Child’s Play (Collector’s Edition) (Blu-ray)

Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) wanted nothing more for his sixth birthday than a large-sized, talking “Good Guy” doll. But widowed working mom Karen (Catherine Hicks) didn’t have enough advanced notice of her son’s birthday wish to save the $100 dollars needed for a new store-bought doll. Tipped off by her friend Maggie (Dinah Manoff), Karen approaches a homeless guy selling a used “Good Guy” doll out behind the department store where she works. Thrilled, Karen is able to buy her son the toy he covets. Unbeknownst to her, the caring mom sets in motion a blizzard of demonic horror and violence.

Andy’s doll isn’t just any doll. Chucky (we quickly learn his name), is the transferred spirit of serial “Lake Shore Strangler” Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), who, after being mortally wounded by Chicago police Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) in a toy store, utilizes his voodoo training to transfer his soul into the nearest form available: a large “Good Guy” doll. Now home with Andy, Chucky/Charles immediately leaves an impression by killing babysitter Maggie. The crime scene evidence points to Andy’s involvement in the crime – at least that’s what Detective Norris believes – but it takes another murder (this time, Charles Lee’s former accomplice-in-crime, upon whom Charles swore vengeance), before Andy is taken from his mom and locked-up for psychiatric evaluation. With Andy out of the way, Chucky is now free to murder his enemies, until he learns he needs Andy far more than he thought.

Originally released when I was fifteen years old, Child’s Play really creeped me out the first time I saw it. At the time, I had a rather large collection of stuffed animals I had collected through the years. For weeks after seeing the film, I had nightmares that one of them was going to come alive and murder me or members of my family.

Now, watching Child’s Play almost thirty years later, those nightmares are gone. Instead, I can appreciate Child’s Play for the well put together little horror film that it is. Writers Tom Holland (also the director), Don Mancini and John Lafia added a level of satire to the film that brought it up a notch from other slasher flicks of the day. The ‘Good Guy’ brand is everywhere in Child’s Play, from an animated kid’s show on TV, through to Andy’s “Good Guy PJ sneakers.” Chucky may have been the embodiment of evil, but the filmmakers also new how to take advantage of an obvious marketing phenomena – of course, the film was released at the height of ‘Cabbage Patch’ hysteria wherein ordinary housewives were fighting it out in toy store aisles across the country in order to get their hands on these much coveted dolls. So, the doll idea was genius and it can also be looked at as a statement about what mass marketing can do to our heads.

There’s no denying that once Chucky “comes alive,” and unleashes a filthy torrent of vulgarities at Karen, his face suddenly transformed into a hideous, grotesque mask, that a new movie star is born. The puppetry work is excellent. However, I can’t imagine the film working as well as it does without the voice work of Brad Dourif. Growling in a demonic wail of hatred, Dourif pulls off the tough task of making Chucky both scary and humorous in his line readings. Dourif deserves much of the credit for turning Chucky into a horror film icon.

Framed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Scream Factory’s all new 1080p transfer was taken from a 2K scan of an interpositive. The result is a noticeable improvement over the previous MGM Blu-ray release. Objects are more identifiable and clarity is better throughout. Colors appear natural. While image correction may have been employed, it isn’t obtrusive. While the level of detail doesn’t reach the level of current titles, it’s a marked improvement from the previous release. Depth is impressive, with no blur. Blacks are surprisingly inky and the reds in the color palette really pop. Skin tones look natural throughout. There’s a nice level of grain that gives things a nice filmic appearance.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track appears to be the same one available on the previous Blu-ray release. Thankfully, despite being largely contained to the front speakers, it does a solid job of conveying the spooky sounds and sudden jolts in the action. The surrounds are brought in occasionally, during music beats, jump scares, etc. The dialogue is clear throughout.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

Disc 1:

Audio Commentaries:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Tom Holland: Moderated by Nathaniel Thompson of Mondo Digital, Holland gives his thoughts on the film. He discusses the shooting process, the actors, and more. Holland’s commentary participation is a new and welcome addition for fans.
  • Audio Commentary with Actors Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks and “Chucky” Designer Kevin Yagher
  • Audio Commentary with Producer David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini
  • Audio Commentary with Chucky (in character) on Select Scenes: This one is strictly a novelty.

Disc 2:

Making Chucky:

  • Behind-The Scenes Special Effects Footage (HD, 1:00:08) Inside the special effects warehouse, viewers witness Chucky under construction, the animatronic work and the people who worked on individual parts. We also get a behind-the-scenes look at the film.
  • Howard Berger: Your Special Effects Friend ‘Til The End (HD, 40:53) The ‘B’ of the KNB effects group offers a detailed account of working on the set of Child’s Play.
  • Life Behind the Mask: Being Chucky (HD, 40:02) An interview with actor Ed Gale, who played Chucky when they needed some far away, action stunts etc. The guy shares some really fun stories.

Featurettes:

  • Evil Comes In Small Packages (SD, 24:49)A carry over from the previous release.  features three separate interview segments (The Birth of Chucky, Creating the Horror, and Unleashed) with cast and crew of the film that covers the production and release of Child’s Play.
  • Chucky: Building a Nightmare (SD, 10:05) this archive featurette provides a detailed look at the construction of the Chucky animatronics.
  • A Monster Convention (SD, 5:26) this archive featurette is a brief snippet of a taping at Monster Mania 2007, where the cast reunited for questions from die-hard fans.
  • Introducing Chucky: The Making of Child’s Play (SD, 6:15) from 1988, this is an overview of the making of the film.
  • Vintage Featurette (SD, 4:54)A brief studio EPK from around the time of release.

More Child’s Play:

  • TV Spot (SD, :17)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:02)
  • Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery (HD, 3:09)
  • Posters & Lobby Cards Photo Gallery (HD, 1:45)

Child's Play (1988)
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