When I was 6 years old I rushed out of my bedroom to share a funny story with my mom. She was talking to her friend in the living room and the TV was quietly on providing just enough background noise to block out the chaos of us kids. I don’t remember what was so hilarious at the time to cause me to run to her, but I do remember the moment that followed. I remember it so vividly because it would traumatize me for the rest of my life.
Before I could say a word, something caught my attention on the TV and within 30 seconds I was curled up in a ball on the couch, clinging to my mother’s arm in utter terror. The show was Entertainment Tonight but the thing that would haunt my dreams for decades to come was the infamous doll Chucky.
The thought never even occurred to me that my beloved teddy bear or any other toy could possibly come to life and kill, but from that day forward I saw the world differently. Though I would never actually watch the Child’s Play movies until I was 19, those 30 seconds of footage along with the image of Chucky on the VHS tapes at the video rental stores, fueled my imagination with terror.
At first Chucky would appear in my nightmares each week until eventually he only showed up when I had internal turmoil. By the time I was in high school I figured out he represented whatever my current problem was and how well I was handling it. If I was running away from my problems in real life, I found myself running away from Chucky. If I was ready to tackle a problem head on, I found myself stabbing him, or setting him on fire. Eventually, we even became friends and would sit on the couch together watching TV… I still don’t know what that means.
Everything changed when my family took a trip to Universal Studios and I saw how movies were made. I’m not sure if it is in my imagination but I remember our tour bus driving past a glass case with chucky dolls on display and I became fascinated. By the time I was 9 years old, I began checking out books from our local library on film techniques and became fascinated with the practical effects in Star Wars, and Jaws.
In 2012 I started to focus my artistic exploration towards stop-motion animation, essentially building dolls to animate in my dark home studio. Last year it hit me… I was overcoming my fear of dolls by controlling them through my art. While doing research on animatronics for my movie The Spaceman, I watched the making of Child’s Play and found a new respect for these filmmakers who unknowingly tortured my childhood. The creativity and craftsmanship that went into making this classic horror film was remarkable.
Next month I will begin filming a new short film about Nightmares called 3 Keys. Through filmmaking I am exploring this concept more directly and have even commissioned a terrifying clown doll marionette along with other puppets to try and conquer this fear once and for all. Maybe that’s what the creators of Child’s Play were doing back in 1988 or maybe they just wanted to make the scariest movie possible. Either way I hope I don’t send another kid down the same terrifying path Chucky gave me.
I’ll be posting behind the scenes stills and concept art for my new movie soon. Keep checking back for updates.