Child’s Play (1988), the original Chucky

Chucky – renowned cult classic of horror. Another that I have known about for years, yet never watched. Lord knows I’ve seen images of the doll all over the place, his evil blue eyes, fiery red hair, denim dungarees and knife-wielding toy hand all ingrained as an iconic image of horror that we have become so familiar with. Until a couple of nights ago, I was ignorant as to Chucky’s story. All I knew was that he’s a doll who kills people. Turns out I had some learning to do.

And boy did I enjoy being educated! There’s no beating about the bush with Child’s Play, oh no, it gets straight to the action. From the word go, the audience is thrown into a chase scene as wanted serial killer Charles Lee Ray, nicknamed ‘Chucky’, (played by Brad Dourif) is pursued by the cops. There’s shooting, blood and a lot of death threats followed by Lee Ray’s voodoo chant. Said voodoo crucially leads to some ’80s special effects lightning – you know the sort, the kind that’s blatantly superimposed over the equally cheesy thunder clashes. Oh, and Charles Lee Ray – Chucky – possesses a Good Guy doll via his black magic before dying of his gun wounds. A Good Guy doll is the ‘in’ gift for a young kid if they’re into full-sized ginger dolls with oversized freckled heads, a few shitty catchphrases and possibly the most terrifying gaze you’ve ever seen (and that’s before it’s been possessed by a serial killer).

Et voila! In about 5 minutes, you have the set up for the rest of the film: psycho villain seeks revenge on cop by taking supernatural possession of a kid’s toy as a vehicle to extend his failing human life. And we all know that the Chucky doll will end up in the hands of some innocent child…. Sure, it’s predictable, but in my view there’s nothing wrong with that in this movie. It is a slightly cheesy set-up, but it’s what they do with Chucky that matters in my view.

There is something inherently unnerving about children’s dolls anyway, before adding the layer of evil soul possession. The unblinking fixed stare, permanent rubber smile, often disproportionate heads (enhanced in the Good Guy dolls – seriously, they’re the size of basket balls) and the lifelessness of a stiff toy doll mimicking the purest, most innocent stage in life: babies and childhood. To me, demonising an innocent (if slightly creepy) children’s toy doll is a brilliant idea. And of course, the Chucky-haunted doll lands itself in the lap of a young boy called Andy as a birthday gift. (Great little actor Alex Vincent is by the way, the kid who plays Andy; really convincing performance.) Also, funnily enough, it was sold by a dodgy looking back street peddlar – what could go wrong?

Plenty, of course. The doll starts talking to Andy when nobody else is around – and inevitably, nobody believes Andy when he tells them that the Chucky Good Guy doll is alive. Then comes the first bit of evil Chucky behaviour where he kills Andy’s babysitter once Andy has gone to bed and she’s all alone (good bit of irony there that a ‘Good Guy’ doll is now effectively a ‘Bad Guy’ doll). I love that the iconic lightning flashed in the background as the babysitter sat in the living room on her own – we all know what that means! In true horror style, lots of little creepy noises and small movements prepare us for Chucky’s first strike. I love all of that stuff: the gradual build to something bad happening, but what exactly will it be…? The rest of the film contains less of the building sensation, generally tending to get more directly on with the plot and focusing on Chucky’s sworn revenge.

I think there’s joy in this kind of predictability though. The film isn’t hiding anything: it makes things very clear to the audience that the spooky backstory and sinister underhandedness spell ‘danger ahead‘. It drums up the anticipation in an obvious way, the way that so many classic thrillers and horrors out there do with lightning, dodgy characters, dark and cold nights, lightning, magic spells – all of these are classic, timeless components to a scary story of some kind. They’ve been reworked again and again over the ages, and if you’re introduced to a horror, you expect some of the familiar signs to be there: they intentionally grab our attention and make us clock all the little ‘sinister’ elements that build to the bigger horror/thriller plot.

On the production of the film, I have to say that the set designers and costume workers did a great job of Chucky’s animation. There were no strings apparent, his movements were all pretty slick, and the nasty grimace that the doll adopts when Chucky is making his appearance obvious is very aggressive and threatening. Some of those expressions he pulls are seriously intense with violence. Whenever Chucky went into ‘doll’ mode – static and lifeless – it always sent a little chill of suspense through me, just waiting for when he

I’d be freaking terrified if that was coming at me…

would reanimate and jump out in attack. That sort of ‘playing dead’ aspect gets pretty much everyone. I think Chucky has to go down as one of the most persistent characters who just won’t die at the end – not that that’s a bad thing. His molten, charred corpse just keeps going, limbless though it becomes – he’s one hell-bent nasty soul. Can’t wait to see how he comes back in the sequel….

One thing that I didn’t like so much was how they dealt with the murder scene. I know that it’s a slightly dated film now, but not one cop batted an eyelid when Andy’s mother comes running into the apartment block looking for her son even though it’s been cordoned off. She barges straight in, and then dashes directly through to her apartment in which the detective and his team are acting quite blasé. I don’t think they’d have even looked up if she’d streaked in naked shouting “I did it!”. Some of them were just settling in comfortably on the sofa with the paper! *Tut*

We all know that in modern films, crime scenes are well protected areas and it’s only ever with some reluctance and ID that the police let someone through. Out of the whole film, I found this scene the least believable(!). I guess that this lax attitude here must be down to the era it was filmed in, but surely not all of those films from the 1980s were so casual…? This aspect raises some repercussions with the film Aliens about which I discussed the unprofessional behaviour of the soldiers – both this and the crime scene in Child’s Play are serious things that would be dealt with very differently in modern films. In some ways it helped move things along quicker – no hold ups with bureaucracy, forensics and red tape preventing Andy and his mum from living in their home (whereas in movies now they’d be out of there so that the cops could investigate). So, even though it’s kind of annoying (I found myself saying out loud “That just wouldn’t happen!”) and completely inaccurate, the lack or professionalism in the crime scene did spur the rest of the film along. It is a slightly predictable horror film, after all.

Petty issue with the cops aside, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Child’s Play and look forward getting involved with the whole Chucky series. The sinister doll and his maniacal antics, the predictable eeriness of the horror genre and on the whole intriguing plot earn this film a few dark, sweet strong Kraken rum mixed with cola to see you through the madness.

Until next time……..

Chucky background



The Wolf Among Us

Time for a game reviewski: plot, character design, artwork – The Wolf Among Us has it all.

The folk at Telltale Games are geniuses. (Hold that thought: is that the correct term for the collective of ‘genius’? For an intelligent word, it sounds terribly messy. Geniei [djee-nee-i] sounds better, but looks confusing.) They really are though. I have now played through The Wolf Among Us twice and absolutely loved every moment of it. From the opening credits, which are sexy and mysterious like a comic book film noire, to the superb character design, each complete with a damaged background and attitude to match; and, of course, the brilliant story writing that keeps you on the edge of your beanbag (personal choice of gaming seat) in eager anticipation for the next plot twist to reveal itself.

The Wolf Among Us is a storytelling game, and it seriously plays with your morals. It’s kind of like you’re making the decisions for a film’s main character, so for example, you’re faced with the option of being the tough guy and punching them in the face during an interrogation, or perhaps being sympathetic and getting the best out of others by listening to them and telling them what they want to hear. There isn’t a huge amount of actual manual game play – it’s not a free roaming format – but that really doesn’t matter because making decisions can be very difficult. Second time round of playing, after initially playing through making the decisions that are closer to my own morals, I thought ‘I’m gonna play the No Shit Badass Hardcore Cop’, but it actually proved to be quite difficult. Even though it’s fictional, even though it has absolutely no effect on you as a person in the real world, I defy anyone to make Bigby (YOUR character) hit a woman and not feel guilty about it. I couldn’t do it. Plus, there’s the whole consideration of how this helps or hinders you/Bigby in your investigations. You want the other characters to be on your side, and if you blow it by overreacting, the folk of Fabletown might not be so forthcoming in future.

On a note of violence, you do get thrown into some brutal fight scenes – be warned, you need to be quick on your toes with your reactions for them! They can be pretty intense, sometimes quite graphic. Be ready to pump that A button on your controller to access your full strength and heave other characters off you or bend something until it breaks. Some of those battles do require a bit of thought about how far you take them… Your own actions can come back and bite you later on…

So, here’s the set-up for the game: you play Bigby Wolf, AKA the Bid Bag Wolf from such fairytales as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. Except in this world, Bigby Wolf is the Sheriff of Fabletown, which is a place in the real world where fairytale characters (known as ‘Fables’) have to disguise themselves as humans using ‘glamours’ – a much-sought-after and pricey magic spell used to conceal their non-human identities. Working alongside Snow (yep, the classic once-upon-a-time princess), your job is to keep the business of Fabletown in order, make sure everyone has a glamour and generally keep Fables out of mischief.

Snow and bigby

Just take a moment to admire the glorious detail of the characters: Snow’s iconic jet black hair and pale skin, the snowflakes on her blouse nod to her roots; the rough, worn and linear form of Bigby with wild-looking long hair and stubble, suggestive of an animalistic persona.

After dealing with some relatively day-to-day stuff to start with, like dealing with Mr Toad (who is literally a toad – bit of a freeloader, always claiming that he can’t afford to get a glamour. Kind of likeable with his blunt Cockney accent). But pretty soon, you find yourself in a fight with the Woodsman who’s found attacking a young woman. I’ll say no more on that, but not long after a severed head is discovered on the doorstep of the tower block that Bigby and Snow work in. Who’s head is it? I hear you ask… Turns out it was the girl you saved from the Woodsman earlier. But that is definitely not all there is to it – it’s merely where the real plot begins…

Through a whole myriad of moral dilemmas, fights, confessions and daring character design (I have to mention Georgie, as in Georgie Porgie from the nursery rhyme: tough-guy owner of the Pudding & Pie brothel, covered in tattoos, one of which quite brilliantly reads Kiss the girls, rough Manchunian accent and speech littered with profanities – this is twisted character design at its finest), you find yourself utterly under the game’s spell, dying to know more and play through the next chapter. The game climaxes with a final fight against one of the most sinister bad guys (who is actually a gal) I’ve come across and ends with the chance of acquiring justice for the whole town.

I will definitely be playing this exquisitely crafted game through again – even if only for the pure joy of seeing the artwork again. I find it inspiring, the style makes me want to draw every character and scene! I’ll also try on different attitudes for the Wolf and see how it affects the gameplay – it’s endlessly fascinating, I can’t imagine how complicated the writing for this game must have been.

If I’ve inspired you to check out the game for yourself, you can purchase it on Steam (be aware, you’ll have to enter your date of birth to access the link as it’s a violent, sweary and slightly nudey game). Brace yourself, you won’t want to put your controller down!

Booze rating: several measure of the finest Bourbon in town. On the rocks.

Seriously, you Telltale guys are awesome.

NB: I hear rumour that there’s a Season 2 for The Wolf Among Us underway too…. I have every faith in Telltale Games to make it just as awesome as the first one – maybe even more so! Watch this space…

Time for a little reviewski…

We do a lot of things in life. I’m here to review a whole bunch of them.

We do a lot of things in life. Tons. Some good, some bad, and some that leave you non-plussed (and that can apply to both senses of the word, be it bemused or just not bovvered, innit?). But how often do we really get down to the nitty gritty of our experiences and document them in word format for the whole world to read? (Or at least provide the world with an option to read all about it – I wouldn’t want to be pushy with my drivel.) I’ve been wanting to start writing reviews for a while, with my own spin adeptly on them (she says). I don’t want to just write TripAdvisor comments or Amazon star ratings, I want to translate feelings, stories, sentiment and internal arguments about the things I feel strongly about (which could truly be anything, so be warned).

Fear not! I won’t be reviewing all the things I get up to. Heck, I may not even publish my thoughts some of the more special experiences I encounter and just reserve those for thrilling and enticing conversation. I’m here to dabble in the art of reviewing all manner of things: films, music, restaurants, alcohol or other more classic subjects prone to a good slating or applause. But I aim also to document life’s simplicities, like maybe a really, really fine mug of PG Tips (a good cup of tea can be the saviour of many a crisis, or the humble reward after a few hours’ hard graft – it all boils down to context and quality of the brew), or the satisfying way that the rain cascades down the window panes to create endless watery ravines and channels in that fascinatingly drippy way that we all notice once in a while when lost in a grey-rainy-day-daze. That may sound dull and pointless, but I swear to you that should the day arise when said review is written, I will make it pleasing and humorous and oh-so charming for you, lovely readers. (I hope.)

Oh, and there will definitely be game reviews. With. Out. A. Doubt.

So basically, whenever the mood takes me or something, for some reason or other, has struck a chord of review-writing inspiration, here I will be, voicing my opinion and rating a recent experience. I hope to do so in a mildly entertaining fashion at the very least. If I’m performing below par, please accept my profuse apologies in advance. The internet should be full of eloquence and intelligence at least as much as funny videos of goats leaping with glee! Though I’m not sure that even as a global collective we can outdo Trump’s prolific ineloquence and unintelligence…

But I digress. Wherever I see fit and have the unstoppable urge to let the world know just how surprisingly good Aldi’s own brand houmous is or what a car crash of a film the latest Pirate’s of the Caribbean was (NB: I’ve not actually seen it, and doubt I ever will, but I think it’s a fair assumption based on the third one, At World’s End, which was a poor follow up considering its two predecessors), I’ll be there with a little reviewski…

One final note: I intend on devising my own rating system for the various topics of discussion that will arise in this blog. It could quite possibly be alcohol related. For example: that boiled egg gets a four out of five pints from me! Or perhaps Ed Sheeran’s single ‘House on the Hill’ gets an irritating dregs-of-an-old-bottle-of-sour-white-wine-that-really-needs-chucking-out rating. It’s a work in progress, but bear with me on this.

So, here’s to a future more judgementally dissected and scrutinised by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my ramblings – cheers!