After watching characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface all get the remake/reboot treatment, Chucky remained the final holdout among the classic slasher villains.
For years, he was the only one whose franchise was left pure, so to speak. So it came as no surprise that some diehard fans (myself included) were incredibly apprehensive when a Child’s Play remake was announced.
However, others always felt like the original was quite cheesy, and wanted a new, grittier take. To its credit, the remake avoided the trap of succumbing to a shot-for-shot retread, and did bring quite a few new ideas to the table.
So in the interest of objectivity and horror fandom, we thought it would be fun to compare the two (in five different categories) and determine which one is definitely better.
Note: we’re only considering the 1988 original and the 2019 remake, not any of the other films in the overall franchise.
Round I – Protagonists
It’s a bit difficult to compare these two, because while Andy is the main character in the remake, his mother takes the primary role in the original. So we’ll be comparing them both.
The original movie sees a very young Andy, barely a kindergartener. So because of this, it’s hard to really develop him, and young Alex Vincent did the best he could, but again he was just a small child. His mom has a great protective quality over him.
However, she never really feels like that active a protagonist. Chucky definitely drives that movie’s plot.
The remake switches things up a bit, and gives us an Andy who is bit older, and able to carry the movie on his own for a while.
He and his mom have a great relationship and dynamic that’s built up early in the movie. Neither one of them is perfect, but it works because we always feel like they’re real people.
So when everything starts going wrong with Chucky, their conflict rooted in her not believing her son seems all the more plausible. And in the end, they have to rely on their strengths and wit to ultimately defeat him.
Round I Winner – 2019
Round II – Villain
Now for the main event, Chucky himself! And these two portrayals couldn’t be more different. After demonstrating just how creepy his voice can be as the Joker, Mark Hamill brought his sinister charm to an artificially intelligent Chucky that initially really just wants to be Andy’s friend.
In the beginning, he’s actually a bit sympathetic, as it’s clear that Chucky is only trying to help Andy, but his programming doesn’t come with certain boundaries.
Thus leading him to go way too far. It never feels like Chucky is evil for the sake of being so, rather he’s been jilted by who he thought was his best friend.
Brad Dourif’s original take on the character is simultaneously more simple and complex. He’s not all sympathetic, but because he’s the soul of a human, he’s very aware and conscious of everything he’s doing, which makes him all the more frightening.
Before being trapped in the Good Guy doll, Charles Lee Ray was known as the Lakeshore Strangler, and his sadism and brutality was the stuff of legend.
Sure the new Chucky starts out as Andy’s friend and acts out of some misguided sense of loyalty to him, but the original Chucky is a maniacal serial killer who attempts to kill Andy and take over his body.
Initially, he plays the part of the unsuspecting doll, but when he reveals his true self the level of evil and viciousness is off the charts!
Round II Winner – 1988
Some of the on the nose dialogue, and over the top acting makes it hard to take seriously at times.
Which wouldn’t be an issue if the film was going full comedy (which Bride of Chucky would later do to great success). Audiences love this classic for other reasons, to be honest.
And to be fair, this is one area in which the remake did make a noticeable improvement. It manages to take itself seriously in regards to the surveillance state aspect, but still has a sense of humor with its characters, thus getting the best of both tones.
Round III Winner – 2019
Round IV – Originality/Creativity
As admirable as it was that the remake took a more serious and relevant tone, this still doesn’t change the fact that it’s quite derivative in certain areas. Films like Small Soldiers had already done similar premises about toys with AI turning evil and wreaking havoc.
The whole plot feels very Black Mirror, which begs the question, why did it need to a Child’s Play remake? It’s an honest and legitimate question. This very same plot could have been done with a different title, and it would have been just as effective.
The primary reason they used the name Chucky, as well as the title Child’s Play, was to capitalize on the name recognition of the original franchise.
The original may have been cheesy at times, but the idea of a serial killer taking possession of a doll was relatively new.
Both voodoo horror and doll horror were rather limited at the time, and 1988’s Child’s Play spawned an entire franchise, as well as subgenre of horror in the years and decades that followed.
Round IV Winner – 1988
Round V – Kills
But of course, this slasher comparison wouldn’t be complete without a showdown of kills, so here goes! The remake certainly makes use of Chucky’s ability to tap into other machines and have them do his bidding.
It’s genuinely terrifying that he’s able to use drones and self-driving cars to act on his behalf. There’s also the infamous lawnmower scene. And while all of these kills are great in their own way, the original just has an 80’s brutality that can’t be matched.
Everything from throwing the babysitter out the window, to watching Chucky break his mentor’s legs via voodoo doll, to just how explosive and over the top Chucky’s own death is at the end. The 80’s were a decade of excess, and it certainly shows in this slasher classic!
Round V (and overall) Winner – 1988
This was honestly a much closer race than previously expected. And Child’s Play is fortunate to have a remake that is at least different, and doesn’t retreat the original in subpar quality. Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!