Don Mancini Discusses Chucky’s Influence On LGBTQ Representation In Horror – Exclusive
Since the release of “Child’s Play” in 1988, Chucky has quickly become the most famous doll in the horror genre. Six movie sequels and a film reboot followed, but everyone’s favorite animatronic serial killer is back for more in SyFy’s “Chucky” TV series. Don Mancini, who wrote all seven of the original movies, is back for the TV series as showrunner, writer, and director of the pilot episode.
Even though he didn’t set out to have an impact on LGBTQ+ representation in Hollywood, that quickly changed as Mancini realized he could infuse the horror series with his own experiences. “It sort of just happened organically,” Mancini tells Looper. “The first three movies didn’t have any explicit LGBTQ content. Although in retrospect, I look at those movies and I do think that maybe, a little sub-textually, in that you’ve got a little boy who really wants to have this male doll as a best friend. I didn’t think about that particularly when I was writing it, but then you get older and look at it and go, ‘Oh, I wonder if there’s something going on there?'”
Looper caught up with Don Mancini to find out how the Chucky series became known for its LGBTQ+ influence in Hollywood.
Bride of Chucky marked a huge step forward
The new “Chucky” TV series ensures that LGBTQ+ representation is front and center, with a gay lead character and multiple gay supporting characters. Plus, Chucky mentions his non-binary child, Glen/Glenda, in the very first episode, although showrunner Don Mancini is tightlipped on whether or not the seed of Chucky will be back for the TV show. “I can’t! I can’t give too much away, I’ll just say keep watching.”
As noted by Mancini, it was the fourth movie in the franchise, which was released in 1998, that allowed for a real shift in content. “With ‘Bride of Chucky,’ the specific story that I was writing, it was about love. It was about romance, it was a parody of romantic comedies,” Mancini tells Looper. “So, in creating the characters that were going to inhabit the story, the main characters other than Chucky and Tiffany are these teenagers played by Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile. Well, in order to make it more interesting, I thought, ‘What if their inevitable friend character — make him gay?'”
He continues, “I mean, it was initially a way of keeping the writing interesting. I just thought it was like, ‘Okay, well, rather than just being a stock friend character who’s going to get killed at the 60 minute mark, make him a little bit more interesting and then make him gay.’ It just wasn’t done at that time.”
'Making 'the gay horror franchise'
The new franchise took on a more explicitly queer direction from “Bride of Chucky” onwards, with Don Mancini’s influence on LGBTQ+ representation often being noted as a huge turning point for horror. “Fortunately, everyone was really on board with doing it and it went well, but it wasn’t just that character, it was also the whole sensibility of that movie,” Mancini explains. “I mean, just the character of Tiffany, I wrote it for Jennifer Tilly and she brought an aspect of gay culture to it because of her persona in gay culture and the movie ‘Bound’ and all of that.”
Mancini says, “Alexis Arquette and even John Ritter, because of the character he played on ‘Three’s Company,’ he had certain connections to gay culture already. So, I was like, ‘Let’s do this!’ I think it made it more interesting, so I just decided, ‘Well, I’m just going to increasingly brand my franchise as the gay horror franchise.’ Why not? I’m in a position to do it, so I’m just going to do it.”
“Chucky” airs on USA and SyFy on Monday nights at 10 p.m.