Universal recently sent me the upcoming Chucky: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Set, which includes Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky and the brand new Curse of Chucky. Last night around 8:45 or so I knew the second episode of “The Blacklist” was going to be on at 10 PM, but I wasn’t exactly slobbering with anticipation after last week’s disappointing pilot. Not wanting to watch anything all that intellectually stimulating I decided to grab the box set and give this new Chucky film a watch. I think I made the right choice.
Let’s get one thing out of the way at the start, Curse of Chucky isn’t a very good film. I don’t think this will surprise anyone, even those that will say they enjoyed it. It’s possible to enjoy a bad film and in the case of Curse, the enjoyment will largely come out of a sense of nostalgia and the film’s ability to harken back to the franchise roots while also not entirely ignoring the two most recent lackluster installments.
If memory serves I’ve actually never seen Child’s Play 2 or 3, but it’s not as if this is a mythology that’s hard to grasp and Curse of Chucky also manages to build on the Chucky back-story and how exactly he came into being while giving reason for future films to exist. After all, we’re only talking about a direct-to-video release here, it’s not as if Universal was breaking the bank on the budget.
The story takes place, for the most part, over the course of one night. Nica (Fiona Dourif) is a paraplegic and has just found her mother murdered shortly after they received an anonymous package including the familiar face of the red-headed Good Guys doll, Chucky (voiced once again by Brad Dourif, yes, Fiona’s father). Shortly thereafter Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) and brother-in-law Ian (Danielle Bisutti) arrive with their daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) and live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Over the course of the night, dysfunctional family secrets are revealed and people die, all at the hands of the killer doll whether it be by rat poison, a knife to an eye or electrocution.
Essentially, it’s a Chucky film, though this is played more for horror and gore than for laughs, which is where the franchise had turned to as of late.
While it looked incredibly cheap and featured endlessly bad acting, the Chucky doll was great. The animatronics were excellent and the heavy push for more and more jokes weren’t there as much as the film seemed to want to actually tell a story and regain at least some level of credibility. Or, at least, as much credibility as a film about a talking, killer doll, possessed by the soul of a serial killer can attain.
It was funny, however, while watching I couldn’t help but think of the I, Frankenstein and how stupid it sounded. Then, there I was, watching the sixth film in a franchise about a killer doll. Hypocrisy?
I feel I could safely argue why the Chucky franchise is different than what is going on in Hollywood as of late, especially with something like I, Frankenstein. The fact one is a targeted direct-to-video release rather than a bigger budget attempt at a new franchise using nothing but used elements from other movies is where I would start. In fact, the two films are probably the perfect examples of exactly what is going on in Hollywood right now.
Both are probably equally terrible, the only difference is the size of the budget and the money that will be spent on marketing. Lionsgate has decided they were going to spend a ton of money to try and turn I, Frankenstein into a franchise. On top of spending that money, you have to consider the audience. I, Frankenstein has already received it’s PG-13 rating, no chances will be taken with this film. It will be a bunch of quick cuts and fight scenes shrouded in darkness to create the illusion of something more than it is.
Comparatively, Curse of Chucky would never be released in theaters as is. There isn’t a big enough name in the cast and it’s an R-rated horror sequel in a franchise that more-or-less died out back in ’91 before it turned into a horror-comedy spoof in ’98. The only way this would be made by a studio today is if it included a name they could sell and somehow make it as a PG-13 film, but the risk would be way too high with not enough chance for much reward, even if the film was generally regarded as good.
Even in my discussion of I, Frankenstein commenters referenced films such as Resident Evil and Underworld, forgetting they are both R-rated franchises while I, Frankenstein will be PG-13. The rating difference is a big one when it comes to these genre features as a PG-13 severely limits the addition of what people come to love about such films. Imagine Underworld without the head slice at the end or even Underworld: Evoltion without the helicopter blade death. You can’t, because as you strip away what makes monsters scary you end up with either watered down, been-there-done-that or Twilight.
So, when it comes to my hypocrisy, there is some. We all have our biases, blinding us from some level of truth, but I think it’s safe to say a film about a killer doll is a little more inventive than another twist on the Frankenstein story, this time with “vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons”, even if it’s the sixth film with said killer doll. Just an opinion, as ignorant and hypocritical as some may think it to be.
As for whether or not I made the right choice in skipping “The Blacklist” to watch this, well, I’ll find out soon enough. I have a feeling it will end in a draw and I’ll be kicking myself for not simply watching Denis Villeneuve‘s Maelstrom. Such is life.