‘Sorry Jack… Chucky’s back!’
Child’s Play 2 is a 1990 American supernatural horror feature film directed by John Lafia (The Rats; Monster!; Man’s Best Friend) from a screenplay by Don Mancini. The movie stars Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter and Gerrit Graham.
In the first of the series sequels, Charles Lee Ray returns to claim the body of Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) thus freeing his soul from the imprisoned Good Guy doll, Chucky, from the original Child’s Play.
After spending time in a home for troubled kids, Andy is taken in by foster parents Phil (Gerrit Graham, Chud 2: Bud The Chud, Beware! The Blob, Demon Seed, and TerrorVision) and Joanne Simpson (Jenny Agutter, also in An American Werewolf in London). It’s not too long before Chucky (voiced again by Brad Dourif) has tracked down Andy and his new family and the killing begins all over again.
After the fairly big success of the original, it was surprising that MGM sold the rights to Universal without taking a stab at a sequel themselves. Thankfully, the transition didn’t harm the continuing story in the slightest as the sequel is a surprisingly punchy little number that is far more entertaining than anyone thought it would be.
Whereas the original had its own distinct tone and structure, Child’s Play 2 not only plays to the strengths set up by its predecessor but also brings its own sparkle and charisma to a set that could very easily of played out the exact same story or even worse, started again with new characters.
With the continued theme of ‘the doll attempting to possess the soul of the living’, the sequel picks up effortlessly after the events of the original by using a relatively clever concept to bring Chucky back to the stomping ground. Without wanting to give too much away to anyone who has yet to see the film, if your willing to believe a child’s doll can kill, the resurrection of such a killing machine after its previous demise is a somewhat fun and to a certain degree, plausible, set up.
Child’s Play 2‘s main quality is its colour pallet. Rarely do we see a sequel that’s not only equally as dark as the original but one that actually jumps off the screen with its literal colour scheme. Unlike the dark apocalyptic feel of, say, Aliens or the bleakness of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, Child’s Play 2 features some energy-charged scenes in broad daylight that show off the superb effects work beautifully and help support the entire backbone of the story. The original film had Chucky sneaking around and stalking in the shadows. Child’s Play 2 brings those sensibilities and literally thrusts them at us at any time. There’s a genuine feeling that ‘if Chucky’s after you, he WILL find you’. There really is no safe place to hide.
The film culminates in a finale that’s frankly way better than it had any right to be. Cranking up the wow-factor, it gives the viewer such a final showdown that all other additions to the franchise can only whimper at. There’s a convenient but great twist to set up the finale that would please any fan of the series whilst also managing to make what should be a child’s dream come true, a living nightmare.
Of late, many sequels are put into production before the originals have even made their theatrical debut. It’s important to remember that Child’s Play 2 was a relatively low budget film that although released in theatres in the states, could only be seen on VHS in the UK and other surrounding territories. It opened to somewhat mixed reviews but that didn’t stop it taking the top spot at the box office.
Some reviews felt that the film took a somewhat ‘corny’ approach to some scenes but upon repeated viewings and the lapse of time, it doesn’t seem the case. The film fleshes out the character of Chucky much more than the original. Instead of having a ‘slasher-whodunnit’ like the first outing, Child’s Play 2 knows its audience, it knows they know the setup and it gives them what they want. A sequel that had the killer hidden for most of the duration wouldn’t work as the audience already knows who the perpetrator is. Instead, we have a sequel that has its own agenda and style.
Yes, it can be seen as a precursor to the more ‘jovial’ sequels, Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky but its brilliance lies in the craftsmanship. Director John Lafia handles the humour well and avoids jumping too deep into the comic territory (something that the more recent outings have chosen to revel in).
The pace is beautifully slick and there’s very little baggage weighing the film down. There’s also a superb main theme by composer Graeme Revell (Sin City) that suits the film perfectly. Mixing a childlike ditty with a haunting sting, the score encapsulates the mood of the film whilst managing to be a character in itself (see also: Jaws, Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street).
An Extended Television Cut has been shown fleetingly on American television and is certainly worth a watch for fan’s of the franchise. There’s a prolonged ‘re-birth’ of Chucky that plays out more like the original script intended and manages to clear up a few questions that have been asked of the film (although all are easily explained with a little imagination).
A scattering of scenes involving the foster parents and their feelings towards Andy are surprisingly absent from the final print. Although the parents’ concern for their new addition is still present in the theatrical cut, the extended scenes add a lot more weight to the film and make the characters much more interesting and relevant.
Another surprising exclusion is the open ending. The extended cut sets up for the inevitable sequel yet this was removed for the theatrical and home video prints giving the film more closure. This is more than likely down to twitchy investors not knowing how the film would be welcomed but they need not of worried, the film was always going to turn enough of a profit. The deleted and extended scenes can be viewed here.
Child’s Play 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable sequel that has stood the test of time well. Given that the film was released when horror movies were becoming more than a little monotonous and predictable thanks to an abundance of straight-to-video releases, it’s as much of a fun romp now as it was back in the ’90s.
Martin Langford, MOVIES and MANIA
Cast and characters:
Alex Vincent … Andy Barclay
Jenny Agutter … Joanne Simpson
Gerrit Graham … Phil Simpson
Christine Elise … Kyle
Brad Dourif … Chucky (voice)
Grace Zabriskie … Grace Poole
Peter Haskell … Sullivan
Beth Grant … Miss Kettlewell
Greg Germann … Mattson
Raymond Singer … Social Worker
Charles Meshack … Van Driver (as Charles C. Meshack)
Stuart Mabray … Homicide Investigator
Matt Roe … Policeman in Car
Herbie Braha … Liquor Store Clerk (as Herb Braha)
Don Pugsley … Technician
Ed Krieger … Technician
Vince Melocchi … Technician
Edan Gross … Tommy Doll (voice)
Adam Ryen … Rick Spires
Adam Wylie … Sammy
Billy Stevenson … Adam (as Bill Stevenson)
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Dolby Stereo
$35,763,605 worldwide on a reported budget of $13 million.