Is ‘Child’s Play 2′ Better Than ‘Child’s Play’?!

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With the quite good Curse Of Chucky now available on VOD (and hitting Blu-ray on October 8th) I thought it would be an interesting time to discuss a somewhat controversial notion among fans of Don Mancini’s iconic Chucky character – is Child’s Play 2 actually a better film than Child’s Play?

There was a time when suggesting such a thing seemed like heresy. For years I’ve just assumed that my childhood enthusiasm for the Child’s Play sequels was nothing but a youthful flight of fancy. I had it in my head that the first film was the only true important component of the franchise (with Bride Of Chucky being an interesting postmodern footnote). But as I began revisiting this series last month I began to see a real case developing for the enduring quality of Child’s Play 2 (unfortunately I can’t say the same for the rushed Child’s Play 3 – though I applaud that film’s effort to change the scenery a bit). Is it the perfect Chucky film?

For years the fanbase has been carrying the torch that the 1988 original film is the only one that is “truly scary.” I’d contend that none of the films are actually scary. That’s not to say they’re not good – it’s just that the best Child’s Play movies are exemplary “fun” slashers. You can take the kills kind of seriously, but the pleasure you derive from them usually stems from their inventiveness more than anything else. There’s gore, but you’re not grossed out. These movies scratch the horror itch in a big way, but they’re not going to haunt your dreams.

The first film might take itself slightly more seriously at times, but it’s still certainly in on the joke of having the world’s most diminutive foul-mouthed killer. The moments where the film acknowledges this (such as Catherine Hicks’ first violent encounter with Chucky) are its most successful. They’ve got the suspense, intensity and wit we associate with Chucky’s best moments, but the surrounding elements still aren’t fully nudged into the Chucky-verse. I’d argue that the series had yet to find its true identity and that Child’s Play is peppered with slight tonal miscalculations that keep it from really coming into its own.

Child’s Play 2 manages to strip away all artifice and still manage to be an effective slasher. It knows it’s dealing with a sassy killer doll, and it fully embraces that path. It doesn’t have to hide Chucky’s true nature from us like the first film did in its first few acts (and initial marketing campaign). In fact, it begins at the “Good Guy” factory and seems to ratchet up the more playful elements of the universe from frame one. The film is brighter, more colorful and runs at a brisk pace. The initial kill, a technician being electrocuted during the process of restoring (reanimating) Chucky perfectly sets up the film’s mix of youthful whimsy and adult cynicism.

Andy’s new foster parents, Joanne and Phil (played by Jenny Agutter and Phil Simpson), are painted in broad strokes. She wants to nourish Andy back to emotional health, he wants the kid out of the damn house. But you can sense just a hint of the warmth that must have initially bonded them as a couple (and Joanne’s grief over the later loss of Phil is palpable). Again, we get a youthful shorthand with just enough layering added to not make it a farce (a different dynamic with a similar balancing act informs Andy’s relationship with his foster sister, Kyle).

Then, you have the kills. Almost every one of them makes expert use of Chucky’s size, available tools and skill set. From the sleazy “Good Guy” exec to Beth Grant’s disciplinarian teacher to Phil’s untimely demise. Where a few of the kills in the first film took place from Chucky’s anonymous POV (before his reveal), here we really get to see him relish the art of murder. It’s something he really enjoys and that joy, sick as it is, works incredibly well when shared onscreen.

The film’s finale in the makeshift funhouse of the “Good Guy” assembly line embodies the success of the piece in a nutshell. It’s exploding with color and inventiveness. It’s violent and bloody, but playful. It has a nice sense of momentum and is able to oscillate between humor and menace in a deft manner. Thematically, it brings Chucky sort of full circle in his demise (at least in terms of his 2nd life as a doll). And it sums up how John Lafia’s Child’s Play 2 outshines the original Tom Holland film a bit – it manages to have its cake and eat it too. That’s what Chucky’s all about isn’t it?

  • divisionbell

    I have to go with the second over the first. The first was a good story, but the second is a true sequel that expands and excels over the original.

    • Vinn

      Although the first one was a classic and good in its own right, the second one is (in my opinion) the better of the two.

  • SkullBunnie

    Hands down Childs Play 2 is the best in the series

  • CryMurder

    Short answer is no.

    The original at least for me is hands down the best of the franchise. But for me it more has to do with the kind of movie the original was versus what kind of movies the sequels were. The original Child’s Play was a whodunit mystery movie rather than a horror movie slasher which were all the rage at the time of the original Child’s Play release. And even then the dark atmosphere and seriousness the story line was taken became something all of the sequels had a hard time emulating.

    Child’s Play 2 was a great sequel and the second best film in the franchise hands down, but the elements of the slasher movie genre that we’d see a lot more in future sequels was put in place in this movie.

    • 100percenter

      I agree 100%(er). The first one will always have a special place in my heart and scared me when I was a kid. The goofier they got, the further they got from actually being scary. The scene where Andy is trapped in the hospital and the camera cuts to Chucky climbing a fire escape across the way is terrifying to this day. I love CPII as well but maybe I over watched it as a kid or something. Its the one Ive seen the most and while good, isnt my favorite. I should give it a second go.

      • CryMurder

        People don’t seem to remember how many really scary moments the original had.

        SPOILER ALERT

        1)Chucky killing Kaputo.
        2)Chucky almost killing Detective Norris in the flipped over car.
        3)Chucky killing Maggie.
        4)Chucky stalking Andy around the mental hospital.
        5)Norris chasing Charles Lee Ray into the Toy Store in the opening shoot out. Brilliant set up for the rest of the movie.

        So many chilling and iconic moments in the first movie alone that were never captured again in any of the sequels.

        • CryMurder

          Not to mention the ending with the final shot of Andy’s face was just flat out spooky. For me honestly there’s no touching the original. Too special.

          • brvoorhees

            Love that ending too.

  • SlothyPunk

    I love them both, but I’ve always enjoyed CP2 over the original.

    Something I have to disagree with though, is that Child’s Play did in fact give me nightmares. I’ve seen the best and worst horror. My collection contains hundreds of movies and, for some reason, this franchise is the only one to ever give me nightmares as a kid. Go figure.

    • 100percenter

      As I said above, CPI genuinely scared me as a kid. I had to sleep with my room door open so I could scream if Chucky came. Then with the door open, all I could do was stare at the door sill and pray I didnt see his little hands grab it from around the corner. CPI and Candyman terrified me more as a child than any others.

  • dorfhombre

    I prefer the first over the sequel.

  • SonOfVoorhees

    None of them were scary, its a doll killing people. Not watched the new one yet, waiting for its released here in the UK. But the facial movements look weird. I liked them all, Bride of Chucky was great, seemed to me to be what Chucky should have been – a horror comedy. Its a silly situation and should be seen that way. I would have liked another sequel to Seed with the kids and maybe Chucky still alive to get revenge.

    But a purely evil Chucky with zero humour is also fun as well if he is sadistic and quips. Actually, anyone who saw the new movie, does he make funny quips before he kills?

    • WalkWithMeInDarkness

      Yes, he makes quips both before and after kills. He’s still funny in that “Oh my God, that’s dark” kind of way (I felt the same way about Heath Ledger’s Joker), but to me the new film has a few things that make Chucky seem more evil than before. Or at least a little more cruel. But I still love that little bastard.

  • Rick-Taylor

    I really wanna weigh in on this topic cause I’ve been watching these movies since I was a kid, but it’s been a few years and the first one isn’t streaming on Netflix. Makes me wish movie rental stores were still around.

  • Skratchy

    Always loved the second one more, especially as a kid, though I admit that the first one is ACTUALLY a better movie.

  • Private_Vasquez

    I remember watching this in the theater double feature with Jacob’s Ladder. They both instantly became two of my favorites. The second one is by far the best of the series but just FYI to BLOODY-DISGUSTING.com, Phil Simpson is the characters name, Gerrit Graham is his real name.

  • mcgillj

    Hate saying this but a MILLION times no. The brighter tone? I actually was glad the sequel did keep up with the same character, although I was always saddened with the recasting in CP3. It would have been nice to have Vincent reprise the role to round out a trilogy of films. But no.. the acting was AWFUL.. In fact it would be like comparing Halloween to I would say H20. The acting in the first was much much better. And granted part of the reason I think people LOVE CP2 so much was that it was in CP2 that Chucky really became “Chucky”. And I can understand that. But its also the point where the MONSTER becomes the trickster and the jokester and really isn’t SCARY anymore. This happened to Freddy as well, by part 4 it really was paper thin fodder and Freddy quips (and I actually anjoyed 4, but I would NEVER EVER argue that 4 was a better film). It was an enjoyable film.. and a much different one than the original. With part 2 it did become a SLASHER series, and Chucky became an icon in the same breath with Freddy, Micheal, Jason and Leatherface. Not that I begrudge that, Brad Douriff has always brilliantly played the whole manic and over the top wonderfully. But no.. and honestly for just as a pure fun SLASHER? Even though it is much more comedic, I would take the silly “Bride of Chucky” over “Child’s Play 2″… Where as “Child’s Play 3″ was HATED and reviled.. it did try and go for a darker tone.. but still have the funny Chucky, sadly in the end it did become a bit of a mess in that regard. But.. I actually, if I were going to watch either 2 or 3 I always go for 3.

    • brvoorhees

      “Part of the reason I think people LOVE CP2 so much was that it was in CP2 that Chucky really became “Chucky”. And I can understand that. But its also the point where the MONSTER becomes the trickster and the jokester and really isn’t SCARY anymore. This happened to Freddy as well, by part 4 it really was paper thin fodder and Freddy quips (and I actually anjoyed 4, but I would NEVER EVER argue that 4 was a better film). It was an enjoyable film.. and a much different one than the original.”

      Totally.

      100% agreed until you said Bride and 3 are better than 2. :P
      I like Bride, but IMO 3 is by far the worst movie. Its first 15 mins are awesome, the photography is beautiful and that truck scene is unforgettable, but all the rest just… no. Screenplay, pacing, characters, concept. Chucky became a total clown and is ugly as hell – he looks like a monkey! That whole military thing was boring and poorly developed, it just felt too contrived. The movie tries to much to be funny, and that just ruins the horror part. It didn’t work. The new Andy…lacks expression; Tyler totally blows. It’s the only BAD movie in the series, the way I see it.

  • TwistedCritic

    The second is much more fun and holds up better under repeated viewings. The scene in the first one where Chucky finally drops the act and starts attacking and cursing out Andy’s mom is still the best scene of the whole series though. But I have to give it to part 2, for having my favorite title sequence of the series. I loved watching a burnt-up Chucky slowly assembled back together.

  • ThunderDragoon

    I’ve always liked the first Child’s Play the most. I can see why people would choose the 2nd over the 1st, but for me, Child’s Play will always be my favorite. The atmosphere, pace, music, suspense, everything was just perfect. And I’d have to extremely disagree with you on it not being scary. It definitely is. Of course, if you’re not creeped out by living dolls and just laugh, I understand. Same argument goes to clowns, I guess; some find them creepy and some find them funny. It’s all about who you are as a person that affects how scared or not scared you can be in any horror movie.

    • brvoorhees

      Totally agree with you. :D

    • WalkWithMeInDarkness

      Well said. A lot of people don’t understand my fear of spiders, but they don’t have to. I’m scared to fucking death of them.

  • violentdope

    OG

  • horrorgasm

    One things for sure, 2 was the last one I actually enjoyed.

  • Mr. Melvo

    I couldn’t agree more! Child’s Play 2 is my favorite of the Franchise! It just made so much sense! From how they brought the doll back to life to the amazing set up for the third one, Chucky’s epic double death scene, the kills were awesome too! Loved the different places Chucky was able to go to from the factory to the school and back again. Such an enjoyable film can’t wait to watch it on Blu ray !

  • WalkWithMeInDarkness

    Child’s Play 2 has been my favorite since I was little. I’m a fan of all the films except for Seed (no offense to Seed lovers), but while the first one has the whole psychological angle of “Is it the doll or the kid?”, I have to say I prefer 2 for just taking that evil little fucker and just embracing it. I feel Alex Vincent’s performance is stronger in 2 (he’s good in the first, as well) and I just like the look and feel of 2 more than any of the others.

  • MovieGeek

    I prefer the original but the 2nd is pretty fucking great. The finale is awesome.

  • joesey

    Child’s Play 2 is definitely the better movie in comparison, but it wouldn’t have been able to exist with out the first.

  • brvoorhees

    No.
    I understand why so many people says otherwise, but I really think the atmosphere and the suspense of the 1st one is awesome and made it the best of the bunch.
    The fact that Chucky remains in the shadows until halfway through the movie is what made it so scary to me.
    The second one is more dynamic, it has more colors, more characters, more places, and more Chucky, but I still think the original is the best one, with “Curse” and “2″ in a close second.

    • WalkWithMeInDarkness

      I totally get what you’re saying. Even though I like 2 better, I can’t deny that the first one definitely has a higher level of suspense. And I like what you said about Chucky being in the shadows. I think that’s a big part of what made Freddy Krueger so scary in the original Nightmare.

      • brvoorhees

        I agree with you about Freddy. :)
        About CP, I think the reason why I like the 1st movie so badly, is that the whole concept of a “living doll” is creepy, but when it gets too explicit, it just… doesn’t work as it should. It feels more comedic than creepy. Knowing he’s alive but not showing it is what really works. :)
        Still I think the 2 is really entertaining, and has really awesome scenes(like the opening credits), I was a bit disappointed when I watched it for the 1st time as an adult, and that was the reason why.

        • WalkWithMeInDarkness

          That is true with dolls. I’m in the minority of people who like Dead Silence and I find it creepy because the dolls aren’t running around and doing stuff, they’re conduits for the ghost. And I think the stuff with the doll in the opening of The Conjuring is really creepy.

  • iszac87

    I don’t know why they bring this “versus” topic out in the first place. There’s no way Child’s Play 2 could surpass the first film. Wait, don’t get me wrong, the sequel is fine.
    But the first one for me is a total different genre than the rest, the first one is a horror, while the others are slasher.
    The first Child’s Play cleverly joint innocent Chucky’s face and its demonic face. The Good Guy doll was just too creepy to look at, and it makes you keep aware of when will the doll’s face turn bad!
    There are many genius elements of horror in the first Child’s Play, but not just simply bring up gore.
    Therefore, I don’t see a point of comparing the sequel to the original.

  • Ryan

    Did anyone else check out the trailer? Pretty sure they only missed one kill in the entire thing.

  • Anthony Fracassi

    I liked the first one a bit more. Although I am a fan of that Logan’s Run girl. I didn’t think the death by ruler was all that plausible.

  • daruckus

    Child’s Play is much better.

    I mean, for one, the sequel hinges on the coincidence that the Good Guy Dolls factory is fairly close to Andy’s foster home.

    And why the hell would they reassemble a doll that had supposedly murdered several people before being burned to a crisp and then shot through the heart?

    Also, what are the odds that the newspaper truck would pass by the Good Guy Dolls factory before the climax? And why would Chucky take Andy there?

    The whole thing is pretty sloppy. Part 3 sucks almost as bad but at least the story tries to be reasonable.

    The original is easily the best one in the series. I wish they had just remade it instead of making Curse, which falls apart about halfway through. And the attempt to tie whole series together is half-assed. What happened to the whole Caputo story?

  • Ray64

    Correction for the author: Phil Simpson is the name of the foster father as played by the GREAT Gerrit Graham (Beef from Phantom of the Paradise and Bud the C.H.U.D. from take a wild guess).

    That said, Child’s Play 2 is the first movie I think of whenever Chucky comes to mind. I love the color palette and it also features a great score. This is a fantastic second installment and unique enough in tone to stand on its own as a great movie itself. Saying that one is better than the other however is tough but I’d say that part 2 is more fun and rewatchable.

  • VictorCrowley

    I prefer the 2nd one over the first. First one is good, no doubt. But, I agree with most of what’s been said as to why part 2 shines a little brighter.

  • ethan stewart

    A very well done sequel that lives up to what fans had hoped for