A Night to Remember

High School Musical 3: Senior Year was simply too big to contain on the small screen. After the even bigger success of High School Musical 2, it was clear to Disney that the final installment deserved a theatrical release. Which meant bad news for parents. Since they now had to take their kids to see the movie. My parents were lucking, because not even its big screen status was enough to break me. They take full advantage of the higher budget by immediately showing the sweat on Zac Efron during the big game. High School Musical 3: Senior Year is as the title suggests, about the last chance East High students have before graduation. Before going to college and possibly parting ways. Troy and Gabriella are closer than ever before, but that big decision gets in the way. It also gets in the way of Troy and Chad’s friendship. They also have prom to think about, but the real focus is on a school musical within a musical of the same name. Sharpay and Ryan are no longer antagonistic because they’re all in this together after all. It’s just those real world adult decisions that make up the conflict. Although it’s still squeaky clean enough to maintain a G rating. Not even a scandal involving Vanessa Hudgens was enough to distract from it. Everything comes full circle at the end during graduation. When the entire cast sings about the joys of being in a high school musical. High School Musical 3: Senior Year makes me wish my school experience was this much fun. “What team?! Wildcats!”

High School Musical 3 Senior Year

“I wish my life could be a high school musical!”

Preceded by: High School Musical 2

What Time is it, Summer Time

High School Musical 2 dominated the summer. After the massive hit that was High School Musical, a sequel needed to be made immediately. I of course remember when High School Musical 2 came out as well. Still, I stayed away from the hype. Which was arguably even bigger than the first. In fact, the Disney Channel Original Movie’s premiere had the highest viewership of anything on TV at the time. Despite its title, High School Musical 2 doesn’t spend much time at high school. Instead school is out for the summer. Set to the beat of the even more infectious song “What time is it?” A song that was so big it reached Billboard success. It’s easily there best song and they put it at the very beginning. Even though they aren’t in school, the entire East High class works things out at Sharpay and Ryan’s country club. Sharpay’s intentions are somewhat more devious this time around. She only wants two things, all things fabulous and for Troy to sing with her instead of Gabriella. Her plan backfires since nothing could ever pull Troy and Gabriella apart. Except maybe the possibility of being accepted to play basketball at a prestigious college. That’s really the only obstacle in the sequel. While a club talent show is the big climax. Zac Efron actually sings this time and Vanessa Hudgens is much more comfortable in her role. More screen time given to characters like Chad or Ryan is also welcome. High School Musical 2 is just as carefree and energetic as summer should be. “What team?! Wildcats!”

High School Musical 2

“We’ve got to work this out!”

Preceded by: High School Musical & Followed by: High School Musical 3: Senior Year

We’re All in this Together

High School Musical is the most successful Disney Channel Original Movie ever made. As it was the first one that spoke to an entire generation. That’s no small feat for a made-for-TV movie. Regretfully, I wasn’t part of the High School Musical trend initially. I was 10 at the time and I remember the movie being a big deal. I just didn’t watch enough Disney Channel to have caught on to it. So I instead waited for the hype to die down before checking out the trilogy. High School Musical is all about the status quo and whether or not someone can break free and have other interests. Not exactly deep, but then again this is a very kid friendly teen movie. All his life Troy Bolton has been the basketball guy. It’s not until a chance encounter with Gabriella Montez that his musical talent shines through. She’s always been a brainy bookworm, but they both realize this is the start of something new. They both end up attending East High School where they must decide between who they’re expected to be and what they choose to be. All the while developing a cute relationship. Which is difficult when their friends (Chad and Taylor) and family try to keep them apart. Really the only antagonists are Sharpay Evans and her brother Ryan. Who simply want to keep their positions in the school musical. High School Musical is full of infectious songs that all became big hits. My favorite will always be the upbeat final song “We’re all in this together.” The TV movie was also responsible for launching the careers of several stars. Ashley Tisdale was already a Disney star, but Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens both got their start here. High School Musical was indeed a cultural phenomenon that will never be duplicated. “What team?! Wildcats!”

High School Musical

“We’re all in this together!”

Followed by: High School Musical 2

I’m Your Friend to the End

Child’s Play (2019) drops the supernatural angle in favor of something more high tech. That’s because Universal for some reason never obtained the rights to the original film. Since every 80’s era horror slasher has had an unnecessary remake by now, Chucky’s time had to come eventually. Despite the original continuity remaining in active development. Child’s Play (2019) is the only film in the franchise I saw in theaters since Seed of Chucky was the last theatrical release in over 15 years. Without the Charles Lee Ray part of the character, Chucky is now an evil robot. Although his reason for malfunctioning and killing is a bit weak. His appearance is also much uglier. Instead of “Good Guys,” Chucky is a “Buddi” doll. An advanced toy that can wirelessly connect to other Kaslan products. Which just ends up giving Chucky more power. The basic set up is the same. Andy’s mother gives him the doll for his birthday. Only Andy is a little old for dolls and Aubrey Plaza doesn’t seem very motherly. Andy is also hearing impaired and he’s given an It style group of friends just because. Mark Hamill is an ok Chucky, but no one can replace Brad Dourif. Chucky’s kills are creative, if a little drawn out. Plus the humor can go a little overboard at times. Since Chucky is already walking and talking, there’s not much of an element of surprise either. That being said, Child’s Play (2019) is still better than most pointless horror remakes that just do the same thing all over again.

Child's Play

Chucky looks over Andy

P.S. Being released the same day as Toy Story 4 can’t be a coincidence.

Remake of: Child’s Play (1988)

Triple Chucky

Cult of Chucky keeps the momentum going, but this time they go right back to comedy. Although not the franchise killing comedy that Seed of Chucky had. After Chucky was shot by Andy at the end of Curse of Chucky, it turns out that he’s not as dead as he seemed. Nica is sadly institutionalized and thus the movie becomes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with a killer doll in the background. Meaning Andy has to get to Chucky while avoiding a now human Tiffany. Kyle from Child’s Play 2 may show up as well. Cult of Chucky does manage to be creepy, but the quality of the doll has gotten a lot cheaper looking. That’s probably because of it once again being direct-to-video, but I think there’s another reason. SPOILER ALERT! I think it’s because there are now three Chucky’s! The title may suggest that there’s a cult of people that worship the killer doll, but it actually refers to a literal cult of Chucky’s. Since Chucky has now gained the ability to split his soul into multiple dolls. Classic Chucky, one-armed Chucky with wild hair and a drill, and a short haired Chucky. Cult of Chucky may get silly from time to time, but its dark humor certainly helps more than it hurts.

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The cult of Chucky

Preceded by: Curse of Chucky

Childish Things

Curse of Chucky finally brings Chucky back to his horror roots. After Seed of Chucky turned him into a joke, there hadn’t been a Child’s Play movie in nearly a decade. Most people assumed they would have made a remake by this point. Instead they surprised everyone with another sequel and despite being direct-to-video, it turned out really good. Curse of Chucky takes place 9 years later, when a mysterious package winds up in the possession of Nica. A woman in a wheelchair played by Brad Dourif’s daughter Fiona. Her unique characterization and link to Chucky quickly made her one of the series best characters. The package in question obviously contains a “Good Guys” doll. Although it looks brand new, an increase of death slowly makes it obvious that Chucky’s back, and he means business. SPOILER ALERT! Not only is Chucky back, but his stitches are as well. They were hidden under a layer of plastic. While Chucky’s motivation is actually linked to his previous life as Charles Lee Ray. Which ultimately lead to his death. In the end it’s revealed that Tiffany is also still around and helping Chucky take revenge on the people who wronged him. As if that wasn’t enough, Andy finally returns as well. Curse of Chucky is the tense Chucky movie they needed from the start. With plenty of callbacks to keep fans invested.

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Alice sleeps with her Chucky doll

Preceded by: Seed of Chucky & Followed by: Cult of Chucky

Get a Load of Chucky

Seed of Chucky uses its already campier tone and takes it way too far. Unlike all other installments, Seed of Chucky is actually directed by its creator, Don Mancini. Which doesn’t seem to be saying much. At the end of Bride of Chucky, Chucky stabbed Tiffany and Chucky was shot. The only piece of them to survive was their surprise offspring. Which turns out to be a gender confused pacifist with the voice of Billy Boyd named Glen (or Glenda?). As if that wasn’t a dumb decision enough, Seed of Chucky suddenly takes place in the “real world.” With movie prop versions of Chucky and Tiffany being brought to life. Their plan this time around is to kidnap actress Jennifer Tilly, impregnate her so that Tiffany and Glen have bodies to possess, meanwhile Chucky plans to possess rapper Redman. I wish I was making this up, but that’s seriously what happens. Despite being killers they also vow to stop killing. Well Tiffany does at least since she’s the somewhat softer one. All the while Chucky kills celebrities like Britney Spears. Chucky used to be a doll of menace. Funny, but still ruthless. Seed of Chucky is easily the most embarrassing chapter in the Child’s Play series.

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Chucky and Tiffany have a word with Glen

Preceded by: Bride of Chucky & Followed by: Curse of Chucky

Chucky Gets Lucky

Bride of Chucky drops the “child” part of its title and makes things much more adult. By giving Chucky an equally psychotic bride. My mom actually warned us against watching it for that reason. Since it’s much more bloody and sexual. After Child’s Play 3 failed to keep the franchise going, it was time for a radical change of pace. Bride of Chucky begins one month after Chucky was shredded in an amusement park. His remains are recovered by Tiffany Valentine, who turns out to be Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend who was never mentioned until this point. Taking obvious cues from Bride of Frankenstein (they even show her watching the movie), Bride of Chucky turns Tiffany into a killer doll as well. As a human, Tiffany seems like nothing more than a criminal’s bimbo girlfriend, but she’s actually more deadly than she looks. As a doll, Tiffany has bleach blonde hair, too much makeup, a white wedding dress, and a black leather jacket. This time around Chucky has a stitched up face. Not a bad look, but it’s a little obvious. Which is what makes Bride of Chucky so different. It’s much more meta. With jokes made about the movie’s themselves and even references to other horror franchises. Jennifer Tilly’s natural soft spoken voice makes her perfect for Tiffany and her banter with Chucky is the best part of the movie. Unfortunately the rest of it is too generic slasher movie. With forgettable teenage protagonists Jade and Jesse. Bride of Chucky makes far better use of its new killer couple.

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Chucky and Tiffany go in for the kill

Preceded by: Child’s Play 3 & Followed by: Seed of Chucky

Look Who’s Stalking

Child’s Play 3 takes things to a very unlikely location for a horror movie, military school. Although it was released a year after Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3 takes place 8 years later. Chucky is reborn once again after being a mere exploded hunk of plastic. Since his blood entered the machinery. Chucky tracks down a now 16 year old Andy enrolled in military school. Andy is still haunted by the past, but trying to move on and maybe get a girlfriend. So it basically becomes Full Metal Jacket with a killer doll in the background. Not that there isn’t at least one kid in the movie. A black kid named Tyler that Chucky now plans to possess. In some ways it seems like Child’s Play 3 was just made too fast. You can tell that Chucky’s overall design has gotten a lot uglier. Military school is an interesting change of pace, but it defeats the purpose of calling it a slasher movie if the killer uses a gun. While the carnival climax is a bit more fitting, it does seem kind of last minute. Child’s Play 3 is also tragically linked to a horrific true crime story. I would agree that since I was still young at the time, parts of the sequel started to become too much for me. Child’s Play 3 is no laughing matter.

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Chucky breaks out the shaver

Preceded by: Child’s Play 2 & Followed by: Bride of Chucky

Sorry Jack… Chucky’s Back!

Child’s Play 2 is one of a few genuinely effective slasher movie sequels. Two years after Chucky was burned, dismembered, and shot through the heart, the idiotic PlayPals Company responsible for “Good Guys” have him rebuilt. Thus giving Chucky new life. The events of Child’s Play also negatively affect Andy’s life. His mom is sadly institutionalized and Andy is left in foster care, but he can’t help but to feel like Chucky is not too far behind. Which he is even though no one believes him. Chucky once again plans to swap his soul with Andy, but he might not be so successful this time around. Child’s Play 2 isn’t just the same thing all over again. Chucky is a lot more ruthless and creative in his kills this time. He uses weapons like a classroom yardstick and a knife for a hand. Some of the images in the sequel are just as iconic as the original. Plus the humor has gotten much more over-the-top. Not that it can’t still be a little creepy. Child’s Play 2 also introduces final girl Kyle. Andy’s foster sister who helps him fight back against Chucky. Everything eventually leads to a final confrontation in the “Good Guys” doll making factory. I was still pretty young when I saw the sequel, and even though it’s much more intense, I still watched it just as much as the original. Child’s Play 2 shows that Chucky ain’t playing around.

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Chucky breaks out the yardstick

Preceded by: Child’s Play & Followed by: Child’s Play 3