It’s kind of amazing that the Child’s Play franchise has been going for nearly 30 years with continuous continuity, and it’s frankly stunning that, seven films in, the killer Good Guy doll is as much fun as he ever was. Cult Of Chucky is another funny, gory, dark treat for genre fans and the doll’s still finding ways to torment whoever crosses his path. Nica (Fiona Dourif) is in a mental hospital as a result of her “crimes” and has finally convinced herself that Chucky was a figment of her imagination. Guess who shows up…
We were lucky enough to sit down with director and writer Don Mancini and stars Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif to talk about why there’s no end in sight for Chucky, why there’s always room for Tiffany, and the connection between these films and Hannibal…
Obviously you’ve brought back Nica and Tiffany, and Alex Vincent is back as Andy Barclay…was it fun to get the family back together?
Don Mancini: It was a blast. It’s so much fun. I’ve known Alex since he was five years old, it’s very weird to have a relationship with someone under those specific circumstances where I was an adult, ostensibly, I was 25, 26 and he was this little kid and yet we were colleagues. It’s just bizarre to have a five-year-old as your professional colleague and then he grew up and he became really interesting. And fans obviously were asking “You should bring him back!” and I just like Alex a lot, he’s a really smart guy, and so in Curse Of Chucky we thought we’d test that out, it went great.
Jennifer Tilly: The fans went apeshit, they went crazy when he came on screen.
DM: So, I thought it would be great to have all these characters from disparate parts of the franchise on a collision course. I did a lot of rewriting on this movie, more than I have on the previous ones, partly because of having worked a couple of years in TV and that’s just the way TV works, I was just rewriting constantly, getting notes from all the actors. So, we were probably a week into shooting and one day Alex calls me and he says “All the fans are saying ‘I can’t wait to see Tiffany and Andy together!'” and I was like “Holy shit, they don’t have a scene together, what are we going to do? I have to think of something!”
Is it important to listen to the fans when they’re asking for certain things to happen, or do you have to kind of tune it out?
DM: Yeah, it’s a delicate balancing act. Because you want to satisfy everyone but at the same time you wanna surprise everyone. If the movie is just fan service then it’s not going to be satisfying to the larger audience. So, it’s tricky but it’s one of the challenges that I really like.
JT: But I always thought: what an astounding thing that Alex was in the first movie and the second movie and then for years he went around to Comic Cons signing pictures of Chucky and then all of a sudden, out of the blue he gets a phone call from Don, it’s a major part, and he’s a bearded vigilante! Little Andy Barclay’s got a gun! He’s back!
DM: And the weird thing is that I didn’t bank on it specifically.
JT: You didn’t audition him or anything to see if he’d become a good grown-up actor, right? You just gave him the part?
DM: No, I did, that was the purpose of Curse Of Chucky, was to test that. The one thing I was pleasantly surprised to see was it feels like he knows what he’s doing with a gun! [laughs] That’s the sort of thing that can really screw up movies, really good actors aren’t really good with props or specifically guns, and Alex, in that scene where he pulls it on her I feel like he really knows what he’s doing.
Fiona, how was it returning to this character and finding her in this very, very dark place?
FD: It was really, really fun. It was really fun to do something that was written for me and I got a lot of input and have been involved in this from its gestation. We were talking about this at the end of filming of Curse and for four years since. So, I really felt a lot of ownership of it.
And Jennifer, what’s it like bringing Tiffany back properly? Obviously you had a little cameo in Curse…
JT: Yeah! I know, it’s so fun to come back and I was really happy I got to have a scene with Fiona because in the other Chucky movie I didn’t, I saw her in the lobby of the hotel but we didn’t have a scene together. It was really great, I love the twists and turns that Tiffany’s taking and I love the part that Don wrote for me, but I’m always super happy to return to the Chucky set.
Now I feel like I sort of have job security because I feel like, as long as Don is in charge of the Chucky franchise, there will be a little corner of the screen for Tiffany. Even when I’m 90 years old maybe it will start out like I’ll be like Rose in Titanic, “When I was really young…” and there’ll be flashbacks and Chucky will be chasing my grandchildren! But I will never ever, ever throw my giant jewels into the ocean!
Does it feel like there’s more room to play and experiment in a Chucky movie than other horror franchises?
DM: I’d like to think so. After seven movies and 30 years I think Chucky is unusual among slashers in that he has legitimate complexity. We’ve seen his romance, his family life, his kids, what drives him.
JT: He’s worried about his kids, he’s worried about his sexual performance…
DM: Which you don’t really think about with regard to Michael Myers! So yeah, one of the things we pride ourselves on is that we have a relatively coherent mythology. We haven’t had to reboot ourselves yet.
JT: But it’s because Don has been in charge of the franchise from the very beginning, which is very very unusual and he’s written every single film. So, he always has an idea in the back of his mind where these different threads are going to end up. And he also writes what he wants to see because he is a huge fan of horror movies. That’s why it never gets boring because he writes what would be interesting to him and there’s always surprises.
Do you ever think about an end in sight?
DM: I think as long as Trump doesn’t blow up the world [knocks on wood, interviewer laughs nervously], the world is constantly changing, movies are changing, the horror genre is always changing so I think that Chucky is a versatile enough character that we can always plug him into what’s going on that’s interesting in the zeitgeist.
JT: I remember in Seed Of Chucky, Don called me because he was really excited because he had a joke about Martha Stewart in the movie and he was like “Oh good, she went to jail, the joke’s still good!” And the joke was “Martha Stewart’s getting executed today!” He was selfishly happy that his joke was still good. [laughs]
Finally, there’s a great Hannibal reference in the film and Don obviously wrote on the show, so we have to ask: who would win in a fight between Hannibal and Chucky, and a fight between Chucky and Dirk Gently‘s Bart Curlish?
DM: Oh my god, imagining a crossover between Hannibal and Chucky…
FD: It’s so incestuous!
DM: Well, actually you know who Chucky reminds me of is Mason Verger. Even in the movie Hannibal I thought that Gary Oldman’s make-up actually resembles the FrankenChucky look, and there’s just something about Mason Verger in that he’s a provocateur and he’s crude and he really enjoys being cruel. So, when I was working on Hannibal I think Mason was my favourite to write. Probably because of Chucky.
Fiona? Chucky versus Bart…?
FD: Somebody actually just drew that, somebody drew the face-off between Chucky and Bart. You know, Chucky likes to kill and Bart doesn’t, Bart just has to. And I think…I think Bart would win.
Cult Of Chucky is available on Blu-ray and DVD 23rd October. Keep up with the latest horror news with the new issue of SciFiNow.