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Is 'Child's Play' (1988) A Christmas Movie?

by Steven Shinder 5 months ago in slasher · updated 5 months ago
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Some Pros and Cons

Every year, people have the heated debate (or meme) of whether or not Die Hard (hardly ever Die Hard 2: Die Harder) is a Christmas movie. But let's shake things up a little with something that is a bit more debatable: Is Child's Play (1988) a Christmas movie?

The case might be made more easily for the 2019 remake, which includes Christmas lights and whatnot. And I have even posed the question regarding Seed of Chucky here. But we are talking about the original Chucky movie here. One thing to take into account is whether the film has elements that feel Christmas-y. It may lack Christmas lights, but it definitely takes place in a snowy Chicago, perhaps even bringing to mind the later film Home Alone. (Imagine Chucky vs. Kevin McAllister. Wouldn't that be something?)

Another big element that evokes "Christmas" to some people is the gifts, especially in the form of toys. The colorful toy store certainly evokes the commercialist aspect that has been tied to Christmas for a while. While 6-year-old Andy Barclay's birthday is the occasion that is being celebrated, the act of gifting a toy to a boy who has been really good feels very in the spirit of the holidays. (Just look at how he tried making breakfast in bed for his mother on his birthday.) Karen Barclay's search for the Good Guy Doll her son wants, while not the entire plot of the film, might bring to mind Jingle All the Way.

Of course, we know how evil the toy actually is. And it is that evil that might keep people from thinking of this as a Christmas movie, seeing as how it's not really very wholesome. Though there is something to be said about Chucky standing in the fireplace, not too far off from the image of Santa Claus having come down the chimney to deliver Christmas gifts. Then again, Chucky gets burned alive. An unconventional Yule log, perhaps? It certainly brings the family together. Then again, Karen is taken to a psych ward after the events of this film Does all the mayhem throw the Christmas feel out the window?

Another thing to take into account that might lean a viewer one way or the other is the dates during which the film takes place. When the original film came out, viewers were not given a concrete indication of when it took place, with the snow being the only clue seemingly hinting at winter. In Child's Play 2, a file about Andy Barclay lists his date of birth as January 4, 1983, implying that his first fight against Chucky took place in January 1989. However, this was later retconned by Bride of Chucky, which contained a newspaper placing Charles Lee Ray's death on November 9, 1988 (the release date of the first film). That is relatively far away from December 25.

However, an internet article in Curse of Chucky would change the date once again, mentioning Charles Lee Ray's death as having taken place in the early morning of December 26, seemingly placing the original film's events as having taken place in the days following Christmas. Would this have made the original film more Christmas-y, given the close proximity to December 25? Or would it have been less Christmas-y, given that it takes place on days some consider non-Christmas in the secular world? Then again, there is Christmastide, which ends on January 5. (And would you look at that? Right after January 4, the original DOB presented for Andy in Child's Play 2!)

This change, however, becomes null by the time of the more recent Chucky TV series, which once again places Charles Lee Ray's date of death as November 9, 1989. So at the end of the day, one might need to ask themselves whether it is the dates or the overall "feel" and visual aesthetics that make the first Child's Play film a Christmas movie. Personally, I am leaning a bit toward no, but it would be so easy to make the first film a Christmas movie with just some tweaking here and there.

slasher

About the author

Steven Shinder

Author of fantasy horror comedy novel Lemons Loom Like Rain, which is available on Amazon. You can also read excerpts at stevenshinder.com and check out facebook.com/StevenShinderStorytelling.

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