After writing the kick-ass "The Beast Within" and directing the awesome "Fright Night," Holland made a masterpiece. "Child's Play" is one of the scariest movies ever. It also launched one of the best horror film franchises the world has ever seen, spawning three sequels that ranged from decent to great.
Brad Dourif plays a serial killer who is gunned down by police officer Sarandon. Before he dies, he uses black magic to transport his soul into a toy store doll. As a result of the transfer, the toy store blows up. The doll happens to be the most popular brand on the market, as big as the Cabbage Patch Kids were in their time. A guilt-ridden, over-worked single mother (Hicks) buys it from a homeless person who stole it from the burned-up toy store. Her son (played by the young Alex Vincent) immediately grows attached to the talking doll, naming him "Chucky."
When one of Hicks' friends is murdered while babysitting, Sarandon shows up to arrest the boy, who keeps telling the police and his mom that Chucky was the killer. When the mother realizes the doll has been talking without batteries, the shit really hits the fan. Dourif supplies the voice of Chucky, who toward the end of the film has become a wise-cracking killer who sounds a lot like Jack Nicholson. His character became so popular that dolls and other trinkets were sold, creating kind of a mini-craze.
The best part of this film is the first half, when the doll's possession is still subtle and mysterious. The ending is a bit contrived. Still, this is one of the best modern horror films ever made and one of the finest to come out of the 1980s, with great performances all around. Like many excellent horror films, the picture serves as a powerful commentary on the breakdown of the family and the negative influence of TV and consumer culture on our children.
Vincent was able to make it back for the enjoyable sequel, "Child's Play 2," cranked out two years after this one was a big box-office hit.
For about 9 years, the film had a non-widescreen DVD release which meant fans couldn't really enjoy it on their widescreen TVs. Finally, in 2008, MGM released a widescreen version which looks excellent and contains special features -- including commentary by Brad Dourif in character as Chucky.