In 1988, slasher movie, Child’s Play, made its way into cinemas. The film followed the story of a young boy called Andy Barclay, who becomes terrorised by a killer doll by the name of Chucky.
Fast-forward 35 years, and Child’s Play not only remains one of the best-loved horror movies of the 1980s, it has also developed a huge legacy. At the time of writing this review, Child’s Play has spawned six sequels, a reboot, and a three-season television series, as well as a wealth of merchandise, and a legion of fans.
Child’s Play is also responsible for the arrival of brand-new documentary film, Living with Chucky. The docu-movie – produced and directed by Kyra Gardner – is available in the UK and Ireland from April 24th, where it can be bought or rented through all the usual digital platforms, as well as purchased on Blu-ray.
Running to around 100-minutes in length, Living with Chucky takes a look back at the Child’s Play/Chucky franchise, and explores the reasons why it has had such longevity and such success. The docu-film features input from various key players in the series, as well as some commentary from a number of industry insiders, and provides a run-through of almost all the entries in the series so far.
From Chucky creator Don Mancini, producer David Kirschner, and make-up artist & puppeteer Tony Gardner, to stars including Brad & Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, and Billy Boyd, Living with Chucky is jam-packed with interviews from all of the major people who have made this horror series what it is. Each person pops up to offer their thoughts on the movies and the characters, while the documentary tracks each film and details the evolution of the franchise.
To help illustrate the discussions, Living with Chucky includes clips from the films, as well as some archival material, including some backstage footage. A good chunk of this documentary is about detailing what it took to make each picture, and how everything came to life on screen.
In addition to the people involved in the franchise, Living with Chucky also gets some additional commentary from those who have admired the films from afar, or who have experience of working within the horror genre itself. Big names that pop up in the documentary include Lin Shaye, John Waters, and Abigail Breslin amongst others, and they help to add some additional flavour to proceedings.
Collectively, everyone involved paints a fairly insightful picture, and makes this documentary an enjoyable watch. You don’t need to be a Chucky fan to get the most out of this docu-film, you merely need to give it your time, and it will provide you with most of the information you need.
I say “most of the information”, because Living with Chucky was filmed before the first season of the Chucky television series hit screens. So, while the Chucky show does get a brief mention towards the end of the documentary, it is essentially a mention and not much else – there are no insights into the television series I’m afraid, and no input from the young cast.
Living with Chucky also doesn’t cover the 2019 reboot, which remade Child’s Play for the iPhone generation. This documentary is purely about the seven movies that were produced between 1988 and 2017, which (for those taking notes) include Child’s Play (1988), Child’s Play 2 (1990), Child’s Play 3 (1991), Bride of Chucky (1998), Seed of Chucky (2004), Curse of Chucky (2013), and Cult of Chucky (2017).
However, there is a reason the 2019 Child’s Play film is excluded, and it’s not just because this entry is owned by a different studio and considered a completely separate thing to the main films. The reason it is excluded is because Living with Chucky is not just about the movies, it is also about the people behind the pictures.
One of the great things about the Chucky movie series is the way in which it retains and reuses actors and creative talent throughout its run. So, Living with Chucky is as much a celebration of the cast and crew members, as it is about the films, which is why it is about the seven core Child’s Play movies (which share the same behind-the-scenes talent) and not about the unconnected reboot.
I am a BIG horror fan, and a huge lover of the Child’s Play/Chucky movies in particular, and I consider the films to be my all-time favourite horror franchise. I love the way the series has grown and developed over the past 35-years, and how it has reacted and repositioned itself to meet changing tastes and diminishing budgets.
For my money, this is a horror franchise which is a cut above many of its peers. The story which was introduced back in ’88 is still in play today, without the need to completely ignore various failed sequels (Halloween I’m looking at you), and this is something of a rarity these days.
So, having the opportunity to look back at these films and see how far they have come, is something which I enjoy greatly. It is also lovely to see how much the series means to everyone involved, and how it has shaped their lives over the past three-and-a-half decades.
For a long-time fan like me, Living with Chucky doesn’t really offer any new details that I didn’t already know, but it works irrespective of this. This docu-film gets to the heart of the series, as well as the root of what makes it thrive, and this is enough to pop a smile on my face.
Despite the continued success of the franchise, I’ve always felt the Chucky films have never quite had the same publicity and recognition as some of the other big horror franchises (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Scream, etc), so it is good to see a docu-film which highlights how creative it is. Hopefully, this docu-film will attract plenty of newcomers, who are keen to get into the films, and will begin to champion the franchise moving forward.
As for those of us who are old hands to Chucky, Living with Chucky is a great little documentary to add to the collection. It acts as a neat capper to the seven films, and provides a way to reminisce with some old friends who are a real scream!
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.
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