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Child's Play

1988 supernatural horror film written by Don Mancini and directed by Tom Holland

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Wanna Play?

  • Feb 22, 2011
*** out of ****

Now here's an enjoyable little horror/comedy. "Child's Play" is a charming horror flick done in a comedic fashion; as long as charming can come in a relatively dark way. What I find so endearing about this film is that like other 80's horror comedies such as "Gremlins" and "Ghostbusters", it is a minor classic in the horror cinema. While it's definitely not going to scare any adults, I'll be very honest; it's still funny as hell. It's also a good alternative to "time out" for your kids, since this little movie will probably scare the heck out of them. It's a kid's horror movie; a light little gem of a film that will scare youngsters but make adults laugh. I know that it made me laugh, and that's what I liked about it. In a world where good horror films and good comedies are so darned scarce, it's worth it to applaud a director when he can make a good film out of either genre. Here we have director Tom Holland; a man who has successfully made a good film that does both decaying genres some good justice. I like how he directs this film to make it funny and effective, and it will most likely win the hearts of many. I won't say it's a film for everyone, but it's much better than a film like this should be. It's a non-pretentious, camp-filled ride that I can certainly enjoy, thanks to an overdose of hilarious death scenes as well as some finely tuned cheese. If you can find entertainment out of either, then you will find entertainment in "Child's Play". Since the premise suggests something ridiculously funny, you'd expect a film that is just that, right? I know that I would. But this film is what other campy "classics" such as "Piranha" have wanted to be; but for me, they have failed at being what they claim to be. "Child's Play" is a film that works because it knows how sly and dumb it is; and for me, that's a perfect mix. I guess I was in the mood to watch a movie like this, and that's why I really enjoyed it. It's not perfect, but as a film about a killer doll, it sure as hell doesn't need to be. Take the film for what it is; a campy, funny movie about a psychopath inside a doll's body. I find that clever, and I also find the movie equally as hilarious. If you have a dark side to your humor, than this film, which is done all in bad taste, will appeal to you. If you don't like films done in bad taste, then it's as simple as this; don't see the movie. But you need to see this movie as a flick that wants to be funny rather than one that wants to be scary. "Child's Play" is more of a comedy than it is a horror film, and I'm actually OK with that. I say it's worth it to play with Chucky for a while. It is an experience that you will not regret.

To make a campy film, you need to let go of your sense of strong story-telling. You need to create a well-made and funny film through sheer craft. You see, I have a problem with a lot of horror comedies. My problem is that most of them aren't funny. And since they're not scary, what does that leave them to be? Well, it essentially leaves them to either be mediocre or just plain crappy. I've seen this sort of campy crap too often, and "Child's Play" is a fresh reminder that there is still some genuinely campy goodness in the world. This film has a sort of priceless quality to it; complete with equally as priceless moments and some seriously funny death scenes. While the reception regarding these things will be mixed, all I can say is; that was AWESOME. Not with big letters of course, but in terms of horror comedy, it's still pretty darn good. The story centers on a young child and his mother living in an apartment. The boy wants a popular toy for his birthday; and his mother lives to indulge. So she gets a hold of the toy and gives it to the boy; knowing not that inside the doll rests the soul of a serial killer. And he's hungry for vengeance. So essentially, you've got a doll killing people. It's like a slasher flick except smarter; and like a horror film except funnier. There's a part of me that almost knows that "Child's Play" was meant to be a comedy, because otherwise, I'd be viewed as odd for laughing at it so much. The thing is cheesy and campy; just the way I like a horror film with a premise as ridiculous as this one. But parents; do not show this film to your children unless it is to punish them. The film itself will frighten them, and they will never look at their dolls the same way again. But otherwise, just sit back, relax, and have a few damn good laughs. "Child's Play" is a lot of fun, and it reminds me of just how cool 80's horror films could be. But then I remember stuff like "Friday the 13th" as well as the even crappier "My Bloody Valentine". Those are not good slasher films, and they are not good horror films as well. "Child's Play" is absurd enough to be a true slasher comedy; an unlikely but effective mix. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

As far as camp goes, the acting here might as well be pretty decent; or even solid. Hell, it's actually not that bad; contrary to many performances contained in these kinds of horror films. Catherine Hicks plays a surprisingly convincing mother in the film, and her character actually worked quite fine for me. The kid is played by the charming Alex Vincent, who is endearing and actually fairly entertaining to watch for quite some time. Chris Sarandon was also pretty good, although who seems to shine the most here is Brad Dourif as Chucky. His voice is so hilariously fitting for a creepy-ass doll that I kind of laughed whenever I heard the guy do so much as talk. It makes for a funny character, and coincidentally, it makes the movie even funnier. The movie has a good cast; with good actors in genuinely good roles. Each character is pretty cheesy; but in an admirably campy way.

If "Child's Play" is a B-Movie, then it's a hilarious and wholesome one. I love scary dolls as much as I love hilarious deaths, and "Child's Play" essentially takes those two things and throws them in a great, big pot with a lot of other funny shit. That makes the movie endearing and most definitely fun; at least when it needs to be. As it is, I cant' say that there are really any flaws to the film. It might as well be perfect by cheesy horror comedy standards, but then again, that still excludes it from being a masterpiece. How CAN it be a masterpiece either way? That's the point, it can't. This isn't artistic horror, but its good filmmaking. And do you want to know why? It's good filmmaking because the director makes a good film out of a suitably good premise; and few horror directors can do that. Chucky has become an iconic horror villain; just as "Child's Play" has become an equally as iconic horror comedy. It's a funny movie; as long as you have the kind of dark sense of humor that I do. I understood and accepted the excess of clichés; just as the director did when he decided to make this film. He wanted it to be so ridiculous that people will laugh, but only a select group of people will actually like the film. It's sort of a cult horror film; complete with blood, dolls, and cheesy dialogue galore. I kind of enjoyed it for that. It's a sly comedy; and a taut horror film. It works as either one of those things; even if it's not scary. Not in the slightest. But it doesn't want to be, and that's why it works so well. I admit that this is guilty fun for me; and it's been a while since I've gotten so much guilty pleasure out of watching a campy horror movie. This is one campy horror flick that doesn't need to be vulgar trash to be funny; all it needs is a premise and plenty of laughs. Luckily for "Child's Play", it has both things in extremely satisfactory amounts.

Chances are that if you like horror, then you will have seen this little gem. It's not a great horror film; it's simply a minor classic. It's certainly iconic. I like good horror films because good horror films can scare, move, and surprise me. Like I said, "Child's Play" feels more like a dark comedy than a true horror film, since it doesn't do any of those three things. But it did do a fourth thing; it made me laugh. I really wish that stuff like this had the capacity to exist nowadays. I haven't seen a truly funny, or truly campy horror film in quite some time; mostly due to the fact that I am looking in all the wrong places. As it turns out, my latest solid horror/comedy outing was in the 80's, and it was with an incredibly diabolical little doll. I enjoyed this film for its craft and its sense of humor. I do find myself recommending it to the crowd that it was made for; and nobody else. It has appeal, and it has charm. There's definitely something that I found hilarious about this movie, and I laughed throughout. You see, not many horror films or comedies can do that. This is a good example of how to make a good film from either of those two genres. And that is precisely why it's a good film; and I'm not judging it by campy standards when I say that. Yes, it's a solid film through-and-through. I have no doubt that some people won't enjoy it, but what more can you want from a movie about a psychotic killer doll? Not much more, I'm afraid. Sadly, I kind of doubt that the sequels were any good, because it's too easy to make a sequel to a film like this good; but then again, I've seen people screw-up with horror sequels too often. I think that this is a movie that is just way too witty to deserve the sequel treatment. It's kind of too good for that; or at least too genuine. So for solid campy goodness, check out "Child's Play". It's a fun little toy of a comedy, and I think I will be buying it. It's a definite must-watch if I were to assemble an 80's horror movie night. No horror movie collection is truly complete without this film, and that's why I think it is worth seeing.

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February 23, 2011
I still like this film after all these years, there's just something fun/creepy about it.
February 25, 2011
Yeah, it's funny stuff.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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