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At the time we were immersed in the movie review radio show, I was actively rooting for the Child’s Play films. Chucky creator Don Mancini was an early interview subject and he entirely won me over with the his enthusiasm and humility. He was flatly a nice guy and had thrown in completely with his creation. I wanted to see it succeed. It has certainly endured, though the films never reached the level of quality or ingenuity for which I’d hoped. I must add that I love that the French lobby card above manages to make a trashy movie about a murderous, sentient doll look so very, very French.

Poor Andy Barclay just can’t catch a break. He’s finally beginning to get over the trauma of seeing his favorite toy, a genuine Good Guy doll, get possessed by a murderer named Charles Lee Ray and go on a vicious killing streak that unfortunate Andy just happened to get blamed for. He’s about to get settled in to a new home with nice foster parents when, like the ad says, “Chucky’s back!”

That’s right, the murderous little doll has returned in Child’s Play 2, the sequel to the 1988 horror hit. Chucky has been resurrected and is again in pursuit of little Andy in an attempt to destroy his soul and occupy his body. Once again, none of the grownups will believe that Chucky and not Andy is the cause of all the trouble. This time out, though, Andy has acquired an ally, a teen-aged girl named Kyle who lives in the same foster home. Their developing friendship is often well-done and quite natural. It’s one of the more interesting things onscreen. Otherwise, the film covers essentially the same ground as the original Child’s Play. Chucky knocks off various authority figures while Andy struggles to prove that he’s innocent.

The film shows promise of an exciting conclusion as Andy, Kyle, and Chucky have their final conflict in the toy factory that manufactures Good Guy dolls, but even that is wasted, betrayed by bad directing. What should have been one of the most chilling scenes in the film has Andy desperately climbing up a slanted conveyed with Chucky right at his heels. It might have worked if the director had given any idea of how much further Andy had to climb to reach the top of exactly how close behind Chucky really was. Instead, it’s show entirely in close-ups, giving no sense sense of the space in the situation and undermining the scariness of the scene entirely. That, along with a number of poorly shot sequences and an apparent inability to keep the boom microphone out of the shot, fully proves that director John Lafia has a lot to learn.

It’s a good thing that Alex Vincent does such a good job playing little Andy, even if the poor kid will probably never be able to look at a Teddy Ruxpin doll in quite the same way. It’s also fortunate that Chucky makes such a nifty monster. He’s as evil as you could ask of any horror flick villain. The film really needs those two two, because without them Child’s Play 2 would’ve wound up being a complete waste of time.

1 and 1/2 stars, out of 4.

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