When the first episode of Chucky airs this week on both SYFY and USA Network it will arrive just ahead of the franchise's 33rd Anniversary. Few horror franchises can make the claim that the continuity that started in the 1980s is not only still going in 2021, but that the original creator also remains involved in a key role. Screenwriter turned TV showrunner Don Mancini has been steering the Chucky ship for decades now, previously writing then directing the feature films with the character, his sole directorial credits are for three of the seven Chucky movies, and now he's bringing the tiny murder doll onto television screens around the world.
Ahead of the debut of the new series, simply titled Chucky, no "____ of" or "Child's Play" to be seen, Mancini spoke with ComicBook.com about how the show picks up from the last film in the main series (2017's Cult of Chucky), how the 2019 reboot of the franchise (which he wasn't involved with) almost derailed plans for the franchise, and how he continues to think about zany ideas for the character (perhaps including going to space and a crossover with Freddy Krueger of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise).
Continuing Cult of Chucky
ComicBook.com: Being a fan, my first question really is how much of the narrative that became this show was perhaps what you had in mind branching off of what the ending of Cult of Chucky was?
Don Mancini: Oh, I had a fairly solid plan even when I was writing Cult of Chucky. That's why I deliberately ended that movie with a series of cliffhangers to be left all of the major characters with a question mark. It was very Empire Strikes Back that way. But I knew that answering those questions and exploring the implications of where we left all of the characters, television was going to be a better place to explore all of that because it's so dense. There's so much going on. So yeah, I was sort of planning it out as back when I was writing Cult of Chucky four or five years ago. I'm just a little amazed that it all worked out because it's so rare, you know.prevnext
Chucky in space?
Now throughout the franchise, and you've spoken about this quite a bit, is that Chucky can be sort of a vessel or used as a metaphor for quite a bit of things. He lives in the theme of whatever you've decided your story is going to be. Have you come across a theme you can't fit him into?
I come across a theme... I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand.
Like bullying is kind of a big theme in the show. And then gender identity is a big one in Seed of Chucky. And then I feel like the Curse and Cult sort of deal with gas lighting, mental health, those sorts of things. So has there been a spark of an idea maybe that you were like, what about this and then you're like I don't know.
I don't think so. I mean, I'm trying to, I don't think I've ever come up with like, oh, Chucky couldn't possibly go there. I don't think so. And I think one of the great things about Chucky is that he's such a versatile character and we've found that he operates successfully in all kinds of different tones and sub genres, whether it's horror, or comedy, places in between. So I think as a character he's versatile enough and appealing enough and interesting enough that he could probably go anywhere even into outer space. Which is the one thing I think once I jokingly said something about sending Chuck into space, although I do think it would be a fun movie.prevnext
Well, you're at a point where there are so many Chuckys now, he's divided himself across multiple dolls. Why not?
Yeah. I mean, I think "X Goes to Space" is usually a barometer for jumping the shark. But I mean, who wouldn't want to see Chucky in a little space suit with a helmet, sort of like floating.prevnext
Now you have an episode in the show that you've referred to as your stealth Halloween episode. Was putting Chucky in a Halloween setting something you've wanted to do before?
Well, in a way there were two stealth Halloween episodes. Yes, episode two, but also episode... Have you seen four?
You've seen episode four. Because of the hospital.
That's true. That's technically Halloween 2, right.
That's Halloween 2, exactly. And we make little nods to some lighting things, specific lighting and cinematography things from Halloween too. But I felt like I stepped on your question. Yeah, so yes-
Have you always wanted to put Chucky in a story set on Halloween?
Yes. Yes. It just seemed like a no brainer. And over the years it's been really fun to see the various Chucky and Tiffany and Glenn costumes. And Halloween's a big deal here in LA. And of course it's like sometimes I go to Santa Monica Boulevard and it is fun to see all of that. And I feel like Chucky has become kind of an ambassador for the Halloween season and the horror genre in a way, because there's something charming about it and likable. Because he's funny, but he also he's been through a lot. He has a family and a kid who he accepted his kids' gender fluidity. So the idea of embracing Halloween and Chucky just seemed irresistible.
And I especially loved the aesthetic of it, not just the concept of it. And then as you saw the whole... I mean, one of my favorite things is Chucky getting across town on Halloween night by simply dawning a Hello Kitty mask and going out. And you just think that he's just blends in with all the other toddlers. And you're like, oh, that can't be good. I mean, I feel like that kind of sums up the appeal of the Chucky franchise in a way. Because it's scary and spooky, but it also makes you smile.prevnext
Yeah. Now this is a few years after Cult and in between then and now there was that one movie from 2019.
Sorry, I'm unfamiliar.
But did working on the show in that way feel for you like reclaiming him and this franchise, after that movie came out?
I did, sure. Yeah, because there was no way of knowing how that could impact what we've been doing for decades at Universal. And there was worry about it, it wasn't just me. It was also powers that be at the studio, like how much appetite is there going to be for this character? And if that movie had broken out, if it had been successful, then it could have harmed our plans. Fortunately, that didn't happen. So yeah, it felt go... Honestly, I'm at a point in my life where the main emotion I feel at junctures like that is just relief and gratitude and that we got to make our show. Seems like people are liking it. All good.
And I don't bear any resentment particularly against any of the people involved in that movie. They were doing a job. Although the producers, maybe I can bear a grudge for a while longer. But the direct... My understanding is that Lars is a nice guy. Certainly talented from what I hear, although I've not seen the movie because I just didn't want to. I just don't want to be distracted. That is just another thing. It's just this other version of my character out there, I don't want to be distracted or influenced by that.
Right. To wrap up, I have a very nerdy lure question for you with how it relates to the show. Which is that in Seed of Chucky, you get very meta and you establish that Tiffany is in the body of Jennifer Tilly, the actress. Is that a thread that will be referenced in the show?
Because Jennifer was on what Watch What Happens Live yesterday. And so they showed the scene from a later episode that makes it clear that what's going on is that Tiffany has taken over the body, life, career, and lifestyle of Jennifer Tilly. And she presents to the world as Jennifer Tilly and enjoys all of the social and financial cache that that gives her and allows her to do her demented stuff on the down low.
Right. Well, that's perfect because that's one of those plot threads that it seems so zany from 2005, that you're like, how can they possibly-
Well, it's so zany, in fact, that they're... Like in Cult of Chucky, I was explicitly made not to lean into that too much. Because they were afraid it was too zany. But I don't think it is. And again, that was another aspect of all of this that I feel like in a TV show, with eight hours of storytelling, that is the perfect venue with which to go crazy with that kind of thing. And really have fun with it.prevnext
All right. Well, real quickly, you've sort of teased before that perhaps crossovers would be a fun thing to explore with Chucky. Is that something that's even on your mind or is that something that you're having fun in your own sandbox?
Well, it's on my mind and it's something that I would enjoy doing, specifically with Freddy. I mean, I've long talked about a Freddy vs Chucky movie and I have a specific idea for it and I may have pitched it publicly, I can't remember. But I'm into the idea of that. The thing is it's different studios and people just generally don't want to go there, but if anyone wants to go there, I'm on board doing that.
I think Freddy and Chucky together could be great.0comments
Because they're both, well, they both talk. So there's that, they can have a relationship. And that's my interest in it, is the relationship between those characters and what that would be. I think that's really fun to contemplate.prev