This Halloween, Chucky’s Back

A 1980s horror classic finds fresh life in a creepy new Showcase series

A 1980s horror classic finds fresh life in a creepy new Showcase series

If you were a child in the ’80s, odds are you lost some sleep over Chucky, the homicidal doll with a vicious sense of humour. For those who lost out on the now-classic horror movie from 1988 and the franchise of slasher comedies that followed, Chucky (voiced by the great Brad Dourif) is in truth Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer who escapes death by transferring his soul into a popular kids’ toy. Well, Chucky is back and this time he reappears as a vintage find at a yard sale in an idyllic small town, where everyone’s secrets and hypocrisies are soon to be exposed at the hands of this tiny terror.

The series is brought to television by original creator Don Mancini, whose involvement spans every iteration of this story except the 2019 remake. Dourif reprises his role as Chucky, a character that has left its mark not just on the actor but his daughter Fiona, who also recurs in the franchise. “When she was very young, she came to the studio while I was doing ADR [additional dialogue recording] of where I was being burnt to death,” recalls Dourif. “You can’t do that halfway, otherwise the film doesn’t work, so I was screaming in agony. She heard this and went white as a sheet and ran out of the studio. I had to go find her and tell her that I was OK and that it would be fine. So, she had her first traumatic experience around me doing Chucky pretty young.”

Dourif’s daughter, now an accomplished actress in her own right, returns as Nica Pierce, a wheelchair-bound woman who in previous films was blamed for Chucky’s murders and sent to an asylum for the criminally insane. The series also includes appearances from Christine Elise, who was first introduced in Child’s Play 2 and Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay, Chucky’s very first owner/victim. But what stands out to Jennifer Tilly, who returns as Tiffany Valentine, Chucky’s longtime girlfriend, were the newest additions to the cast. “Even without Chucky, it’s such a beautiful coming-of-age series,” she says. “The relationship between Zackary [Arthur, as new Chucky owner Jake] and the other kids—you’re rooting for them. You want to know where it goes. And then Chucky, of course, complicates things.”

For the first time in the history of the franchise, the show will dig into Charles Lee Ray’s childhood and how this seemingly ordinary kid turned into an unstoppable monster. “Exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origins has been something that the fans have been asking for, literally, for decades,” Mancini explains. “Having so much storytelling real estate, eight hours of Chucky, provided such a great opportunity for that stuff.”

One might assume that bringing this notoriously profane and violent story to basic cable would also mean compromising its content. It turns out, one would be wrong. “One of the things that was important to me was that we’d be able to retain all of the aspects of the franchise that the fans love, one of which is the gore, the other of which, of course, is Chucky’s propensity for dropping f-bombs,” says Mancini. “The networks assured us that there would be no compromise in these departments, but I was encouraged and excited to see how the boundaries could get pushed. So, there will be no compromise in that regard.”

While those who adore these horror flicks find them hard to improve upon, the creative team that has been long associated with Chucky’s grisly misadventures finds the budget on the series something to behold. “When I showed up on the set, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. We have so much money,’” says Tilly. “The colours are so saturated, and the cinematography and the set design are so beautiful on this that it’s just a pleasure to watch. It looks really expensive because it is.”

For Final Destination actor Devon Sawa, who joins the franchise for the first time, it’s an honour to be part of its growing legacy. “I have grown up with Chucky,” says Sawa. “Chucky’s a legend. Brad is a legend. Chucky belongs on the Mount Rushmore of horror with Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees. I’m trying not to smile so big, but I was so excited to be a part of this and put this on the list of cool things I’ve done.”

The only concern Sawa had was the very real prospect of being killed too early, something Mancini shrugs off as a minor inconvenience. “We have a habit of bringing actors back in different roles from movie to movie,” says the showrunner. “We were doing that before Ryan Murphy started doing that with the repertoire company he put together on American Horror Story. So even if someone dies, they can come back in another role. If Zack and Devon play their cards right, the sky’s the limit.” 

Chucky airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Showcase