Justin Whalin - Andy Barclay
Perrey Reeves - Kristen De Silva
Brad Dourif - Chucky (Voice)
Andrew Robinson - Sergeant Botnick
Travis Fine - Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Brett C. Shelton
Jeremy Sylvers - Ronald Tyler
Dean Jacobson - Harold Aubrey Whitehurst
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Supernatural/Killer Toys
Running Time - 90 Minutes
In 1988, horror audiences were treated to a different kind of slasher film called CHILD'S PLAY. Instead of a human doing the killing, it was a doll that possessed the soul of a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray. With the boom of animated dolls, like Teddy Ruxpin, being the then-fad for children, CHILD'S PLAY sparked something in horror audiences, making it a huge success and horror icons in both Chucky the Doll, and his human counterpart and Academy Award nominated actor, Brad Dourif. CHILD'S PLAY had a pretty big effect on me as a kid, making me throw out my own Teddy Ruxpin after watching it in theaters. Today, I still get a kick out of it and think it's pretty funny and even creepy at times. In my opinion, it's still the best film in the franchise.
Two years later, a sequel was released titled CHILD'S PLAY 2. Now under the eye of Universal Studios, which had bought the rights from MGM after the studio was bought out by a family friendly company that didn't want anything to do with future installments, CHILD'S PLAY 2 turned Chucky into a wise-cracking killer doll with a lot of attitude and sarcasm, that you couldn't help but love him. It wasn't as successful as the first film either critically or financially, but it still did decently at the box office and remains the best sequel to date. In fact, a lot of people I know prefer the first sequel over the original, and I could see why. It's a more straightforward slasher film with memorable moments and great performances by Dourif, Alex Vincent, and Christine Elise.
Wanting to capitalize on the momentum of a potential horror franchise, Universal order a second sequel right away into production. Eliminating all previous actors [except for Dourif] and taking the story eight years into the continuity future, CHILD'S PLAY 3 was released just a year later in 1991. Even though it had a new setting, different actors, and a similar structure to CHILD'S PLAY 2, the film didn't do so well at the box office - which explains why it took seven years for the next installment, BRIDE OF CHUCKY, to be produced and released.
It's obvious that Universal didn't learn from other studios that rushing a sequel into production, especially during the late 80s and early 90s, was a bad business move. It hurt the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, HALLOWEEN, and FRIDAY THE 13TH franchises [which ironically all had sequels rushed within a year back in 1989], so what would have made CHILD'S PLAY [a less established franchise] immune to this? Also, horror was pretty much on life support in terms of financial box office success, as many audiences had moved on from the slasher era and were looking for something deeper and more substantial, in the cases of 1990's MISERY and 1991's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. CHILD'S PLAY 3 was seen as a sequel that wasn't necessary and one that was worth renting at a video store at a cheaper price, rather than paying a movie ticket to see it.
Until SEED OF CHUCKY was released, I had considered CHILD'S PLAY 3 the worst sequel in the franchise. It wasn't as creepy as the first, or as witty and fun as the second. After seeing it after a few years of not doing so, I still agree with my statement. It's not the worst horror film ever made, and not even the worst in this franchise. But it's a lost opportunity and not one of the series' finest moments.
Eight years after the events of CHILD'S PLAY 2, the Good Guys Dolls corporation has decided to reopen the factory and start making Good Guy dolls again. While some are opposed to this, the business owner feels that the Andy Barclay (played by Alex Vincent in the previous two films) hysteria has died down enough for the business to prosper again. What they don't realize is that some of Chucky's blood from his previous body has entered the vat of plastic used to make the other dolls, recreating Chucky all over again. After Chucky takes care of the business owner, he decides to look up Andy to steal his body.
A teenage Andy (now played by Justin Whalin) is now in Military School, where he's treated like crap by his Cadet Lieutenant Colonel (Travis Fine). However, he finds love with Kristen De Silva (Perrey Reeves) and friendship with Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson). Everything is going fine until he sees Chucky at the academy, bringing back all of his nightmares.
Luckily for Andy, Chucky has chosen a new target body: a kid named Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) who wants a Good Guy doll of his own. Feeling that he now has a new body and can now put his soul in someone else other than Andy, Chucky reveals his true name to Tyler and tries to befriend him in order to possess Tyler's body with a game of "Hide the Soul". Andy, knowing what Chucky is up to, decides to stop the doll from achieving his goal.
CHILD'S PLAY 3 is the epitome of a rushed sequel. The ideas are bland and unoriginal. The story and production values don't seem to have time to take advantage certain elements that they have at their disposal. And after a classic first film and a strong first sequel, CHILD'S PLAY 3 seems to be going through the motions, all because of the all mighty buck. Even with that said, the film still manages to be better than it ought to be. It just has a lot going against it that makes it one of the lesser sequels.
The real culprit of CHILD'S PLAY 3 is the script itself. It's just weak, derivative, and really doesn't add anything new to the story - nor does it present it in a different and unique way. In fact, a lot of what happens in this film contradicts what was brought up in the previous films. Don Mancini, who created the series, admits that he was pressured into rushing with CHILD'S PLAY 3 due to Universal Studios wanting to capitalize on the success of the previous film. Mancini considers this installment to be his least favorite as he had ran out of ideas by CHILD'S PLAY 2 and had no time to come up with something different for 3. Honestly, it shows. It does have its moments, but overall it's pretty much a disappointment.
One of my main issues with this sequel is how "Hide the Soul" works. In the first film, it was pretty much established that the only reason why Chucky wanted to possess Andy's body was because Andy was the first one to know Chucky's real identity. In this film, Chucky targets Tyler because he figures since he has a new body, he's able to transfer his soul into Tyler's body. This irks me. If this was the case, why didn't Chucky go after someone else in CHILD'S PLAY 2? He had a new body then, didn't he? He might as well go after Andy again if he's busy following him all the way to this Military School. Instead, he goes after this new kid Tyler, who quite honestly is one of the more annoying characters in this film. I guess he's being a normal kid, but you'd think he'd act more mature at this environment, especially when his father was a military man himself. Plus unlike Andy, Tyler isn't really a sympathetic character. He rather play video games rather than interact with other people. He steals Andy's package [which was Chucky himself] just so he can have his own Good Guy doll. He breaks into rooms he shouldn't break into. And he acts like a total prick to Andy until it's too late. Andy worked because he was innocent and naive enough to be likeable. You understood where he was coming from. Tyler doesn't elicit those same type of feelings, making you wish Chucky would shut him up and transfer his soul into him.
Speaking of the other characters, it's like they're all starring in a 90s teen version of Stanley Kubrick's FULL METAL JACKET. Andy is Joker. De Silva is Cowboy. Shelton is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. And Whitehurst is Gomer Pyle. Even a line from FULL METAL JACKET is used in the movie. The only thing is that these versions aren't as deep or charismatic, nor is any of their arcs all that interesting. Sure, the characters are okay for stereotypes. Andy we connect with right away due to the previous films, although I wish his fear and trauma over Chucky was more evident. Tommy Jarvis from FRIDAY THE 13TH was more of a nutcase over Jason Voorhees, and he barely interacted with Jason in THE FINAL CHAPTER [although he did chop the guy up into pieces, but whatever]. De Silva is the tough chick who obviously catches Andy's eye. Her love arc with Andy is pretty generic and weak though, but at least she has a personality and makes a memorable first impression. Whitehurst is the nerdy guy who freaks out when he sees Chucky - more so than Andy really. However, his underdog arc leads to a great heroic moment involving an armed grenade that works for me. And Shelton is just the prick with a power trip. His death scene should have been more elaborate, as he got off way too easy for me. The only other human character of note is Sergeant Botnick, the obsessed barber. He gives Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake a run for his money. Not the deepest characters, but they're okay stereotypes that one would expect from a film like this.
I also felt that the military setting wasn't used to the best of its potential. So much could have been done in this new location, yet it plays out similarly to CHILD'S PLAY 2. This film could have taken place anywhere else and nothing much would change besides the war games deal, which is one of the better moments in the film. With so many weapons at Chucky's disposal at this place, you'd think Chucky would do more to the characters here. But nope, just the same ol' shit. I will say that the moment Chucky switches the paint bullets with live bullets so the students could kill each other is pretty sweet and creative. Realistically, this switch of gunfire wouldn't work since the gun isn't triggered to use real bullets, but at least it's an idea that's deviously entertaining and different from the rest of the film.
I also had issue with the amusement park being pretty close to this military academy. There's no way a family friendly environment would be built in the middle of the woods next to a facility that would house dangerous weapons and serious discipline training. The only reason the park exists is for the film's final act, which is supposed to follow the template of the toy factory final act of CHILD'S PLAY 2. It's not as effective because it's a predictable path, plus the toy factory was creepy due to all the Good Guy dolls that surrounded the place [Chucky could kind of camouflage a bit during his attacks]. I also have to say that the haunted house props, like the fan and Grim Reaper's scythe using real sharp blades, is pretty unbelievable. That wouldn't pass a safety test in any state in the country. The suspension of disbelief has to be really high for this flick.
The best part of the script is the character of Chucky himself. His one-liners work more than they don't, and he's involved in the more memorable moments of the film. My favorite scene is the surprise heart attack scene, where he scares a victim into dying by cardiac arrest. It's a really funny scene and one of my favorites in the series. And some other scenes involving Tyler and Andy work as well. The opening kill is a bit too long, but it's already because of Chucky's presence. I wish Chucky did more stuff, and was more original in terms of his killing spree, but this living doll is the glue that holds this mess of a sequel together.
The special effects in CHILD'S PLAY 3 are alright. Chucky still looks pretty good, although I think he looks better in CHILD'S PLAY 2. The vertically challenged stunt double if still pretty funny to see. As for the death scenes, we get someone being shot. We get a slit throat. We get someone covering a grenade, although we don't see much blood or guts or anything. And we get Chucky getting the nasty treatment in the final act. Pretty standard stuff for the most part.
The direction by Jack Bender is more positive than negative. I love the opening credits, which detail Chucky's blood accidentally getting into a new vat of plastic that will create a new Good Guy's doll - which in turn creates a new body for Chucky. By the way, how was this factory still in the same exact shape after eight years? Nothing, especially Chucky's mutilated body, was moved or used as evidence in a crime? Don't think so. Anyway, we get a ton of POV shots for multiple subjects [mainly Chucky]. There's some style here, with a good use of angles and interesting shots. But unfortunately, there's not much tension here or suspense. I didn't really get a sense of atmosphere either. Not the greatest direction in this series, but the script didn't really help Bender here. Bender definitely makes the most of it and the film is watchable at least.
HELLRAISER fame is awesome as Sergeant Botnick. I'll never get my hair cut by this crazy dude. He seemed to be having fun in the role. And of course, Brad Dourif is just fantastic as the voice of Chucky. Without him, these films would lose all sense of fun and personality. Nice cast overall. I just wish they were in a stronger film.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE PLAYING WITH MY LOVE GUN
- Chucky's blood accidentally mixed in with a vat of liquid acid, giving him a new doll body once it was created. Does that mean Justin Beiber will never go away if he does the same thing? That thought is scarier than this entire film!
- Chucky tripped the owner of the Good Guys Dolls business with a bunch of marbles. Chucky could have just said the old man was crazy for reopening this killer business, but I guess he's a doll of a few words.
- De Silva had no issue showing Andy how to use his gun. Anything to help the foreplay, I guess.
- Chucky likes to play "Hide the Soul" with young boys. I wonder if he ever attended Penn State...
- A garbage man was crushed in the compactor by Chucky. I wouldn't worry. He'll probably return in the next sequel and be played by Kevin Nash.
- De Silva put lipstick on Chucky. I thought he would turn into a transvestite in CHILD'S PLAY: THE NEXT GENERATION.
- Sergeant Botnick got his throat slit by Chucky before his hair was cut. Sweeney Todd, eat your heart out!
THE FINAL HOWL