Finally accepting his fate
to be a doll forever, Chucky takes up
a career as a barber.
The first business of any monster movie sequel is to come up with a way to bring back the monster who died at the end of the last movie. Sometimes it's done cleverly, as in Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Other times it seems like a stretch. In Child's Play 3 we are asked to believe that the manufacturer of the original Good Guy doll cleans up the mess left by the toy factory battle in Child's Play 2 while at the same time brewing a new batch of plastic to make more Good Guy dolls. And it just happens that Chucky's bloody remains are hoisted over a manufacturing vat, allowing Chucky juice to drip into the plastic. This is enough to transfer Chucky's soul into the body of a new doll. Yes, it's new Homeopathic Chucky! Look for it in stores now!
Chucky's first victim is the CEO of the Play Pals company, who is done in by all the toys he keeps in his office. With the toys apparently acting on their own volition, we kept expecting Rod Serling to step out from behind a curtain and explain the irony of the situation. By the end of that scene, we were betting the CEO was thankful that Play Pals didn't make lawn darts.
"No I can't get you Superman's autograph!
Chucky (voiced again by Brad Dourif, who sounds more like Jack Nicholson than ever) then tracks down poor Andy Barclay (played here by Justin Whalin, late of the Lois & Clark tv series) for one more game of "Hide the Soul." If there's one thing for which we can't fault the Child's Play series, it's consistency. Don Mancini, the plotting brain behind this film franchise, has relied on some key phrases for Chucky ("Hide the Soul" being one) and a single-mindedness in purpose unparalleled since the original Terminator. Chucky's numero uno desire is to transfer himself into an actual human body before his doll body finishes its magical mutation into flesh and blood, thus leaving him with the appearance of a toy forever. Because Andy is now too old to view a two-foot tall plaything as much of a threat, however, Chucky conjures a loophole from pure bad logic which allows him to pick a new target -- the dreaded Little Black Kid, a character that plagued many a movie and tv series in the late eighties and early nineties.
Andy, you see, has been transferred from foster home to foster home, and finally lands in the Kent Military Academy, thus leaving himself (and us) wide open to a host of bad references to Full Metal Jacket. Lines from the Vietnam War film are lifted wholesale -- because if you can't think of your own dialogue, you can at least steal some and call it an "homage." The military school setting feels contrived, because such schools usually only accept older students, and usually aren't co-ed. Kent is not only co-ed, it accepts the aforementioned Little Black Kid, who is easily 4 years younger than anyone else there. This rather awkward situation exists only to provide someone at the military academy who would want to own a doll.
Wait, wait, we know this one --
"Presto, we're bald!"
The military academy is also host to b-movie actor Andrew Robinson. You may have seen Robinson in such diverse roles as the sociopathic military doctor in Trancers 3 and as a sociopathic military intelligence officer in Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Here he adds another character to his repetoire: the sociopathic military barber. As Sergeant Botnick he terrorizes the recruits with his chilling catchphrase: "Presto, you're bald!" Terrifying, right?
Child's Play 3 is easily as gruesome as either of its predecessors, and we certainly see enough of Chucky to satisfy those whose only aim in watching the movie is to see a friendly red-headed doll commit cold-blooded murder. What's missing, though, is a sense that something different might actually happen in this sequel. The characters are going through the motions, either dying because of their ignorance of Chucky's true nature, or dying due to their knowledge of it. Except for Chucky's discovery of the mystic body-jumping reset button, there isn't any further exploration of Chucky's nature, either. All this movie can offer us is the same old murder and mayhem in a military school setting. "Hey kids! This time Chucky gets his mitts on a hand grenade!"
We set about the task of reviewing the first three Child's Play movies in the hopes of preparing ourselves for Bride of Chucky, which will be out later this week. The new film has a surprisingly talanted crew behind it, headed by HK director Ronny Yu (Legacy of Rage, The Bride with White Hair) along with his usual director of photograpy, Peter Pau, and his usual editor, David Wu. While Child's Play is far from the worst horror franchise out there, we're not sure how it attracted a director as talented Ronny Yu. We hope it turns out that Chucky really did get lucky.