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An interview with Don Mancini, writer-director of ‘Curse of Chucky’

An interview with Don Mancini, writer-director of ‘Curse of Chucky’

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Don Mancini’s Curse of Chucky had its world premier at the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival. As part of the event, the writer-director and stars of the film sat down for interviews about the project itself. What follows is the interview conducted with writer-director Don Mancini.

Curse of Chucky arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on October 8th with both R-rated and unrated versions included, courtesy of Universal Studios.

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Edgar Chaput: Thank you for sitting down with Sound on Sight and congratulations on your world premier at the Fantasia Film Festival. You started this franchise back in 1988. It’s 2013 and the Curse of Chucky is upon us. At this stage is it actually easier to come up with a Chucky story because you know this character so well or there are there still considerable challenges? You want to do a new one, but can you do that’s new?

Don Mancini: Oh, it never gets easier (chuckles). It’s always challenging because you want to do better each time if possible. This one was a special challenge because it was an attempt to return to the horrific mode of the original movies rather than the comedy that we had done with Bride and Seed. There was special responsibility and pressure in that regard to kind of deliver not that level. So, it was definitely a challenge but it was also fun. We hadn’t done a gothic film in this franchise before and I thought doing that with Chucky, you know, with the spooky mansion, the stormy night, the girl in the wheelchair…The story possibilities, the visual possibilities, all that spoke to me.

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Once I settled on that it became really invigorating. It took me a while to find Mica as the main character. I first had a mother story with a few similarities with what you saw last night (the world premier on Friday August 2nd), but I had a character in a wheelchair that as a supporting character. I said, “You know what? That’s actually the most interesting character!” The idea of taking that character and pitting her against Chucky just seemed very right to me, in addition to the gothic possibilities. It gives that character a special vulnerability and leveled the playing field since she can’t just kick him. So that was a lot of fun.

EC: It was very interesting because you don’t see that a lot in film, a protagonist that’s that vulnerable.

You directed Seed of Chucky and directed this new one, you started the franchise as a writer. Are you more comfortable as a director now? Do you sort of long for the days when you could just write the scripts or do you feel that you can obviously write and you don’t have to go searching for another director?

DM: I definitely felt  more confident directing this one than the also one, which is logical. It was my first time, so I didn’t have any experience. I learned some lessons and applied them to this movie. I would love to continue this as a writer-director. I would love to do other movies as well as a writer-director or even as writer only. Very few people in Hollywood have total autonomy or power. Everyone is replaceable. Even though I created the series and I have certain rights that go with that, at the same time I’m here partly through the support and good graces of producer David Kirshner and the kind folks at Universal. (chuckles) You should make sure that’s said word for word!

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EC: I was on Twitter yesterday saying I’d be doing this interview with Don Mancini. Some people were telling me to ask ‘this and that.’ One of the topics that came up, which I believed to you touched on in the Q&A last night, was the newer the film, the more filmmakers are encouraged to use computer generated imagery. Two part question: Is there any cgi at all in Curse of Chucky and, supposing there is very little or none at all, how important is it to keep it real?

DM: It’s vital to keep it real. The animatronic puppet is important for the actors so they have something to react to for their performances. There is nothing I can write that the puppeteers, led by Tony Gardner, can’t do. We use cgi to sometimes erase the puppeteers, erase the cables. It’s just really important for me and for the fans too to keep him an animatronic. Like I said in the Q&A, doing a cg Chucky would almost be too perfect, too smooth, because Chucky should have a sort of imperfection about him. If you were to do him cgi, you’d have to build that in.

EC: It sounds like that would be more work. That’s the funny thing about all these cgi monsters, villains and heroes. It’s so much work you wonder “Why not just put makeup or a costume on?”

We don’t want to give too much of the story away. Nevertheless, I feel the film is separated into two chapters. Without touching on the second, the first almost feels like a fresh start: new family. Chucky just appears and doesn’t quite look like he did in the previous movies, etc. Was that part of the plan?

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DM: Absolutely. That’s always what you want to do with a sequel: invite new people in as well as create something that’s going to be a positive experience for the die hard fans, so we tried to do that. In the beginning, Chucky looks like the Good Guy Doll from the original movie. We pretty much replicated that original look.

But as you said, we hadn’t seem him look like that since Child’s Play 3, so it’s been a good 20 years since he’s had that unscarred look. That was partly an attempt to bring it back to its horrific roots. We called the other version Franken-Chucky. There’s something humourous about it. It’s scary looking but it’s also winking at the audience whereas I think that if your goal is to scare the audience with the doll, there is something very primal about the response to a doll that looks very placid, so that was the goal there. But as you saw last night, the audience really loved ‘that scene!’

Just what ‘scene’ is Don Mancini referring to? Fans can find out on October 8th!

Sound on Sight would like to thank writer-director Don Mancini  for the interview as well as Jackie Cavanagh from Universal Studios for the opportunity.

-Edgar Chaput