Chucky might now be the most famous horror movie doll, but he wasn’t the first. Earlier films such as the 1940 anthology Dead or Night or 1978’s Magic used spooky ventriloquist dolls to great effect, while the clown doll that terrifies poor Robbie in Poltergeist made for one of the best jump-scares of the 1980s.
However, the release of Child’s Play in 1988 took the scary doll trope in a far more gory and violent direction. The ’80s was the decade of the slasher movie, and with the huge success of that first movie, Chucky quickly joined the ranks of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers as one of the era’s best-loved slasher villains.
But while Child’s Play and the first sequel were big hits, they came right at the end of the slasher cycle, and the failure of Child Play 3 in 1991 meant the series lay dormant for several years. When series creator Don Mancini returned to the franchise in the late ’90s, the movies took on a more surreal, comedic slant. Chucky was still voiced by Brad Dourif, but he was the only truly consistent element in a series of movies that lurched from wild gross-out comedy to surreal gory horror and back again. If there’s one thing you can say about the Child’s Play series from that point, it’s never done the same thing twice.
The series is now getting a complete reboot, and the new Child’s Play hits theaters in June. Mark Hamill has taken over the role as Chucky, and the trailers so far suggest a very modern update the series, with Chucky now able to control appliances to aid his killing spree. But while Mancini is not involved with the new film, his version of Chucky will live on in a new TV show that he is developing for SyFy. It’s a good–if occasionally confusing– time to be a Chucky fan. With the latest Child’s Play reboot trailer released this week, here’s our rankings of all the movies in the series to date…