Oh shit – they didn’t! Eight years after CHILD’S PLAY the same foolish CEO (Peter Haskell, ROBOT WARS) is convinced by the board to bring back the Good Guys dolls. They consider children to be “consumer trainees” and they can’t lose their biggest brand just because of “the fantasies of one disturbed boy.” (I wonder what he thinks happened to his murdered executives, or at his factory? One of his employees got his eyeballs poked out! Do not work for this company!) So they rev up the (noticeably smaller) assembly line again, some hooks pierce the Chucky blob (which I guess has been laying there alive for eight years) and it bleeds into a vat of molten plastic that will be molded into the new Good Guys dolls. And voila! Chucky is mint in package again.
Unsurprisingly the first new doll off the line – possessed by Chucky, of course – is presented to the CEO to honor the occasion and to administer the pretty-much-earned death by killer doll. I like this POV shot from inside the Good Guys packaging, through the plastic window. It’s a weird version of the “POV of killer spying on the house from the woods” typ shot, but also it helps you feel what it would be like to be a toy. In case you don’t have access to TOY STORY.
The other toys he has around his office are marbles and some generic cars and robots, so no wonder he wanted to dip back into their old i.p. Everything else they make is sold at the 99 Cents Store or Radio Shack. Well, with the exception of whatever this Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem type dude on the window sill is. You don’t get a good look at it but I feel like they should’ve pushed this toy harder.
Now Andy (Justin Whalin, THE DEAD POOL) is 16 years old and has just been sent to a cruel military academy. A good place to not run into a doll, you would think, but Chucky mails himself there and a young kid named Tyler (Jeremy Sylvers) takes him, sort of becoming the new Andy, calling him his best friend. This was harder for me to swallow than in the first one because it’s not just mysterious off-camera talking, he actually sees Chucky tear out of the box yelling “WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?,” and then accepts that he’s just a very advanced doll who seems alive and needs to have his mouth washed out with soap. Tyler seems much too old to be that stupid. Also I was confused why this kid lives at the academy but is always off playing with his doll while everyone else is doing military exercises. It seems like maybe he’s just their ward and not a student, but then all the sudden he does do one of the exercises. I never figured out what was going on there.
Andrew Robinson (DIRTY HARRY, HELLRAISER) is a crazy barber who takes perverse pleasure in shaving off students’ precious hair, but for some reason he doesn’t give Andy the standard crew cut, he lets him have Wil Wheaton hair. Less lenient is Shelton (Travis Fine, THE THIN RED LINE, THE PRESIDENT’S MAN), the dickhead bully/jock/drill sergeant guy who singles him out for humiliation. The poor kid is in a bad situation, because getting sent to a military school is gonna suck anyway, and he has the additional stress of seeing Good Guys commercials on TV, seeing the head of the school carrying Chucky while he’s doing drills, and also being known at least to the higher-ups that he’s the kid who said his doll was alive.
There’s a little bit of a theme about machismo. Shelton tries to belittle him by calling him a “majorette” and all of them “ladies.” He has a harangue about female cadets not getting special treatment. Colonel Cochrane (Dakin Matthews, TRUE GRIT, LINCOLN) says “We don’t play with dolls do we now, Tyler? Dolls are for girls.” And the only non-doll character I found compelling is De Silva (Perrey Reeves, SMOKE SIGNALS), a female cadet who stands up to Shelton, kisses Andy, and puts lipstick on Chucky. She’s much better with guns than Andy, and becomes his protector. Even as a teen on his own Andy still has a strong woman looking after him.
The isolated school setting is, to me, dull compared to the urban Chicago setting of the original. The main relationship, Andy and his nerdy friend Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson, JUNIOR), is not as strong as the ones between Andy and his mom or Andy and his foster sister Kyle (who sadly we don’t see again in the series). I suppose there is a little more of that DREAM WARRIORS style outsider status in that Andy never found a steady foster family, is labelled a “troublemaker” and tormented by those in power at the academy, where Whitehurst warns him “They don’t tolerate any form of individuality,” but I don’t know, he’s not like a cool James Dean kid or particularly likable. He seems more like a boy that tween girls would think was dreamy, so if that did expand the demographics of who would watch a CHILD’S PLAY sequel then I can get behind that.
The puppetry is very sophisticated at this point, so Chucky is on screen talking and moving alot. And at the end they wisely decide “ah, screw it” with the military academy/war games business and set the climax in a carnival spookhouse ride. A huge and elaborate one with a giant grim reaper swinging a scythe sharp enough to slice off Chucky’s face.
One thing about this series, they never forget the importance of the battle damaged Chucky. Like a Terminator, he’s always gonna be torn up and scary looking by the end. Also in this one a big spinning fan (for wiggling the mylar flames) chops him up like a food processor.
Nobody’s gonna feel bad for Chucky, but thank god it was a killer doll and not some innocent kid, or the soul of a nice, non-serial killer possessing the body of a non-killer doll. This is clearly not a safe carnival ride. This kind of stuff is why regulations are important, people.
It’s was weird to learn that this is a notorious movie in the UK due to it being blamed in an infamous murder case. That’s too bad if any young Brits couldn’t see it for years and built it up in their minds, because in my opinion part 3 is the only bad CHILD’S PLAY movie. It feels less cinematic, more made-for-cable than the other two. It does change the story quite a bit with the new setting, older protagonist and new Chucky victim, but these ideas are built out of such cliches that it still fails to feel fresh. There’s a little bit of humor in the way people at this school react to Chucky, and the way he reacts to them, but mostly it feels very labored, coming up with excuses why the characters who need to get killed will carry a doll around. Robinson actually puts him in the barber chair and almost shaves him! Even Chucky seems like he’s getting too self conscious, saying lines like “DON’T FUCK WITH THE CHUCK!” that should be followed by him turning to the camera and asking if we like his new catch phrase.
Although this came out in 1991, the “8 years ago” slide show at the beginning means it takes place in 1996, only two years before BRIDE OF CHUCKY. Director Jack Bender is (not surprisingly) a TV guy who did Eight Is Enough and Falcon Crest and HIGH SCHOOL U.S.A. This is his first theatrical release and the only other one he did is LONE JUSTICE 2. But he did do two episodes of Game of Thrones.
This concludes my revisit of the CHILD’S PLAY trilogy. Here are links to my old reviews of the OF CHUCKY trilogy:
VERN has a new action-horror novel out called WORM ON A HOOK! He has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the film criticism books Seagalogy: A Study of the Ass-Kicking Films of Steven Seagal and Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer!: Writings on Bruce Willis, Badass Cinema and Other Important Topics as well as the crime novel Niketown.