So I finally got around to watching Curse of Chucky, and like most of the reviews said, it was awesome. It was the refreshing return of Chucky as a true figure of horror, as opposed to his comedic spoof portrayals in the two films previous. Chucky was a sinister, malevolent abomination, not only dangerous, but truly evil. I’m kind of a puss-bag when it comes to haunted houses, but it actually takes a lot for a horror film to honestly creep me out. Curse of Chucky accomplished this in spades.
Curse of Chucky abandoned the parody of Chucky that had become popular in the last decade. This was the true return of an icon that horror fans have been wanting for years. Whereas Leatherface, Myers, Voorhees, and Freddy were all given somewhat generic reboots, Curse of Chucky not only revived the interest and original tone of the series, but did so in a way that continued the franchise’s legacy instead of scrapping it. It was an inspired effort that, frankly, should have seen a theatrical release.
But despite the film’s popularity, a statement on the commentary track by series creator Don Mancini brought up a recurring criticism leveled at the series, one that I’m sure will spoil some fan’s post-viewing afterglow in the near future. As beloved as Chucky is among horror fans, there’s a segment of the audience that insists that the character simply isn’t scary. They say that as creepy as Chucky may look, he’s still just a doll. Doll-sized, doll-shaped…in all ways, a toy. As Don Mancini pointed out in the commentary, and as a few of my friends have said as well, the dominant mentality behind the criticism is that Chucky is so small, simply kicking him should resolve whatever threat he could pose.
“Chucky just can’t be scary!” they say.
It’s time someone called that bullshit out.
Chucky is scary as hell. That’s the exact reason he’s so popular, despite the efforts of terrified critics to label him as a “cult villain” or “inexplicably enduring.” He’s an icon because he’s absolutely horrifying. They know it, you know it. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.
Oh, you think you could punt the crazy killer doll away? Then please, by all means, I encourage you to test your hypothesis. Wedge a steak knife between a couple of bookcases and kick at it, as hard as you can. Even with steel toe boots, are you positive you won’t miscalculate and give your ankle a bold, stylish piercing? Go ahead, take a swing. I can wait.
Oh, what’s that? You’re saying you wouldn’t be kicking for the knife, you’d be kicking for Chucky? Okay, yeah, I totally get that. So here he comes, waving a knife around like a foam finger at a college football game. Go ahead, swing. Kick for the maniacal figure swinging a blade in a murderous frenzy. Go on, take him down. I’m confident that the serrated edge won’t snag on your Achille’s tendon. And there’s clearly little chance that Chucky will bury the point of that painful-looking knife deep inside muscle or bone. Go for it. Kick him!
Oooooh, shit, you’re gonna need stitches. What? How could I have known he was gonna stab you? What, is he known for that or something?
Alright, hobble over to the corner, ya big ol’ daffodil. Man, do you have to cry?
Alright, anyway, so kicking him isn’t the best idea. Oh, a baseball bat? Well, yeah, I could see that working. A good ol’ Louisville slugger or a solid nine iron should do the trick pretty…
…ah. Well, nevermind.
“Oh, come on,” you say. “I can totally take him! He’s still just a doll. Doll-strength* and everything! I can totally beat him down!”
*(Note: this is something I have actually heard people say. Admittedly I’m not sure if they were stoned or not.)*
Okay, wait…doll-strength? Motherfucker, did you just say doll-strength? What the hell is that? This fucking thing is possessed by a voodoo-practicing serial killer, how the hell do you know what it can and can’t do? Do you, like…routinely wrestle dolls? How strong would you say the average doll is?
Okay, so yeah, you should be able to wrestle this thing, I can grant you that. Probably shouldn’t have any problem hurling him across the room, provided he hasn’t buried his god-awful child’s teeth gum-deep into your arm. Losing a wad of tissue is serious business, but admittedly it is something you can possibly recover from. Tear the little bastard loose and throw him out the window! You can worry about nerve and muscle damage later. Might wanna check the blood loss, though. Maybe get a few shots while you’re at it.
“But…but if I had the right weapon…!”
STOP. Yes, if you had the right weapon, you could easily take care of Chucky, but that’s a pointless argument because it applies to everything. Get your hands on an elephant gun and Michael Myers is suddenly a lot less invincible. Jason would quickly meet his match against a stick of dynamite. Dream yourself up a herd of polar bears and Freddy Krueger isn’t nearly as threatening as he was a second ago. Make up the Ultimate Nullifier off the top of your head and Galactus becomes less threatening than my grandmother’s overweight Pomeranian. The right weapon fixes everything. Or, you know, it would, provided whoever’s wielding it isn’t a fucking idiot. Either way, it’s a moot point.
We both know what you’re doing here. It’s the same thing that one asshole at every haunted house has to do while everyone else in the group is trying to have a good time. You’re puffing up your chest and bleating “Í’M NOT SCARED,” when no one else really cares. You perceive something as a threat because it creeps you out, so you’re reacting like a toddler, yelling “NUH-UH!” and getting all huffy. You’re a twentysomething-year-old baby.
Look, I get it. It’s okay. You’re scared of him. Everybody fuckin’ is. It’s Chucky. He’s this terrible little knife-wielding goblin who sneaks around and ruins everything for everybody. He’s armed and dangerous and somehow lurking under every piece of furniture in your home. Even Redman admitted the little bastard gave him the willies.
“NO! I’M NOT SCARED OF…”
“No! Seriously! I’M NOT SCARED OF CHUCKY!”
Chucky is every child’s secret nightmare and every adult’s unspoken fear. He’s the kernel of evil we know lurks behind the façade of innocence. He’s the scurrying footsteps that we tell ourselves are just squirrels in the crawlspace. He wields the sharpened blade that will hamstring us when we step out of bed. He’s the reason we fearfully scan the floor when we know we’re alone.
Look, I get it. A brave front in the face of terror is instinctive. The thing you gotta understand, though, is that the more you front about how much Chucky doesn’t scare you, the more obvious it is to everyone that he does. Most people are able to laugh off their fear and recognize Chucky for what he is: a fictional character, designed to give us the cathartic release we’re looking for when we watch a scary movie. But when you insist, without provocation, that Chucky isn’t scary…when you say it over and over again…you’re telling everyone around you that what you feel goes deeper than simple fright. You’re acting tough because you perceive a threat. Do you get that? You think he’s a threat. Chucky isn’t real, but you can’t make yourself emotionally understand that.
Do you see what I’m saying? Your affected bravado is announcing to the world that you literally think that Chucky will kill you.
And it’s okay to feel that. We all have that one irrational fear we have a hard time shaking. It ties into the natural defensive instincts that keep us alive. Open yourself up to it. Let yourself, you know, “feel your feelings.” Allow your fear to surface, and let it work itself through you. If nothing happens, your brain will process this and conclude that there’s nothing to actually be afraid of. I’m not kidding, either: that’s straight-up what happens. “Face your fears:” there’s a reason people say that. Within reason, it’s a mindset that can make this world a substantially more enjoyable place in which to live. So do that. Let yourself feel afraid. Be honest with yourself. Be scared of Chucky. And when your brain realizes he isn’t really coming to get you, you’ll finally be able to sit back and let yourself in on the fun.
And if, after all that, you’re still scared of Chucky, that’s okay too. Like I said, we all have one stupid thing we’re scared of, like clowns or spiders or my neighbors’ kids. (I’M JUST GETTING THE MAIL, STOP RECITING MY DREAMS TO ME YOU TOWHEADED FREAKS.) There’s no law forbidding you from ever being scared of anything. Hell, I know grown men who can’t fall asleep unless they shut their closet door. It’s okay, really. Just try not to ruin scary things for the rest of us. Don’t be that asshole loudmouth making stupid jokes in a movie theater, or the dumbass yelling “Come at me!” at every single actor in a haunted house.
Don’t be that guy. People hate that guy. You don’t need to be snarky or macho. All you need to do is relax. You’ll be fine.
Chucky scares everybody. Don’t be that tool who tries to say otherwise. No one believes you. We’re just hoping you’ll shut up so we can enjoy the movie.
- The Awful Writer