I found this a curious one as I have no recollection of its release despite it being thirty years old this year and in 1991, I was probably at the height of my cinema activity. It may in part be due to that it got a minimum release in the UK or that it simply didn’t hit my radar. Regardless it has Jeff Fahey as its lead, a year prior to his role as Jobe Smith in The Lawnmower Man.
In Body Parts, Fahey plays a criminal psychologist, Bill Crushank, who works closely with convicted killers in prison. On his way home from work he is suddenly involved in a horrific car accident and loses his arm. Thanks to modern science though, he is granted the chance for experimental transplant surgery and is given a new arm, thanks to Dr. Agatha Webb (Lindsay Duncan), a leader in her field.
All seems well, as Bill adjusts to his new appendage at home with his family, but there is something sinister afoot when he starts to have aggressive episodes that alter his mind and visions that affect him.
When he learns that his arm used to belong to notorious serial killer, Charley Fletcher, he then discovers that more body parts were donated in this experiment. Another arm was donated to an artist, Remo (Brad Dourif), who finds his talent harnessed further since the operation but again, a level of darkness lay within.
The other person who gains from the transplant is Mark, (Peter Murnik) who receives both of Fletcher’s legs.
Slowly however, Bill realises that there is something foul at play, and despite trying to warn both Mark and Remy, they are soon picked off in a brutal way, their new body parts removed.
Body Parts struggles under the hammy delivery and at times feels more like a tv movie, during a time when this was a bad thing. It does tap into the whole mad doctor thing nicely though and this is largely due to Duncan’s performance. And even though it contains some shock moments, the reveal is a far-fetched resolution that falls heavily into cheeseville and little substance is on show.
It was good to see a strong cast in Fahey, Duncan and the always reliable Dourif, but it’s not enough to save it from a essentially a bland script. It would have been nice if the mania was heightened to elevate the prosperous nature of the narrative and be bold in its delivery.
What is probably more shocking however is that the film was released at the time that Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment was raided and numerous body parts were discovered. This had a significant impact on the movie’s distribution and several ads for the movie had to be pulled as a result.
Fast encroaching 40 years since our favourite serial killer trapped inside a Good Guy doll, Chucky first graced our screens, delighting and menacing in his own twisted and macabre way.
Since then, Chucky has spawned 6 sequels and numerous comic books and has in some circles say shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael.
But how has the fiendish doll faired over the years?
This surgeon delves onto the guts of the Chucky franchise to see if he really does hold weight.
Child’s Play (1988) Aka – The original
You can’t go too far wrong from the movie that started it all.
Part of the appeal of the Chucky movies has been the voice performed by the brilliant Brad Dourif. I’m a firm believer that this has been a core element to the films success.
Played with a much more straight-laced approach, which works of be hard to pull off seeing as convict serial killer on the run, Charles Lee Ray is shot and “killed” during a pursuit, but not before transferring his soul into a doll by a voodoo technique.
Said doll, Chucky, then takes up residence at 6 year old Andy’s house as he starts using his Killing ways once more.
With great support from Chris Sarandon as the homicide detective, Directed by Tom Holland at probably the height of his career following Psycho 2 and Fright Night, and would craft Child’s Play into an instant classic, so it’s of no surprise that more instalments would follow.
Child’s Play 2 (1990) Aka – The resurrection
Don Mancini would return to scribe the sequel to Child’s Play, as he would with all subsequent movies.
Andy Barclay would once more fall victim to Chucky’s antics when Charles Lee Ray inhabits another Good Guy Doll after a freak electrical storm.
Strangely, growing up, this sequel and its predecessor would merge as on in my mind, which is a testament to the writing and performances that were delivered in the same strong vein.
It felt like this franchise was in safe hands for sure.
Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Aka – The one with Jimmy Olsen
The third instalment would see a now teenage Alex Vincent) played by Justin Whalin, who would go on to star in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) once again pursued by Chucky.
Unfortunately, it is at this point in the juncture that it feels like the wheels might be falling off this franchise.
Some might blame the directing, but jack Bender has gone on to produce some stellar work, most notably for the Game of Thrones episode, The Door, which he recognised for.
It has to come down to the writing, which had grown stale and as such, Chucky had fallen under the curse of the final act of a trilogy.
Thankfully there’d be more to come with… Bride of Chucky (1998) Aka – The one where Chucky meets Tiffany
Most followers of the Chucky franchise will point out the notable change in style to the movies from this point on with the introduction of humour, something that has kept the heart beating in what could have been a long drawn out series of films.
As such this inclusion of self-referential parody was a much-needed recipe and by having the freedom to laugh at the madness and mayhem that Chucky delivers, we the audience are invited in on the joke, and feel more relaxed as a consequence.
It helps that there is also the addition of a feminie touch as Tiffany played by Jennifer Tilly in a role that she appears to relish, chewing up the scenery with every frame that she is in.
Even bringing back Graeme Revell to score the music as he had done in Child’s Play 2, helps lift this movie above the ‘norm’.
Seed of Chucky (2004) Aka – The twisted one
If anyone wanted to see how Don Mancini would work another film out of the Chucky universe with his own creative flair, then Seed of Chucky would be your answer as he would not only write but also direct this instalment.
The result is a warped insight into Mancini’s’ mind as we’re taken on a journey of Chucky and Tiffany’s offspring, Glen, reluctant in continuing in his parent’s footsteps.
There are twins, more Jennifer Tilly, artificial insemination, a masturbating Chucky, John Waters, and dismemberment.
All of which add to the sheer bat-shit craziness that this film delivers.
Curse of Chucky (2013) Aka – The return to form
Don’t be fooled by this film’s straight-to-video appearance.
Having cut his teeth on its predecessor, Seed of Chucky, Mancini really comes to his own in building a whole new playing field for Chucky to continue his bloodlust.
The franchise introduces us to paraplegic Nica (played by Dourif’s daughter, Fiona) who unwittingly becomes the ‘fall guy’ for Chucky’s latest killing spree.
The story catapults us along using more soul transferals, which allows Chucky to continue killing without ever being suspected. It seems as though he has the perfect solution to carrying out his evil ways and in doing so, carves a whole new storyline for the franchise to effectively continue. That is until he’s delivered back to his original owner, Andy to put an end to things once and for all.
Cult of Chucky (2017) Aka – The one that cements as a franchise to be reckoned with
By the seventh instalment of any franchise, you’d think that all the tricks could be pulled have already been witnessed, bit somehow, Cult of Chucky is able to keep up the ante and deliver the gore and humour with absolute glee.
Sure it comes across as ropey in places and you can feel the smaller budget that is on display as we find ourselves in a mental institute for Chucky’s latest outpouring of murder and mayhem.
The story continues with Nica (Fiona Dourif reprising her role) trying to come to terms with the notion that she was responsible for the murders from the previous movie.
That is until Chucky surfaces again and in doing so, we’re treated to some fine tongue-in-cheek humour and some pretty cool death scenes.
Jennifer Tilly returns once more and if anything this film feels like it has perfectly blended all that has gone before and served up a film that delights and ticks so many boxes that it is beyond glorious.
Whilst the movie did end on a note that appeared to round things out, judging by Mancini’s comments on recent interviews, there’s still life in the old doll yet. Perhaps even a trip into space. Hell they all go into space eventually.
On things for certain, it’ll be interesting to see where and how they go to next.