We are now deep in the throes of September and, as I’ve discussed multiple times in this blog, I have a tradition of watching 31 movies in October in honor of spooky season. Well, it’s been a weird, wild world this year so I decided to challenge myself even more by starting in September and watch #61Moviesin61Days. As of this writing, I just finished up movie 27, and will likely finish the first 31 by the end of the month. I have had the hankering to watch through the “Saw” series for a couple months and this was my excuse to finally do so (great movies by the way, maybe my second or third favorite horror series now), and I’ve watched a couple other great movies (and a few duds). I’ll do a deep dive on all that when I finally finish, but right now I want to talk about another series, specifically one movie out of that series. Like the “Saw” franchise, I took this opportunity to finally catch up on the “Child’s Play” series this time around. I had seen the first one but never got around to the rest. It’s so impressive, like the animatronics for Chucky in the first three films are wild. While “Bride of Chucky” was a fun addition to the series by introducing the “Bride of Frankenstein” element, I was NOT looking forward to “Seed of Chucky” (I hate that title) and I definitely didn’t expect to be writing a whole blog about it today. But here we are.
**Full spoilers for “Seed of Chucky” ahead!**
As the opening credits, complete with CGI sperm in the background, I was prepared for the worst. Obviously that wasn’t the case, or I wouldn’t bother writing about it. So why are we here? What changed my thoughts and feelings regarding this movie? Get ready for perhaps one of the hottest takes of 2020: “Seed of Chucky” might be one of the most progressive horror movies (maybe ever) because of its thoughtful portrayal of gender and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). For the unaware, “Seed of Chucky” follows the offspring of Chucky and his bride, Tiffany, all of whom are human souls trapped within dolls seeking to get human bodies by murdering innocents and performing voodoo rituals. Upon meeting their child for the first time, Chucky and Tiffany argue about whether their kid is a boy or a girl, with Chucky giving them the name Glen and Tiffany giving them the name Glenda. The argument eventually resolves when the two finally agree to “let the kid decide” and Glen/Glenda frankly says “I don’t really know.” For context, this movie came out in 2004, when most mainstream films would never have portrayed two parents letting their child choose their gender.
Later on in the film, it is revealed that, likely due to the trauma of watching their parents hack and slash their way through Hollywood (don’t ask), Glen and Glenda are actually two different personalities – Glen fronts when he is in a loving, caring environment with his parents and Glenda fronts when things get to be too much and murder needs to occur. This aspect is most interesting to me because originally I thought they were referencing Norman Bates, who would dress up as his mother (if I remember correctly), but the movie continued to prove me wrong. The overarching story of the film was that Chucky, Tiffany, and Glen/Glenda are attempting to transfer their souls into human bodies. To accomplish this, they perform a voodoo artificial insemination on actress (and, as a fun meta joke, voice of Tiffany), Jennifer Tilly so Glen/Glenda can have a body but Jennifer Tilly ends up giving birth to twins – a boy and a girl. This unexpected turn of events allows both Glen and Glenda to have their own human bodies. Why is this important?
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, has long been portrayed similar to the aforementioned “Psycho” comparison. Even the film’s title is pretty ableist and portrays the disorder in an improper light. It is characterized by an individual presenting (or “fronting”) numerous personalities at different times based on stimuli. These personalities can range in age, gender, personality, and roles and are often created as a means to cope with severely traumatic situations. In the context of “Seed of Chucky”, Glen/Glenda have been through numerous traumatic experiences – experiencing childhood in a “freakshow”, being treated like an animal, finally finding their parents only to find out they’re serial killers – that could lead to developing numerous personalities as a survival tactic. The way I interpreted it (through the lens of a neurotypical cis male) was that Glen was the main personality who would front most of the time, until they were presented with the pressure to kill from their parents and the necessity to do so for survival – that’s when Glenda takes over.
After doing some research, I learned that the writer/director of the film, Don Mancini, set out to make a Chucky movie with LGBT themes and while some changes were made during production, it seems he did a pretty decent job. After some very cursory research (a couple wikipedia articles), I learned that the names Glen and Glenda are a reference to the 1953 film, “Glen or Glenda” that actually dealt with gender dysphoria and was presented as a cry for tolerance back in the day. Now, I am not naive enough to believe that this movie handles all the above issues without flaws, I mean it came out in 2004. (For example, there is a moment when Glenda appears for the first time and Chucky tells her to “snap out of it” and slaps her to bring back Glen.) But I think that this is a huge step forward, especially in the horror genre that, as previously mentioned hasn’t always been the best at portraying neurodivergent individuals in the best light. Part of the reason I love the horror genre is because it often mirrors society – lampooning cultural norms, serving as a weird “warning” for young people of the time (don’t have sex or do drugs or a masked maniac will kill you), and most importantly as a way to address cultural issues and current events (Jordan Peele’s films are a perfect example of this). Seed of Chucky is just another example of horror capturing humanity in the least expected place and I can’t wait to see what other hidden gems this genre will continue to offer.
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One thought on “The Seeds of Progress”
I may have to watch! Was previously against Chucky movies, but this has me intrigued.
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