In my review of Leatherface I talked about how it was viciously edited to get a release, this was followed by watching The Final Girls which seemed to edit itself of any violence before it had even been made. Now I find myself watching one of the most notorious films of the 1990s in Britain. Child’s Play 3 was accused of leading directly to two ten year old boys murdering baby James Bulger. It’s never been clear whether the boys saw this the third film in the series about Chucky the killer doll but saying it could influence anyone into committing murder could only have been said by someone who did so little research that they didn’t even watch the movie. Oh that would be the British tabloids then. The Sun even wanted to publicly burn VHS copies of the film, because that’s the kind of society they want us to live in.
What is most striking from the off is what an expensive and lavish production Child’s Play 3 seems to be. This isn’t a film made by some bargain basement horror outfit but Universal Studios with the full weight of their production machine behind it. We start off with a big swooping crane shot of the factory where Chucky was apparently destroyed in the previous movie. We are then treated to a beautiful reverse melting process as the remains of Chucky are turned into a new “Good Guy” doll. Everything looks and sounds beautifully and expensively made. This is for a movie about a dead strangler’s soul trapped inside a toy voiced by Brad Dourif.
This film would not be made now.
So, briefly, the story takes place eight years after the events of Child’s Play Part 2 which I think I’ve seen although, really, until Chucky starts getting married and having babies they all blur into one. The kid, Andy, who’s body Chucky wants to inhabit, has now grown into a teen and has been sent to a military academy. The evil doll follows him there in order to carry on his torment of the poor lad. Obviously there is the terrible possibility that now that Andy is a teen the whole movie will descend into teens in peril type shit, preferably with a big haired girl getting her top off and blokes smoking doobies. And while there are a few girls with massive hair no one has sex or takes drugs. The whole military stuff is front and centre so there are few teen high-jinks, just lots of shouting in children’s faces and doing press ups at one o’clock in the morning.
There’s some fun to be had here in this unusual setting, I think the last time a horror movie was set in a military academy was Damien: Omen 2. There Damien was learning to accept that he was the son of satan and do his duty, here it seems to be a good excuse for Chucky to make a few army puns, not that any of them are worth repeating. That’s the (un)funny thing about Chucky, he’s all about the wisecracks like Freddy but blimey, he’s not the wittiest guy in the room is he? When he decides he’s bored with Andy and wants to take over the little black boy Tyler instead he quips “Chucky’s gonna be a bro”. It’s not funny, it’s just faintly embarrassing, like a dumb uncle thinking he’s hilarious at a party for teenagers who all think he’s a dick. I do quite like the EC Comics mood as he cackles with laughter whilst watching some one bleed to death. That manic lunacy of a little monster finding death hysterical has a macabre appeal, it’s just a shame what he says doesn’t match up to how he laughs. Maybe it was this relishing of death that the British tabloids picked up in during the Bulger case, and I can see how they could do that. However life isn’t that black and white though as to be able to say people saw this and so they did that.
Anyway… The movie is an overall entertaining bit of fluff. Whatever your views on Chucky, and I think he’s fundamentally a bit shit, the doll is well made and even better when he looses half his face to expose moving flesh and muscles underneath. And the whole production, as I’ve said, is beautifully mounted: why have five kids sitting around the campfire telling stories when you have the budget for thirty? Plus the climax is in the largest Ghost Train set that’s ever been committed to film. It really does amaze me that a studio would put so much money into the third entry of such an incredibly goofy story. But then what do I know. The Child’s Play films may never have appealed to me much but they must have to someone. There’s still at least three more of these Chucky films after this one and probably more in the pipeline. The Sun must be quaking in its boots.