You’ve noticed by now Hollywood’s proclivity for remaking and rebooting any and all franchises with any sort of brand recognition, including those featuring cherished slasher icons. Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Leatherface have all been revived within the last fourteen years (much to the chagrin of horror fanatics).
One maniacal mainstay of the genre, however, has managed to elude the reboot bug since his debut back in 1988. Enter Charles Lee Ray, aka The Lakeshore Strangler, aka Chucky. Though there was once upon a time talk of rebooting the original Child’s Play, America’s favorite killer doll has lived on through a slew of sanguinary sequels.
This week marks the release of the highly-anticipated seventh installment (sixth sequel) in the series, Cult of Chucky. Does the latest outing rank towards the top of the toy chest? Find out for yourself as I rank all seven Chucky films from worst to best:
7.) Seed of Chucky (2004)
One thing about the Chucky movies and their progenitor Don Mancini is that they are not afraid to take risks and try something different. Each installment takes the character to bold new places. Obviously that doesn’t always guarantee success, which is something both fans and filmmakers found out the hard way with Seed of Chucky. This film desperately tries to recapture the tongue-in-cheek humor of its predecessor by introducing Chucky and Tiffany’s transsexual son/daughter Glen/Glenda. Ultimately, ‘Seed’ was such a mess that it killed the franchise for nearly a decade. The once-terrifying toy had become the punch-line of his own joke.
6.) Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Regarded by many (including series creator Don Mancini himself) as the worst entry in the franchise, Child’s Play 3 was released a mere nine months after Child’s play 2. Though military academy seems like the next logical step for the young and unlucky Andy Barclay, the resulting film feels rushed and often uninterested in fully exploring its new playground. That’s a shame too because ‘CP3′ features one of the series’ spookiest set pieces (a carnival ride from Hell) as well as some of its most brutal kills (anybody up for some paintball?).
5.) Bride of Chucky (1998)
Following Scream in the mid 90s, it seemed as if the slasher genre as a whole suddenly became self-aware. Sadistic serial killers started cracking jokes at their own tropes as spine-tingling scares gave way to knee-slapping wisecracks. Luckily, Chucky always possessed a sense of humor so the tonal shift wasn’t too jarring. On the contrary, a more whimsical and wed Chucky seemed to be just what the series needed after the dismal misfire that was Child’s Play 3. Jennifer Tilly gives 100% of herself to the role of Tiffany, Chucky’s blushing, psychotic bride who is every bit as stubborn and dangerous as her husband. The couple’s chemistry is insanely infectious.
4.) Child’s Play (1988)
The film that started it all. Child’s Play introduced the world to the Good Guys dolls and their infamous homicidal icon. The film also introduced audiences to Chucky’s long-time nemesis, Andy Barclay (who at least makes a cameo appearance in five of the seven films), as well as to the serial killer’s crucial voodoo practices. While Child’s Play serves as the bedrock for crazier, future installments, it definitely takes the fewest risks. Still, it’s a solid, frequently scary slasher flick that earns its spot on this ranking for making me scared of a child’s toy.
3.) Curse of Chucky (2013)
After Seed of Chucky nearly killed the franchise nine years prior, Curse of Chucky reinvigorated the redheaded icon by returning him to his horror roots. The film introduced us to Nika (Fiona Dourif) as Chucky’s latest recurring adversary with some intriguing ties to Charles Lee Ray. Obviously ‘Curse’ returns the series to a darker place but it also expands upon the established history of its titular butcher. Though he was steering his ship in a slightly new direction, creator/director Don Mancini managed to maintain the essence of what makes the series so special.
2.) Cult of Chucky (2017)
Cult of Chucky is the boldest Chucky film yet. It takes the most significant stride forward for the series in terms of narrative while introducing some disturbing and unique twists. Following the bloodbath that was Curse of Chucky, Nika (Fiona Dourif) has come to believe that it was truly her and not the Chucky doll who murdered her family, resulting in her commitment to an asylum for the criminally insane. ‘Cult’ takes advantage of its apt, new setting in some diabolically fun ways without completely caving into those comedic tendencies. ‘Cult’ is also the prettiest film in the franchise, providing some of the most frightening and haunting imagery to date.
1.) Child’s Play 2 (1990)
When debating the entries of a long-running franchise such as the Chucky movies, inevitably the discussion turns to the original when siting which is “the best.” And when you’re talking about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, or A Nightmare on Elm Street, it’s tough to argue against that. However, narrative speaking, Child’s Play 2 builds off the original in interesting ways. With Andy’s mom committed to a psychiatric hospital, Andy is placed in foster care where we meet Christine Elise’s charming Kyle. We also get a peak inside the company responsible for the Good Guys dolls as they try to rebuild their damaged brand. Director John Lafia displays a tighter grip on the film’s scares and truly ups the anty from the original film. Plus he gets some credit for the improved performances by the cast, including star Alex Vincent.
Well there you have it! That’s my ranking of the seven Chucky movies so far. What’s your ranking look like? Hit me up in the comments below and let the discussion begin!