The Chucky films made a name for their unexpected blend of slasher and comedy. And despite all its ups and downs, the franchise’s movies remain an icon of the horror movie genre. If you’re in the mood for a freaky film night that will make you check your child’s plaything, here are the Chucky movies in order.
Child’s Play (1988)
The first film in the franchise takes place in Chicago, opening with Detective Mike Norris chasing after the serial killer Charles Lee Ray. Norris badly shoots up Ray who hid in a toy store and used voodoo magic to try and survive. When Norris finally catches up to Ray, he finds only the serial killer’s dead body and does not realize Ray has possessed a nearby Good Guy Doll.
Salesclerk Karen Barclay buys the particular doll for her son Andy. Soon, a series of murders occur around the mother and son, drawing Norris’ attention. At the same time, Andy realizes that his doll has a life of its own, and he might be more sinister than he thinks.
The film that started the franchise, Child’s Play won praise from critics, who applauded the film for giving a new spin to the slasher genre. The famous film critic Roger Ebert, in particular, described the film as an “energetic horror”. Critic Caryn James made a similar remark, lauding how Child’s Play managed to keep its audience perpetually on the edge of their seats.
That said, not all critics liked the film, with Dave Kehr even calling it “relentlessly stupid”. The film also caused controversy from child welfare activists, who even protested at MGM, claiming that the film could incite violence.
Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Set two years after the first film, Chucky’s maker, the Play Pals Company, reassembles him as part of a publicity shoot to disprove the events of the first film. Unknown to the public, Chucky’s reassembly caused an accident that even killed one employee. The company covers this up, all to rebuild its public image and sales. They’ve also sent Andy’s mother, Karen, to a mental hospital after she refused to cooperate.
Now alive once more, Chucky tracks Andy who is in a foster family for revenge. Together with Kyle, his foster sister, they must put a stop to Chucky’s new evil rampage.
In contrast to its predecessor, Child’s Play 2 received a mixed response from critics. Many critics praised the film for doing away with the first film’s premise and moving to a new location. This, they argue, allowed the film to stand on its own. But on the other hand, some critics pointed out how the film failed to amuse the audience.
Audiences loved the film, with Child’s Play 2 remaining one of the most popular films of the franchise to date.
Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Set eight years after Child’s Play 2, the Play Pals Company once again resumes the production of Good Guy Dolls. This once again allows Chucky to return to life, and in an act of irony, claims the company’s CEO as his first victim. Chucky then uses the company’s resources to find Andy, now a cadet at a military academy.
Seeing the academy as a challenge, Chucky makes his way in by befriending a young cadet and committing trickery to turn cadets and instructions against each other. With everyone else oblivious to the true culprit, Andy must find a way to survive and hopefully end Chucky’s menace once and for all.
Child’s Play 3 received more negative feedback from critics, with many describing the film as perverse. The film also polarized audiences, with the film’s disappointing reception causing the franchise to fall into a lull for the next seven years.
It also attracted controversy, after the murder of James Bulger in Britain, with the victim’s body splashed with blue paint much as Chucky did to his victims. Police investigators later disproved the connection between the murder and the film, but only after the franchise suffered a public backlash from the supposed connection. That said, not all critics saw the film negatively, with one critic even calling the film a fun entry in the franchise.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
A month has passed since the events of Child’s Play 3 when Ray’s girlfriend Tiffany Valentine finds his doll body’s remains. Realizing Ray lives on as Chucky, Tiffany puts him back together. Their sweet reunion was short-lived, however. After an argument, Chucky kills Tiffany and transfers her soul into another doll.
Chucky and Tiffany then set out to find new victims, particularly a suitable couple they can use to become human again. This, however, presents complications for their plans, as their victims don’t plan on going down without a fight.
Bride of Chucky took the franchise in a new direction, first by introducing a new character, Tiffany. It also made Chucky and Tiffany the film’s villain protagonists, instead of their victims. The film met mixed reviews from critics, with some accusing the franchise of becoming so desperate as to sink to self-parody to stay alive.
Other critics, though, saw the film as a reinvention of the franchise by mixing horror with comedy. The film’s director, Ronny Yu, particularly received praise for taking the insanity of the film’s premise and making the most out of it. Bride of Chucky also enjoyed financial success, having the highest gross earnings out of any film in the entire franchise.
Seed of Chucky (2004)
Six years have passed since the previous film, with Chucky and Tiffany’s son Glen having settled down in Britain. Despite his existence as a magically-animated doll, Glen lives content with himself, posing as a dummy for a ventriloquist. His peaceful life ends, however, when he watches a horror film from the USA starring the reassembled bodies of his parents.
Wanting to get to know his parents, Glen travels to the USA. There, he finds Chucky and Tiffany, using voodoo magic to bring them back to life. The three dolls must now come to terms with each other. In particular, Glen soon realizes he has a murderous alter ego of his own named Glenda.
Seed of Chucky received mixed reviews from critics, with Roger Ebert describing it as watching two films at the same time, one wretched, and the other funny. Other critics described the franchise as having given up on making sense, resulting in a simply unentertaining film.
That said, the film did enjoy financial success, making $24 million against a budget of $12 million. It also opened as the number four film during its opening weekend between November 11 and 14, 2004. Seed of Chucky also became the last Chucky film to appear in theaters until 2019, with films until then instead released in the direct-to-video format.
Curse of Chucky (2013)
Set in 2013, Chucky arrives by mail at the home of Sarah and Nica Pierce. Almost immediately, Sarah seemingly commits suicide later that night. Unknown to Nica and her relatives, Chucky murdered Sarah. He manages to pin the blame on Nica, who quickly discovers the truth.
Nica struggles to clear her name, something made difficult by how insane it appears. Unknown to everyone else, Chucky’s girlfriend Tiffany has returned to a human body. This lets her plot go unnoticed to track down Andy, and finally settle the score between him and Chucky.
Curse of Chucky received positive reviews from critics, who particularly praised the film for going back to the basics. Ryan Larson especially praised the film for never having a dull moment, with the film’s direct-to-video format as its only negative point. This led the film to receive theatrical re-releases in several countries, such as Brazil.
Other critics similarly called the film nostalgia fuel for other horror films of the ’80s and ’90s. Andy’s surprise return was also met with praise from both critics and the audience. The film was moderately successful, making $3.8 million against a budget of $2.8 million.
Cult of Chucky (2017)
Set in the same year as its release, Andy has managed to imprison Chucky, and now regularly tortures him as revenge. Meanwhile, Nica remains in a mental hospital, where she attends disturbing therapy sessions using a Good Guy doll. Tiffany later visits the hospital, after which a series of murders takes place, leading Nica to suspect Chucky’s presence.
Andy later arrives to investigate rumors of Chucky’s involvement in the hospital. This, in turn, causes Tiffany to visit again and help Chucky against his old nemesis. Unknown to them all, however, Chucky can now possess multiple bodies, letting him act in many places at the same time.
Like its predecessor, Cult of Chucky received positive reviews from critics, who praised the film for not just keeping the franchise alive, but also doing it so well. Stephen Dalton particularly praised the film for not lingering on any one murder but constantly keeping the plot moving. He also praised the subtle use of cliches like psychopathic lesbians at the mental hospital, which somehow worked to give audiences a guilty pleasure to enjoy.
Child’s Play (2019)
A reboot of the franchise, the film starts in Vietnam, where an overworked employee sabotages the production line of new robotic Buddi children’s dolls. One of those dolls eventually reaches a boy named Andy in the USA and identifies itself as Chucky. While Chucky starts as friendly and supportive, he soon begins to develop psychopathic traits.
This leads to a series of murders, which Chucky claims to commit to protecting Andy. However, he soon plots to reprogram other Buddi dolls to have similar personalities to his own. Andy and his friends must now work together to stop Chucky, and end his menace before it spreads.
The reboot received mixed reviews from critics. Some called it more playful and nastier than the original, while others described it as a perfect example of what a reboot should look like. It enjoyed financial success, making $45 million worldwide against a $10 million budget.
That said, many critics disliked the film. They particularly slammed the film for unsubtle criticism of the digital age and modern consumerist culture.