Child's Play is a 1988 horror film directed by Tom Holland, starring Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Dinah Manoff and Brad Dourif.

This is the first film in the Child's Play series. It was released on November 9, 1988 by United Artists.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

In 1988, Charles Lee Ray, a well-known serial killer and wanted fugitive, is seen running through the streets of Chicago. After he is fatally shot in a toy shop by Chicago homicide detective Mike Norris, Charles transfers his soul into one of the "Good Guy" dolls via a voodoo spell. This causes the shop to explode, and Mike finds Charles's body.

The next day, a widow named Karen Barclay purchases the same doll (now known as Chucky) for her son Andy's sixth birthday from a homeless man. That night, Karen's co-worker and friend Maggie Peterson is killed when Chucky causes her to fall from the apartment window while she babysits Andy.

Maggie had stopped Chucky from getting live updates on his ex-henchman Eddie Caputo, who abandoned Charles when he transferred his soul; she mistakenly thought Andy was disobeying her by not going to bed. As a result, the police search the apartment. Andy is deemed a suspect by Mike much to the annoyance of Karen, who orders Mike and the police to leave once they complete their investigation.

The next morning, Chucky orders Andy to skip school and take the train downtown. While Andy is urinating, Chucky sneaks into Eddie Caputo's lair, turning off a stove's pilot light but turning up the gas. Chucky toys with Eddie, who accidentally kills himself by shooting the stove, resulting in an explosion.

Andy (who is once again a suspect) is placed in a mental hospital by Dr. Ardmore until further notice. That night, Karen discovers that Chucky's batteries were never inserted, and that Andy was telling the truth about Chucky functioning on his own power.

While she is inspecting the doll, Chucky comes to life, bites her, abuses her and escapes. She then finds Mike at the station and shows him the scar that Chucky made. He does not believe her and leaves. After almost being killed by Chucky in his car, Mike finally agrees to help Karen.

Chucky goes to John, Charles Lee Ray's former voodoo teacher. When Chucky asks why he is able to bleed, John informs him that the longer his soul remains trapped within the doll, the more human the doll will become; in order to escape the doll's body, Chucky must possess the first person to be told of his possession with that being Andy.

When John rejects Chucky's plea for help, Chucky fatally stabs John using his own voodoo doll. Chucky escapes just before Karen and Mike arrive on the scene. Before dying, John tells them that although Chucky is a doll, his heart is fully human and vulnerable to fatal injury.

At the mental hospital, Chucky steals the key to Andy's cell, but discovers Andy is not there. Dr. Ardmore finds Andy and unsuccessfully tries to sedate him. Chucky kills Dr. Ardmore with a violent electrocution and soon follows Andy home, knocking him unconscious with a baseball bat.

As Chucky begins possessing Andy, Karen and Mike arrive and stop him. Chucky slashes Mike, then goes after Karen and Andy. The pair trap Chucky in the fireplace and burn him. Thinking Chucky is dead, Karen and Andy leave the room to help Mike, but Chucky follows them and attempts to kill them. Chucky is again thought to be killed when Karen shoots off his head, arm, and leg.

Mike's partner Jack Santos arrives at the apartment, and disbelieves the trio's story just before Chucky's body then bursts through a ventilation duct and tries to strangle Jack. Mike then aims and shoots at Chucky's heart, finally killing him. Mike, Jack and Karen go to the hospital. Karen turns off the bedroom's lights and Andy looks back at Chucky's charcoaled remains before closing the door.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray\Chucky (voice)
  • Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay
  • Catherine Hicks as Karen Barclay
  • Chris Sarandon as Detective Mike Norris
  • Dinah Manoff as Maggie Peterson
  • Tommy Swerdlow as Jack Santos
  • Jack Colvin as Dr. Ardmore
  • Raymond Oliver as Dr. John
  • Neil Giuntoli as Eddie Caputo
  • Alan Wilder as Mr. Criswell
  • Aaron Osborne as The Orderly
  • Juan Ramirez as The Peddler

Production[edit | edit source]

The original working film title was called "Batteries Not Included," but it was later changed to "Bloody Buddy." The first draft of the script was completed in the summer of 1985. In the draft, the doll was named Buddy, who came to life after mixing blood with Andy & came to life at night while Andy was sleeping. The film was later named "Child's Play."

"Child's Play" was filmed in Chicago, Illinois for the on-location scenes. The Brewster Apartments (located at Diversey and Pine Grove) served as the location of the apartment where Andy & Karen lived and is pictured on the film's movie poster.

The in-studio filming took place at Culver Studios in Culver City, California.

Brad Dourif's voice-over work for Chucky was recorded in advance so they could match Chucky's mouth with the words. Because of this, he rarely appeared on set during the doll scenes. The recordings of his voice would be played back for Alex Vincent to go by.

To get in the right mood for the character, Dourif would run around the recording studio, work himself into a frenzy and deliver his lines which would often leave him feeling exhausted.

Controversy[edit | edit source]

During the intial release for "Child's Play," a large crowd of protesters formed at the main entrance of MGM Studios, calling to ban the film because they claimed it would incite violence in children.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box Office[edit | edit source]

"Child's Play" opened at #1 at the box office, grossing $6,583,96 during its opening weekend. It went on to gross $33,244,684 at the domestic box office and an additional $10,952,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $44,196,684.

Critical Reception[edit | edit source]

"Child's Play" received generally positive reviews. It currently holds a 69% approval rating based on 35 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, calling it a "cheerfully energetic horror film."

Areas of the film that were commonly praised were the original concept, special effects, and acting.

Alex Vincent (who played Andy Barclay) was said to have played a generally convincing role as a terrified boy while Brad Dourif was praised for the creepy and realistic voice acting of Chucky.

Accolades[edit | edit source]

1990 Saturn Awards

  • Best Actress: Catherine Hicks (won)
  • Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Alex Vincent (nominated)
  • Best Horror Film (nominated)
  • Best Writing: Tom Holland, John Lafia & Don Mancini (nominated)

Theatrical Trailer[edit | edit source]


Child's Play (1988) Trailer

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