Every Chucky Movie In The Child's Play Series Ranked
Chucky might now be the most famous horror movie doll, but he wasn't the first. Earlier films such as the 1940 anthology Dead or Night or 1978's Magic used spooky ventriloquist dolls to great effect, while the clown doll that terrifies poor Robbie in Poltergeist made for one of the best jump-scares of the 1980s.
However, the release of Child's Play in 1988 took the scary doll trope in a far more gory and violent direction. The '80s was the decade of the slasher movie, and with the huge success of that first movie, Chucky quickly joined the ranks of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as one of the era's best-loved slasher villains.
But while Child's Play and the first sequel were big hits, they came right at the end of the slasher cycle, and the failure of Child Play 3 in 1991 meant the series lay dormant for several years. When series creator Don Mancini returned to the franchise in the late '90s, the movies took on a more surreal, comedic slant. Chucky was still voiced by Brad Dourif, but he was the only truly consistent element in a series of movies that lurched from wild gross-out comedy to surreal gory horror and back again. If there's one thing you can say about the Child's Play series from that point, it's never done the same thing twice.
The series is now getting a complete reboot, and the new Child's Play hits theaters in June. Mark Hamill has taken over the role as Chucky, and the trailers so far suggest a very modern update the series, with Chucky now able to control appliances to aid his killing spree. But while Mancini is not involved with the new film, his version of Chucky will live on in a new TV show that he is developing for SyFy. It's a good--if occasionally confusing-- time to be a Chucky fan. With the latest Child's Play reboot trailer released this week, here's our rankings of all the movies in the series to date...
7. Child's Play 3 (1991)
This was the last of the initial run of Child's Play movies--it flopped commercially, and there wouldn't be another film for another seven years. It's not hard to see why this one almost killed the franchise. The series was yet to embrace the self-aware, more tongue-in-cheek style of the subsequent movies and was still following a formula that was starting to feel tired. It also doesn't help that the movie was rushed into production, and hit theaters just nine months after the second film. Storywise, Chucky's original owner Andy is now a moody teenager who is packed off to a military academy--and of course, Chucky follows him there. There are a few good individual scenes as Chucky stalks army cadets on the base, and it does pick up a little at the end when the action shifts to a carnival. But it's never very scary, and the recasting of Andy (Justin Whalin replacing Alex Vincent) is a little jarring. Easily the weakest movie in the series.
6. Seed of Chucky (2004)
By the time Seed of Chucky rolled round, the franchise had truly left the more conventional scares of the first few movies behind (though they would later return). In fact, it's barely a horror movie at all. The film ramps up the humor of 1998's Bride of Chucky and emerges as a trashy, silly, self-referential comedy in which Chucky and his bride Tiffany are brought back to “life” on the set of a movie being made about them. It's a weird film packed with gross-out humor, in which Jennifer Tilly plays herself (as well as the voice of Tiffany), a Britney Spears lookalike is gruesomely murdered, and legendary trash director John Waters pops up playing a tabloid reporter. Seed of Chucky disappointed fans who had enjoyed the more carefully crafted balance of humor and scares in previous episodes, but Mancini--who directed for the first time, as well as writing--deserves credit for trying to do something very different.
5. Cult of Chucky (2017)
The most recent movie in the series released so far, Cult of Chucky double-down on everything that made the series such a success. It's funnier than its immediate predecessor, 2013's Curse of Chucky, but it's also the goriest movie so far, with a couple of spectacularly nasty deaths. Dourif and Tilly return as Chucky and Tiffany, and Dourif's daughter Fiona reprises her role as Nica, who has been committed to a mental hospital following the events of Curse. Mancini throws in no fewer than three Chuckys, and the scenes where the bickering, foul-mouthed dolls hatch their evil plans are extremely funny. While Cult of Chucky could perhaps use a few more scares, it's all very enjoyable, and after 30 years and seven movies, maybe that's enough.
4. Child's Play 2 (1990)
The first Child's Play sequel didn't mess with the winning formula, and while it's not as good as the original, it's still a great ride. Little Andy is now in foster care, but that doesn't stop vengeful Chucky tracking him down to take care of unfinished business. Director John Lafia took over from Tom Holland and does a good job of balancing scares, thrills, and dark laughs. With the popularity of Chucky now established, Brad Dourif is given a lot more opportunity to deliver a crazed, twisted performance as the killer doll and the final showdown in a toy factory are highly satisfying, in particular Chucky's gooey demise.
3. Bride of Chucky (1998)
Bride of Chucky marked a real turning point for the series. Many horror fans had presumed that the series was now dead, but seven years after Child's Play 3, Chucky was back. In the intervening years, Wes Craven's Scream had taken the horror genre in a much more knowing, self-referential direction, and as a result Bride of Chucky was a far less serious, more irreverent movie than previous entries. Chucky was now the main character, and as the title suggests, was given a female counterpart in the shame of Tiffany. Tilly and Dourif have a hilarious chemistry as the two evil dolls, and Hong Kong director Ronnie Yu brings a tons of energy and visual invention to the movie. It might not be the scariest Child's Play, but it's possibly the most purely entertaining. And the Chucky/Tiffany sex scene has to be seen to be believed.
2. Curse of Chucky (2013)
After two overtly comic entries, Curse of Chucky returned the series to its horror roots. Mancini directs again, but while Seed of Chucky took a ragged, scattershot approach, this one is a tightly-controlled, highly effective movie. Fiona Dourif anchors the movie with an impressive lead performance as Nica, a paraplegic woman who becomes convinced that Chucky is alive, and by setting the movie almost entirely in a single house, Mancini ensures that the film is a tense and claustrophobic experience. And with Tiffany nowhere to be seen, Chucky is actually scary once more. Who'd have thought the sixth movie in a 25-year-old horror franchise could be one of the very best?
1. Child's Play (1988)
Don Mancini was still a student when he wrote the screenplay to the first movie, and with Fright Night's Tom Holland directing, the result was massively successful horror classic. While subsequent movies would put Chucky front and center, Holland keeps him off-screen for much of the film; it isn't even revealed that Chucky is the killer until well into the movie. Holland uses his diminutive size to really play with a slasher movie conventions, and the mix of animatronics and actors to portray Chucky is brilliantly done. The movie also has a real emotional center, as Andy's mom attempts to protect her son. While it's not surprising the later films went bigger in terms of both the horror set pieces and mythology, there's a stripped-down simplicity to this first movie that ensures it is just as tense and scary three decades later.