Reviewing a Cult Franchise – Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Of course it followed the formula.

Do you want to know how I know? Because the film was released one year after ‘Child’s Play 2’. This is what happened to ‘Halloween V’. It was released one year after ‘Halloween IV’ and it was shit and it absolutely bombed. Two things are different in this case. ‘Child’s Play 3’ is not a bad film. There are better Child’s Play films but it’s not bad at all. Second, ‘Child’s Play 3’ didn’t really bomb. According to various sources, ‘Child’s Play 3’ at the very least made it’s money back.

Whilst I say that ‘Child’s Play 3’ is not a bad movie, there are certain plot elements that are problematic. The first would be the dramatic contradictory time-jump/age difference of Andy. Andy is no longer played by Alex Vincent in this instalment. Since Andy is now 16 years old, he’s played by Justin Whalin. The 8 year time jump doesn’t seem to have affected his surroundings. Although I’m not sure who would have noticed because a lot of the film takes place in a military camp.

In the 8 movie years since the events of the last movie, Andy has bounced around from foster home to foster home and has gotten into some trouble to the extent where he’s been sent to Kent Military Camp. But his old friend isn’t far behind.

Play Pals, the company that created the Good Guy dolls were not defeated by the bad publicity caused by the events of the first film. They have once again made another batch of Good Guy dolls however, some of Chucky’s blood is mixed into the vat of plastic. I believe that somewhere around this time, the idea of ‘multiple Chucky’s’ came into play but there was not enough money in the budget to make that happen until ‘Cult of Chucky (2017)’.

The rules also get played with a little bit which is always dangerous when you’re creating your own mythology. No Rules leads to film-making anarchy. It’s firmly established in the first ‘Child’s Play’ that Chucky can only transfer his soul into the first person that he reveals his identity to and it seems that Chucky is still under this impression as he mails himself to the military camp to find Andy. But Chucky is not found by Andy, he’s found by another child, Tyler who’s played by Jeremy Sylvers. Chucky realises that since he’s in a new doll then the rules have reset and he’s fully free to reveal his identity to Tyler and possess him.

Chucky’s next move is a puzzling one. He then goes to Andy and reveals his plan. I’m reminded a James Bond villain revealing their dastardly plan whilst James Bond is poorly strapped to their ‘incredibly slow moving death machine’.

After that, the film then becomes a game of Cat and Mouse as Andy has to find a way of telling Tyler the truth and stopping Chucky without alerting his superiors and getting himself in trouble.

There have been some issues raised in terms of the casting. No major issues but certainly some ‘eye-brow raisers’. First is the character of Tyler. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jeremy Sylvers did a great job but it was generally felt that he was too old to play a child who was still meant to be into ‘Good Guy’ dolls and altogether seemed to be rather naïve for his age. Also, I didn’t think that children that young were allowed to be enrolled in military school. Andy is about 16 years old which I think is the bench-mark. I could be wrong but that little detail seems a bit off to me.

Another ‘casting conundrum’ came with the character of Colonel Cochrane who was played by Dakin Matthews. The only other role I know him from is the Reverend in ‘Desperate Housewives’. But, his death is meant to be a joke as after seeing Chucky walking and talking, he’s so shocked that he has a heart attack. However, I understand that the character was originally written as more of a muscle bound, ‘hard-ass’ kind of a character to the point where it would almost be an ironic joke that he takes such good care of his body and then has a heart attack at the merest sight of a killer doll.

Because Andy is now older and this is an American film, there has to be a love interest and so enters Kristin DeSilva (Perrey Reeves). He’s presumably inspired by her confidence and defiance when it comes to the Lt. Col. Brett C Shelton (Travis Fine). His character is another one whose demise can come under question in my view. Shelton is portrayed as the typical, army man who bullies all the less manly cadets such as Andy’s friend, Harold Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson). Because Shelton is put forward as such a mean character then it is generally understood that he will meet a particularly nasty fate at the hands of Chucky because that’s what the audience will be desiring the most. That does not happen but rather his death comes in the rather confusing final act.

Every year, the school takes part in a ‘war games’ scenario where the cadets are split up into two teams and handing rifles that fire paintballs. Blue against Red. They are let loose into the woods and against each other. Chucky replaces the paintballs with real bullets (which I’m sure is not something that can be done in real life) and in the ensuing massacre will swoop in for Tyler. When the triggers are pulled, Shelton is caught in the crossfire and dies.

Naturally, at the end of every Chucky film, Chucky has to die in a way that makes it seem like he couldn’t come back. They managed it fairly well at the end of the last film and this film is no different. Andy chases Chucky and Tyler into a nearby carnival that happened to be located near the woods where the war games were taking place. After a scuffle in which Kristin is shot in the leg, Andy manages to save Tyler and Chucky is dropped into a giant rotating blade that was out in the open and was no doubt overlooked by the Health and Safety Inspector. With Chucky splatted and everyone safe and sound, the film is over.

‘Child’s Play 3’ had a budget of around $13 Million and made about $20 Million at the box office so like I said before, the film made it’s money back and a little bit more however, the reviews were less than favourable. Other reviewers have been critical of the plot and felt that this instalment lacked what made it’s predecessors special. Essentially, they felt it was a hacked out sequel which I feel is a bit harsh. Whilst the setting might have been a bit strange and the 8 year time jump a touch unnecessary, I still found it entertaining.

The creator of the Child’s Play franchise, Don Mancini has also previously stated that ‘Child’s Play 3’ was not his favourite and the problems with the film are mostly script related which I feel is the main problem with sequels that come out quickly. If there’s no time to perfect the script, then the film won’t be a winner. Fortunately, Mancini had a lot of time (7 years) to perfect the script for the next instalment of the Child’s Play franchise, ‘Bride of Chucky (1998)’ and if you listen to the fans and myself, he certainly did that.

Also to be fair, this film came around the start of what film historians call ‘The death of horror’. You know what I mean. That awful time in the early nineties when nothing but horror sequels were being pumped out by people who didn’t know what they were doing and was only revived by a certain horror film that I’ve reviewed on this site and paved the way for smarter, more ‘self-referential’ horror films.

Looking for an enticing read for the new year? How about my book, ‘Patient 187’. It’s really good and written by me.

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