I’m a huge fan of 2013’s CURSE OF CHUCKY. It reestablished my favorite killer doll’s innate creepiness, introduced me to the phenomenal FIONA DOURIF and works splendidly as a rainy night, old dark house flick. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it every year since it came out because that’s how I do. One of the great things about the CHUCKY series is that it is both remarkably consistent (every installment is penned by original creator DON MANCINI) and wonderfully inconsistent (every installment past the original three changes the game in a creative way). I can’t say my love of newest stab — CULT OF CHUCKY — eclipses my love of cozy CURSE but it certainly delivers a bevy of its own horror delights. We get to reunite with Chucky’s now-grown original patsy Andy Barclay (ALEX VINCENT), spend some time in a surreally sterile mental hospital and most gratifyingly, we get more FIONA DOURIF as Nica Pierce. DOURIF makes it clear she’s every bit as talented as her legendary dad BRAD. She’s truly mesmerizing and reminds me a bit of JESSICA HARPER if JESSICA HARPER found herself frequently possessed by JUDY DAVIS. Plus you get more of the irascible Tiffany Valentine played to the hilt by JENNIFER TILY who has reached an almost CRUELLA de VIL level of hilariously flamboyant madness.
MANCINI has taken over the directing reigns for CHUCKY’s last three outings and I couldn’t be happier. He’s got a superb eye for visuals and he’s able to get great performances from his actors, both flesh and plastic. With CURSE he seemed to be taking some cues from Italian masters like ARGENTO and BAVA and now with CULT, his hat appears tipped to KUBRICK and De PALMA (complete with split- screens). There’s a kill in this movie involving shattering glass that is every bit as beautiful as it is ultimately gruesome. There are some lapses in logic, no mental hospital on Earth would run the way this one does, but the incongruities tend to add to the dreamy, hallucinatory atmosphere. Maybe it’s not a good idea in real life for a hospital to proudly have it’s own graveyard but it sure looks pretty as hell especially in the snow! Plus I’m OK with giving a possessed killer doll-flick a whole lot of leeway in the realism department. From it’s first sequel, the franchise has had the not always easy task of finding a balance between horror and its unavoidable humor and I think the last two installments have got the formula down pat and all thanks to FIONA DOURIF. No matter how off the wall, wacky or self-referential (Chucky laments the cancelation of HANNIBAL– a series MANCINI lent his writing talents to) Chucky behaves, DOURIF’s Nica is there to ground things with her convincing portrayal of a woman unable to convince others of her outlandish predicament.
I hope the series continues in this direction and CULT’s unpredictable ending certainly opens up a plethora of possibilities. It’s pretty darn cool to see a writer granted so much control over his creation, especially one who tends to steer toward uncharted territory rather than knee-jerk expectations. I doubt a big screen, big budget excursion would allow our favorite killer doll such ample room to play, so it feels like a blessing to see what the little guy can get up to unchained from the box office. If you want to check out the unrated version complete with an after credit cameo (which is worth its wait in gold as far as I’m concerned) you can order the Blu ray/DVD combo pack (which includes commentary by DON MANCINI, deleted scenes and bonus features) HERE. The rated version of CULT OF CHUCKY will be on Netflix soon followed by Halloween-timed multiple showings on AMC’s Fearfest. I’m guessing there are VOD and Redbox options as well. One thing’s for sure, a certain possessed killer doll is going to be hard to escape this October and I’m all for it. I’ll always have this troublemaker’s back for his non-conformist stance. Sure he’s evil but I empathize with his struggle to escape a brittle body built for smiling servitude. He reminds me of a time when horror icons were still rebellious and counter-culture rather than neutered to appeal to the largest possible audience. Chucky is my friend till the end and he’s a gift that keeps on giving (the finger).