Reviewing a Cult Franchise – Curse of Chucky (2013) + TV Show and Remake News

So far, ‘Child’s Play’ is following the standard horror franchise ‘formula’ that I’ve talked about many times in this series. The first film sets the scene, gathers the intrigue and establishes the characters, the following few films gather a fan base and set up the main villain as an ‘anti-hero’ of sorts where the audience gives more of a toss about them as they do the main characters. But there always comes the ‘singularity’ which in this case means the makers get a bit too cocky and cock the whole thing up with one film that alienates the fans and displeases the critics. Then the franchise disappears for a few years only to come back when everyone has forgotten about the massive fuck-up with a new film that goes ‘back to basics’. We’ve all heard that phrase before.

What I just wrote was unfair. ‘Seed of Chucky’ wasn’t exactly a ‘bad’ film, it was just weird and weird even for ‘Child’s Play’ standards is too weird. It got too comedic and whilst the balance of comedy/horror was just right for ‘Bride of Chucky’, the balance was tipped too far in one direction for what was comfortable in ‘Seed of Chucky’. It wasn’t scary anymore, the series had lost what it originally was and so maybe going ‘back to basics’ wasn’t such a bad idea.

I’m willing to bet that I was thinking what you were thinking when you saw the trailer. That this was a reboot. After all, this film came around just a few years after the ‘Reboot-apocalypse’ where every major horror movie franchise was getting a fresh coat of blood and fresh, new, 20-somethings pretending to be teenagers. Even if it was a reboot with a whole new canon, I wouldn’t have said no. I think we all would like to see a reboot which was based more on Don Mancini’s original script (keep that in mind for the end). After all, where is there to go after the end of ‘Seed of Chucky’?

Turns out, we were right… sort of. This was a reboot but a ‘soft reboot’ which has a complete change in atmosphere and direction but holds enough of the elements of the original canon to be called a sequel. What am I talking about? Let’s look at the plot.

Chucky the doll (still voiced by Brad Dourif) is mailed to the home of Nica (Fiona Dourif) and Sarah Pierce (Chantal Quesnel), a mother and daughter living in an old gothic house where nothing scary has ever happened in horror movie history. Suddenly, Sarah dies from a ‘self-inflicted’ stab wound and the family gathers to mourn. Nica’s niece, Alice (Summer H.Howell) finds the Chucky doll and the two are inseparable. Of course, people start dying and Nica quickly discovers that the doll is not just a doll.

Before all the murders start, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d mistakenly started watching a soap opera. Nica is a paraplegic and after her mother dies, her sister, Barb (Danielle Bisutti) wants to move her sister into a care home so they can sell the house and her share would allow her to keep the barely legal, live-in nanny, Jill (Maitland McConnell) who Barb is having an affair with unbeknownst to her husband, Ian (Brennan Elliot).

Since Nica is clearly the protagonist and as she is a paraplegic, this would give an immense sense of vulnerability to the character. Characters with such an affliction don’t tend to last too long in horror films, see ‘Friday the 13th Part II’ for reference. BUT, given that Fiona Dourif is not a paraplegic, I must commend her on her performance. She really does look like someone who’s been confined to a wheelchair all her life. It’s all in how she moves in the chair, she’s in control and can manoeuvre around the house with ease. She’s also the ‘final girl’ and basic requirements of the ‘final girl’ require her to be headstrong and have the ability to fight back when necessary and Nica has both of those character traits.

I mentioned earlier that this one was a soft reboot meaning that there are links to the original canon and given that the clean, pristine and indeed ‘new’ looking Chucky doll would lead the audience to believe that this is a new chapter in the franchise, their expectations are quickly quashed in the scene in the loft.

Barb is looking for Alice and comes across the Chucky doll. She picks at the face and removes some fake skin revealing the stitches and staples that were put in by Tiffany when she reconstructed the destroyed Chucky doll in ‘Bride of Chucky’. References to the previous families are also made by Chucky in the final confrontation with Nica.

Speaking of history, a little something was revealed about Charles Lee Ray’s past also. Herein lies the problem with soft reboots. Continuity in horror franchises are commonly shaky at the best of times and therefore it’s very difficult to blend the old continuity with the new. Here’s a prime example.

Charles Lee Ray had an obsession with Nica’s mother, Sarah. He was very much in love with her and because he’s a psychotic murderer, he kills Nica’s father and kidnaps Sarah whilst she is pregnant with Nica. Whilst he is holding her hostage, he brings her sunflowers and tries to get her to feel the same way as he does. When the police turn up, Charles stabs Sarah in the stomach and flees and it’s revealed that these were the circumstances that leads to the opening of the first film with some re-used footage of Chris Sarandon as Detective Mike Norris. Both Sarah and Nica survived the stabbing, but Nica was born a paraplegic. That all makes sense in terms of the story.

What I want to know is, did Tiffany know about Sarah? It’s generally understood that Tiffany and Charles Lee Ray were an item at the time of his death so where was she through all this? And also, where is Eddie Caputo? He is the ‘getaway driver’ from the first film who drives away and leaves Charles Lee Ray for the cops and he’s also one of Chucky’s victims. I’m not going to lie, I prefer the explanation from ‘Curse of Chucky’ but it kind of fucks up the continuity.

Another thing that fucks up the continuity is the re-appearance of Tiffany. After Nica is found by the police and blamed for the murders, she’s sent to the mental hospital which I talked about in my review for ‘Cult of Chucky’. ‘Chucky’ has been reduced to a piece of evidence and taken by a police officer who is killed by Tiffany which mirrors her first appearance in ‘Bride of Chucky’.

Here’s my problem. Given that Tiffany is there in Jennifer Tilly’s body, it tells me that the events of ‘Seed of Chucky’ happened in the continuity of this film along with Chucky mentioning the Tilly’s earlier on. As I remember it, Chucky had a realisation that he didn’t want to be human but a supernaturally possessed doll as he would be infamous. And yet, Tiffany collects Chucky and mails him to Alice’s grandmothers house where the film ends with Chucky performing the ritual before a jump scare from the grandmother with a bag over her head. That’s all fine, it wraps up the story but leaves a dangling thread for a sequel which is only to be expected. But that’s not the actual ending.

The real ending is found in the post credits sequence which shows a grown-up Andy Barclay who’s once again played by Alex Vincent receive a package. Of course, it’s Chucky and Andy expects this reunion and shoots Chucky with a rifle which leads to ‘Cult of Chucky’.

Given the events of the next film, it’s reasonable to assume that the Chucky that was sent to Andy Barclay was just one of multiple Chucky dolls. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

So how did ‘Curse of Chucky’ perform? ‘Curse of Chucky’ was shown at film festivals but otherwise was a ‘straight to video’ affair. It had a budget of about $5 million and has been estimated to have made around $3.7 Million in DVD sales but that’s just in the US. International figures are a mystery.

So now after ‘Cult of Chucky’, where does the future for the series lie?

Well, it has been announced early last year that there was a TV series in the works which will continue the current story arc although somehow, feature films would still be made. In January of this year, it was announced that the show had been picked up by ‘Syfy’ and both Don Mancini and David Kirschner will on the crew along with Brad Dourif reappearing as the voice of Chucky. It seems that all this set to go ahead but a premiere date has not yet been announced although I have read that Don Mancini deliberately ended ‘Cult of Chucky’ with a load of cliff-hangers to set up the TV series.

But what about the films? Well. In June of this year, the audiences will be given a remake. But before you get excited, this is an independent remake with absolutely NO involvement on the part of Don Mancini or ANY of the original cast and crew. It seems this remake has shot itself in the foot before it’s even started.

I didn’t think they could remake ‘Child’s Play’ without Don Mancini’s approval but it turns out I was wrong. The facts are that the rights to the original film are still with MGM and they can do what they want with it so they’re rebooting it, but they’ve already broken the first golden rule of remakes. NEVER under any circumstances remake something if it doesn’t need to be remade. This to me screams of ‘hack-job’ since it looks like they’ve made absolutely no effort to change anything. All the character names are the same and from the trailer, it looks like a lot of the same stuff happens in it with what looks like a bit of the end sequence in the factory from ‘Child’s Play 2’.

In fact, it looks like the writers have seen a few interviews with Don Mancini over the years as a lot of this springs to mind. I remember Don Mancini once saying that Chucky was originally called ‘Buddy’ as the original film title was ‘Blood Buddy’ after ‘Batteries Not Included’ was scrapped. The dolls in the remake are called ‘Buddi Dolls’. I also remember him saying that the original ending to ‘Child’s Play’ took place in the factory but that ending was scrapped and then used for ‘Child’s Play 2’.

Plus, the kid in the trailer looks about 12 years old, why is he playing with dolls? Does this take place in 2019? Does he know that consoles exist?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the TV series and I hope it comes out this year. The reason why I keep coming back the Chucky films is that it’s a series driven by ideas and continues to surprise me with every film that comes out. It’s one of the few franchises that’s had the same creators and a similar cast for a significant length of time and the fact that kind of consistency has continued makes this franchise very unique indeed.

As for the remake, I’m very sceptical of this decision on MGM’s part but I can’t say I’m surprised. I wrote about this in my ‘Deadpool 2 VS Avengers: Infinity War’ article. Big film studios will recycle old film properties, preferably ones that have spawned franchises because they already have an established presence and fanbase. Essentially, all they have to do is reveal that they’re making it and that’s their marketing done for them. I can guarantee that this film will make its money and then some which makes it the worst kind of remake… remember kids, a ‘hack-job’ of a remake almost definitely means ‘cash-grab’.

What I will say is that without seeing the film, all anyone can do is speculate. Since this film doesn’t involve any of the original cast and crew and I can’t place anyone on the top billing, I’m speculating that it’s going to be shit. I might be proved wrong… but I doubt it.

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