Cult of Chucky Panel Reintroduces Franchise to Fans
The panel consisted of director (and franchise patriarch) Don Mancini, Jennifer Tilly (Tiffay Valentine), Fiona Dourif (Nica Pierce), Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky), and Alex Vincent (Andy Barclay). There was also Chucky, himself; but he didn’t really have anything to say – basically seat warming for a late entry.
Let me first just say that I haven’t seen a Chucky film since the original Child’s Play, as I had developed an early appreciation for how 80s films easily fell into self-parody franchising. That said, this seventh installment was clearly done by demand, and for the demanding.
The first clip touched on the series tag line “Friends to the End,” with original playmate, Andy, taking out the original plaything – what was left of Chucky, anyway – for a little play time. It was kind of a ridiculous scene, really; but, by now, true fans have developed a taste for this kind of old school torture porn – at the very least, when Chucky’s on the receiving end, anyway.
Remember what Jim Henson said about the advantages of working with Muppets, in terms of the kinds of violence you can get away with.
The second clip focuses on the guilt-ridden Nica – in therapy, and left convinced that she was responsible for a previous Chucky rampage – but Tiffany Valentine steals the scene. Tiffany brings news that hurts Nica much further; but to add insult to injury, she leaves Nica with ‘therapy’ Chucky doll. While not as over the top, this scene does convey a certain relish that I suspect fans & the production have developed, over the years, for just how sudsily convoluted some of these onscreen interactions have become.
The official trailer does give away a lot of spoilers, regarding the fate of various characters seen in the clips; but, of course, it’s never a question of who will die, in these movies, but how. To that end, the most buzzed about scene was shown in its gruesome entirety; and was actually pretty interesting, as far as creative killings go. Don fancies these films as more artistic, than the gritty-grimey ghoulery of Found Footage types. I may take issue with splitting hairs, over torture porn stylistic choices; but the clip did sort of make a case for his sentiment.
Above all else, Cult of Chucky comes across as something of celebratory fan-service. The big sell of the panel was all the call-back characters, culminating in a final cast reveal clip. Franchise vet, Christine Elise, joined the panel, after a clip of her character, Kyle, picking up where Andy left off. The audience seemed to appreciate it. Don took ownership of one critic’s remark, declaring ‘Chucky 7’ the Furious Five of the franchise – where veteran characters were rounded up, from every corner of the series, and thrown together to make sparks fly. Fans seemed to appreciate that, too.
What I’m sure we all appreciated most, however, were some of the off-the-cuff riffs on stage. Jennifer Tilly had a time & a half, playing up the diva angle, and play-ripping her cast mates – while being repeatedly accused of never staying on script. As far as she were concerned, there was enough golden add-libbed material, cut from Cult of Chucky, for a separate film she would have to self-release.
For her part, Fiona Douriff got Tilly-goaded well into how the franchise reflected her dating/ sex life, before acknowledging that her father was sitting right next to her. Being the ‘Chucky Girl,’ her whole life, sounded like fun – on the outside, looking in (her riff on being profanely threatened, by the voice of her own dad, drove that home).
For his part, Brad Douriff capped his franchise recount with a shout-out to Tilly. As the single constant of the series (other than Don), he repeatedly pointed out that his participation was apart from the others, stuck in a recording booth, and the experience started to wear on him. That changed when Tilly got into the voice-acting role; and despite the fact that she then proceeded to blow-off her lines, she did bring some fun back to his corner of the production. Well, I thought it was cute, anyway.
Fanservice is a hard target to miss, when this much time has gone into working out what enduring fans want. The fact that Universal was convinced to keep the Chucky wagon rolling should be a confidence builder, I’d like to think; but it likely doesn’t matter what I think. The title refers as much to the fanbase, as it does the film’s plot.
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