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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Chucky: The Killer DVD Collection
Chucky: The Killer DVD Collection
Universal // R // September 19, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 21, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movies:

While he's not quite as well known as Freddy, Jason, Michael or Pinhead, it's pretty safe to say that Chucky is definitely one of the better known horror franchise icons of the last twenty years even if his track record isn't quite as impressive as some of his peers. Universal, in their ongoing 'Franchise Collection' series, has opted to round up the entries that they own the rights to (the first film is with MGM and is not included in this set), though those who own the single disc releases of these films will find no reason to upgrade here (unless you're a sucker for slick packaging) as they're pretty much identical in content and quality. The films are presented on two double sided 'flipper' discs.

Child's Play 2:

After the events that took place in the first film, we find that poor little Andy is being sent to a foster home so that his mother can recover from the trauma and injuries she sustained battling Chucky and saving her son's life. Soon enough, Andy's been whisked off to live with the Simpson's comprised of father Phil, mother Joanne, and their teenage daughter Kyle who is a bit of a brat.

While Andy is settling into his new digs and adjusting to his new housemates, the fine folks at the Good Guys toy company have rebuilt the Chucky doll and managed to revive the once dead killer doll in the process. Once he's revived, he sets his sites on tracking Andy down so that he can transport his soul into Andy's body and avoid being trapped in the doll's body for the rest of eternity. For the rest of the movie, Chucky moves closer and closer to Andy's new home and kills off a few people along the way until the completely predictable showdown finally occurs and this horrible film is brought to a close.

Child's Play 2 is not a very good film. It starts off interestingly enough and the opening kill scene where the freshly re-animated Chucky offs the guy working the eyeball machine is amusing but from there we sit through roughly an hour of what is pretty much filler. It really does take a while for this one to get going and once it does, we don't care about the characters enough for it to really matter.

In the film's defense, there are a few solid kill scenes that'll amuse most of the horror fans who will no doubt comprise the bulk of the film's audience and Brad Dourif is great as always when he provides Chucky's voice, but it's not enough to save what feels like a sequel made on the fast and cheap to cash in on the success of the original film. It doesn't feel like they're even trying to break any new ground here and as such the film just isn't all that interesting.

Child's Play 3:

In this third film, a corporate schmuck decides he can make some fast money by starting the manufacturing of the Good Guys dolls one more time. Of course, by doing this he manages to once more re-animate Chucky, the doll inhabited by the spirit of notorious serial killer, Charles Lee Ray. What does Chucky do once he's been brought back to life? Why he continues his quest to find Andy so that he can make yet another attempt to transfer his soul into his body and leave his life as a killer doll behind him for good.

As luck would have it, Andy has started to grow up and he's no longer the little kid he once was. Enrolled in a military academy, he's gotten tougher and stronger than he was in his younger days although this doesn't stop one of the bigger, older cadets from picking on him. Thankfully he's made a few friends in his stay at the school so he's not completely alone when Chucky shows up, this time with a change in plans. You see, Chucky was delivered not to Andy but to a little kid named Tyler by mistake and Chucky's latest and greatest idea is to swap souls with him instead – he figures it'll be easier than dealing with Andy for a third time. This puts Andy in the awkward position of trying to protect little Tyler while still attending the academy and keeping things under wraps lest everyone around him figure him for a nut job.

Not as bloody or sadistic as the first two films in the series, Child's Play 3: Look Who's Stalking is an improvement over the second film but remains a rather uninspired offering. The finale is a good one and it delivers some inventive ideas and a fun nod to The Terminator but getting there isn't worth the pay off. At this point in time, it seemed like the franchise would either have to be reinvented or laid to rest, which brings us to…

Bride Of Chucky:

It's rare that a later sequel in a franchise tops anything that came before it but this is the case with Bride Of Chucky - it's hands down the best of the five Child's Play films that have been made at the time of this writing. Part of that is thanks to the inclusion of the lovely Jennifer Tilly, and a large portion of the credit has to go to director Ronny Yu, but what really makes this one work is the story.

The film begins with a police officer taking a bag out of the evidence room. As he heads towards his car, a woman comes up behind him, slits his throat, and steals the bad. What's inside it? What's left of the Chucky doll of course. This woman is Tiffany (the boobtastic Jennifer Tilly) and she likes dolls a little more than she probably should. She takes Chucky back to her trailer and says a few incantations over him in hopes of raising him from the dead but it doesn't work – or at least it seems that way. Surprisingly enough, once she's got her goth boy-toy tied up in the bedroom, Chucky decides to wake up and get back to business. We soon learn that Tiffany is Chucky's ex-girlfriend from before his spirit was put inside the doll.

Meanwhile, Jessie and Jade are two high school kids who are madly in love despite the fact that Jade's dad, the town sheriff (John Ritter) doesn't like Jessie at all. They decide to run off and get married but there's a catch. Jessie lives in the same trailer park as Tiffany and she's offered him some easy money if he takes two dolls to the graveyard where Chucky's body is buried so that they can get the amulet and turn Chucky back. The catch? Chucky and Tiffany get into a fight, one thing leads to another, and soon enough Tiffany has been put inside a doll as well. As Jessie and Jade transport the dolls across the state, the bodies start pilling up and it looks like they're the ones responsible for the killings. It all comes to a head in that graveyard but by then it just might be too late for our star crossed lovers as Chucky and Tiffany are definitely on a roll.

A superb mix of really dark humor, creative kill scenes, nice special effects and genuine suspense makes Bride Of Chucky a lot of fun to watch. Ronny Yu, who cut his teeth on such Hong Kong classics as The Bride With White Hair before moving on to Hollywood fare such as Jason Vs. Freddy shows his strengths for pacing and style here and he manages to coax some great performances out of Tilly and Dourif in the process. There are a lot of nods to other horror films in here, from Friday The 13th to The Bride Of Frankenstein that are fun to look out for and some of the interplay between Chucky and Tiffany is pretty amusing as well. The story pulls you in nicely and this is definitely one of the more creative sequels in the series and an endlessly entertaining movie in its own right.

Seed Of Chucky:

The fifth (and so far final) film in the series starts with a strange doll wandering through a home. It's yelled at and called ugly and treated quite poorly and soon enough it snaps and kills the family. Shortly after we realize that this is all a dream being had by the son that he never knew. When he wakes up and sees Chucky and Tiffany on TV (a movie has been made about their lives with Jennifer Tilly playing Tiffany!) he sees the stamp on Chucky's hand matches his own and so he decides to track them down so that they can all be a family again.

While this is all going on, Jennifer Tilly is frustrated with the direction that her career has been headed in lately. She wants a serious role as she's tired of always playing the sex pot. When she finds out that rapper turned director Redman (played by Redman!) is making a biblical epic and that he needs someone to play Mary, she decides that she'll do whatever it takes to get the part even if it means sleeping with the director. While Tilly is courting Redman into giving her the part, the doll from the opening scene has managed to revive Chucky and Tiffany from their dormant state and soon the three of them start going through some fairly serious growing pains as they try to sort out what sex their child is, what to name it, and how to raise it.

Chucky and Tiffany decide that they should make the family human once more and that the best way to do this is to inseminate Jennifer Tilly with Chucky's seed. Through some clever planning they make this happen and the pregnancy advances at an alarming rate while Chucky and Tiffany start squabbling more and more and soon they both snap and prove that old habits really do die hard.

While Seed Of Chucky has its moments, there's just too much goofiness crammed into this one for it to stand up to Bride. Granted, Tilly is great in her role and she shows a real knack for the more comedic elements required of her here but she's not enough to fix the one major problem with the film – the child doll is completely irritating. For a film that focuses on the character so closely, they did a bad job of making him tolerable. S/he wins and carries on and tries to evoke pity but it doesn't work and you end up hoping that Chucky will take care of the problem permanently. That being said, the movie is still worth a look. The kill scenes are surprisingly gory and at times refreshingly mean spirited and Redman, who you'd think would be completely annoying in the role, is actually surprisingly funny. The premise for the film is pretty original and the script is clever what with all the Ed Wood references and self referential humor from Tilly, so there are definitely reasons to watch the movie, it's just a shame that such a central character had to be so grating.

It should be noted that it is the R-rated cut of Seed Of Chucky that is included in this set and not the unrated version which adds some gore, and a few other excised bits including a snippet that was taken out of the scene where Chucky masturbates.

The DVD

Video:

Child's Play 2: This film is presented in a 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that isn't really up to par with the other transfers in this set in that it's got a fairly heavy amount of print damage and scratches on it. The colors aren't bad and the black levels are fine but it doesn't look like any effort whatsoever was put into cleaning things up.

Child's Play 3: Also presented in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen, Child's Play 3 looks substantially better than the earlier sequel. The print used for the transfer is noticeably cleaner and as such there are better, strong detail levels.

Bride Of Chucky: This film receives a very nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation with very strong color reproduction, nice deep black levels and a very strong level of both foreground and background detail. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and there is only a slight trace of edge enhancement noticeable and no compression artifact problems.

Seed Of Chucky: It's no surprise that the most recent film in the set is also the best looking film in the set. Once again, the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 and it is enhanced for anamorphic sets. Colors are nice and vibrant, black levels are strong and deep but not so much as to bury the fine detail. Print damage is a non-issue and edge enhancement and mpeg compression is never problematic. Everything looks nice and sharp and there's nothing to complain about.

Sound:

Child's Play 2: This film contains both English and French language Dolby 2.0 Stereo tracks with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The quality here is fine but it isn't going to blow you away. A true surround mix would have added some atmosphere to things and spiced the movie up a bit but even using only the two channels there is some nice channel separation in a few scenes. Not a great mix by any stretch but a perfectly sufficient one.

Child's Play 3: This movie also contains both English and French language Dolby 2.0 Stereo tracks with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The quality of this mix is slightly improved over the one from Child's Play 2 but for the most part it's of the same quality.

Bride Of Chucky: This disc contains an English language Dolby 5.0 Surround Sound mix and an alternate language French Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround mix with optional subtitles available in both English and Spanish. The score for the film comes through very nicely and the more action intensive scenes make great use of the rear channels. Dialogue is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion and there's really not much to complain about here.

Seed Of Chucky: The DTS 5.1 Surround Sound mix that was on the single disc release of the film is gone and instead we only have the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix in English with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. Even with the DTS track missing in action, the mix here is still top notch. Surrounds are used effectively throughout and the music very precise sounding as is the dialogue. The effects are really well balanced against the score and the performers and the subwoofer kicks in to add some punch to a few key moments as well.

Extras:

The only extra features for Child's Play 2 and Child's Play 3 are their respective theatrical trailers. Most (though surprisingly, not all) of the supplements from the special edition DVD releases of the two later films in the set have been carried over. Worth noting, however, is that there are no chapter selection screens for any of the four films in this set. Each movie is divided into chapter stops as before but you don't have the ability to go directly to a specific chapter, and instead you have to skip through with your remote.

Bride Of Chucky starts off with an audio commentary with director Ronny Yu. This is a pretty interesting discussion although it is very technical and as such it can get a little stale at times. Yu talks about the film stock that he used for the movie and talks about what it was like to work with Dourif and Tilly. He covers how he tried to incorporate his own vision into the Chucky mythos and points out a few interesting shots and explains how they were done along the way.

Also included is a second audio commentary, this time with the two leads from the film - Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif who are joined by writer Don Mancini. This is a more interesting talk than Yu's discussion simply because it's quite humorous and the three participants are obviously having a good time here. They cover what it was like shooting in Canada and some of the difficulties that they ran into with some of the effects work. They point out some interesting character development bits and give us a good, overall impression of what their involvement in the picture entailed and how they feel about the project in hindsight.

Rounding out the extra features for Bride Of Chucky is a Spotlight on Location documentary that over eight minutes or so explores the making of the film. There's some interesting behind the scenes footage in here that show us how the Chucky doll used in the movie was brought to life, in addition to some cast and crew interviews. The original theatrical trailer for the film is also included.

Seed Of Chucky starts off with a commentary from Jennifer Tilly and Don Mancini. This is a fun track as the two have a good report with one another and they manage to provide a pretty honest look at the movie. Tilly is humorously critical of her self in the film, making jokes about her weight while Mancini talks about where some of the inspiration for the story came from and how he tried to tie certain things together with a few of the earlier films. There are some fun stories in here and it's refreshing to hear about not only what they feel worked but what they disliked about the movie as well.

Up next is the Family Hell-iday Slide Show: A Look At The Chucky Family In Paris, New York City And Hollywood. This is an amusing featurette in which we see mock photographs of Chucky auditioning for various film roles and taking his wife and son across the country and around the world. It's pretty funny and Dourif does a good job with the material.

A second eighteen-minute featurette entitled Conceiving The Seed Of Chucky takes a look at how the series has evolved over the years by way of some interviews with those involved in it. Tilly and Mancini show up here as does Redman and a few of the people who bankrolled the films. It's an interesting and humorous supplement (Redman is pretty funny here) even if it doesn't really go all that in-depth with the material.

Rounding out the extra features is an amusing clip of Jennifer Tilly on The Tonight Show in which she tells Jay Leno by way of her video diary about her experiences on the shoot.

Conspicuously absent from this set is the theatrical trailer for Seed Of Chucky as well as the History Of Chucky featurette that was on the single disc release of Bride Of Chucky. Likewise, the two diaries that Tilly contributed to both of the films she appeared in are nowhere to be seen and the Chucky Insider Facts On Demand and second commentary track from the unrated release of Seed have also disappeared. Why this has happened is anyone's guess, but completists should take note that this set isn't as complete as the single disc releases that came before it. That being said, the packaging is kind of interesting. Like most of the 'Franchise Collection' packages the discs are housed inside a cardboard slipcase but this time around the cover is a three dimensional image of Chucky standing beside some weapons. It's a gimmick, sure, but it's kind of cool regardless.

Final Thoughts:

If you already own the single disc releases or the previous boxed set release from Universal, there's no reason at all to bother with that set. However, if you don't already own the movies and want to pick up the bulk of the series in a cool package and at a good price, this set comes recommended. It would have been nice to see all the extras ported over as well as the DTS mix and to have seen Seed in its unrated form but the fact is that these movies look and sound pretty good and if you enjoy the Child's Play movies there's a lot of bang for your buck in this set even if it isn't perfect.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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