When wounded cinematic serial killer Charles Lee Ray used voodoo magic to transfer his soul into a redheaded doll, a film franchise was born. The first “Child’s Play” movie came out more than 20 years ago, spawned four sequels, and inspired a forthcoming reboot of sorts titled “Curse of Chucky.” The new entry seeks to return Chucky to the bleak, violent roots of the first films and move him away from the campy comedy aspects of the latter films. Before Chucky’s big return, take a look back at his previous hits.
The origin of Chucky was shown in “Child’s Play,” which was released in 1988 at the heels of the slasher movie craze. When a detective chases a wounded Charles Lee Ray into a toy store, the killer uses voodoo to put his soul into a Good Guy doll, a fictional line of redheaded talking dolls. The toy is later sold to a mother, Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks), who gives the toy to her son Andy (Andy Levine). Chucky pretends to be a real Good Guy for a brief period of time before he begins murdering those who get in his way.
When his wounds begin to show real blood, Chucky visits his old voodoo teacher and discovers that he can turn mortal in the doll if he stays in it too long. The only solution is to utilize voodoo and put his soul into the body of the first person who knew his actual identity. Chucky had told Andy his real name early on and chases the child down to attempt the ritual. The doll’s plans are foiled when Karen and the detective attack and destroy the doll.
“Child’s Play 2” picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Karen Barclay is in a psychiatric hospital while Andy is in the foster care system. The Chucky doll is reconstructed by Play Pals, the makers of Good Guy dolls, to see what went wrong in its programming. Chucky returns to life, hijacks the car of an executive, and discovers Andy’s new location with a foster family.
The evil doll is able to take the spot of a normal Good Guy doll in the house but it’s a short period of time before Andy, and the other members of the household, discover his true killer nature. Andy and his foster sister Kyley are forced to evade Chucky as he attempts once again to place his soul in Andy’s body. The children are able to kill Chucky in the Play Pals factory once he begins turning human again.
Chucky’s factory death in the second film leads to his resurrection in the third. Eight years have passed and the Play Pals factory finally reopens. Chucky’s remains taint a new batch of plastic and produce a fresh doll form for the serial killer’s soul. The doll kills an executive for the company and hacks into the computer system to track down Andy (Justin Whalin), who is now a teenager in military school. When Chucky ships himself to the school to find his old enemy, a young boy named Tyler decides to keep him instead. Chucky tells Tyler his secret since the boy wouldn’t put up an initial fight, having no history with the doll, but still plans to find Andy to kill him in revenge. Tyler eventually discovers Chucky’s true nature and Andy saves the day by dismembering Chucky one last time.
Chucky returns for another film but Andy doesn’t. In “Bride of Chucky,” the first comedic film of the series, Chucky’s pieces are found by Charles Lee Ray’s ex-girlfriend, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). Tiffany reassembles the doll and performs the voodoo ritual needed to bring Chucky back to life. She succeeds but locks Chucky in a playpen after finding out her engagement ring was stole from one of his victims. Chucky escapes and murders Tiffany then places her soul into a bride doll as punishment for her mocking. The doll duo plans a trip to a cemetery where Ray’s body was buried with an amulet powerful enough to get both souls back into human bodies.
The dolls get a ride with Tiffany’s friend Jesse, who thinks he’s making a doll delivery for cash he needs as he runs away with his girlfriend, Jade (Katherine Heigl). The road trip turns bloody, with Jesse and Jade at times blaming each other for the carnage, before a final showdown in the cemetery. Tiffany ends up trying to kill Chucky, but he stops her. Jade does kill Chucky. Tiffany survives long enough to give birth to the couple’s child, Glen. The newborn immediately murders a bystander.
The final film in the original franchise was also comedic in nature. “Seed of Chucky” opens six years later with the gender confused Glen/Glenda deciding to resurrect his parents by stealing animatronic dolls of them created for a film. Tiffany decides she wants to place her soul in the body of Jennifer Tilly, starring as herself. Chucky decides he’d rather stay a doll and attempts to kill both Tiffany and his son/daughter. Glen kills his father and Tiffany performs the ceremony to transfer her soul into Tilly’s body and Glen’s into that of Tilly’s unborn child. At the end of the film, a package is delivered to the human Glen. It contains Chucky’s arm. The arm attacks, hinting at what might happen in the next sequel.
That sequel was not to happen as the filmmakers felt fans would prefer a reboot to the darker days of Chucky. “Curse of Chucky” has the doll attacking a family during funeral preparations and his main foil is a girl confined to a wheelchair. Brad Dourif, who has voiced Chucky since the start of the series, will remain as the sound of the killer. Time will tell if “Curse” will lead to a new breed of darker Chucky sequels.