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John’s Horror Corner: Child’s Play 3 (1991), Chucky goes to military school and breaks his Voodoo rules in this serviceable sequel.

October 20, 2019

MY CALL: After the original Child’s Play (1988), these sequels definitely aren’t getting any better. Its victory is in continuing the story of Chucky’s pursuit of Andy without replaying itself, and it still manages a great opening and gruesomely memorable ending just like Child’s Play 2 (1990). MOVIES LIKE Child’s Play 3: The other Chucky movies most worth watching are Child’s Play (1988) and Child’s Play 2 (1990), and then I might skip all the way to Curse of Chucky (2013) and Cult of Chucky (2017)—not that I didn’t enjoy them all to some degree. There is also the excellent remake of Child’s Play (2019). Other quality evil doll films include The Boy (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), Dolly Dearest (1991), Dolls (1987) and Puppet Master (1989).

With Child’s Play (1988) and Child’s Play 2 (1990) occurring over a timeline of as little as one week, part 3 leaps eight years into the future where we find now teenage Andy (Justin Whalin; Serial Mom, Dungeons & Dragons) attending military school. And with Andy long in their past, the toy company men aim to resurrect their top selling item: the Good Guy!

Say what you want about these sequels. But even if you hate them, I’d challenge anyone to claim they weren’t impressed by the opening sequences of these films. Our returning writer Don Mancini (Child’s Play and all sequels) clearly loves his creation, and it’s evident in his storytelling. Each of Chucky’s (Brad Dourif; The Hazing, Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky) murderous misadventures are completely different, and each new story begins where the previous ended to gorily illustrate how the soul of Charles Lee Ray transfigures from one charred or melted Good Guy corpse to the next. This time, reverse time lapse of a melting doll depicts Chucky being reformed (a la Hellraiser) to wreak havoc on this sequel.

Voodoo Discontinuity SIDEBAR: In Child’s Play (1988) the rules were clearly established. Chucky needed to transfer his soul to the first person with whom he shared the secret of his identity, and he had to do it soon because he was slowly becoming “more human” and would be trapped in the humanized doll body. In Child’s Play 2 (1990) Chucky actually attempts and fails this ritual, realizing he was already “too human” to transfer. Yet now in part 3, he starts looking for Andy and explains “I gotta’ get out of this [expletive deleted] body!” He actually identifies he has a new body and can now reveal his secret to someone else—but this revelation came after Chucky explained he had to get out of that body. So, I guess we’re just looking the other way on that fallacy and assuming, once again, that Chucky has a chance to escape his Good Guy fate. Rules as presented, he can now just keep “bleeding” into new doll bodies to possess and hit reset on his possession deadline.

Much as was the case with Child’s Play 2 (1990), where this movie suffers most is the death scenes in the body of the film. Yes, the opening and finale sequences are great. But largely the death scenes are either basic and lacking impressive special effects (e.g., the yo-yo garrote strangulation death scene), or the kills are off-screen (e.g., the garbage truck trash compactor death scene). But I’ll give clever credit where it’s due. The heart attack death scene was a pleasant surprise of ironic humor and the barber (Andrew Robinson; Hellraiser, Pumpkinhead II, Trancers 3, The Puppet Masters) had the most memorable death—even if only for the line “presto, you’re dead.” But truth be told, the budget had little allocated to the deaths and everything allocated to Chucky himself (and he looks great even during an otherwise dull death scene), and his opening/closing special effects extravaganzas. Like when he gets eviscerated in that industrial fan.

Probably the lesser of the first three Child’s Play movies, getting less extraordinary with each release. But to rate this on its own merits, without comparison to its predecessors, I’d call it quite entertainingly serviceable. Great opening with a meh middle (slow pacing). Decent again at the end when the mutilated Chucky gore comes into play.

Director Jack Bender (Lost, Under the Dome) brought us a decent sequel. Chucky is a little like Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) or Mick Taylor (Wolf Creek)—just plain mean and twisted and cruel. So if you want a mean popcorn horror flick, this is it! Like part 2, the death scenes are less impactful than part 1. Tact and restraint have been surrendered for Chucky’s one-liners.

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