There are limits, it seems, to the “take your daughter to work” idea.
Just ask Brad Dourif about the time his daughter Fiona visited, when he was voicing Chucky (the killer doll) for a “Child’s Play” movie.
“When she was very young, she came to the studio,” he told the Television Critics Association. That day, he was “screaming and yelling as I was being burned to death. And you can’t do that halfway …. So I was screaming in agony. And she heard this and went white as a sheet and ran out of the studio.”
It was one of many strange moments in a horror tale that has persisted for 33 years, eight movies and now an eight-week “Chucky” series — 10 p.m. Tuesdays on cable’s USA and Syfy channels, starting Oct. 12 — with Fiona (shown here) as a guest star.
Dourif, already an Oscar-nominee for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” did the original “Child Play” in 1988; with one exception, he’s been Chucky’s voice ever since. “I’m 71, so I have to constantly adjust for how my voice is,” he said.
And Fiona? No longer fleeing the room, she’s played Nica (Chucky’s paraplegic foe) in two movies and will return to the role in some of the series episodes.
The original film arrived nine days after Halloween. Fiona (born on the eve of Halloween in 1981) had just turned seven.
The idea came from Don Mancini, then a young scriptwriter amused by the fuss made over Cabbage Patch Kids and other dolls. He hoped to have a series about a killer doll; United Artists, then wobbling financially, planned it as a low-budget horror film.
Then word came that an Australian company was buying UA and wouldn’t do horror. UA dropped out; urges by Steven Spielberg, Universal took over. For 30-plus years, Chucky has had modest profits in movies … plus a videogame, a theme-park ride and this show on two of Universal’s cable channels.
(Ironically, the Aussie company never closed the deal and soon went bankrupt. So did UA, but it’s been revived several times since then.)
Throughout it all, Mancini has remained as the writer and creative force. The series – set in an idyllic town – has a chance to flash back to Chucky’s roots. “Exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origins has been something the fans have wanted to see and have been asking for, literally for decades,” he said.
Now the series lets him do that, he said. “Having so much storytelling real estate – eight hours of
‘Chucky’ – provided such a great opportunity for exploring that stuff,” he said.
He still has Dourif voicing Chucky and Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany Valentine. “Tiffany dies every single movie and she just keeps coming back,” Tilly said. “Chucky does, too.”
Despite the new setting, other previous characters show up.
“In the second half (of the series), Fiona Dourif comes in” as Nica, Tilly said. Also returning, she said, are Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay and Christine Elise as Kyle. “It goes bonkers from this point.”
Well, it’s always at least semi-bonkers. In Fiona’s first “Chucky” film (in 2013), the doll killed her sister and chased her; in the second, she was in a mental institution.
Tilly figures it must be “really strange hearing the voice of (her) dad going, ‘I’m going to kill you.’”
Replied Brad Dourif: “Nah, she’s heard that before.”