In this weeks episode of The Child’s Play Rewatch, Cory and Nathan come with batteries included as they discuss the original “Child’s Play” (1988).

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Child’s Play was produced on a budget of $9,000,000. The film was released on November 9, 1988, in 1,377 theaters, opening at #1, out of the other 12 films that were showing that week, with $6,583,963. The film went on to gross $33,244,684 at the US box office and an additional $10,952,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $44,196,684.

According to an interview with Mental Floss, screenwriter Don Mancini first conceived of the concept while studying as a film major at the University of California, Los Angeles. He claimed to have been inspired by consumerism, the Cabbage Patch Kids, Trilogy of Terror, and The Twilight Zone episode “Living Doll.” The film’s executive producer David Kirschner, who would produce all seven films in the Chucky series, claimed in the same interview that he had wanted to make a film about a killer doll after reading The Dollhouse Murders. The director Tom Holland has also affirmed that the My Buddy dolls played a role in Chucky’s design.

The first draft of the script was completed in the summer of 1985 and referenced Chucky as Buddy who came to life after mixing blood with Andy and killed those against Andy (for example, the babysitter and teacher) manifesting Andy’s loneliness and isolation from an overworked mother and absent father. In addition to being a more psychologically driven horror film, “Buddy” also only came alive at night when Andy was asleep.

The original working title for the film was “Batteries Not Included” before it became known Steven Spielberg was also making a film with the same title. It was then changed to “Blood Buddy” before settling on “Child’s Play.”

Chucky’s full name, Charles Lee Ray, is derived from the names of notorious killers Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald (assassin of John F. Kennedy) and James Earl Ray(assassin of Martin Luther King).

Chris Sarandon previously appeared in Fright Night (1985). Both films are directed by Tom Holland and feature the main character that sees something supernatural and can’t get anyone to take them seriously.

All of Brad Dourif’s voiceover work for Chucky was recorded in advance so they could match up Chucky’s mouth with the words. Because of this, Dourif rarely ever appeared on set during the “doll” scenes. Instead, recordings of his voice would be played back for Alex Vincent to go by. Also, Brad would act out the scenes with the actors before they filmed said scenes.

Despite their long-running collaborative effort to bring Chucky to life, voice actor Brad Dourif and special effects wizard Kevin Yagher never met in person until they were both guests at a horror convention in May 2018.

Catherine Hicks (Karen) and Kevin Yagher (Chucky’s creator) met on set and were married a year later.

The Chucky films have always been accused of inspiring violence in children. One case linked to the series was a gang in Manchester kidnapping and murdering a 16-year-old girl. While they tortured her, they forced her to listen to recordings of the gang leader repeating the catchphrase “I’m Chucky, wanna play?” Director Tom Holland has always defended the first film from these accusations, stating that viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were unbalanced to begin with.

During the initial release, a crowd of protesters formed around the entrance to MGM, calling for a ban on the film. They claimed it would incite violence in children. Local news reporters were broadcasting live from the scene, and the producer David Kirschner was watching, disturbed by what he saw. Jeffrey Hilton, who worked with Kirschner at MGM, said he could defuse the situation in ten minutes. Hilton went down and spoke to the ringleader and then the group disbanded, to the chagrin of the newscasters. Hilton never specified whether it was threats or diplomacy that saved the day.

In the scene where Chucky runs behind Maggie in the hallway, Chucky was actually played by Alex Vincent’s younger sister.

Composer Joe Renzetti and singer/songwriter Simon Stokes recorded an ending credits theme song about Chucky the Doll that wasn’t used in the final finished film because studio executives thought it made Chucky seem less scary. The song can be heard in one of the trailers for the film.

What’s Up Next?:

Next week we’ll be continuing with the original “trilogy” as we discuss “Child’s Play 2.”

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