Child’s Play: The True Story of Chucky | NowThis Nerd

I know Hair and makeup? Charles Lee Ray, better known as Chucky, has terrorized tots for over thirty years, and with not one but two new incarnations just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to unbox the complex history behind our favorite pint-sized slasher What was Chucky’s original origin? How did they bring the devious doll to life? And why are there now two Chuckys competing to steal our souls? I’m Andy, and this is The True Story of Child’s Play Let’s start with The Script Writer Don Mancini was just a junior in college when he finished the first draft of what would become ‘Child’s Play’ The son of a career adman, Mancini was well aware of the manipulative marketing tactics toy companies used to snare kids, WOW!!! and deeply disturbed by the feeding frenzy he witnessed over the unbelievably popular Cabbage Patch Kids and My Buddy dolls of the early ‘80s He started work on a darkly satirical horror script about the dangers of commercialism on a growing mind, and came up with the idea of a killer doll thanks to some inspiration from the Twilight Zone’s ‘Talking Tina,’ and a segment from a 1975 TV movie called ‘Trilogy of Terror

’ It was never the most original concept, but in a post-’Gremlins’ world, animatronics had advanced enough where a terrorizing toy could be fully realized in a feature length film Ha ha ha! I don't believe it! I just don't believe it! Originally called ‘Batteries Not Included,’ Mancini changed the title after hearing that Stephen Spielberg had a movie in the works with the same name Rrrright Now known as ‘Blood Buddy' ew, gross Now known as 'Blood Buddy,' the script portrayed a very different doll than the one we know and fear today

Back then, dolls that cried, spit up, and wet themselves were all the rage, so Mancini imagined a My Buddy filled with fake blood, My Buddy! My Buddy! Wherever I go, he goes! and when a lonely boy named Andy mixes his blood with the toy's, the two form an infernal bond Instead of being possessed by the soul of a serial killer, Chucky was a manifestation of Andy’s loneliness and despair, who came to life when his owner was asleep, and sought vengeance against the eight-year-old’s enemies Metal The script bounced around Hollywood for a few years, until it came across the desk of David Kirschner, the producer of ‘An American Tail’ who was looking to expand his horror horizons Kirschner drew the very first concept art of Chucky, but he realized there was something missing from the story

With Andy as the driving force behind the murders, the audience didn’t really have a hero they could sympathize with, so he hired writers to punch up Mancini’s script, and give Chucky a new origin, one where a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray is killed in a toy-store shootout, and transfers his soul into a smiling plastic pal Endelieu pour de boisette damballa!!! Mancini was against the idea, how dare they bastardize his baby? His work? But do you think the studio machine cared? I don't care which ones! Wrestling pictures! After one last name change to ‘Child’s Play,’ the film was given the greenlight by MGM, and it was time for The Shoot MGM shopped the script around to various directors like William Friedkin and Irving Kirshner, but they eventually hired Tom Holland, no relation, not Spider-Man, this was the '80s Heyyy Fresh off of ‘Fright Night’ and ‘Psycho II,’ Holland brought his horror bonafides to the project, along with a secret weapon During pre-production of ‘Child’s Play,’ the director briefly dipped to make a Whoopi Goldberg action movie called ‘Fatal Beauty,’ which featured a sadistic villain played by a character actor named Brad Dourif, Not 'til I give the sign Not 'til I give the sign who Holland quickly brought on board to play Chucky Dourif, doing his best Jack Nicholson impersonation, AAAHHH!!! gave the doll the perfect mix of rage, cruelty, and comedy, and now that Chucky had a voice, it was time to bring him to life

Not with Voodoo, or electricity, or blood, but with state-of-the-art animatronics Remember, one of the driving forces behind ‘Child’s Play’ was taking the classic killer doll cliche to the next level, Hello Andy! with cutting edge puppets that pushed the limits of late ‘80s technology So Kevin Yaegher, best known for his work on ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Tales From the Crypt,’ designed and built the complex Chucky animatronics for the film, but in practice, they were a nightmare to work with Since Dourif’s lines were all prerecorded, the eleven puppeteers hard at work beneath the set had an extremely hard time getting Chucky’s mouth to match his voice, and simple actions like pushing a button required 27 takes to get right, gosh darn! Even when the technology did work, the script required a range of motion beyond the puppet’s capabilities, so they dressed up actual humans in Good Guy clothes for certain scenes, which required building an all new set at 30% scale since no one was actually as small as Chucky At times, a two year old stood in for the serial killer, and for scenes where Chucky was set on fire, they turned to actor Ed Gale of ‘Howard the Duck’ fame

In the first 'Child's Play,' shot almost everything that Chucky shot, and the editors chose what to use and what not to use By all accounts, it was a rough shoot, and things didn’t get any easier once the film was in the can, because the first test screening was a total disaster Tom Holland’s first cut was over two hours long, featured way too much Chucky, and for some bizarre reason, replaced Brad Dourif’s voice with Jessica Walter’s, AKA Lucille Bluth This does not bode well The producers removed Holland from the film, brought back Brad, and cut out a full half hour of extraneous Chucky shots and boring police investigations

Much like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Alien,’ they correctly realized that less is more when it comes to horror, and when the film was finally released, it became a surprise hit It was the second highest grossing horror film of 1988, just below ‘The Dream Master,’ and while that’s not exactly an ‘Endgame’-level achievement, it was enough to jumpstart a brand new horror franchise, complete with Sequels ‘Child’s Play’ was an extremely controversial film at the time, parents protested the studio, saying Chucky would be a bad influence on their kids, no duh! And even though the movie was a success, its distributor United Artists dropped the IP like a bad habit, after it was sold to a new company that wanted to focus on family-friendly films instead Universal snatched up the rights and greenlit a sequel, and despite being shut out of the first film’s production, Don Mancini happily took the reigns and became the driving force for the next six movies ‘Child’s Play 2’ continued the Andy Barclay saga, and as a film, it was pretty much more of the same, but the amazing finale in the Good Guy factory is one of the most memorable setpieces in the history of horror As the series evolved, Chucky took a page from Freddy Kreuger’s handbook, he leaned heavy into one-liners and wisecracks, and the quips began to outpace the kills, Don't mess with the Chuck! By the time ‘Child’s Play 3’ came around, the series was already running out of steam, and the tale of a teenage Andy still tangling with his childhood toy was a creative and financial failure

Oh god Mancini was pretty much out of ideas, and the series was put on the shelf for seven years, until ‘Scream’ inspired him to take it in a bold new direction ‘Bride of Chucky’ embraced the silliness at the heart of the franchise, We're dolls you dolt! Oh my god what are we gonna do?! ditching Andy, the name ‘Child’s Play,’ and any pretense of seriousness, to deliver a campy cult classic about a doll, the woman he loves, and their unholy spawn

And, whether it was the new look, new vibe, or Chucky’s legendary appearance on ‘Monday Nitro,’ ‘Bride’ was a big hit, but for the sequel, Mancini wanted to do something very different As an openly gay man, he wrote ‘Seed of Chucky’ as an exploration of LGBTQ themes, about Chucky and Tiffany’s child Glenn/Glenda and their struggle with gender dysphoria The studio spinelessly rejected the script, and it would take nearly six more years for ‘Seed’ to see the light of day Sadly, the momentum from ‘Bride’ was long gone by that point, and ‘Seed’ failed to take root at the box office Little botanical humor for you

Mancini kept the franchise alive with the two direct-to-DVD films ‘Curse of Chucky’ and ‘Cult of Chucky,’ which returned the doll to his horror roots and reunited him with Andy, played by the original actor all grown up In the meantime, Mancini also developed a taste for TV, he was heavily involved in ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Channel Zero,’ You sound like Hannibal Lecter Can't believe they cancelled that show

and is currently producing a ‘Chucky’ series set to air on SYFY in 2020, one that’s completely unrelated to the theatrical ‘Child’s Play’ reboot So how are there two competing Chucky’s in the marketplace? Well, when United Artists gave away the IP, the characters and the chance to make sequels, they retained their ownership of the original film, and the right to produce a remake It’s not unheard of, James Bond went through a similar situation with ‘Never Say Never Again’ and ‘Thunderball,’ and with the battle lines drawn, it’s time for these toys to take each other on

On the one hand, the ‘Smart House’ approach is an interesting new take on the premise, and I am always here for Aubrey Plaza and Mark Hamill I mean, I’ll miss Brad Dourif but let’s face it, he’s sounding pretty rough these days Plus, with all the supernatural Voodoo stuff out the window, it seems at least a little closer to Mancini’s original vision Of course, Mancini himself has been pretty vocal about where he stands on the remake, along with star Jennifer Tilly, and I can kinda see where they’re coming from It’s pretty rare for a long-running slasher to maintain any semblance of continuity, but the Chucky in the upcoming TV series, is the exact same character we first met in 1988

It’s almost comforting, inasmuch as a possessed, murderous, pottymouthed toy can be comforting, but until the dust settles and the dolls duke it out, we’ll just have to wait and see which Good Guy is the best guy You know what they say You can't keep a Good Guy down

Thanks so much for watching everybody, I wanna know, are you excited for the new Chucky? Are you a fan of the Mark Hamill casting? Or do you have somebody better in mind? Let me know in the comments, As always, please subscribe to NowThis nerd, and if you see Chucky,

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