Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just Call Me 3D Realms

Because this post isn't about Friday the 13th. Yeah, I'm pushing that back again, going to work on it more. In my defense, it's a long franchise and it's much more... balanced than Nightmare. Although I prefer Freddy over Jason in terms of concept, and Freddy has a few movies that are far better than any of the Jason films... I prefer Nightmare as a franchise.

So what's my subject of the day this time?
Child's Play.

I will flat out admit beforehand that I have a bias towards these films. I've had two seperate incidents with toys similar to the Good Guy dolls that maybe made it easier for Chucky to scare me as a kid.
One involved a pretty ragged Teddy Ruxpin that had a distorted voice due to wear and tear, the other was a Furby that managed to turn back on without batteries (not magic, apparently that's a common issue, Furbies storing some amount of power.)
After expressing that, let's move along!

You all know the drill with the first film's plot. Vicious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (played by Brad Dourif, who you'll recognize best as Wormtongue from LotR or the evil mentat Piter from Dune) gets gunned down in a department store by the evil prince from A Princess Bride. In order to save himself, he transfers his soul into a Good Guy doll, and... ...Thor blows up the store?
This scene actually bothers me a bit the more I think about it. The department store basically explodes in a ball of lightning when the soul transfer happens, and nobody thinks that's odd at all. For starters: Is Satan Thor? Beyond that, is it normal for a lightning storm to -blow up a large department store-?
Sadly, the fact that the soul transfer is common knowledge kinda ruins a good chunk of the film. You see, despite what you'd think, the revelation that Chucky is alive is actually a plot twist. Towards the later half of the movie. For the rest of that we're lead to believe that the -kid- is responsible and is simply blaming the doll.
Speaking of the kid, holy fuck. I'm not a fan of child actors, normally they're awful, even under good directors ("They mostly come at night, mostly.") However, I can think of a few exceptions. In the horror genre, a few stand out: Child's Play, Children of the Corn 1 & 3, The Shining, and the horrible Resident Evil 1.
Seriously. This kid acts like an actual, normal kid. He doesn't sound like he's line reading at all, to the point where part of me thinks the director might have simply given something to say, rather than explicitly -how- to say/word it.
The music in this film is another thing I don't normally here complimented, but god damn is it awesome. It's like this sort of... chaotic ambience with random bits of what sounds like sampling from an out of tune violin.
The effects aren't too bad. The explosion at the beginning is pretty lame, there's another terrible explosion maybe 15 minutes in, people fire their guns really awkwardly, and as with many 80s horror films blood is apparently just red water.
However, the work on Chucky alone is honestly really damn awesome. Always been a fan of animatronics, and the detail put into Chucky's movements and facial expressions just blows my mind, and I'm glad that that is pretty much the only constant in the franchise.
Anyway, altogether, Child's Play is a pretty awesome film. It's got a few crappy moments, a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments here and there, and it's odd to watch after Princess Bride, but beyond all that it's a really fun movie that I highly recommend.

Next we've got Child's Play 2, which is a direct sequel and has the same kid as the first film.
There's not much time between the two films, although in that time apparently Barkley's mom and Prince Humperdink either got stuck in a mental home or put in jail or... they're actually pretty vague on this, and both are mentioned a few times.
Anyway, the kid gets put in a foster home with the most passive aggressive parents ever and a really stereotypical rebelious female teenager. Meanwhile the company that made the Good Guy dolls has decided to... remake Chucky for some reason, using what was left of him. O...kay.
As you'd expect, Chucky kills a bunch of people and stalks the kid from the first film because for some reason he can only swap souls with the first person that knows he's not actually a doll.
The 2nd film's a pretty good slasher. I mean the plot isn't anywhere near as good and it ends up largely being an excuse for death scenes at times, but it's still pretty good, and has some genuinely creepy moments. The special effects in this film are actually -better- than the first film, and honestly it's missing most of the unintentional humor, though it has replaced that with some one-liners from Chucky. I... actually won't complain about that as I did with Freddy. Chucky kinda works with one liners, and obviously we're going to take him quite a bit less seriously, whereas Freddy has a genuinely frightening concept behind him and him becoming Betelgeus-lite just felt weird.
It's not a bad movie, and if you like slashers or really liked the first film, it's worth watching, and it's not like the series went completely silly with it. ...not this one, at least.

Although the next film, Child's Play 3, starts to show signs of the series' future.
Chucky's back again and this time he's extremely witty, basically full on becoming late-NoES Freddy. Thankfully the writing's pretty good and Brad Dourif is honestly a pretty hilarious guy, so it's not all bad.
The kid from the first two films is now at military school, which is really... troperific, if you don't mind my using that term. Stereotypical drill sergents, several students that are basically just soldier stereotypes, etc. That's part of my big issue with this film: It's extremely unoriginal and predictable. It uses so many damn cliches that in all honesty the only enjoyment you'll get from the film is Chucky killing people in not-exaclty-creative ways, or just mocking it. Basically it's... yeah, like watching one of the later NoES movies.
Also for some reason it has Elim Garak/Scorpio Killer/The Dad From Hellraiser as a barber, so that's nice too.
Honestly this film is just for the slasher/Childs Play fans, anyone that doesn't like slashers, especially less-than-serious ones, will either hate or strongly dislike it.

Here's where the series suddenly changes tone, though. Bride of Chucky is... more comedy than horror. This isn't a bad thing, honestly. It's actually a pretty hilarious movie.
The cast is -great-. We've got Brad Dourif returning as Chucky, we've got the marvelous Chesty La-... Tits Mc-... Jennifer Tilly, -and- we get John Ritter. As a crooked cop. ...That seems so odd to me. But still, it works.
It's also got a great soundtrack, almost right off the bat we're treated to Rob Zombie. This might have actually been the first time I'd heard RZ as a kid, although I'd heard many White Zombie songs before.
Beyond the comedy and casting, the special effects are -much- better, it's a -lot- more creative (especially in its death scenes for you slasher fans), and the work on Chucky is so awesome that even the interviews with him whcih you can see online are entertaining to watch. I'm just so amazed at how well they did his facial expressions.
This is a must-see, to me. It's an awesome dark comedy, even if you haven't liked the rest of the franchise.

Sadly the same cannot be said for its followup, Seed of Chucky.
This one pretty much drops horror entirely save for death scenes, and is more wacky than anything else.
Basically the plot is something like this. Chucky's kid, voiced by one of the hobbits from LotR (the genuinely Scottish one), seeks out his parents. He finds them, resurrects them, and... then the plot gets divided in two. We've got:
1. Chucky wants to possess Redman, Jennifer Tilly wants to possess... Jennifer Tilly.
2. Their kid is confused about his gender, leading to numerous Glen or Glenda references.
However, the plot doesn't matter that much, it's more just an excuse for much hilarity and cameo appearances (including John Waters as a paparazi guy.)
Again though, the hilarity thing... personally I didn't find this film that funny. It feels a lot dumber than the previous film, stooping to a random scene where Chucky runs Britney Spears off the road.
On top of that, the plot also gets really weird to follow, it's confusing at times, two of the only likable characters in the film die really quickly...
It's a mess. I'd honestly call it the worst of the franchise, even below Child's play 3.

That's the end of the franchise for now. MGM was going to do a reboot, but they're too busy doing retarded sounding remakes of Robocop and Red Dawn. ...and MGM wonders why they're always in a financial pit.

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