Child's Play (1988)

R | 87 mins | Horror | 9 November 1988

Directors:

Tom Holland, Bud Davis

Producer:

David Kirschner

Cinematographer:

Bill Butler

Production Designer:

Daniel A. Lomino

Production Company:

United Artists Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

       An item in the 20 Feb 1989 People magazine reported that actress Jessica Walter was the uncredited voice of Chucky in the film. However, Walter’s participation cannot be verified, and actor Brad Dourif is credited as the voice of Chucky in Child’s Play and its sequels.
       Producer David Kirschner’s first feature, which he created and co-executive produced, was An American Tail (1986, see entry). According to an interview with Kirschner in the 26 Oct 1988 HR, everyone wondered why he would follow up the family-oriented film with a horror film. Kirschner stated the tale is “the dark side of Pinocchio,” and he was interested in the concept of a child telling the truth about his doll being alive, but adults not believing him. Kirschner was looking for a scary project involving dolls, and his development executive found Child’s Play. The script had been rejected by several studios, but Kirschner liked the concept. He changed some elements, “repackaged” the script, and attracted the interest of a major studio. However, before negotiations closed, Kirschner was introduced to Tony Thomopoulous, then chairman of United Artists (UA), who also became interested in the project and understood the film’s potential for sequels. The 17 Nov 1988 HR stated that Lee Rich, then chairman of MGM/UA, agreed with Thomopolous, and UA entered the bidding process and secured the project.
       An item in the 11 Dec 1987 HR reported the film was budgeted at $13 million. The 3 Nov 1987 DV announced the filmmakers were holding an open casting ... More Less

       An item in the 20 Feb 1989 People magazine reported that actress Jessica Walter was the uncredited voice of Chucky in the film. However, Walter’s participation cannot be verified, and actor Brad Dourif is credited as the voice of Chucky in Child’s Play and its sequels.
       Producer David Kirschner’s first feature, which he created and co-executive produced, was An American Tail (1986, see entry). According to an interview with Kirschner in the 26 Oct 1988 HR, everyone wondered why he would follow up the family-oriented film with a horror film. Kirschner stated the tale is “the dark side of Pinocchio,” and he was interested in the concept of a child telling the truth about his doll being alive, but adults not believing him. Kirschner was looking for a scary project involving dolls, and his development executive found Child’s Play. The script had been rejected by several studios, but Kirschner liked the concept. He changed some elements, “repackaged” the script, and attracted the interest of a major studio. However, before negotiations closed, Kirschner was introduced to Tony Thomopoulous, then chairman of United Artists (UA), who also became interested in the project and understood the film’s potential for sequels. The 17 Nov 1988 HR stated that Lee Rich, then chairman of MGM/UA, agreed with Thomopolous, and UA entered the bidding process and secured the project.
       An item in the 11 Dec 1987 HR reported the film was budgeted at $13 million. The 3 Nov 1987 DV announced the filmmakers were holding an open casting call at the First United Methodist Church in Hollywood, CA, for a six-year-old boy to play the lead. As noted in the 20 Jan 1988 Var, principal photography began 7 Jan 1988 in Chicago, IL. The 17 Jan 1988 LAT reported the movie was filming at eight outdoor locations in Chicago, where the temperatures were twenty degrees below zero, with a wind chill factor reaching fifty below. In addition to portable heaters, rooms were rented near the production to serve as “warm centers.” Trailers could not be parked near the set, so “station wagons were lined up with the heaters going.” After four weeks of filming in Chicago, the production moved to Los Angeles, CA.
       The 11 Dec 1987 HR noted that Child’s Play was the title of a 1972 film (see entry) directed by Sidney Lumet, and suggested that the title of this 1988 horror film might be changed. However, the film retained the title Child’s Play and was released on Wednesday, 9 Nov 1988.
       The 11 Nov 1988 HR announced the film’s first day box-office gross was $600,689 at 1,320 theaters. Articles in HR on 16 Nov 1988 and 17 Nov 1988 reported the film’s box-office gross during the first weekend was $6.6 million, and its five day gross reached $8 million.
       According to marketing and distribution executives at MGM/UA and UA, the successful launch of the film was due to a “well thought-out battle plan.” They did not want the film perceived as another Halloween horror film, and waited to release it on the Wednesday prior to the November Veteran’s Day holiday weekend. The executives acknowledged it was a risky move because three other genre films were released at Halloween. However, they felt the quality of their film and positive reactions to the Chucky character merited the risk. A three-pronged, three week marketing campaign was deployed prior to release. Several fifteen second spots were used to create awareness of the film, followed by an “endorsement strategy” of audience-reaction advertisements, with young people talking about Chucky and how scary the film was. This was the start of their plan to “position Chucky as the new terror icon.” The third component of the marketing strategy concentrated on the scariest parts of the film, and worked to establish Chucky as a major personality. The campaign successfully reached its preliminary target audience of 12- to 20-year-olds, and also received a positive reaction from 18- to 25-year-olds.
       An item in the 24 Mar 1989 LAT announced the film’s home video release on 25 Apr 1989, and noted the film’s theatrical box-office gross was $34 million.
       The success of Child’s Play launched a series of sequels including Child’s Play 2 (1990, see entry), Child’s Play 3 (1991, see entry), Bride of Chucky (1998, see entry) and Seed of Chucky (2004, see entry).
      End credits include the following statements: “Special thanks to: The Illinois Film Office; Chicago Office of Film and Entertainment; Marcus Uzilevsky, for the use of his artwork,” and “Filmed on location in Chicago, Illinois and at Chicago Studio City and the Culver Studios.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1988
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1988
p. 5, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 1988
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Nov 1988
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
24 Mar 1989.
---
New York Times
9 Nov 1988
p. 19.
People
20 Feb 1989.
---
Variety
20 Jan 1988.
---
Variety
9 Nov 1988
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
United Artists Presents
A David Kirschner Production
A Tom Holland Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, Insert unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Co-exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Cam op (Steadicam), Chicago crew
1st asst cam, Chicago crew
Still photog, Chicago crew
Elec best boy, Chicago crew
Rigging gaffer, Chicago crew
Key grip, Chicago crew
Best boy, Chicago crew
Dolly grip, Chicago crew
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, Insert unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Good Guy illustrations by
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Asst prop master
Const coord
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Prop master, Chicago crew
Leadman, Chicago crew
Const coord, Chicago crew
Paint foreman, Chicago crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Set costumer
Costumer
Set costumer, Chicago crew
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus, Re-rec mixer
Asst mus ed
Mus supv
Synclavier programming
Orch
Mus contractor
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Boom op
Dial, Re-rec mixer
Eff, Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Chucky doll created by
Chucky doll des and executed by
Visual eff supv
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Title des
Shop supv, Chucky const unit
Prod asst, Chucky const unit
Hair, Chucky const unit
Hair, Chucky const unit
Lab tech, Chucky const unit
Lab tech, Chucky const unit
Lab tech, Chucky const unit
Lab tech, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Mechanical crew, Chucky const unit
Process projection by
Visual eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Chicago casting by
Chicago casting by
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Dial coach
Welfare worker
Auditor
Asst auditor
Asst accountant
Prod office coord
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to David Kirschner
Asst to Barrie Osborne
Asst to Tom Holland
Unit pub
Transportation coord, Chicago crew
Craft service, Chicago crew
Caterer, Chicago crew
Scr supv, 2d unit
Prod assoc
STAND INS
Chucky stunt double
Stunt coord
Mike's car stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
ANIMATION
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Chucky’s Animated Theme,” written & produced by Mike Piccirillo
“I’m Hanging,” written by B. Boyle, performed by D. B. Night
“Is It Really Love,” written by R. Bell & M. Lanning, performed by Michael Lanning
+
SONGS
“Chucky’s Animated Theme,” written & produced by Mike Piccirillo
“I’m Hanging,” written by B. Boyle, performed by D. B. Night
“Is It Really Love,” written by R. Bell & M. Lanning, performed by Michael Lanning
“Grass,” written by R. Rome & R. Faith, performed by African Suite
“Second Sight,” written by D. Kitay & D. Darling, performed by David Darling.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
9 November 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 November 1988
Production Date:
began 7 January 1988
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
87
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29242
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Chicago, Illinois, police detective Mike Norris chases Charles Lee Ray, a notorious serial killer. When Ray is wounded, his get-away driver, Eddie Caputo, leaves him behind. Ray breaks into Playland Toys and Mike Norris follows. In the ensuing gunfight, Ray is hit again. Realizing he is about to die, Ray swears vengeance on Mike and Eddie. He staggers to a display of “Good Guy” dolls and chants a voodoo incantation to transfer his soul into the body of a doll. Lightning hits the building and sets off an explosion. Mike survives and finds Ray’s corpse in the rubble. The next day, Andy Barclay celebrates his sixth birthday, and watches the Good Guy show while wearing his “Good Guy” pajamas and eating “Good Guy” cereal. A commercial for the new “Good Guy” doll airs and Andy is entranced. Each doll has its own name and speaks three stock lines. Andy eyes a large birthday present and thinks it is a “Good Guy” doll, but is disappointed to discover clothing in the box. A second present contains a “Good Guy” tool kit, and Andy wishes he had the doll to accompany it. His single mother, Karen Barclay, apologizes that she did not know about the doll in time to save enough to buy it. Later, while Karen works at a department store, her co-worker Maggie Peterson announces a street peddler has a “Good Guy” doll for sale and Karen buys it for a discounted price. Upon returning to work, Karen’s boss demands that she cover ... +


In Chicago, Illinois, police detective Mike Norris chases Charles Lee Ray, a notorious serial killer. When Ray is wounded, his get-away driver, Eddie Caputo, leaves him behind. Ray breaks into Playland Toys and Mike Norris follows. In the ensuing gunfight, Ray is hit again. Realizing he is about to die, Ray swears vengeance on Mike and Eddie. He staggers to a display of “Good Guy” dolls and chants a voodoo incantation to transfer his soul into the body of a doll. Lightning hits the building and sets off an explosion. Mike survives and finds Ray’s corpse in the rubble. The next day, Andy Barclay celebrates his sixth birthday, and watches the Good Guy show while wearing his “Good Guy” pajamas and eating “Good Guy” cereal. A commercial for the new “Good Guy” doll airs and Andy is entranced. Each doll has its own name and speaks three stock lines. Andy eyes a large birthday present and thinks it is a “Good Guy” doll, but is disappointed to discover clothing in the box. A second present contains a “Good Guy” tool kit, and Andy wishes he had the doll to accompany it. His single mother, Karen Barclay, apologizes that she did not know about the doll in time to save enough to buy it. Later, while Karen works at a department store, her co-worker Maggie Peterson announces a street peddler has a “Good Guy” doll for sale and Karen buys it for a discounted price. Upon returning to work, Karen’s boss demands that she cover for a sick co-worker’s shift. He does not care that it is Andy’s birthday, and Maggie offers to babysit. During Karen’s dinner break, Andy is thrilled to receive the “Good Guy” doll, which announces its name is Chucky. Later, Andy shows Chucky his “Good Guy” tool set, but the doll watches a television news report about Eddie Caputo escaping police custody. When it is time for bed, Andy insists Chucky wants to watch the news. Maggie does not believe the boy and shuts off the television. She carries Andy to the bedroom and drags Chucky along, banging the doll against the wall. While Andy brushes his teeth, Maggie puts away dishes and is surprised to hear the television turned back on. She finds Chucky watching the news and scolds Andy for disobeying her. Andy insists he did nothing wrong, but Maggie does not believe him. After Andy falls asleep, Chucky sneaks into the kitchen. Maggie hears a sound and discovers a canister overturned on the floor. Chucky attacks her with a “Good Guy” hammer and knocks Maggie out the apartment window to her death. Karen returns home to find detective Mike Norris and his partner, Jack Santos, leading the investigation. Mike points to little footprints in spilled flour, but notes they are not from Andy’s shoes. Andy runs into the kitchen, claiming Chucky wants to know what is happening. Mike sees Andy wears “Good Guy” pajama sneakers and checks the bottoms, but they are clean. When Karen puts Andy to bed, Chucky sits in a nearby chair and the boy notices flour on the soles of Chucky shoes. He runs to tell his mother, but she does not believe him. Mike is intrigued by Andy’s statement, but Karen is angry that he suspects Andy and insists the officers leave. Outside, Mike shows Santos the “Good Guy” hammer which might be a murder weapon. Karen overhears Andy talking to the doll and the boy insists Chucky is alive. He says Chucky’s full name is Charles Lee Ray and he was sent from Heaven to be Andy’s playmate. Chucky told Andy that Maggie got what she deserved. Karen refuses to believe her son, and wonders why he would say something so horrible. Realizing his mother is upset about Maggie’s death, Andy promises to stop making up stories. The next day, Andy and Chucky sneak out of school and travel to a bad section of the city. As they near a seemingly-deserted building, Andy rests Chucky on an abandoned chair and tells the doll to wait while he pees behind a dumpster. However, Chucky runs into the building where Eddie Caputo is hiding. As Andy searches for Chucky outside, the doll turns on the gas in a stove. Eddie hears sounds in the kitchen, and enters shooting. His gunshot ignites the gas and the building explodes. At the police station, Mike informs Karen that Andy and Chucky were at the scene of another murder. She asks Andy to tell the truth and the boy begs Chucky to speak, but the doll remains silent. Andy shakes Chucky, even though the doll threatened to kill him if Andy ever revealed he was alive. Dr. Ardmore observes the exchange and decides Andy should spend time in a psychiatric hospital. Karen returns home with Chucky, finds unopened batteries in the doll’s box and discovers there are no batteries inside Chucky. She shakes the doll and orders it to talk. When Chucky remains silent, Karen lights a fire and threatens to throw Chucky into the fireplace unless he talks. Chucky attacks her and they fight. He bites Karen’s arm, escapes the apartment and runs away. Karen tells Mike Norris that Chucky is alive and shows him the bite mark, but he does not believe her. She determines to find the street peddler who sold her the doll, but Mike cautions against it. She searches among the homeless community and finds the peddler. The man accosts Karen, but Mike arrives and saves her. The peddler reveals he found the doll in the debris at Playland Toys and Mike tells Karen about Charles Lee Ray’s death. She believes Chucky is Charles Lee Ray and thinks Mike is in danger because Ray promised vengeance. Mike thinks she is crazy, but drops her off and retrieves his file on Ray. As Mike drives home, Chucky attacks. Mike burns the doll’s face with the cigarette lighter, but Chucky stabs through the car seat, then forces the accelerator to the floor. The car crashes and Mike shoots at the doll. Chucky insists he cannot be killed, but a bullet injures him as he runs off. Mike shares Ray’s file with Karen and reveals that the killer studied with a Voodoo priest named John, also known as Dr. Death. Chucky reaches John first and learns that the more time Charles Lee Ray’s spirit spends in the doll’s body, the more human it becomes. Chucky refuses to spend his life trapped inside a doll, but John feels Chucky perverted his religion for evil and refuses to help. Chucky attacks John’s personal mojo doll and the wounds manifest on John’s body. The Voodoo priest informs Chucky that he can transfer his soul into the body of the first person who learned of his true self. Chucky stabs the Voodoo doll, mortally wounding John, and leaves to find Andy. As John dies, he reveals to Mike and Karen that they can save Andy by wounding Chucky in the heart before he completes the incantation. Andy sees Chucky climbing the hospital fire escape and screams for Dr. Ardmore to release him, but Ardmore does not believe him. Chucky sneaks into Andy’s room, but the boy outwits him and escapes. Chucky finds Andy in an operating room, but Ardmore rushes in and tries to sedate the boy. However, Chucky attacks the doctor and electrocutes him. Andy runs away, but Karen knows Andy will return home, and she races there with Mike. Inside the apartment, Chucky enters through the fireplace and attacks Andy. He knocks the boy unconscious and starts the incantation but Karen and Mike arrive. In the ensuing battle, Chucky slices Mike’s leg, then disappears. Mike gives Karen a gun, then searches for the doll in the bedroom, where Chucky knocks him unconscious. Karen shoots Chucky’s leg, but the gun jams and Chucky chases her and Andy. Karen traps Chucky in the fireplace and turns on the gas as Andy lights a match and tosses it at Chucky. They stand back as the burning doll escapes the fireplace and collapses. Believing Chucky dead, they help Mike, but the charred Chucky attacks. Karen grabs Mike’s gun and shoots off Chucky’s head, arm, and leg until the doll finally stops. Detective Santos arrives, but does not believe their story. Santos grabs Chucky’s head and places it on the television, insisting the doll was never alive. However, Chucky’s body climbs through a vent and chokes Santos. Before Chucky can kill Santos, Karen grabs the doll and throws it across the room. Chucky’s head screams death threats while his body crawls toward them. Mike shoots Chucky in the heart, blood splatters on the wall and Chucky finally dies. Santos admits Chucky was alive but wonders if anyone will believe them. As Karen leads him out of the room, Andy stares back at Chucky’s corpse. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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