Reviewing a Cult Franchise – Child’s Play 2 (1990)

I’m going to get something out of the way immediately. I know that it’s been many, many months (last year) since I wrote the last part of this particular series but a lot of stuff has happened. Nevertheless, I’ve decided to return to this franchise because I hate leaving things unfinished. So here we go.

The return of Chucky started with a TV commercial. The slow turning handle of a Jack-in-the-box. Before the ‘Jack’ can pop out, a foot stomps down and then the tag-line for the movie, ‘Sorry Jack… Chucky’s back’. That is clever and one of my favourite tag-lines for a film. Still, it only meant one thing. Chucky was returning. But how? And why?

The ending to ‘Child’s Play’ was fairly contained. Bad guy dead, heroes win. Happy days. Given that the last shot of the movie was a lingering look at Chucky’s charred body from Andy (Alex Vincent), there was still no need for a sequel. Those will remember that ‘Halloween (1978)’ ended with a cliffhanger of Michael Myers going missing. ‘Friday the 13th (1980)’ ended with Jason Voorhees jumping out of the lake. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)’ ended with the ‘Freddy’ possessed car. All the original films of these major franchises had ending that suggested another film would be imminent. But not ‘Child’s Play’.

The ‘Why?’ is fairly obvious. It’s the same reason that any popular film gets a sequel. It’s a crowd pleaser and a money spinner. History has shown that a sequel can be both or either. Which one depends on the quality of the sequel. In my opinion, ‘Child’s Play 2’ is both. Let’s have a look at the plot.

After an undisclosed amount of time, the company that manufactured the ‘Good Guy’ dolls, ‘Play Pals’, have been in a state of financial ruin after the bad publicity garnered from the events of the first film. In a vain attempt to get back some credibility, the company get hold of the original ‘Chucky’ doll and rebuild him to show that there is nothing to be afraid of. In the meantime, Andy Barclay (still Alex Vincent) has been placed in a foster home after his mother, Karen (Catherine Hicks, seen only in archive footage) is placed in a mental hospital after she supported her son’s story. The parents (Gerrit Graham and Jenny Agutter) have another adopted child, a teenager called Kyle (Christine Elise) and are very aware of Andy’s troubles. For Andy, it’s a fresh start. But the nightmare isn’t over.

Chucky’s back and once again voiced by the marvellous, Brad Dourif. The decision was made early on that Chucky should have more screen time. One other aspect from the original that was forcefully carried over from the original was the element of Voodoo which is the basis for the plot. Chucky is still going after Andy because he must transfer his body into him and him alone. For those who don’t remember, the rules in this universe stipulate that Chucky can only transfer his soul into the first person that he revealed his true identity to which is a rather confusing plot point and is only good for explaining why Chucky is going after Andy.

Don Mancini has stated in interviews that one of the good things about having an ongoing film series is that certain scenes that don’t work in one film can be ‘re-cycled’ into another film. For example, the original opening to ‘Child’s Play 2’ was a courtroom scene involving Karen Barclay with Chucky’s burned body as a piece of evidence. For unknown reasons, this scene was cut but was used in ‘Curse of Chucky (2013)’ which I will get to eventually. One scene that was in the original script for ‘Child’s Play (1988)’ was a scene where Chucky kills Andy’s teacher. Possibly as a result of the script being re-written by Tom Holland, that scene was omitted but does make an appearance in ‘Child’s Play 2’. Another scene originally written for ‘Child’s Play 2’ involving a police inventory locker was cut and reused in ‘Bride of Chucky (1998)’.

On top of Catherine Hicks almost making a comeback, Chris Sarandon was also billed to return as Detective Mike Norris however, his scenes were cut from the film due to monetary issues.

In true ‘horror sequel’ fashion, the body count has been bumped up from 4 in the first film (not counting both of Chucky’s deaths) to 7 (not counting Chucky’s death). This includes Andy’s new foster parents.

Chucky infiltrates the house by switching places with the other ‘Good Guy’ doll, Tommy (named after the director of the first film, Tom Holland) and biding his time. The death of his foster father leads to Andy being placed back into care but Chucky isn’t through with this family. He murders the foster mother and captures Kyle for the sole reason of taking him to Andy. The social worker (Grace Zabriskie) is murdered by Chucky and he takes Andy to the factory where he was made to complete the ritual.

In somewhat of a poetic sense, the place where Chucky was born is also where he meets his end and boy does he meet his end. 3 times by my count. First he’s led into a machine that is supposed to add all the limbs to the dolls but all that succeeds in doing is removing his legs. Then he’s melted by hot plastic and as an encore, he’s blown up. Kyle and Andy leave the factory as the sun rises, satisfied that Chucky is dead. At least for now.

With an upgraded budget of $13 Million, ‘Child’s Play 2’ took in $32 – 35 Million, depending on who you ask.

My opinion? I enjoyed the sequel to a level that was on-par with the first. Whilst the film had abandoned some of it’s main characters from the original, the elements that were added in it’s place were interesting and held my attention.

All the way back in my ‘Terminator’ reviews, I mentioned the trajectory of sequels. The first film creates the interest, the second film gets more money and becomes more experimental, the third film gets a bit too cocky and cocks the whole thing up. Will ‘Child’s Play 3 (1991)’ follow this formula?

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