The 13th Floor

Is CHILD’S PLAY the Greatest Genre Franchise of All Time?

There are a ton of horror franchises out there, and the one thing they all seem to have in common is constant fluctuation in quality.

The first few HALLOWEEN flicks were amazing, and then things began to spiral around the fifth film; FRIDAY THE 13th was a blast early on, and then PART 3 came along and gave us an idea of what the future may hold in store; it’s been an up-and-down affair ever since. Later installments of the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise were, in some cases, laughably bad. All of these franchises, and so many have suffered from instability.

Enter the CHILD’S PLAY franchise — which somehow seems to be impervious to mediocre material, or the inevitable downward spiral.

Think about it…

Image Credit: MGM

CHILD’S PLAY was amazing, and CHILD’S PLAY 2 was a successful follow-up. The third picture in the franchise is undoubtedly my least favorite… but that’s simply because I couldn’t buy into Justin Whalen’s portrayal of Andy Barclay; it just didn’t work for me. There were some great ideas in the film, for sure — but when the leading role leads you to facepalm a few times, something isn’t quite right.

The fourth flick in the franchise, BRIDE OF CHUCKY, served as a not-so-subtle nod to the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, but it totally and completely did its own thing, to great success. The franchise could have easily fallen flat on its face here — but bringing in an additional murderous doll in the form of Tiffany, Chucky’s newest obsession, somehow left fans cringing, screaming and laughing simultaneously. She was a fantastic success — and she’s since played a major role in the franchise.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Moving back to the big picture, we’ve got to look at SEED OF CHUCKY — a film that left pundits on the fence, but pleased franchise fans immensely. Comedy stands at the forefront of the film, but it doesn’t rely on juvenile humor alone; with that said, it does have some stellar lines that might leave your belly looking as stitched-up as Chucky’s face.

But fret not — there are tons of gruesome, graphic and sexually suggestive scenes in the film that will leave you grinning ear-to-ear… because who doesn’t love insanely bloody murder? (Did we mention an ill-fated Redman makes a priceless appearance?) Everything we’ve always loved about Chucky is on full display here, and witnessing him attempt to teach his “son” the ways of human-hunting could be described as nothing less than remarkable.

Moving beyond SEED OF CHUCKY, we arrive at what many consider to be the finest (myself included), most refined film in the entire series — the astoundingly dark CURSE OF CHUCKY.

Image Credit: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

CURSE broke all the rules established by the previous two films. For Chucky’s creator Don Mancini, it was time to dismiss the over-the-top comedy and revisit the bleak and grim tone that made the first CHILD’S PLAY such a terrifying film (and an immense success)… and boy, did it ever work!

This installment is drenched in dread, with atmosphere that haunts to the bone, and it just happens to feature the most adorable and likable heroine the franchise has ever produced: Nica, played by Fiona Dourif — daughter of the brilliant Brad Dourif, the voice of Chucky himself (and deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray). Nica is sympathetic, selfless, and has the spirit of a warrior — refusing to die at the hands of an 18-inch plastic killer. We love her for that, and knowing she’s making a return to the franchise is reason to truly celebrate. This is the freshest character introduced over the series’ six pictures, and the last thing fans want to see is her slipping quietly out of the CHILD’S PLAY fold. Fortunately, franchise fans can breathe a sigh of relief — because Nica is back, and this time, she’s going to ensure Chucky doesn’t rise like a demonic waxwork again!

We’re ecstatic to see CULT OF CHUCKY, and that excitement has only reached a fever pitch with the arrival of the CULT OF CHUCKY trailer. We’re even more excited at the cast involved — including the return of Alex Vincent, who played Andy Barclay in key roles in the first two CHILD’S PLAY films. And then, we’ve got the ever-reliable Jennifer Tilly making her return… and whether in human or plastic form, she’s nothing shy of polarizing!

CULT OF CHUCKY just might end up being the horror film of the year — and even if it falls just short of that, you can place a hefty bet on it for the greatest horror sequel to arrive in 2017.