How “Child’s Play” Became The Funniest, Most Reliably Surprising, And Queerest Slasher Series
When it comes to slasher villains of the ‘80s, Chucky stands alongside Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as the most iconic — just several feet below. But while Freddy and his Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Jason and the Friday the 13th movies, and Michael and the Halloween series have endured countless reboots, revivals, stars, and filmmakers over the past few decades, Chucky has remained under the control of his creator, Don Mancini, who has written every entry in the franchise since cowriting Child’s Play in 1988. He’s also been voiced by the same actor, Brad Dourif — and terrorized many of the same costars — in each installment. That’s not just rare for a slasher series: It’s unprecedented.
The pint-sized redhead doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer may not have gone to space like Jason Voorhees or tussled with Tyra Banks like Michael Myers, but he has seen some wild shifts over the years. Over the past three decades, the Child’s Play series has transitioned from horror to comedy and back to horror again, and Chucky himself has been the villain, the antihero, and yes, even the romantic lead. That’s because Mancini is as committed to retaining his hold on the series as he is to never doing the same thing twice.
“Any good story is about surprising the viewer and subverting their expectations," Mancini said. "With sequels, you have a unique opportunity to do that because people come to a sequel or remake with very specific expectations. So it’s like, how can I fuck with that?”
The most consistent thing about the seven-film Child’s Play franchise is that it’s constantly reinventing itself — not as a result of studio intervention, but because of Mancini’s drive to keep audiences on their toes. In a genre that has been derided for being repetitive, Chucky stands alone.
BuzzFeed News sat down with Mancini to talk about the series’ humble beginnings, its growing pains, and how to keep a franchise going without losing an audience who has seen it all. From Child’s Play in 1988 to Cult of Chucky, now streaming, this is an inside look at one of horror’s most dynamic icons.
Child's Play (1988): “Hi, I’m Chucky, and I’m your friend till the end.”