But Which One is the Real Chucky?

The Child's Play Reboot

I am a big fan of slasher movies. I don't talk about them here on Asteroid G largely because I play to make a site devoted specifically to slasher flicks one of these day (sometimes after I have The Inverted Dungeon in better shape, so expect to see Camp Carnage launched on Halloween, 2038 at the rate I'm going). Still, recent news kicked me to jot down a little something since my next site is nowhere near ready yet.

Specifically, MGM is making a Child's Play remake. If that news sounds odd to you it's probably either because (a) you don't understand why anyone would want to see a new "Chucky" movies (which is fair but also you're wrong), or (b) you're confused because you could swear the Chucky series was still going on and, also, that Universal studios was in charge of the series (and good for you for keeping up with this awful/great series).

Those of you in the latter group: you're correct. Chucky is, in fact, still going strong. His last two movies (Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky) were, admittedly, direct-to-video, but both were easily high-points for the series. Universal has been happy enough with the recent films to greenlight yet another sequel along with a TV series in the continuity of the movies. With backing like that for a series that is still on-going, why is a remake being made? Well, that's a long story of complicated studio rights.

See, the original Child's Play was a moderate hit when it came out in 1988. A doofy slasher flick featuring a killer doll (at the height of both the Cabbage Patch Kids craze and a wave of killer doll movies), the first film made $44 Mil on a $9 Mil budget. For most studios, that kind of return would have been great, but for whatever reason MGM got cold feet over continuing the franchise and elected to let the series go for any future sequels. There was a bidding war and then, at the last minute, Universal swooped in and picked up the franchise, continuing it for some time.

To note, for those of you that are DVD collectors, this is why many early collections of the films lacked the first flick in the series -- Universal didn't own the DVD publishing rights for the film for the longest time and just went without.

Flash-forward 30 years. Despite MG wanting nothing to do with the franchise up until now, suddenly they realize they have access to an IP that's making decent money. Thus, they've elected to make a new Child's Play reboot. They did at least try to get the original creators of the series (writer/producer Don Mancini and the voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif) to come on board for the remake but, understandably, they declined. When the series you've been working on for 30 years is still going strong, why jump ship for a remake?

And, not to sound like a nay-sayer (which I have a tendency to do, such as with the recently announced Daria reboot), but I really don't see the need for a reboot of the series, especially one without any of the creative forces involved. This is beyond my affection for the original series -- sure, I like the dumb killer doll movies (they do at least add something different to the slasher genre) but I wouldn't be sad if, after some time in the ground, the series was rebooted. It happens with all dead franchises. Chucky, though, isn't a dead character. Despite being direct-to-DVD, Curse of Chucky was a great flick while Cult of Chucky

That said, reboots of slasher flicks don't tend to go well. Although I like some of the ideas in the Rob Zombie Halloween reboot flicks, those two films were truly flawed and certainly added nothing to the story of Michael Myers -- largely the explained who Myers was which reduced him from a menacing shape to a real, flawed person (and just being "The Shape" was scarier). The Friday the 13th reboot was barely even a reboot -- "teens go to woods and get killed" is the plot of every movie in the series so just calling it a "reboot" doesn't make it anything more than yet another Jason flick.

Then there's the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. This one I didn't really hate, largely because the film was smart about recasting Freddy. Sure, the one true Freddy will always be Robert Englund, but he retired from the role after Freddy vs. Jason so someone else had to be brought in. In his stead the producers hired Jackie Early Haley who did a masterful job in the role. Sadly, everything else about the movie was either tired and boring or, when effective, stolen from the previous version of the movie. Aside from Haley, nothing was new or better in this flick.

Making a reboot of a horror movie is dicey, then. And, really, this does feel like just a naked cash-grab from MGM. I don't know how many fans of the series are going to go see the new film in theaters (I'll even wait for it to hit Netflix before watching it just to see how bad it is) and if you don't have the Chucky fans, who is this movie really for? Slasher flicks don't bring in huge money (the Nightmare remake brought in $115 Mil on a $30 Mil budget, paltry in comparison to what all the superhero movies make now), and if you somehow lose the fans in the process you can count on making even less.

Look, if somehow MGM strikes gold and actually makes a great movie out of all this, I say "fantastic". More power to them. I just really hope it doesn't screw up the perfectly good Chucky series we have going right now (and if the new version dies a slow death, I also won't be sad).