‘Chucky’ Creator Don Mancini Says Killer Doll Inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids Craze

Don Mancini and Chucky with a Cabbage Patch Kid

Chucky creator Don Mancini says that the 1980s Cabbage Patch Kids craze inspired the killer doll voiced by Brad Dourif in the Child's Play and Chucky movies. Dourif also voices the possessed doll on the TV series Chucky, which airs on Syfy, USA Network, and Peacock.

In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Mancini describes how mass marketing of the Cabbage Patch Kids and America's obsession with the dolls as well as animatronics advancements in movies like Gremlins inspired him to create Chucky for 1988's Child's Play. “It was in the wake of the Gremlins movie in 1984, and I realized with that movie that animatronics had gotten to the point that they were so sophisticated that anything you could write, puppeteers could do in terms of nuance, facial expressions, mouth synchronization of dialogue, that sort of thing,” says Mancini. “Initially, my impulse was I wanted to write a dark satire about how marketing affected children, because my dad worked in marketing and advertising when I was growing up, and so I was exposed to that world a lot. And I saw from a very early age how cynical it is, the notion of creating products and getting people to buy things that they don't really need, and how they do that sometimes to children specifically. They refer to children as ‘consumer trainees.’

“And so then the Cabbage Patch doll craze happened in the mid-’80s, with lines down the block and literal fights breaking out in stores when they would sell out. Being a horror fan, I had seen other movies in the genre that dealt with the living doll concept, like the movie Magic and the Trilogy of Terror [anthology]… But I knew now in the wake of Gremlins that you could do it in a brand new way because the animatronics had gotten so sophisticated. So [with] all of these impulses about animatronics, and a nightmarish look at marketing to children, and the Cabbage Patch doll craze, out came Chucky.”

The Chucky Extended Universe Consists of Seven Movies, a Remake, and a TV Series

Chucky Season 3
Image Credit: Syfy/USA Network.

Since the evil red-haired Good Guys doll first appeared in 1988's Child's Play, Chucky has become an iconic movie maniac right up there with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger. Chucky appeared in Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3, Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky, and a 2019 remake of Child's Play. The USA Network/Syfy series Chucky, currently in its third season, follows the events of 2017's Cult of Chucky and features actors from the movie series, including Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, and Alex Vincent. In season three of Chucky, the titular doll infiltrates the White House and goes on a murder spree.

Mancini tells Yahoo Entertainment that he dreamed that Chucky would become a franchise after Child's Play. He says:

“I mean, I know I dreamed it because when I wrote it, Halloween and Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street had become viable franchises and were happening at that time in the mid-'80s when I was a film student at UCLA. We were living in a world where you would get regular installments of all three of those slasher series. So I dreamed of it, but the fact that it actually worked out, I felt like I won the lottery in that. So it has just been such a gift in my life, which as I get older, I'm increasingly grateful for because I just know what a special position it is to be in.”

YouTube video

Season three of Chucky is currently airing on USA and Syfy as well as streaming on Peacock.

Website | + posts

Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.