Thirty years after Tom Holland’s Child’s Play was released, Chucky is living on as an icon of the horror genre. In those 30 years, not only has Chucky starred in several sequels, he has also invaded the Hack/Slash comic book series, an episode of WCW’s Monday Nitro, and Saturday Night Live. This character has become a very important staple for the horror genre alongside other horror movie killers of the 80’s and 90’s.
But this character got his start in Child’s Play, a 1988 slasher film directed by Tom Holland and starring Catherine Hicks and Chris Sarandon. This film has spawned a legacy that is still recognized today. Despite anyone’s emotions about the six sequels or the upcoming TV series, Child’s Play remains a classic within the slasher sub genre for a reason.
Tagged along to the first movie of the franchise are several very amusing details that you may not know about. Here are seven of them to know about before you jump into your 30 year anniversary re-watch today:
#1. Chucky Was Supposed To Have a Mechanical Voice
Director Tom Holland mentions that he attempted to get Chucky’s voice to sound similar to other dolls that were being sold in the 80’s. Those doll’s voices had a more “mechanical quality,” as Holland describes it. After trying out several filters on the voice and even trying out Jessica Walter’s voice, he never could get the sound that he wanted.
Alas, when all else failed, Holland got Brad Dourif to be the voice of Chucky that is so infamous. Then, to get Chucky’s mouth to be lined up with Dourif’s voice, he would record the voiceovers in advanced. This meant that in the scenes that Chucky is speaking, they would play recordings of Dourif’s voice so that the actors would be able to interact with the doll.
#2. John Franklin Played Chucky in a Few Shots
Children of the Corn (1984) actor John Franklin, who suffered from a growth hormone deficiency resulting in his height remaining just about five feet tall, played Chucky in some shots of Child’s Play. When there were times that they needed Chucky to run or walk, they obviously wanted those movements to look slightly natural. To achieve this, they hired a couple little people to play the doll in certain shots.
John Franklin’s height allowed him to fit that role, along with Ed Gale and, in one shot, Alex Vincent’s sister. Franklin has a short film history but in that short list are a few very iconic horror movies including Children of the Corn (1984), The Addams Family (1991), and, interestingly, Child’s Play.
#3. Chucky’s Stunt Double Ed Gale Was Set On Fire
Actor Ed Gale, who I mentioned above, was Chucky’s stunt double for both Child’s Play and Child’s Play 2 (1990). Though Gale had acting experience before Child’s Play, he did not necessarily have experience with stunt work. Despite that fact, in Tom Holland’s attempt to make Chucky real on-screen, he used Ed Gale.
As impressive as this is, the most intense stunt he did was the full body burn when Chucky jumps out of the fireplace. Gale was in the Chucky costume and Holland set him on fire for this amazing. Holland says about Gale, “Ed’s terrific. Ed was totally fearless. I could tell him how to act it and he would act it.”
#4. Chucky’s Appearance is Based on a Combination of Other Dolls
At the time of filming Child’s Play, there was a popular doll called My Buddy and Buddy was actually Chucky’s original name. Tom Holland says that he bought one of the My Buddy dolls, a Raggedy Ann, a Raggedy Andy, and “one of those life-size baby infants.” He gave them to Kevin Yagher, the designer of the Chucky doll, to give him the ideas he had for how he wanted Chucky to look.
Specifically, Holland says that he told Yagher that he wanted Chucky to essentially be the My Buddy doll with the Raggedy Andy color. The overalls came from Buddy while the color of the overalls and Chucky’s freckles came from Raggedy Andy. Then, to add the horror to the doll, Holland told Yagher, “I wanted the meanest looking son of a bitch Raggedy Ann and Andy doll that you could create, but I wanted it with the creepiness of that infant doll.” Yagher created Chucky based on these directions from Holland and executed it beautifully.
Interestingly, despite this explanation from Tom Holland, the story’s creator, Don Mancini, says that the doll was based on the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.
#5. Actual Chucky Dolls Were Also Used For Filming
Speaking of the doll itself, every shot of Chucky in Child’s Play obviously isn’t an actor in a costume. Chucky also isn’t heavily animated by CGI as it would most likely be if it were made today. Instead, a few bodies of the Chucky doll were made to be used for filming along with “17 or 18 different heads.”
This type of filmmaking is so impressive because of the amount of detail and time that the filmmakers use to work with the physical props. The dolls’ bodies and faces were animatronics, which is impressive with how well it moves. Both the bodies and faces were controlled by remote controls with the doll’s face being controlled by a piece of equipment that would go on someone’s face and would emulate the person’s facial movement.
#6. The Name Charles Lee Ray is a Combination of Three Real Life Killers’ Names
Charles Lee Ray, the criminal who dabbled in voodoo, is Chucky’s full name. This name is a derivation of the names of three infamous killers. Charles is borrowed from Charles Manson, the cult leader who instructed his followers to commit acts of violence; Lee is borrowed from Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated John F. Kennedy; and Ray is borrowed from James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.
#7. Joe Renzetti’s song “Chucky” Was Unused in the Film or Soundtrack
Composer Joe Renzetti wrote an amazing score for Child’s Play that I listen to often. Along with the amazing scored he composed, he also wrote a song called “Chucky” with lyrics written by Simon Stokes. The song is similar to 80’s and 90’s rap songs that were made for movies and TV shows and is honestly a lot of fun. However, it is quite silly so it is understandable why it was scrapped. But thanks to the internet, we can enjoy it in it’s glory whenever we want to now!
Now take this knowledge and let it enhance your viewing of Child’s Play today as you celebrate its 30th birthday!