When I was a child, I was terrified to go into the Spencer’s at my local mall. Part of it was the loud music and dark lighting but most of it had to do with the terrifying Chucky doll that the store had for sale. That doll traumatized me when I ran into it for the first time – and the first time was the last time because I never went into Spencer’s again until I was an adult. In 2019, a reboot of Child’s Play was announced with Aubrey Plaza and it peaked my interest. I still hadn’t seen the original so I decided to go check this out. As anyone who has read my review of the reboot knows, I absolutely loved it. I thought the 2019 film was a twisted blast and it made me instantly curious to see the original film. Luckily, last summer I was living in San Antonio, Texas and there was a showing of the 1988 film happening at the delightful Alamo Drafthouse in honor of the reboot being released. I went to see it and had a blast while also being palpably frightened. This led me to binge the entire series soon after – and boy was I in for a treat.
I have a thing for slashers with a creative edge or a sense of humor. In middle school I developed a deep love for A Nightmare on Elm Street. I love how scary it is while also having a villain with a twisted sense of humor. While I love deeply psychological horror films, I also love a slasher with comedy mixed in for levity. Films like this make for perfect Halloween viewing – it’s holiday appropriate entertainment without being too traumatizing or depressing. And the Chucky franchise is a damn fun slasher franchise. They’re not all perfect, but there’s not one I don’t enjoy. Even the films I wouldn’t consider great are entertaining, and in this list, I’m going to rank them all from worst to best (note that I didn’t say least favorite to favorite) and at the end, I’m going to score the entire film franchise.
8. Seed of Chucky – 7/10
Seed of Chucky has an interesting reputation. It’s considered the worst film by many people – to the point where many think it killed the franchise. Now as you can see I actually do agree that it’s the worst film in the franchise. It’s sloppy, not scary at all, and in ways – dated. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy here. First and foremost: Jennifer Tilly. Tilly is so incredibly game in this series but especially in Seed. She plays both herself and murderess doll Tiffany Valentine with endless enthusiasm. This energy is matched by an always fantastic Brad Dourif as the doll, the myth, the legend himself: Chucky. These two are in top form, and the film has a lot of hilarious moments. However, the film teeters on being too meta for its own good. Throw in an awkward appearance from rapper Redman, a recurring joke about peeing in your pants, and a complete lack of real tension and you’ve got a mess. It’s an entertaining mess for sure, but it’s still all over the place. When I watch the series I enjoy Seed along with the other films, but it’s definitely the worst of the bunch. It’s not as funny and definitely not as scary as any of the other films.
7. Child’s Play 3 – 7.2/10
Child’s Play and Child’s Play 2 are a perfect two-part slasher story. They flow effortlessly into each other and both have enough originality to stand apart from each other. That makes the third entry in this franchise all the more confusing. Releasing less than a year after the second film, Child’s Play 3 made the incredibly odd decision to abandon Alex Vincent (who played Andy quite well in the first two films) and age the character up into high school. Then they made the even weirder decision to set the film at a military school. None of these creative decisions make much sense, especially after how well Child’s Play 2 escalated the momentum from the first film. I thought the acting was fine overall, even if they replaced Alex Vincent, but I don’t think most of the characters made much of an impact. And the only reason I can see having the whole thing take place at a military school is for one clever trick that Chucky plays on the students by replacing some paint bullets with live rounds. Nonetheless, Chucky is still having a good time and his energy is always infectious. The film also makes me nostalgic for my 90’s childhood, leading me to believe I might have seen bits and pieces on TV at some point. So overall, the third entry in the franchise is relatively harmless and is still fun, it just has some strange creative decisions that to this day don’t make sense. Even Don Mancini (creator of Chucky and the writer of the film) said he was running out of ideas with this film. At the end of the day, I still had fun watching Chucky slash his way through Andy Barclay’s life once again.
6. Bride of Chucky – 7.4/10
This is entry into the series is where everything changed. It was sort of a course correction, although things went back off course again in Seed. For me Bride of Chucky is just a simple good time. The best thing this film does is bring Jennifer Tilly into this universe as Chucky’s girlfriend, Tiffany Valentine. Watching these two dolls bicker like a regular couple about murder is very entertaining. It has some creative kills and a gnarly ending involving Tiffany giving birth to their demonic spawn. This film is definitely leaning more into a dark comedy than a horror film, and that’s okay. It’s a fun, bloody romp that excels when it focuses on our plastic serial killers. It’s only detractors are the lack of scares or tension, and the human couple that the two dolls hitch a ride with. They’re just not an interesting pair of characters and whenever they take up screen time the film loses momentum. All in all, Bride is twisted fun and would be perfect for any horror fanatic to watch on Valentine’s Day.
5. Curse of Chucky – 8.5/10
Now we’ve reached the point on the list where the series becomes really good. Curse of Chucky came 9 years after Seed of Chucky and was the first film in the franchise to be released directly to DVD. I’m honestly sad it didn’t get a theatrical push because Curse is a damn frightening film. Set in a large dark house with a rich family, this film knows how to heighten the tension from the beginning. Starting with the murder of the family matriarch, the film then evolves into a mystery and fight for survival as Chucky picks the family off one by one. One thing that helps the film be truly scary is the return of Chucky’s patience. He doesn’t reveal himself as the smart ass murderer we all know and love until later in the movie. That creative choice has the audience constantly on edge for when the doll will finally make his move. This film also introduces Nica (played by Fiona Dourif, the daughter of the actor behind Chucky) who is a fantastic protagonist on the level of Andy Barclay before her. Seeing this father-daughter acting duo play opponents in a game of survival is crazy fun. Not to mention she’s a terrific actress that carries the film effortlessly. This film also ties the franchises many threads together (Chucky’s backstory, Andy Barclay, Tiffany, etc) in superb fashion, and sets the stage for amazing things to come in the ongoing franchise. This is a great haunted house horror film and is a must watch for anyone looking for a good fright.
4. Cult of Chucky – 8.6/10
Following up Curse of Chucky was the next direct to DVD release in the franchise, Cult of Chucky. This movie is straight up bonkers in every way – and that’s the beauty of it. This movie takes place in an mental health institution where Nica has been omitted to after she said a doll killed her whole family. Chucky finds her but there’s a twist – he’s become a voodoo master. Now, Chucky has found a way to create clones of himself that can all function simultaneously. This makes for a terrifying prospect in a heavily locked facility, as the population of Chucky’s keep growing and the population of patients starts dwindling. We get some downright grizzly kills in this film and some pretty great visual sequences. Don Mancini directs this film and he steps up his game in every way. He creates a very trippy and chilling experience that will leave you wondering if you need to admit yourself into a mental institution. And Chucky is in full force here, having conversations with his clones that are hilarious and being a more affective villain than ever before. We also get the return of Andy Barclay and Tiffany Valentine who make for fantastic editions to the newer films. Cult is a wild ride that sets the stage for things to come in the franchise – and I cannot wait to see what comes next if it’s anything like this.
3. Child’s Play 2 – 9.1/10
Sequels are often inferior when compared to their predecessors but that is not the case when it comes to Child’s Play 2. This film feels like a direct extension of the original film, and it escalates the fear for Andy’s life to a new level. Now in the foster care system, Andy is taken in by a new family after his mother is suspected of being mentally ill after the events of the first film. Of course, Chucky finds him and is determined to put his soul in Andy’s body. This movie is killer – and I mean that in the best way. Some of the best kills in the entire series are in this entry. Whether it be gouging someone’s eyes out and replacing them with doll eyes or killing a teacher with a yardstick – Chucky got creative in this film. The final face off between Andy, Kyle (Andy’s wonderful adopted sister), and Chucky in the middle of a toy factory is amazing. It’s tense, it’s well paced, and it will get your heart pumping fast. The film is a great example of how to do a slasher sequel – do what the first one did but with creative twists and more added layers to the characters you care about. The only reason I scored it a tiny bit lower than the original film is that the original film had the first reveal of Chucky being alive and killing – and that can never be topped.
2. Child’s Play (2019) – 9.5/10
Just like Child’s Play 2 is a perfect example of how to do a slasher sequel – Child’s Play (2019) is a perfect example of a how to do a slasher reboot. Putting a completely different spin on Chucky, this film takes the voodoo driven serial killer and turns him into murderous Siri in a doll. Yes, while being programmed in a factory, a mistreated worker programs Chucky to have no restraints keeping him from doing bad things. This includes killing that the doll sees in a horror movie that everyone seems to love. So why wouldn’t they be pleased if he started killing in real life as well? The film is excellent commentary on humanity’s relation to technology. Not to mention it’s a very bloody blast with great kills, sharp jokes, and a stellar cast. Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, and Mark Hamill do a splendid job bringing this story to life. Hamill and Bateman even make you care about the relationship between Chucky and Andy. I never once thought I’d feel for a tech doll that kills people but here I am, praising the film for making me feel just that.
1. Child’s Play (1988) – 9.6/10
The best is saved for last and the best Chucky film is the first one. Child’s Play is a classic at this point and for a good reason. This movie is horrifying. Most of the movie is spent waiting to see if Chucky really is alive, and that creates tremendous tension. You’re left to wonder the whole movie if Chucky is killing people or if Andy is making it up and doing it himself. The moment the doll finally showcases that he’s alive and ready to kill is as scary as it gets. Catherine Hicks, Alex Vincent and Brad Dourif knock it out of the park in all of their roles. The only real knock to the movie is that the voodoo rules seem a bit wonky. Other than that this is a perfect horror film. Watching Andy fear for his life while Chucky chases after him is gut wrenching but fun when Chucky drops his humorous one liners. Child’s Play is a thrill for the ages, a must see for any horror fan.
And there we have it! The entire Chucky franchise ranked from worst to best. Do you agree with my list? Do you agree with my score of the entire film series? If so (or if not) let me know your thoughts! Of course, I’ll redo the list when the Chucky television series finally debuts on Syfy, but until then, this is my final word on our good old friend to the end Chucky.