Chucky: Wanna play? Suggestions for keeping Child’s Play fresh

A “Child’s Play” TV show is in the works, as well as future films. So, here are suggestions for keeping the character of Chucky fresh.

Charles Lee Ray — more commonly known as “Chucky” — is definitely a memorable character. Forgive me for getting autobiographical here, but doing so may help explain this article. When I first saw the film Child’s Play, I didn’t quite know what to make of Chucky. The idea of a human body transported into a doll was interesting.

Still, even as a teenager, I saw him more as a pop culture curiosity than a true horror icon.  That sounds ridiculous now, though, as my opinion’s evolved considerably over the years.

Now I think Chucky well deserves his entry into the horror villain pantheon. He is representative of our fear of creepy dolls — and the weird, hidden, collective psychological fears stemming from our pop culture. Also, like Freddy Krueger, Chucky has personality. He was never a silent, hulking, masked brute stalking around and mindlessly killing people. He is a vocal villain.

Catherine Hicks menaced by Chucky. Child’s Play. Couresy of MGM

Still, Chucky (like Freddy Krueger in the 1980s) may be in danger of being overexposed. With new movies and even a TV series planned, it may become harder for some to really appreciate the character. Don’t get me wrong! I will give these films and episodes a chance. I’m mostly wondering to what extent this brand may be spread thin.

It’s sort of like Freddy Krueger toward the end of the 1980s. The pop culture aspects of the character almost outweighed the horror elements, and he was rendered “safer” and less effective as a story device. In a way, this is part of a general risk with sequel and reboot fatigue. Even if things are pretty well done, some will get tired of seeing the same character. Of course, if things aren’t well done at all, it can be way more groan-inducing than bone chilling.

Then again, when I look back at the Child’s Play series, I can’t say I ever found it that scary myself. The scariest moment, for me, was the big reveal of Chucky’s battery pack in the first film. To me, that was the closest Chucky came to being a true psychological horror film — and it’s really sort of an isolated incident.

The Sequels

What strikes me about the sequels is how, overall, they don’t really attempt to recapture the psychological horror elements of the original. In a way, they are much more action-oriented, and Chucky regularly says — and the audience fully expects — comedic one-liners. The audience is basically asked to join Chucky on his sinister quest to become human again (or just to wreak havoc, if we’re talking about later installments).

This contrasts with the original, which was far more involved with the victims. I’m not trying to whine about that, honestly. I just believe that, in order for the series to keep expanding without growing more tiresome, it’ll have to go back to its roots a little more — perhaps even far deeper.

While the series/movies will obviously involve Chucky, they arguably shouldn’t “star” Chucky as much. Maybe he shouldn’t be tucked away like a deep, dark secret, but he probably shouldn’t be saying, “Oops! Did I do that?” like some sinister Urkel.

That being said, there probably are ways to make heightened comedic aspects work. Still, it would require some pretty damn good writing, and is a risky approach for those who want scares. I think the best way forward is by looking back to the past, and trying to get back to basics.

What made us interested in Chucky to begin with? His boisterous personality was a plus, but it could easily be a minus if laid on too thick. Some Chucky fans will hate that kind of statement, and I understand that, but it’s just one Chucky fan’s opinion, and not a big deal either way.

What do you think about Chucky and the future of Child’s Play? Let us know in the comments!