Child's Play 3

childs-play3-rev Child’s Play 3  (1991)    Universal/Horror-Thriller    RT: 90 minutes    Rated R (strong horror violence, language)    Director: Jack Bender    Screenplay: Don Mancini    Music: Cory Lerios and John D’Andrea    Cinematography: John R. Leonetti    Release date: August 30, 1991 (US)    Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Brad Dourif, Andrew Robinson, Peter Haskell, Dakin Matthews, Burke Burns, Matthew Walker.    Box Office: $14.9 million (US)/$20.5 million (World)


 When Einstein said “time is relative”, he couldn’t possibly have conceived of Child’s Play 3. In the real world, only nine months passed since Child’s Play 2. In the reel world, eight years have passed. Andy Barclay, now played by Justin Whalin for obvious reasons, has gone from eight to sixteen years old. How would Einstein explain that?

 I didn’t like Child’s Play 3 too much the first time I saw it. Granted, I was on heavy pain meds at the time just having had my wisdom teeth removed. I didn’t like it any better the second, third or fourth time either. So why should the fifth time be any different? I was all prepared to write a scathing review then a funny thing happened. I found myself enjoying it. It dawned on me that Child’s Play 3 is the exact kind of horror flick I’ve been clamoring for in the midst of all the watered-down PG-13 jobs that think louder equals scarier. It’s a good old-fashioned R-rated slasher flick with copious amounts of gore, profanity and dead teenagers. Sure, the mad slasher in question is a three-foot doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer but he gets the job done. As much as I hate to resort to clichés, they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

childs-play3 This time, the action takes place at a military school where Andy has been sent after failing to make it in any of the foster homes he’s been in. He’s still troubled by the events of his childhood and it’s about to get bad again. The idiots at Play Pals have decided to start manufacturing Good Guy dolls again. It’s been eight years and the world has forgotten all about Andy Barclay and his twisted fantasies about his Good Guy coming to life and going on a murder spree. Worse yet, they use Chucky’s melted remains in the production of the new dolls. The first one off the line, of course, turns out to be Chucky (voiced by Dourif) who promptly kills the CEO (Haskell) and uses his computer to locate Andy.

 A package arrives for Andy but it’s intercepted by a young cadet, Tyler (Sylvers), who decides to keep it for himself after he sees what’s inside, a Good Guy doll. Yes, Chucky has mailed himself to Andy who’s already having a difficult time adjusting to his new surroundings. He’s constantly bullied by Cadet Lt. Shelton (Fine, The Young Riders) who’s obviously seen Full Metal Jacket too many times. He makes a couple of friends, misfit cadet Whitehurst (Jacobson) and female cadet De Silva (Reeves, Old School). Meanwhile, Tyler is in awe of his new friend who quickly realizes that, in his new body, he no longer needs Andy. He can transfer his soul into Tyler’s body instead. When Andy realizes that Chucky is back, he tries to save Tyler from a fate worse than death (and I don’t mean Child’s Play 4).

 Once again, there are some cool kill scenes in Child’s Play 3. A man is strangled with a yo-yo string. Another in crushed in a garbage truck. A student gets shot in the chest after paint pellets are replaced with real ammo during the school’s annual war games. Another gets blown up by a grenade. A man has his throat slit. The final body tally is seven.

 As usual, Dourif does a bang-up job voicing Chucky. He’s been a favorite actor of mine for years; he always brings an extra level of cool to his movies. In Child’s Play 3, he has some serious competition. Andrew Robinson, best known as serial killer Scorpio in Dirty Harry (1971), plays the school’s sadistic barber whose favorite catchphrase is “Presto, you’re bald.” He camps it up very nicely in a movie that’s played partially for laughs. Another line would’ve made a great tagline if not for one word: “Don’t f--k with the Chuck!” I love it! As for the rest of the performances, the acting is a little better that what you would expect from a horror sequel. Reeves is good as a rebellious type who, of course, falls for Andy. Sylvers is pretty good as Chucky’s next intended target. Fine chews and devours the scenery as the junior-jarhead-from-Hell student leader.

 I’m not going to argue that Child’s Play 3 is great cinema. It’s not, not even by a long shot. It’s very entertaining however. It’s well-directed by Jack Bender (his only feature film) who gives audiences plenty of jump-scares and laughs. The military school setting is a sweet twist. It’s original too. It’s great to see writer Don Mancini, who’s been with the franchise since it started, still cares enough not to deliver a mere rehash. The animatronic effects keep getting better. Most importantly, Child’s Play 3 is a fun movie. Sadly, it comes with a bad reputation. Even though it’s long been disproven, it was once rumored that it inspired two young boys in the UK to murder a three-year-old boy after they watched the video. A horrible tragedy indeed but the movie had nothing to do with it. In any event, I’ve come to appreciate Child’s Play 3 as an unusually strong horror sequel (it’s better than 2). It certainly beats the PG-13/found footage crap that passes for horror today. 

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