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Cult of Chucky director Don Mancini talks Chucky's past and future!

10.03.2017by: Eric Walkuski

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Don Mancini wants to f*ck with your head. His words, not mine, but seeing CULT OF CHUCKY - the seventh film in the Child's Play/Chucky franchise - it's clear he means business. The end of the film has a high "WTF?!" quotient, which I'm all for. Just when it seems a series like this might not have any steam left in it, Mancini and co. have decided to go all-out and shake things up in a crazy way. For major Chucky fans, CULT OF CHUCKY will likely be a breath of fresh air, while the casual horror fan might not be sure what the hell to do with it.

So yes, with CULT OF CHUCKY Mancini aims to not only f*ck with your head, but set his little monster on a brand new path toward a new series of films. What these films will look like is hard to say, given the weirdness of CULT's finale, but die-hards like myself will be very curious to see where Chucky ventures next, to say the least.

As the movie just hits Blu-ray and gets ready to debut on Netflix and AMC's Fearfest, Mancini and I discuss the past and future of the franchise, including whether or not we might see The Chuck on the big screen again and if Mancini will one day be ready to say goodbye.

When you were making the first CHILD'S PLAY, did you already have ideas for sequels, or were you just like, "Let's get this one done first."

I did, especially on the first one because the script was reworked by John Lafia and Tom Holland, so there were things in my original script that didn't make it into the first movie. My first dream about sequels was, "I can use the factory," because the factory was a big thing in my original script that didn't make it into the first movie. The set-piece with someone getting killed while they're in the bubble bath with the TV going in, causing all the bubbles to waft, that was in my original script, the way the babysitter died. Tom Holland changed the details of that and had her go out the window, which was awesome in and of itself. It's one of the nice things about having a franchise, these ideas that fall by the wayside you can just put in a file and pull them out for later.

I always try to approach it in terms of character, really, and not just Chucky's character, but also in the first three movies Andy Barclay, I was just trying to track that character's evolution. Of course now we've brought him back into the fold with Curse and really a lot more with Cult. As a writer, it's great to be able to revisit these characters and see where they are in their lives, and how they've been affected by past traumas. And also to set these characters on collision courses with one another, characters from disparate parts from the franchise, and to see what happens, what combustion might happen, when you put them together. That was really fun too.

What's cool is that you can put Chucky into many different sub-genres and still make him work.

That's exactly the way I think of it. I don't want to make the same movie more than once, and he's a very versatile character. You can plug him into straight-forward horror, you can plug him into the old dark house movie, which we did with Curse, you can plug him into parodistic comedy as we did in Bride, meta-comedy as in Seed. He's a very versatile character. With this one, we tried to plug him into the mental hospital sub-genre, the mindf*ck sub-genre, a tricky psychological thriller where we're screwing with the characters' heads and, by extension, the audience's heads. That was the intent, anyway, and it seems like so far the response is quite positive.

You've said this film is a game-changer for the franchise, considering how it ends. Can you elaborate on that and how do you see the series changing going forward?

I can't get too specific, because it will not only spoil the future but spoil Cult of Chucky, but it's just what we've been talking about, always wanting to be surprising. I've said in other interviews, I find writing sequels very interesting beasts. They provide you with opportunities to subvert audience expectation, because when you come to a sequel, you come with a lot of baggage, you have all kinds of expectations based on what's come before. To me, that provides us with a very unique opportunity to f*ck with the viewer's head! That's what we hope to do again going into the future. Again, can't say too much, but people reading reviews know that where we end up is somewhere extremely new and different from anything we've done before. Hopefully that sets up us for our new path.

What do you think the chances are we'll see Chucky on the big screen again some day in the future?

I'd like to think that they're decent. It's something I would love to do. It really comes down to money, to be honest. It's just getting more and more difficult, or pricey, to fund theatrical releases. From my perspective, I just want to make a good movie, and the rest of it is out of my hands as to how it's going to be seen. I'm certainly gratified Cult - because the response was so positive out of London - we're going to be playing a lot more film festivals around the world over the next few weeks. I'm glad some people will be able to see it with an audience, because horror movies are, by design, audience movies. That's the ideal place to experience them. All I can do is make the best movie possible and pass the results on to distribution and marketing people and they'll do with it what they will. But I think the chances are decent.

Curse of Chucky was our first time straight to video, and initially I was a little disappointed. It was always designed to be one, we knew going in where we were headed, and I think my initial reaction was that I was disappointed, like I had been demoted to the minor leagues, but there's also something to be said about being a big fish in a small pond. The reaction to the movie was great, and that was very gratifying, so ultimately it's up to the audience. If people want to see it on the big screen, rent this up the wazoo!

Can you picture handing the reins to someone else? Do you ever see a time when you're not in control of Chucky's fate?

Well, sure. That's inevitable. Whether or not that happens next movie or five movies from now or after I'm dead... [Laughs] It is inevitable. This character and franchise will outlive me, but for the time being I feel very proprietary about it, and I also love it. As a lifelong horror fan, I'm always thrilled that this character I created has been embraced by horror audiences... I just really love the character, and I really love the opportunity to keep building on this elaborate, 30-year, seven film mythology, and I'm pretty proud of what we've done. We have this fairly consistent mythology that we've built up over 30 years with a lot of the same people involved. David (producer David Kirschner) and I, in some of our more grandiose moments think of ourselves as the Broccolis of the horror genre; just as the Broccoli family has steered the Bond franchise for decades, so we have stayed in control of this. So far it seems like the audience feels like that's a good thing. As long as the audience keeps responding positively, I want to keep doing it.

Do you think Brad will follow you until the end?

I think so, yeah. We're really good friends, and I'm really good friends with Fiona (Dourif), Jennifer (Tilly) and Alex (Vincent). That aspect of it is important to David and I as well, I really like the family aspect that we've built up. That's the thing, it's all very personal to all of us. We're all very passionate about it, it's not just people making a product. We really care about it and want it to be good. I think I could speak for Brad that as long as I'm involved he'll keep doing it. And vice versa. The thought of replacing him is ridiculous, he's such an integral part of the franchise. Brad is Chucky. The reviews out of London have been, "Oh wow, he's awesome in this role."

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Extra Tidbit: What did you think of CULT OF CHUCKY?

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