The 80s redefined the horror genre by giving fans more than just straight up horror films. Slasher films and darkly comedic horror films were introduced in the early 80s and throughout the 80s there was a slew of both types of movies made. Child’s Play, released in 1988, is one of the funniest horror films released in the 80s. The premise of the movie is that a murderer who is on the run from the cops is wounded in a shootout with the police. This shootout takes place in a warehouse where Good Guy dolls are being stored. The murdered casts a voodoo curse and is able to transfer his soul to a Good Guy doll as he is dying. The doll is shipped with the others to a store, where it is purchased as a present for a little boy. The little boy, Andy, realizes that the doll is alive and starts listening to what the possessed doll tells him to do. Chucky, the murderous doll, starts killing people in ways that ensure Andy will be blamed.
Through the course of his killing spree Chucky learns that he needs to possess the body of the first person who knew he was possessing the doll in order to survive as the doll is slowly destroyed. So he becomes obsessed with possessing Andy. There are several sequels to the original Child’s Play film and over the course of the films Chucky ends up possessing several people, including a woman.
It sounds like a scary premise but the foul mouthed sarcastic murderer trapped inside the doll makes the movie as funny as it is dark. It’s impossible to take a movie that centers on a 3 foot tall doll killing people seriously. The writers wanted to play up the campy value of the film and wrote the character of Chucky as a comedic one even though the character is a killer. In the sequels there isn’t even a real attempt to scare audiences. The movies focus on writing Chucky and later his bride as over the top characters who kill indiscriminately but are funny instead of terrifying.
Audiences loved Child’s Play and most of the sequels. The dark but funny tone of the film turned it into an immediate cult classic that many horror fans embraced. Even today there are people that Cosplay as the murderous doll or his bride at fan conventions and other events. A remake of the original film was finished in 2013 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the original film. The reboot was actually scarier than the original. The remake was meant to be a new imagining of the tale. The reboot was a lot darker than the original and featured less of the campy comedy and more serious scares.
Killer dolls were used in other movies during the 80s and were terrifying. The clown doll that comes to life in Poltergeist and attacked Robbie is one of the scariest things in the movie. The scene where the clown moves slowly across the room to attack Robbie is terrifying to this day. But in Child’s Play Chucky the killer doll is one of the funniest killers of the 80s. It’s almost impossible to keep a straight face watching a doll with a smile painted on its face let loose with a string of curses that would make a sailor blush while threatening to kill someone or launching the stuffed doll body across a room with a butcher knife to kill someone.
Even though Child’s Play isn’t a move that was made to be a B movie like many other comedy horror movies in the 80s it has achieved the kind of cult status that a lot of B movies aspire to have. Ask any horror fan what their favorite 80s horror movies are and Child’s Play will probably be somewhere on that list. Even though the sequels were very well done and kept the theme of the original going consistently throughout they are still not as good as the original film. Child’s Play remains one of the best examples of the classic 80s dark comedy horror film.