It might be a little hard to believe, but this Friday, November 9th marks the 30th anniversary of the theatrical opening of Child's Play, the terrifying horror film that introduced the world to a serial killer trapped inside a little toy's plastic body.
While the character of Chucky may now be as comforting and familiar as eggs and toast for breakfast (the franchise has currently reached seven films), there was a time, 30 years ago, when this little creature's debut shocked audiences. And given the panache with which his movements and facial features were pulled off, filmmakers can still learn quite a bit about technologically advanced effects that resonate to this day.
In the above behind-the-scenes video, shot for the 20th anniversary DVD release in 2008, we get a glimpse of the painstaking process that brought Chucky to life. Kevin Yagher, then an up-and-coming technician who was most well known for working on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, was tasked with the overall production of Chucky, its facial and body movements lining up to produce a cohesive whole (thanks, of course, to numerous puppeteers controlling each element of intricate, subtle movement).
Almost archaic now but happily lo-fi and stunted, the Chucky animatronic, in all its forms, represents the merging of animation and technology, concept and execution. What was once (back in 1988) created practically, has now become washed over with the impersonalness of CGI. The video above is like a time capsule where the purity of the idea merged (almost) effortlessly with the commitment of the team capable of pulling it off.
To further satisfy your horror fix, check out these other No Film School articles that dive deep into the genre.