The year would’ve had to have been 1989. Depending on the cable world-premiere date, I would’ve been 3 or 4. I was a kid full of life with not a care in the world, with my mind on my toys and my toys on my mind.
Then the yellow-labeled Kodak tape that started this long, seemingly unending journey appeared. Okay, maybe appeared is a little too sensationalist, my sitter brought it to my mom. What were the contents of said videotape? Child’s Play, a film that would introduce a character into my life that over 25 years later, still haunts my dreams. That character is Charles Lee Ray…but his friends (to the end) call him Chucky.
My mother had apparently wanted to see the movie but, as a single parent who has never had a license let alone driven a car, either couldn’t find someone to take her or couldn’t justify taking a toddler to see a toy kill people; this is a problem that was seemingly fixed with the purchase of the first family VCR and by fixed I mean that parental filters were off and I was introduced to tons of horror movies and movies that didn’t come in the Disney clamshells that I had grown accustomed to at the time, I mean…it was the 80’s so surely your parents let you watch age inappropriate stuff too…right? So my sitter recorded it off one of the many pay channels she had…um…access to and brought it to her.
My mother tried to tell me it was too scary…but, as is the case with my “adult” life, I didn’t listen. Jason Voorhees didn’t scare me. Michael Myers didn’t either. Freddy Krueger couldn’t get to me because I had a magic blanket that so long as I was covered up with it I’d be safe (come to think of it, I think my mom was lying to me about the blanket so I’d go to sleep), so why would Chucky be any different? How wrong I was.
As an only child in a single parent household…I had a lot of toys. A LOT. And when you’re young and you see a toy on screen not only killing people but wanting to take over your soul…you freak. You freak a lot. I screamed and cried as the doll came to life in young Andy Barclay’s mother’s arms, I cried when he bit her and promptly hid my talking Mickey Mouse doll due to the fear of a similar fate. What about when Chucky attacks the officer responsible for his current predicament? Well, let’s just say that I checked behind and under every seat in every car that I ever rode in and drove up until I was 17.
You’d think that if I was so scared of that tape, it’d never see the light of day again…right? Wrong! The sitter who recorded it in the first place was your typical 80’s teenage babysitter and was really only concerned with waiting for my mother to leave so she could bring her boyfriend, Dogg (no shit…he went by Dogg), over and do, uh, things that would piss off a certain goalie. She might have been concerned with me not dying…but that was never proven. So how do you get a child to leave you alone so you can sully the laundry room (I caught them once)? You sit him down, surrounded by his favorite toys, AND MAKE HIM WATCH CHILD’S PLAY!!!! No foolin’. She knew how scared I was of the doll and knew I’d be too scared to move.
I’ve had to tell that same story to people who couldn’t believe that a grown man was scared of Chucky. Don’t even get me started on the time my mom won a Chucky doll out of a crane game and gave it to me as a joke…I haven’t cried that hard since…well…ever. Since the time of the story above, I’ve become more of a fan than I used to be. I’ve dealt with the sequels, I’ve dealt with my nightmare engine joining the ranks of the nWo in World Championship Wrestling (seriously), hell…I’ve even went through a Chucky-themed haunted house in Los Angeles when I lived and worked there. I can love the films, and I do, but be legitimately downright terrified of the character…and I am.
And while this article is presented in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion and I recently interviewed Alex Vincent of Child’s Play fame as well as purchased the recent Blu-ray box set, I’m still uneasy around the character. Not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact, most horror movie writers and directors long to create a character that has such a lasting impact and very few do.
I hope you enjoyed hearing this story as much as I enjoyed telling it. And yes, I still think twice about going into a dark room or kitchen lest my nemesis is waiting for me…drinking my beer and eating my sandwiches.
P.S. Is it logical to want to send my therapy bills to Brad Dourif?