CHILD'S PLAY 2, 1990
Director: John Lafia
Stars: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham
Review by Mark Engberg
Chuckie's back as the doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer, butchering all who stand in his way of possessing the body of a boy.
Great horror movies often exist on the strength of their villain’s central persona, whether they are frightening or hilarious. The wonderful thing about Chucky is that he is absolutely bursting with comic personality. In fact, you could say he’s coming loose at the seams.
Sorry, Chuck, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to insert a little plastic humor in my review. I’m sure you would have said it yourself soon enough.
The most enjoyable horror movies typically kill off the most unlikable supporting characters in ways that are not only gruesome, but also comical and entertaining. Is there anything more demeaning than to be murdered by a possessed Cabbage Patch Doll? In his first sequel, Chucky, the scariest looking Ginger kid since Carrot Top, returns from the dead to possess the body of young Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), who is now bouncing around foster homes because his mom was understandably sent to the nut house. In true horror flick fashion, Chucky snuffs out a few not-quite-innocent bystanders along the way, including a couple of toy manufacturers, a grade school teacher, a social worker, and Andy’s foster parents (played by Gerrit Graham and Jenny Agutter).
Most of these scenes are visually amusing, with the exception of Agutter’s Joanne Simpson, who deserved a better death than an off-screen throat job. But maybe I’m biased. For me, Miss Agutter is a fanboy dreamdate since she can talk about “American Werewolf in London” as well as “Logan’s Run”.
Horror film franchises are traditionally based on a lone and invincible anti-hero (Freddy Kreuger, Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, etc.) who becomes less scary as the series gets more popular. This is a sticky dilemma for the subsequent sequels, which are trying to upgrade these characters by making them more imposing as the plotlines become more ridiculous.
But the great thing about “Child’s Play” is that the premise was over the top from the beginning. Even though Chucky was shot to death in the predecessor, his polluted spirit contaminates the plastic of the new doll, which was reconstructed for analysis. It’s about as believable as a dead child molester invading your dreams.
And like Freddy, Chucky understands that essential need to keep audiences entertained by upping the gore factor. Whereas Jason and Michael Myers silently unsettle you with their vacuous expressions, Chucky is howling with glee as he scans his surroundings for fresh and inventive new ways to kill his victims. The acerbic jolt of Brad Dourif’s delivery invigorates Chucky’s personality with smartass wit and genuine mischief.
He simply owns this character. Anyone else who wants to try would only be doing a pale impression of the man who played the Mentat Piter De Vries (“Dune”, the David Lynch version) and the Gemini Killer (the terribly underrated “Exorcist III”).
As far as horror sequels go, “Child’s Play 2” manages to continue the thrill of the horror/comic franchise without becoming repetitive or overly sensational. No, we may not truly be frightened for any of these characters since the premise is so absurd. But we certainly enjoy watching Chucky take pleasure in his work.
Not surprisingly, the best line of the movie comes from Chucky, but it’s a quiet, ironic moment when he is forced to put on his “Good Guy” face for the clueless amusement of a nosy traffic cop. When prompted to identify himself to the policeman in familiar animatronics fashion, he turns his head with impeccable timing and deadpans his name without a hint of friendliness or jubilation: “Chucky.” You get the feeling that it’s probably Dourif’s favorite moment in the entire saga.