Solid audience ratings and overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim quickly secured Chucky a second season, and once again, franchise creator Don Mancini is at the helm.
The return of the maniacal doll and his cast of cohorts and victims sees familiar and popular faces return as well as introducing a wave of new ones, including a new doll, Belle. The show, which premieres on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, will air on both USA and SYFY.
I caught up with Mancini to talk about stepping everything up in the second season, how Halloween II influenced the premiere episode, and Chucky‘s theme park aspirations for Halloween next year.
Simon Thompson: Back with a second season, and it seems that as well as the excellent reviews and audience response, a big win was the show pulling in new Chucky fans.
Don Mancini: Absolutely, yeah. It was thrilling that people liked it and that it landed well because you work very hard on these things, whether they end up being successful or not. Thankfully we didn’t waste the last two years of our lives. We’re all thrilled that people like the show and the transition into the new medium. I hope people like season two, so we can keep doing it.
Thompson: Did the first season’s success make those bigger creative conversations with the head honchos easier? Chucky and everyone involved proved that this works, and people want it.
Mancini: Yeah, and I also think one of the great things about the situation we’re in now, and I think one of the reasons the show is as good as it is, is that all the people at UCP and SYFY are all legit fans. They are fans of the genre, but also they are specifically fans of the franchise. Sometimes in the case of some of the movies, you’re making it for people who don’t necessarily appreciate it or get it. This is different. There’s been a shift in our business generally. When I started, horror was regarded as the redheaded stepchild, literally and figuratively, and not something studio executives wanted to dine out on. That’s changed, which is great if you happen to work in the genre as I do, and people are not embarrassed by it. People are enthusiastic about it. I think that the enthusiasm of the people at SYFY, USA network, and UCP has helped the show.
Thompson: The first episode in the second season is called Halloween II. Did you have to have a lot of conversations to use that because of rights issues?
Mancini: No, not at all, actually. I think they thought doing yet another Halloween episode because we got to do that with Chucky during the first Halloween season; there’s something synergistically magical about that. I just thought, ‘Let’s do it again.’ I really liked the movie Halloween II that Rick Rosenthal directed. I mean, it’s not on the level of the original, of course, but kind of that’s the way I feel about Jaws 2. It’s still beautifully shot, and you could tell they had more money. Cinematographer Dean Cundey was back as the DP, but in my opinion, visually, Halloween II looks even better. You could tell they had more time, the colors are more saturated, and I am fond of sequels that do things well.
Thompson: Season two of Chucky introduces several new human characters, but we also meet Belle. Were you nervous about introducing her into the mix?
Mancini: I wasn’t nervous about it, but I was excited. One of the nice things about having a franchise that spans decades is that you can set little bombs ticking, and then they don’t explode for years later. The Belle doll has been at my disposal for quite a while, and I don’t think you can really fathom precisely what that means until you get further into the season. As you get further into the season, you learn more about what’s going on with it, its provenance, and so on. I knew that just the inclusion of that doll, whether it is alive or not, makes for anxiety. The characters themselves voice this. Lexy says to her sister, ‘Don’t trust any doll. All dolls are f**ked up. Yes, I know, I use the F-word. That’s how important this is.’ That’s how we, the viewer, know to think, ‘Wait a minute. What’s going on here?’ It’s designed to make people nervous.
Thompson: You have two seasons under your belt, and we know Chucky is working for audiences. He’s been part of the event in other forms over the years, but surely this success warrants a conversation about having a Halloween Horror Nights haunted house at Universal Studios dedicated to the Chucky TV show next year?
Mancini: (Laughs) I agree. Watch this space.
Season two of Chucky premieres on USA and SYFY on Wednesday, October 5, 2022.
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