The benefactor of New York’s weary is a drug lord (in McCloud: The Great Taxicab Stampede) who runs a cab company. Los Angeles is dominated (literally, with rooftop guns in a surreal image) by a drug lord who is a construction magnate. “The cure” for the wretched starving masses below, in their slimebed of lawlessness, is a powdery concoction of “blow” called Fatal Beauty.
His shopping malls and trade recall another McCloud centered on the ruins of the ’64 World’s Fair, “Showdown at the End of the World”. He dispatches his security man to dog an LAPD detective on the case. Money buys the able esteemed private hired gun’s silence, she brings him around.
A formulation of the Deadly Cutes, for a time in which no atrocity is spared on behalf of children, the answer to E.T. the Extraterrestrial, the Star Wars robots, Saturday morning cartoons in the present age, and Pixar.
A fleeing criminal possessed of voodoo powers transfers his soul into a doll with his dying breath and becomes a child’s toy, murdering the babysitter and anyone else who gets in its way.
Holland’s transpositions are half the film. The New York Times all but named the Twilight Zone episodes (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, “The Dummy”) set down in the little boy’s plight when no-one will believe him, it was Chucky that did the deed. The boy is confined to a state hospital, and thither Chucky goes to silence him, exactly like Dracula and Renfield.
Murderous Chucky with a knife evokes another episode of The Twilight Zone, “Living Doll”, and the Herbert Lom segment of Roy Ward Baker’s Asylum.
Best of all, Holland eats his cake while having it. Chris Sarandon as a Chicago police detective is convinced of the truth when Chucky tries to throttle him in his car, which careers wildly and overturns, leaving him to fend off Chucky’s continued knife attacks from outside the car, circling around, until a bullet dissuades the thing. Upside down in his car at night on a city street, after racing through traffic out of control, nearly stabbed to death by a doll, the detective emits a well-deserved sigh.