The Film (4/5)
Child's Play is the second feature film by director and screen writer Tom Holland who seemingly had the knack of taking the domestic and making it both fun and scary. His debut feature the suburban vampire classic Fright Night brought vampires into the suburbs in a way that mixed chills and laughs in equal measure, and his follow up the franchise making Child's Play does the same for the killer doll genre.
I have never been a big fan of the Child's Play series never going beyond Bride of Chucky as far as the sequels go, and never revisiting any sequels in the last 15 or so years. I sometimes end up lumping the original film with my dislike of the sequels, and then I watch it, and remember that the original film is a sharply made effective chiller that has a lot going for it. Holland both as a screenwriter and director in this film manages to take a concept that is downright silly, and make it scary again.
He does this by balancing classic gothic horror imagery (try and tell me that apartment building exterior, and the way Holland frames it doesn't recall the best of 60's gothic horror). He also manages to blend the horror and humor of the situation quite effective, so that the humor offsets the horror quite well, but not so much that it takes away from the horror.
We also get a series of excellent performances. Brad Dourif, of course, has become a vocal icon for his voicing of Chucky, and he is fantastic shape here doing it for the first time here with a mix of sleaze and anger. However, we also get a wonderful performance from Catherine Hicks as an increasingly determined and concerned Mother. Even Alex Vincent's performance as Andy is quite solid for a child performance in film. Of course, something has to be said about Kevin Yagher’s animatronic facial effects for Chucky in the film which also help significantly with the overall performance.
Child's Play opens with a shoot out between police detective Mike Norris, and the infamous "Lakeshore Strangler" Charles Lee Ray in a toy store. Norris ends up shooting Ray fatally, and as Ray is dying he uses voodoo to transfer his soul into the body of a "Good Guy" Doll (think the 80's My Buddy Dolls). The story then picks up the morning of Andy Barclay's sixth birthday. Andy is a huge fan of the Good Guys, and wants nothing more than a Good Guys doll for his big day. Unfortunately, his Mom had recently discovered the dolls existence and was unable to afford it in time. That is until a homeless vendor behind her work had one to sell for cheap. She quickly buys it, and takes it home to Andy excited. Unfortunately, for the pair and everyone around them this Good Guy happen to possess the soul of a thought dead killer, and he's not ready to stop his killing spree.
Scream Factory present Child’s Play in a new 2k scan from the IP in a 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film look quite solid here with nice stable color reproduction, solid blacks, and nice detail. There are some soft spots, and a few specks and instances of damage, but they are minor and do not detract from the overall presentation.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. The track is quite solid with dialogue and score coming through clearly with nothing to complain about.
Scream Factory lavishes Child’s Play with an extras package worthy of Criterion. There are 4 commentary tracks on the first disc. The first 3 with various members of the cast and crew while the final one is a screen specific one with Chucky. The second disc is loaded up with various behind the scenes interviews and featurettes that detail various facets of the film’s production and are sure to please fans of the franchise. We also get a photo gallery, and theatrical trailer.
Scream Factory have done a fantastic job bringing Tom Holland’s classic killer doll film to Blu-ray! The film looks and sounds quite nice, and is loaded up with extra features sure to please fans of the film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.