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How ‘Curse of Chucky’ Completely Restored My Faith in the Franchise

I’m incredibly excited about Cult of Chucky. And that’s thanks to Curse of Chucky.

Like Phantasm, Child’s Play is one of the only long-running movie franchises that has been overseen by its original creator throughout its entire run. Don Mancini wrote the original Child’s Play in 1988 and he went on to write every subsequent film in the series. He also directed Seed of Chucky, released in 2004, and returned to the director’s chair for 2013’s Curse of Chucky.

Mancini wrote and is currently directing this year’s Cult of Chucky.

Of course, the franchise has evolved quite a bit since its debut in the ’80s. In 1998, the series took a turn for the comedic and self-referential with Bride of Chucky, and those over-the-top hijinks continued with the even more outlandish Seed of Chucky – a film that saw Chucky and Tiffany give birth to a baby boy… or was it a girl? It would be unfair to write off either film, as I’m well aware that some fans consider Bride of Chucky to be one of the franchise’s best, but personally speaking, I could do without them. They’re not without their laughs, and there’s definitely fun to be had in each of them, but the one-two punch of Bride and Seed mostly killed my interest in ever seeing another Chucky movie again. And then, much to my surprise, Curse of Chucky came along.

Originally billed as a full-on remake, Curse of Chucky turned out to be a direct sequel to, well, every previous film in the surprisingly coherent franchise. But one thing the direct-to-video sequel did remake, so to speak, was the tone of the early films in the series; Mancini himself has described it as a “tonal reboot.” Mostly doing away with the comedy on display in both Bride and Seed, Curse returned the pint-sized killer doll to his scary stalk ‘n slash roots, and if you’re asking me, Mancini delivered exactly what the franchise needed at that point in time. In the wake of Chucky going to Hollywood, killing Britney Spears, masturbating to Fangoria Magazine, and having an androgynous child with a Scottish accent, the low-budget, back-to-basics approach of Curse of Chucky was a huge breath of fresh air. A fusion of old fashioned suspense and gory slasher thrills, Curse of Chucky is unquestionably one of the best horror franchise “reboots” of all time.

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The most brilliant thing about Curse of Chucky, however, is that’s it not actually a reboot at all; tonally, yes, but definitely not in the storytelling department. Made with the love that could only come from the guy who created the whole damn thing, Curse of Chucky impressively managed to tie together the entire series, despite initially seeming like a remake. For much of the film, Chucky looks as he did in the first three installments, suggesting that Curse of Chucky is going to ignore the events of both Bride and Seed. But in the final act, it’s revealed that Chucky has been wearing “makeup” to disguise the gnarly scars we had become accustomed to seeing. Jennifer Tilly even pops up for an appearance as Tiffany, as does Alex Vincent as a grownup Andy Barclay.

And then there’s the new mythology that Curse of Chucky brings to the table, which comes courtesy of flashbacks that effectively de-age Brad Dourif and provide us with new insights into the life of Charles Lee Ray (the serial killer whose soul inhabits Chucky). We learn that paraplegic main character Nica (played by Brad’s own daughter, Fiona) has been wheelchair bound since birth because of Charles Lee Ray, who stabbed her mother in the stomach prior to her birth. Curse even returns us to the opening scene of the original Child’s Play, arming us with the new knowledge that Charles Lee Ray was running from police after the stabbing of Nica’s mother. It was a whole new layer to an old story, and in a world where all of our favorite horror franchises get remade rather than directly continued, it was pretty damn cool to see Mancini going back to the beginning and building upon what we had already seen and what we thought we knew. Similar to what Rogue One did for A New Hope, Curse of Chucky made it impossible to ever watch Child’s Play again without thinking of that new context, which is a real cool treat for longtime fans.

Curse of Chucky is so good that it makes you wish every horror franchise could be brought back to life with the same passion and genuine care for the characters and mythology. It also makes you wonder if maybe the low-budget, direct-to-video approach isn’t such a bad idea for other villains like Jason, Freddy, and Michael. Sometimes, giving the fans what they want to see is the best way to go with beloved franchises like Child’s Play, and with Curse of Chucky, I can honestly say that Don Mancini gave me everything I wanted to see. Father knows best, as they say.

What’s next? Chucky, Andy, Tiffany, and badass new heroine Nica will all come together in Cult of Chucky, filming now and hopefully being released sometime later this year!

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COMMENTS

44 Comments
  • Rohan Sorensen

    Curse of Chucky was awesome! Makes me kinda want to see 2-5

    • Saturn

      But not the original (okay, someone had to bite….)?

  • nowaygetreal

    John you just got me all hyped up to rewatch Curse of Chucky.
    Valid article, and a good one.

  • Full Effect Ed

    Even though this series is unarguably “Mancini’s baby”, let’s not forget how much his original screenplay was changed in the first film and how those changes have effected the series as we now know it. Things like the whole voodoo aspect were made against his will, yet he embraced it in later films that he wrote and directed himself.

    • Saturn

      Which goes to show that he’s not an egotist who insists on “his baby” being done “his” way.
      It sounds like he was sensible enough to say “actually, perhaps I was wrong” and went with it.
      Fair play to the uplift mofo.

  • James

    For me the 2nd is still the best. At this point this is actually one of the series I want to see rebooted. Curse of chucky was just ok and the next one sounds pretty meh to me.

    • Daniel Anderson

      Honestly I don’t know how I’d feel about a reboot. Its so iconic, with that voice/laugh and everything, and the dude isn’t getting any younger. Would be like freddy without Englund for myself and those like me.

      • James

        I agree. You need Brad or not at all. I just mean at this point the story is pretty stupid. I like the simple premise of the first two, but I would still want brad as chucky or not at all.

      • Saturn

        In all fairness, even if they rebooted/remade or whatever the term is these days, Brad could still make them for the next 20 years if it’s all about his voice (and he keeps fit and well). Although he may sound a little croakier in future movies….

        • Daniel Anderson

          Give him the princess leia treatment, ala Rogue One of CGI 80’s Bradford and I’d be okay with that.

    • Full Effect Ed

      Child’s Play 2 will forever be my absolute favorite installment of the series

      • Saturn

        Child’s Play 2 is one of those rare sequels that is better than the original – like Friday The 13th pt 2, and (some will say, although I disagree) Halloween 2 (not the zombie one, silly……)

  • Daniel Anderson

    I really enjoyed it. Was a good addition. The back story was somewhat meh, but it was good to hear that fucking laugh again.

    • Saturn

      It really should be more iconic than it actually is.

  • jasonlives1986

    This movie was never billed as or claimed before hand as a remake.

    • John Squires

      From Wikipedia: “In an August 2008 interview, Don Mancini and David Kirschner spoke of a planned reboot of the Chucky franchise to be written and directed by Mancini. They described their choice of a remake over a sequel as a response to the will of the fans. In a subsequent interview, Mancini described the remake as a darker and scarier retelling of the original movie, but one that, while having new twists and turns, will not stray too far from the original concept.”

      • John Squires

        That’s what I mean when I say “originally billed.” The first I heard of the project that became Curse of Chucky, it was being described as a remake.

        • Saturn

          Like I just posted a few seconds earlier, before I read your reply, I seem to remember Mancini was talking about both a sequel AND a remake were in the works.

      • jasonlives1986

        Well yes. If you meant the actual time they were gonna reboot the series.

        But my memory was when curse of chucky was announced it was announced as a direct sequel

        Either way. I thought curse was the best since part 3. Hoping the new one continues that trend.

        • Saturn

          I seem to remember that Mancini mentioned that the plan was a sequel to the original series, AND a separate theatrical remake.

  • Esa Cortez

    “Curse of Chucky is so good that it makes you wish every horror franchise could be brought back to life with the same passion and genuine care for the characters and mythology.”

    I 110% agree! I was thoroughly surprised with how good it was.

  • Victor Arredondo

    A very good remake…Love the extra clip at very end with Andy
    And to see Fiona do this character and then do “Bart” in Dirk Gently series means this woman can act!!

    • I’ve just started watching Dirk Gently and was really surprised/excited to see Fiona in it. She’s brilliant

      • Weresmurf

        She really is, the way she makes you empathis with her ‘holistic assassin’ is stunning! So looking forward to this!

  • ThunderDragoon

    Completely agree. 😀

  • I agree with this article completely, Curse was the best Chucky since the original trilogy in my opinion. As entertaining as they are, Bride and Seed will always be separate to me (even though Curse proved they’re not, haha). I can’t wait for Cult!

    • Saturn

      Not sure if I fully agree with that, as 3 was the weakest of the original trilogy, and Bride was a better all round movie, but Curse was definitely one of the stronger of the franchise, and I look forward to Cult and hopefully at least a couple more Chucky movies before the (inevitable?) remake.

      • Can’t argue with that, 3 is definitely the weakest of the trilogy and Bride is a better movie, but I’ve always preferred 3 purely because it was the last time (until Curse) that Chucky was a solo antagonist and had the spotlight. There’s some brilliant lines in 3 too… “don’t fuck with the Chuck” and “presto… YOU’RE BALD!” get me every time haha.

        • Saturn

          I love the whole “Don’t fuck with the Chuck” line.

  • Mike Lawrence

    Curse was just so B- movie cheesy!! I love Chucky, and the fact that the same people have continued to be behind this series, but Bride and Seed were more like kids movies, and Curse just felt like a new director stepped in to make a cheap rip off to cash in. It didn’t feel anything like the original trilogy, which is what I’ve been dying to see for years!!
    I’m still hopeful for Cult, but my expectations are low.
    Really hope it’s good and doesn’t kill the momentum for more in the future. Please just make Chucky scary!! And believable, rather than so clearly digitally enhanced like he unfortunately was in Curse!!

  • Curse is great and having just rewatched the series I can say Curse has great replay value.

    • Saturn

      I’ve been meaning to rewatch Curse again (I’ve seen it a couple of time and loved it both) but I reckon I shall await the dawn of the Cult Of Chucky before rewatching again!

  • diapers

    Loved Curse. Bring it on.

  • oh_riginal

    A new detail that I like (and I’m sure it has to work, considering the attention to detail Mancini gives) is that, from Tiffany’s point of view, she must not have had any idea on where Charles Lee Ray went the night he ended up in the toy store. She comments that she was so excited by the ring he left on the dresser for her, thinking that it was his way of proposing. It turned out to be some random victim’s ring that he kept to pawn off later.

    If Tiffany was expecting a proposal starting on the night that he turned into Chucky, and considering how possessive she is of him, and clearly does love him in Bride of Chucky, it’s easy to assume that she was completely in the dark about Nica’s mother and that Charles Lee Ray had knocked her up.

    In a way, it makes the Chucky/Tiffany relationship even more complex. I’m sure it’s a detail that most people didn’t pick up on, as I didn’t really think about it until much later after first watching Curse of Chucky.

    • Josh Nitsche

      It would have been cool to see Brad and Jennifer acting opposite each other as their human selves. I’m slightly confused on their relationship now. When did he start seeing Tiffany if he’s supposedly in love with Nica’s mom?

      • oh_riginal

        That’s partly why I find their relationship interesting now. Either Charles Lee Ray was in love with Nica’s mom but was in a side-relationship with Tiffany but didn’t take her serious (hence the “what ring?” response he gave her in Bride of Chucky), or he was already in a relationship with Tiffany but drifted to Nica’s mom because he found her more appealing.

        Either way, it really seems like Tiffany, at least at the time, had no idea that Nica’s mom existed. Does she still not know? How much information had Chucky given her prior to being shipped in the mail to Nica’s house? We may never get the full story, but I like that there are gaps for the imagination to fill.

    • Radb707

      Was it implied that Charles Lee Ray knocked her up? I thought she had zero interest in him.

      • oh_riginal

        Maybe? I might be remembering the movie wrong and connected that the actress is the real-life daughter of the voice of Chucky!

  • Child’s Play is my all time favorite horror franchise, and I have to say, I do not understand all the love Curse gets. I find it to be incredibly overrated. I appreciate that they tied in into the franchise and kept all entries canon, but man, I thought it was bad. Alterian Inc.’s puppet effects are awful compared to the first 4 entries, the acting was very subpar, and a lot of nonsensical things happen. He swallows the car keys? Even though in another scene his head is knocked off and shows that he is just solid foam on the inside? So he’s not human anymore? Even though he was fully human in Seed? He seemingly transfers his soul into the girl at the end, yet in the next scene he is still in the doll going after Andy? I know these seem like nit picks but there are countless moments like this in this film. I don’t know, I respect people’s opinion but this movie just didn’t do it for me.

    • Radb707

      Right, I had the same feeling about the discrepancy about Chucky’s body. BUT, remember that Chucky’s body becomes real the longer he’s in it. So perhaps what’s happening is he inhabits a human body most of the time, but when he wants to go out and kill people, he transfers his soul to the doll body so he can be effectively immortal and get away with the crime.

  • Rick-Taylor

    I feel that Child’s Play 3 is the low-point of the series. I enjoy Bride and Seed, for what they are.

    • gabriel

      3 had a good idea though

  • Feonix

    You either love Chucky movies or hate them…

  • L. Burke Ivey

    I agree with this entire article so much, I want to take it out to dinner.

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