Monday, 17 October 2016

Child's Play 2 (4 Stars)

This is my Halloween Challenge film #17. It was made in 1990, a sequel to "Child's Play", made two years earlier. Judging by the reviews and the box office numbers, the critics and the public were in agreement that it wasn't as good as the original film. I have to disagree. "Child's Play" might have been good as a standalone film, but it was "Child's Play 2" that launched the franchise.

The main thing added to improve this film and the subsequent sequels -- there have been six films so far -- is a touch of humour. This fits well. After all, the idea that a child-sized doll is running around Chicago killing people is ridiculous in itself, so why shouldn't there be a comedic undertone? It improves everything. The production quality is also better in the sequels, due to the larger budget available. The music is also more pompous and exaggerated in the sequels.

Andy Barclay, now eight years old, returns from the first film. He no longer lives with his mother. She was locked up in a psychiatric ward because she insisted all the killings had been carried out by a plastic doll. He's now living with foster parents. An addition to the film's cast is Christine Elise, who plays his foster sister Kyle in the new family. (I thought Kyle was a boy's name). Unfortunately, this is the only film in the franchise in which she appears. She has an asexual look about her that reminds me of Jamie Lee Curtis.

You might remember that at the end of the first film the Chucky doll was burnt to a crisp. No sequel was intended. Something had to be done to make it possible to continue the story. After all, the serial killers in slasher films have to be immortal. In this film he's given a little help. The remains of the Chucky doll were salvaged by the Play Dolls company that made the Good Guys dolls. The company was supposedly suffering bad publicity because of stories of one of their dolls becoming a killer -- if people believed the story why was Andy's mother considered mentally ill? -- so they repaired the original doll, replacing all the damaged parts but retaining the core, to prove that it was just a harmless doll. Bad idea! Chucky escapes from the factory and the killing continues.

Chucky's first mission is to track down Andy, his only chance of becoming a human again. The family is soon killed, apart from Andy's Jamie Lee Curtis lookalike foster sister. She really should have returned for the other films. The final showdown is in the factory where the dolls are made.

So much about this film reminds me of "Terminator" (1984), in particular the final showdown in a manufacturing plant. If that were all we could accuse "Child's Play 2" of plagiarising, but it goes further. It also reminds me of "Terminator 2", which wasn't made until a year later in 1991. We have a monster chasing a boy and killing his foster parents to get to him. Is that just a coincidence? Maybe, but it's similar enough to be noticeable.

There's one small thing that I'm curious about. The film has an R certificate in America, which means it can only be watched by people over 17. However, the leading actor, Alex Vincent, was only nine years old when he made the film. Does that mean he wasn't allowed to see his own film on completion?

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