like what Good Guy dolls come in, but becomes disappointed when he opens it to discover clothing. Karen knows that Andy had his heart set on getting a Good Guy doll for his birthday, but she is struggling financially and just couldn’t afford one. Later on, her friend Maggie (Dinah Manoff) informs her that a peddler on the street behind their place of employment has a second-hand Good Guy doll for sale, and she jumps on the opportunity to purchase it for cheap. Andy is beyond happy with his Good Guy, named Chucky, until later that night when Chucky comes to life and kills Maggie. Neither Detective Norris nor his mother believe him when he tries to claim that it was Chucky who was responsible for Maggie’s death. Andy’s claims that his Good Guy doll is possessed by the spirit of Charles Lee Ray, who was presumed dead in the toy store, are quickly dismissed. Chucky gets Andy to take him around the city, where Chucky begins to kill his old friends, believing that they betrayed him, placing Andy at the scene of multiple crime scenes. It is believed that Andy is disturbed, and while he is being treated, Karen discovers the truth about Chucky. Desperate to save Andy, Karen seeks the help of Detective Norris, and while he doesn’t believe her, he comes to her aide as she defiantly tracks down the homeless peddler for information about the doll, from which he admits to taking it from the ruined toy store where Norris shot Charles. Meanwhile, Chucky sets his sights on Andy after discovering that there is only one way to get out of the doll: by performing the ritual on the first person he revealed his secret to.
This movie is wonderfully directed and sets up suspense by slowly building up to the reveal of Chucky in action, at first only giving us glimpses into what he can do as a unsuspecting and seemingly ordinary doll, and when we finally see Chucky fully in action, it’s nothing short of breathtaking with the special effects and animatronics. One of my favorite scenes in the entire franchise the moment when Karen learns that Andy has been telling the truth after discovering that Chucky has no batteries, and is attacked by the killer doll. The suspense of this revelation and how it unfolds is done masterfully and Chucky’s sudden reaction is actually kind of terrifying thanks to the directing, effects work and voice as the doll says “hi, I’m Chucky, wanna play?”. One of the things that really makes this stand out from the rest is that it doesn’t have much humor to it. It’s a horror movie first and foremost, and is worthy of its place as one of the greats in the horror genre.
01) ‘Child’s Play 2’
I have a bit of a bias when it comes down to placing this sequel over the first film as my top favorite in the franchise. As children, my brother and I used to watch the second and third films when they played on USA back to back all the time – back when I had my own “My Buddy” doll, which would be thrown out into the hallway at night. These movies scared me and delighted me at the same time. Not matter what, when they were on, we were watching. I’ve seen ‘Child’s Play 2’ the most, and have always had a particular fondness for the movie. It is, in my own humble opinion, the most re-watchable entry in the franchise and has yet to get dull upon recent reviewing’s.
The story picks up two years after the first film, and Play Pals has successfully restored the destroyed doll as part of their internal investigation into the claim from the Barclay’s, once again dismissing the possibility that the doll was possessed by deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray, and instead believing that an employee messed with its programming as a practical joke. It is revealed that Norris and his partner played it smart and kept their mouths shut, but Karen had backed up Andy’s story and was sent to an institution for mental evaluation; Andy has been living in a Children’s shelter, separated from his mother, ever since. Once the doll is completed, Chucky returns to life and once again seeks out the traumatized Andy in an effort to escape from the doll and live as a human being. Meanwhile, Andy has finally been taken out of the shelter and adopted by Joanne and Phil Simpson(Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham), whom have concerns over taking in a child with such baggage. Andy bonds with the Simpson’s adopted teenager Kyle (Christine Elise), and makes an effort to please the family by confronting his fears and taking the families Good Guy doll named Tommy, unaware that Chucky had infiltrated the home and posed as Tommy to get close to Andy again. But Chucky finds himself racing against the clock as he discovers that he is becoming human again and is at risk of being trapped inside the doll forever.
Like the first film, this one has some impressive effects and animatronics, plus some solid cinematography. One scene that I find particularly iconic is the low angle shot of Chucky walking out of the classroom closet and towards Mrs. Kettlewell (Beth Grant), which is an excellent displayed of visual effects and menace. The story itself if simplistic and gets to the point fast, but is well paced and very fun, especially in the third act, which is set inside the Play Pals factory. Alex Vincent does a terrific job as Andy and carries the movie pretty convincingly, along with Christine Elise who is one of the more likable and memorable supporting characters in the franchise. This is an excellent and worthy sequel that’s pure fun from beginning to end.
Overall this is one fun franchise that starts off great, starts to decline, but then picks itself up and straightens itself out again. I love these movies, and I can’t wait for the future installments.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? How would you rank these? Please let us know!