This week in Horror movie history, Child’s Play 3 was released August 30, 1991 by Universal Pictures. Directed by Jack Bender (Lost TV series, Under the Dome TV series), the film was co-produced by Robert Lathan Brown (The Thing 1982, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984) and Laura Moskowitz (Child’s Play 1988, The Dreamer of Oz 1990). This third offering in the possessed killer doll franchise stars Emmy Award winner Justin Whalen (Serial Mom 1994, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV series), Travis Fine (The Thin Red Line 1998, Girl, Interupted 1999), Dakin Matthews (Funny Farm 1988, Soul Man TV series), Jeremy Sylvers (Saved By the Bell TV series, My Wife and Kids TV series) and Perrey Reeves (Escape to Witch Mountain 1995, Entourage TV series), with the impeccable Academy Award nominee Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 1975, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002) as the voice of Chucky.
The script was written by Chucky creator Don Mancini (Cellar Dweller 1988, Hannibal TV series) to go along with music from Baywatch TV series composers John D’Andrea and Cory Lerios. The special effects were a combined effort between optical effects artists at Apogee Productions (Star Trek: The Motion Picture 1979, Spaceballs 1987), special effects technicians at Vincent Guastini Productions (Thinner 1996, Requiem for a Dream 2000), and Kevin Yagher Productions (A Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master 1988, Bordello of Blood 1996), who worked on Chucky himself. The movie was mostly filmed in Los Angeles, although the scene at Mr. Sullivan’s apartment was shot at a Universal soundstage and Andy’s stay at Kent Military School was shot at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri.
Although released in 1991, a mere year after Part 2, the film takes place in 1998, seven years in the future with the Play Pals Toy Company climbing out of Andy Barclay-induced infamy by redesigning and selling a new version of the Good Guys doll made with recycled Chucky remains. CEO Mr. Sullivan (Peter Haskell) takes the prototype doll home, only for it to come alive and kill him with a yoyo garrote. The psycho doll finds Andy’s current address with Sullivan’s computer. Deemed a delinquent after the events from Part 1 and 2, Andy (Whalin) has been remanded to Kent Military School as a way to shape him up. He meets young Ronald Tyler (Sylvers), who seems enraptured by Good Guy dolls, and Harold Whitehurst (Dean Jacobson), who exposits on the Big Bully on Campus, Lt. Col. Brett Shelton (Fine). Kent is a co-ed Military School, and before long, Andy meets rebellious Kristen DeSilva (Reeves), a girl who gives Shelton a run for his money and seems to have the hots for young Andy.
Later, Tyler is asked to bring a package to Andy’s room, and when the shipping paper rips, he sees that it is a Good Guy doll. He is unable to resist and sneaks off with the box, only to have Chucky burst out of the package and tell his true nature to the boy, opening the kid up for Chucky to possess him. Naïve Tyler is saved when Col. Cochran (Matthews) finds them playing Hide the Soul and throws Chucky into a trash truck. Chucky escapes by killing the garbage man, but when he attacks Andy, Shelton walks in and takes the doll. Later, when he realizes the doll is missing from his room, Shelton punishes the entire group of cadets with drill exercises in the middle of the night while Tyler once again finds Chucky. After another failed possession attempt, Chucky scares Cochran to death in retaliation.
Not one to break tradition despite the Colonel’s death, Shelton still orders the annual war games to take place. Chucky secretly switches out the red team gun’s paintballs with real bullets. When the game begins, Chucky attacks Ronald but the quick-thinking teen stabs the doll with a pocketknife, but this does not stop the evil plastic ginger from kidnapping DeSilva. Chucky convinces Andy to exchange DeSilva with Tyler so he can complete the possession ritual. During the firefight, the real bullets being fired kill Shelton. Tyler finally sees the error of his ways and tries to escape from Chucky, and as he is about to give chase, Chucky tosses a grenade at the cadets. Whitehurst bravely jumps on the live round, killing himself but saving his friends.
The group gives chase and follow Chucky into the haunted house of a nearby carnival. The doll kidnaps Tyler once again and shoots DeSilva in the leg, leaving Andy on his own. Chucky tries once again to possess Tyler, but Andy interrupts by shooting him. Now royally pissed off, Chucky tries to strangle Andy, but the boy manages to cut off the doll’s hand with a knife and then knock the maniacal monster into a giant fan which chops him to bits.
Mancini always thought of Part 3 in his Child’s Play trilogy as the weakest of the trio. He knew his script was subpar but had been asked to write it after barely finishing the screenplay of Part 2 and using up all of his ideas. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 23% rotten rating, although fans saw the forest for the trees, as Justin Whalin was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor while the film itself was nominated for Best Horror Film in 1991. In 2014, the five part compilation DVD release (Child’s Play 1988, Child’s Play 2 1990, Bride of Chucky 1998, Seed of Chucky 2004, and Curse of Chucky 2013) won a Saturn for Best DVD/Blu-ray Collection. Matthew J. Costello wrote a tie-in novel that was very similar, although the author did add his own flavor, including changing up the ending. The film was originally released on VHS on March 12, 1992 and on DVD in 1999. Afterwards, it was released several times combined with two other parts (Child’s Play 2 1990 and Bride of Chucky 1998) in both 2003 and 2006.
Originally meant to stop at three, Mancini saw the success of the Scream movie series and decided to add a few more, although he changed up the storyline, taking Andy out, making the films Horror Comedies and giving Chucky a girlfriend and son. A seventh movie is rumored to be in the works with a release date in late 2015 or 2016. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights added a maze titled Chucky’s Fun House in 2009, with 2013’s Curse of Chucky getting its own scarezone the year it hit theatres. The killer doll has even starred in his own shows, once from 1992-2008 with Chucky’s In-Your-Face Insults and Chucky’s Insult Emporium dropped in the middle from 1998-2001. There is no denying that the load of plastic and stuffing possessed by Charles Lee Ray, the Lakeshore Strangler, is one scary little bastard, taking something as innocent as a child’s toy and turning it into a tiny, foul-mouthed serial killer with a penchant for Voodoo. Even when he is cracking jokes, he is terrifying.