On more than one occasion, the Child’s Play films have been linked to heinous real-world events. Here are five of the most infamous incidents in which the sinister Good Guy doll has been implicated as an influence on rapes, murder and torture.
When I was a kid, Chucky – the pint-sized killer doll form the Child’s Play movies – scared the ever-loving crap out of me. The mere image of that little bugger was enough to have me in tears; our local mom and pop video store had a gigantic cardboard cutout of the character to promote the second movie when it hit VHS, and I flat out refused to even enter the building.
In hindsight, of course it’s such a ludicrous premise – a two-foot tall piece of plastic terrorizing people? Alas, as a kid, that notion was nonetheless horrifyingly logical. For one, he was roughly the same height as you, so it made it more of an even match-up physically. Secondly, he had the element of surprise – a Raggedy Andy doll, after all, can hide pretty much anywhere it wants to; the bottom of a clothes hamper, under the kitchen sink, coiled up underneath a lamp shade, anywhere.
But more than anything, I think it was the idea that my toys – those materialistic things I loved more than anything in the the world besides Mom, Nintendo and Dunk-A-Roos – could come alive at night, completely betray me and hack me to death with a the set of dull, rusty steak knives we kept next to the microwave. That’s the brilliant, satirical subtext of the Child’s Play franchise – that juvenile commercialism, especially kiddy-targeted advertising, might just be out to hurt you under the pretense of playtime.
Over the course of six movies (including a straight-to-DVD flick in 2013 that nobody watched), Chucky has become one of the undisputed icons of post-slasher horror, every bit the genre idol as Jason, Michael and Freddy (and certainly more recognizable than second-fiddle jabronis like Candyman and, sigh, the Leprechaun.) Rather peculiarly, the Jack Nicholson sound-alike, homicidal My Buddy doll seems to have REALLY caught on with undeniably insane person demographic. Over the years, more than one high-profile homicide case has come to pass in which the assailants were later revealed to be huge admirers of the Chucky filmography. Of course, that’s not to say the Child’s Play flicks were responsible for their heinous crimes, but it’s nonetheless interesting – if not a tad eerie – that all of the depraved, disturbed individuals below shared such a bizarre fascination with the Chuckster…
1. Two British Tweens Murder a Toddler After (Allegedly) Watching Child’s Play 3
It’s one of the most notorious crimes in modern English history. On February 12, 1993, two-year-old James Bulger was abducted from a mall by John Venables and Robert Thompson, two 10-year-old Liverpool locals. Two days later, Bulger’s bifurcated corpse was found on a rail line. Police records indicate the toddler was mercilessly tortured, with paint jammed into his eyes, batteries crammed into his anus and his teeny-tiny skull fractured by repeated blows from bricks, rocks and a 22-pound iron bar.
In the follow-up investigation, it was revealed that one of the video cassettes recently rented by one of the murderers’ parents was the third Child’s Play film. While it has never been confirmed that either of the murderers actually watched the film, there are some unsettling similarities between Chucky’s demise in the flick – splattered by paint, he eventually gets mulched up in a grisly roller coaster mishap – and the grim details of Bulger’s homicide. A ferocious media campaign in the wake of the crime eventually led to a clampdown on VHS sales in the U.K. – meanwhile, hardly anyone mentioned how the crime seems to have almost perfectly mirrored the events in Roald Dahl’s The Swan, a work readily accessible in children’s libraries throughout Great Britain.
2. Half a Dozen Sociopaths Torture and Murder a Teenager in the Name (and Literal Beat) of Chucky
Around the same time as the Venables and Thomas trial, yet another court case involving the murder of a juvenile was going on in England – this one, involving the horrendous torture and murder of Suzanne Capper, a 16-year-old residing in the Greater Manchester area. Three people were given life sentences for their role in the absolutely ghoulish slaying, while three other assailants ages 18 and younger received sentences up to 18 years behind bars for their parts in the grisly crime.
The sextet – who claim to have gotten pubic lice from the victim and thought she stole one of their coats – abducted Capper and and tied her spread eagle to a bed. For the next five days, she was routinely beaten, bludgeoned, burned and injected with amphetamines, with one attacker starting each torture session by proclaiming “Chucky’s coming to play” and blasting a rave song that contained soundbites from the first Child’s Play movie. After she had her skin peeled off with abrasive chemicals and several of her teeth yanked out, Capper was transported to a vacant field, where she was then doused in gasoline and set ablaze. Amazingly, Capper managed to survive another four days before succumbing to her injuries – which gave her just enough time to name all six of the sickos who tortured her to authorities. Oh, and the woman who imitated Chucky during the gruesome torture sessions? Her name is Bernadette McNeilly, and amazingly, she was freed from prison in 2015.
3. A Deranged Chucky Fan in Australia Sets a High Mark in Mass Murder
On April 28, 1996, Australia experienced its worst ever mass shooting incident when 27-year-old Martin Bryant went on a horrific killing spree at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania. The gruesome attack resulted in 35 fatalities, with an additional 23 seriously wounded. For his crimes, Bryant received 35 life sentences plus an additional 1,035 years with absolutely no chance of parole for any reason ever.
As far as a catalyst for the mass shooting – as if there could ever be a reasonable excuse for embarking upon a homicidal rampage – Bryant, long believed to suffer from a litany of mental health disorders, really hasn’t given the media much to work with. Alas, Bryant’s girlfriend – who, at the time of the shooting, was just 16 – gave some deeper insights into Bryant’s mindset. In 1996, she revealed that, in addition to revealing the shooter was a big fan of beastiality, Bryant’s all-time favorite movie was Child’s Play 2. “Chucky is really evil. He just laughs and carries on,” Bryant’s ex-lover told the papers. “He loved Chucky – he thought he was really cool.”
4. Two more U.K. Teens Attempt Pedocide After Viewing Chucky Flicks
In 2009, England was rocked by yet another shocking incident of sadistic youth-on-youth violence. In April, two siblings, ages 10 and 11, were arrested and charged with the attempted murder of an 11-year-old boy and his 9-year-old brother (who, in some accounts, is listed as his nephew) in South Yorkshire. According to police, the attackers mercilessly pounded their victims with bricks, wooden branches and stones weighing up to 28 pounds and forced them to carry out disgusting sex acts on each other. The victims were nearly strangled to death with barbed wire; the younger victim had cigarettes put out on his face while the elder victim was bludgeoned unconscious with a ceramic kitchen sink. Oh, and they filmed the whole thing on their cell phone, naturally.
Unsurprisingly, the two perpetrators already had a long rap sheet, having already gotten well acquainted with the law after attacking their teachers and attempting to set some buildings on fire. As expected, the victims themselves experienced pretty substantial abuse and neglect from their mother and father (dear old dad used to beat the crap out of them, while mum was said to have given them marijuana to control their temperament.) Despite all of these factors – not to mention U.K. social services failed 31 times to get the children out of the toxic environment – what did the media blame for the brutal attempted murders? Well, what do you know, the kiddos were apparently pretty big fans of the Chucky series. “From the ages of six and seven, the Doncaster attackers were allowed to sit through Child’s Play videos,” an account from The Daily Mail put it oh-so matter of factly, “while their mother smoked cannabis.”
5. A Lunatic Ruskie Transforms Herself Into the Real Life ‘Bride of Chucky’
Would you believe that as late as 2015, the Child’s Play films are still being cited in high-profile mass murder cases? Ladies and gentleman, meet Elena Lobacheva, a then-25-year-old Russian woman who, alongside her then 20-year-old male companion Paul Voitov, was arrested in 2015 for murdering a dozen people on the streets of Moscow. Police said the duo began targeting homeless individuals in 2014. Their attacks were incredibly vicious – one of their victims was purportedly stabbed more than 100 times. And of course, this being the digital age and all, the gruesome twosome kept photographs of their victims – many who had their stomachs sliced upon and dissected (hopefully) post-mortem – on their home computer.
Lobacheva told investigators she was utterly obsessed with the 1998 film Bride of Chucky, and even got tattoos of the film’s antagonists on her arms. “This movie, released over 15 years ago, became sort of instruction for Elena,” said one Russian news agency. “Randomly stabbing the body of a dying human brought her pleasure compared to sexual pleasure.” And if that sounds hauntingly familiar, it should – it eerily echoes a quote from the titular movie character, “I’ll kill anybody, but I’ll only sleep with someone I love.”