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Child's Play (1988): The Don Mancini Cut

Dwight Fry

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Just in time for Halloween arrives...

When writer Don Mancini penned the early drafts of what would become Child's Play, he had something quite different in mind. Originally developed as "Batteries Not Included", then retitled "Blood Buddy" before settling on "Child's Play", Mancini's approach had several key differences from the finished film. For starters, there was no Charles Lee Ray and no voodoo, the doll was a sort of catalyst for Andy's darker traits (this all would get carried over to the 2019 remake, in quite a few ways closer to Mancini's story than the original film was), and most important, for quite a good chunk of the story the narrative played up the ambiguity of whether Chucky was actually alive or it was all in Andy's mind. Which in my mind is way more interesting than the structure that director Tom Holland and/or additional screenwriter John Lafia ended up using by starting the film with Charles Lee Ray becoming Chucky. The movie as released is highly enjoyable but also kind of frustrating, knowing that it could have been so much more.

So, enter this edit, which aims to recreate as much as the original structure as posdible. While Mancini's structure can't be entirely reconstructed (both Charles Lee Ray and the voodoo stay, both for consistence with the rest of the series and for lack of any alternative material to replace them), the film is now once again a mystery for a good portion of its running time, by moving the Ray scene to much later as a flashback, trimming the early kills to avoid showing that it's Chucky doing it, removing all early indications of the doll being anything else than just a harmless toy, and having the reveal exactly where Mancini wanted it: when the mom discovers the unused batteries.

This edit was an old idea of mine, the "maybe to do some day" sort, but after watching @robulon 's Terminator: The Hunt for Sarah Connor (sadly still unapproved despite its very high quality), which pretty much applied the same restructuring to The Terminator, I decided to move this one forward and have it out for Halloween. So a big thank you to him both for the inspiration and for some highly valuable feedback and ideas.

CUT LIST:

- Added FE.org logo at the start.

- Removed the Charles Lee Ray scene to be used much later in the film.

- Added customized credits in the style of the originals to the scene of Andy preparing breakfast.

- Cut Chucky turning his head to pay attention to the news report. Slowed down a shot of a still Chucky to cover the gap.

- Cut Andy asking Chucky why he is not looking at him, and Chucky turning his head again and saying "Hey, wanna play?" Replaced the music cue from the movie playing on TV with the same cue taken from the original film (if you are curious, it's 1960's "The Boy and the Pirates") to get rid of the sounds of Andy playing with the toy tools.

- Tweaked the audio of the line "Aunt Maggie, Chucky wants to watch the nine o'clock news" so the word "news" does not stand out so much as obviously taken from a different take and quite crudely spliced in.

- Cut Andy asking Chucky if he wants to see his room.

- Cut Andy telling Chucky about Maggie getting angry if he watched the news, then kissing Chucky goodnight and going to sleep.

- Shortened shot of Chucky running in the background before the Maggie kill so it is less clear who it is. Tweaked the pitch of Chucky's breathing sounds so they sound less like those of a grownup.

- Cut scene of Andy noticing the flour on Chucky's soles.

- Trimmed the end of the scene of Andy and Chucky in bed while Karen listens behind the door, to avoid showing Chucky moving his head in a too revealing way.

- Heavily trimmed the Eddie Caputo kill to get rid of the shots of Chucky's hands inside the house, and of Andy outside. Once Andy leaves to "go tinkle", that's the last we see of him and of Chucky in the scene. Chucky's offscreen laugh to startle Eddie is replaced with the sound of a falling pan hitting the ground.

- Cut Mike and Karen's exchange about Charles Lee Ray's last words to him (out of necessity, as I had to cut those last words from the actual scene due to the original credits rendering the shots unusable).

- Charles Lee Ray scene, trimmed and turned to B&W, used as a flashback depicting Mike's memories while he drives, right before getting attacked by Chucky.

- Cut elevator scene with the neighbors ("ugly doll"). It is kind of a non-sequitur, and showing neighbors in the building sort of have the unconscious effect in the viewer of making Andy feel less isolated and devoid of help while Chucky is going for him.

- Trimmed the fireplace climax to have Andy be more proactive. He doesn't just stand there watching for so long, and reaches for the matches without Karen having to tell him to do so.

Edit is now available!

* Despite the title, it goes without saying that Mr. Mancini had no involvement in the making of this edit.
 
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Amazing!! What a great surprise for Halloween. Sounds like a great idea DF, looking forward to seeing this!
 
Thanks for the shout out! Glad I could help. Was so impressed with the speed you pulled this all together. A perfect watch for these spooky October nights 👻
 
Thanks for the shout out! Glad I could help. Was so impressed with the speed you pulled this all together. A perfect watch for these spooky October nights 👻
Thanks to you for your priceless help! To be honest I did rush this one out, I wanted to make it available for Halloween, otherwise some more months of tweaking and endless doubting of myself might have followed 😅 And after all, if there are any issues detected I can always go back and do a bit of additional fine tuning...
 
Thanks for the shout out! Glad I could help. Was so impressed with the speed you pulled this all together. A perfect watch for these spooky October nights 👻
What the ??? There's only two left. Surely, you mean winter nights?
 
What the ??? There's only two left. Surely, you mean winter nights?
Ha! I guess I really have been conditioned by UK supermarkets to treat the 1st of November as the date all Halloween stuff must be packed away to begin the build up to Christmas! 😄
 
This edit freaking rocks!

I came into this completely cold. I had never watched a single one of these films. I was not even remotely interested. Seriously...asking for the suspension of disbelief long enough to even consider a doll as a serial slasher was a little too much for me. Check that box with the ludicrous Leprechaun and Troll movies. At least Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees kind of touched on possible realism in the first movies.

@Dwight Fry, my man (stolen from @L8wrtr)...you made this movie into a horror classic! The narrative choices that you made really worked. I loved the placement of the b&w flashback and the discovery of the batteries. If I hadn't know better, I would have thought this was the way the story would unfold. Your editing is seamless!

If it wasn't for my inability to suspend such disbelief for any amount of logical time, I would say that this a perfect edit. For your contribution to improving it..it is.

Thank you so much for allowing me to preview your art! And thank you for allowing me to create my art to represent your art. I'm honored. Try saying that fast, bud!
 
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Thanks sooo much, @ArtisDead ! So glad you enjoyed the edit that much! :) It's always enlightening to know how this plays for someone not familiar with the original. I know these movies so well that I can never be sure if what plays in my head gets properly translated to the edit and the intended effect is present. Happy to see it is!
 
Thanks SO much to @LastSurvivor for the very flattering review! It's always great to see that people enjoy one's work, but when it is one of my favorite editors, whose work I've consistently loved and admired through the years, that's high praise indeed! So happy that you liked this so much! :D
 
And a big thanks to @blueyoda for yet another highly flattering review! This little rushed edit seems to be delivering way beyond what I expected! :giggle:
 
Thanks a whole lot as well to @Ryantology for the kind review! I'm so happy I'm getting praise from some of the finest editors around!
 
You certainly deserved this award but you were up against a few very good edits, especially Halloween Returns...
 
You certainly deserved this award but you were up against a few very good edits, especially Halloween Returns...
I would have expected Halloween Returns to win easily. I mean, that was a tremendous job of seamless tweaking of shots. Comparatively I did nothing.
 
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