Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Child's Play 2

Sorry for that short sidebar review the other day…it was something I really needed to get off of my chest and it felt great to do so, but it’s time to continue my reviews of must-see horror movies for the Halloween season.

Rather than rehashing my short reviews of some of my favorite horror movies (see my Top 20 Horror Movies review), I’ve picked out some films that you may have not seen or have forgotten—like I have—over the years.

One movie I’ve seen recently is a film I haven’t seen since it was released in theaters in 1990…Child’s Play 2.  With a tagline like, “Sorry, Jack…Chucky’s Back,” how could you go wrong? Of course, that tagline makes sense when you see it in context with the poster art, showing Chucky attempting to cut off the head of a Jack-in-the-box with scissors.  Yes, the sequel to the hit 1988 original brings back that possessed killer doll to continue what he does best: evoke terror and kill.

When I first saw this movie back in 1990, I wasn’t impressed and thought it just didn’t hold a candle to the original. I never gave it another try on rental or cable TV...I just thought it was a shitty movie and shouldn’t even waste my time with it again. But as people get older, they become more forgiving (or is it forgetful?) and I started thinking about how this franchise grew and how Chucky was the one who made it what it was. Not only that, but I was getting set to visit Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and I knew that Chucky was sometimes a staple of that event. So wanting to catch up and get a refresher on the series, I had Netflix send me a copy of Child’s Play 2 and I was glad I did.

I really don’t understand why I didn’t enjoy this movie back then. The movie is definitely a fun and solid popcorn flick that had me thinking about some of the fun movies I had seen during the early 90s.

Throughout the beginning credits, the film opens with a montage of someone cleaning up the mess that was left of Chucky in the first film. Mainly, his head is being stripped of the melted plastic and scraped off of the metal (or plastic...I can't tell) skull underneath. His teeth are cleaned and, overall, all burned and melted parts—including his eyes—are taken out. The head is remade with a new plastic skin and red hair, all attached to a new toy body. We then see that the film is taking place at the Good Guy toy factory, with the company’s owner (Peter Haskell) and the factory manager (Greg Germann) talking about the doll and how they want to make sure everything is okay with it. The manager mentions how it was a goof with someone recording bad things when the doll was first made. They then go on talking about who knows about what had happened and it’s revealed that the cops recanted their stories with the boy’s mother spending time in a mental institution. Seems that the owner wants to prove they had fixed the doll’s problems. Well, at this point, the technicians are putting the final touches on the doll, using a machine to place the new eyes in the doll’s head (they did everything else by hand, so why not the eyes?). Somehow the machine malfunctions, shooting some electricity into the doll which, apparently, brings it back to life—although we don’t find out until a little later. The manager is told to hold onto the doll until they can show it at some presentation, but he never makes it home, thanks to Chucky. Meanwhile, Chucky finds Andy and all hell—meaning, Chucky—beaks loose.

I like how they continued the story using Andy (Alex Vincent) as he's now orphaned and living with a foster family. How he was constantly blamed for doing the horrible things that Chucky was actually doing was cool (the note on his homework to the teacher, found in the basement with the electric knife). However, the kid was a terrible actor when he did the first one and he isn’t any better in this one, but it’s good to see the same actor nonetheless.

The special effects were well done and executed as believably as they could do it, seeing that it’s tough to make a doll come to life during the pre-CGI era. In the first film, there were a lot of far away shots where they used a small person or child to make it appear the doll was walking or running around. They never had any shots like that in this movie, but I wish they did because some of those shots in the first film wigged me out a little.

Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky nails it again in this one (if they ever decide to make another “Chucky” movie, they better have him on board because it won’t be the same without him) and I might note here that I think the first two films are the only semi-serious films made because the following sequels started making him a one-liner cartoon serial killer. But the close-ups showing the doll talking had a great synchronization going with Dourif’s voice, which makes for an eerie and believable quality.

Overall, the film doesn’t have many surprises and it goes along like an archetypal slasher flick, but it’s still enjoyable, even so. But with all the typical storyline that plays out, the most entertaining part of the film is the climax at the Good Guy factory. Without giving it away, the way it ends is terrific.

So, what’s my final “bit” on Child’s Play 2?

Even though the film was made in 1990—and we know that the early horror films of the 90s were very outlandish and out there—Child’s Play 2 has the feel and reminiscence of an 80s horror flick. It’s a perfect film to watch right after the original, all during the great season of Halloween. So wait until dark, turn off all the lights, keep your toys in plain sight, and put in your Child’s Play DVDs.