Cinema Chords recently caught up with Danielle Bisutti to talk about the upcoming release Curse of Chucky. It is the sixth in line of Chucky films but Danielle assures us that it is a needed, creepy and exciting sequel. Also in the interview, she speaks about her unique link to Chucky and how she was always destined to star in the film one day.
You’ve worked in both film and television; which one do you prefer?
That’s an interesting question. I think the fun part about television specifically, if you are recurring character or a series regular, you get to grow with the character. Just like a human being you go through massive changes throughout your life and so can your character. Obviously, through the means of the writers and what you bring to the character as the actor can inform the writers on storyline and aspects of your personality that may come out. I had a really great time recurring Parks and Recreation, Raising the Bar, CSI: Miami, just the journey that I go through with those characters. Having said that, there’s something so magnificent about being part of a film. I don’t know what the differentiation is; whether it’s because you can watch it at home or on the big screen, but there’s something about film that’s a little bit more timeless. You’re part of this really big family and the scale feels like there’s something much bigger about it. It’s hard to say what I prefer, but if I had to choose one, maybe I would choose film.
Yeah, like you said films are more timeless. TV shows have their moment; everyone’s really into a show when it’s on, but when it’s over people move away from it. But, with film you’re more likely to go back to it even after it’s had its “moment”. Maybe because it’s quicker to watch a film than an entire TV series.
Exactly, it’s like a cohesive piece that’s on a massive scale and you can see it in the theatre and then you can own the DVD. TV shows can be a timeline in people’s lives, but there’s something about film that’s a bit more impactful.
Are you someone with a massive TV and film DVD collection?
I love television, when I get into a show I’m a total devotee. I’ll be there at the premiere and have it all TiVo-ed. I’m a bit late to the party, but right now I’m watching Battlestar Gallactica, the reboot that happened in 2004. If you like sci-fi, it’s incredible. I’m obsessed with that right now on my Netflix. I’m also obsessed with Downton Abbey..wow, there’s only so much time in a day to watch all your favourite TV shows!
I know! My mum keeps telling me all these shows I need to watch and the list keeps growing. I know I just don’t have enough time in my whole life to watch all of them.
Your entire lifetime, right! You’ll just have to queue it up and have all these different shows queued forever.
Moving on to Chucky, now, were you a fan of the films when they first came out all those years ago?
I actually have quite a unique story, not as unique as Fiona Dourif (the daughter of Brad Dourif, who plays the voice of the Chucky doll) of course. But my uncle – my aunt’s husband, Tony Thermopolis was a producer on the original Child’s Play. As a little girl when I was at their house, they’d have this poster that would lead down into the den where we’d watch movies, and every time we’d go up and down this staircase into the basement as it were, there was this huge poster of a Chuck from the first Child’s Play. I remember being terrified every single time, it didn’t matter if the lights were on or off. So I’d be like, “I know it’s a movie, my uncle produced it.” But it would still terrify me! When I first saw it I had to get rid of all my redheaded dolls; Rainbow Bright was out, Strawberry Shortcake was out. I couldn’t have any doll with red hair. I remember I didn’t want to go to McDonalds because Ronald McDonald was a redhead. It terrified me to that degree! And then I became sort of obsessed with it, like the moth to the flame; I knew it was going to terrify me but I couldn’t stay away. So then Child’s Play 3 came around and interestingly enough, my father who’s a set-dresser worked on that movie and asked me if I wanted to come to set one day. Of course I had to say yes! I was 14 years old and brought my boyfriend who I was certain I was going to marry, and we were on-set and I remember meeting Don Mancini during this carnival scene. My dad asked me if I wanted to meet the director, writer and creator of Chucky and he came over! My dad told him I wanted to be an actress one day. I remember Don saying, “Well, if you work really hard, you have conviction, you love it so much and you don’t give up then you’ll have success and you’ll be an actress.” I just think it was completely poetic and ironic that years later I would walk in as an adult woman booking a role in the sixth movie.
Wow, it’s like you were destined to star in it from a very early age.
*Laughs* Yes I felt like I was one degree away from that monstrous doll and it would get me eventually!
I was born a few years after the first film was released, so I definitely missed the immediate reaction to it. Do you remember what it was like, because you must have been very young.
It completely messes with your mind! If you think about what the purpose of dolls are, they’re your playmates when you’re a child, when your imagination is just so vast. There are no boundaries to what you can create with these inanimate objects; whether it’s your Barbie or GI Joe. They’re supposed to be on your side, like in Toy Story. When something that is such a given turns against you in the most horrific way possible, it can really screw up a part of your childhood! I definitely was traumatised for a while, but the older I got I realised it wasn’t quite so impactful as an adult. I didn’t have all these dolls surrounding my bed. I got into the humour of Chucky, he’s a witty little guy and always has these amazing one-liners at the perfect moment. I’m a big fan, I don’t want to give away too many things about this particular part of the franchise, but he has I dare say, a few redeeming qualities! *Laughs*.
Chucky has redeeming qualities!?
I know, it’s a tall order. It’s a bold statement, but there’s a choice he makes in the movie, which I can’t really say because I don’t want to ruin it for the audience, which makes him a bit redeeming. We find out in this movie why the serial killer Charles Lee Ray possessed the doll; what that whole moment was about, why he has an animosity and hatred towards families and particularly ‘our’ family. Everything comes full circle and you understand why it all happened in the first place.
Is there an ending that leaves it open for a possibility of another Chucky movie?
The ending is super exciting and people have to wait until the end of the credits, because the clip at the end of the credits is basically the button on the film; there’s an amazing cameo that true Chucky fans will freak out over. There’s a moment that feels conclusive, but that little doll keeps coming back. It’s accepted that the doll, even when we think it’s seen its end, it comes back. So, to answer your question, I don’t know if it’s the end. I mean, it could be, but I have a feeling that that doll is not quite finished.
What role do you play in the film?
I’m the older sister of Nica who’s played by Fiona Dourif. Basically, the movie starts with the loss of our mother, supposedly she killed herself. She wasn’t quite well, there was a time in our life where she started to go off the deep end, mentally. My sister was born with a handicap; she’s paraplegic and she’s in a wheelchair. The dynamic that’s created between me and my sister is such that, my character who’s name is Barb, has a sense of guilt having been born with 2 working legs. So, my character is one who walks into a room or any scenario and feels like she has the remedy for you. Like, your life is not complete or perfect until Barb comes in; she assesses the situation and lets you know exactly what you should change to make it better. I feel like everyone has a relative or a friend of their mother’s who thinks that way. Like, you didn’t ask for advice, but there it is for you every time you see her. I think that she’s coming from a place of love, like any arch nemesis or villain feels like they’re misunderstood rather than they’re bad or overbearing. I think Barb feels that if it wasn’t for her then her entire family would fall apart. I think it’s enjoyable to watch, because there are a lot of comedic moments where she’s up to her antics and I think the audience will respond to her in a positive way.
So, when Chucky comes into her life she tries to solve the problem of him, but she can’t?
Yes, you’re exactly right. But, the funny thing is she has no idea that the problem is that this doll is murdering people! She thinks it’s another problem with the doll. I don’t want to tell you what that is, because there are certain plot points I want to be surprises. But, I grab this doll and take it to the attic – perfect trappings for the perfect murder, right? *laughs* – who goes into the attic with a Chucky oll? Barb does!
As you’ve said, this is the sixth film in the Chucky franchise, do you really think another one was needed? Or is this all about the money?
Well, yeah of course it’s great to continue making money. As the creator of the doll and the franchise, you hope for something that will continue to amaze audiences for decades and decades to come. I think a great job has been done with that. Especially with Bride and Seed of Chucky I think it took a turn for a more campy and comedic thrill. It was fun to see all these other dolls and puppets come to life. In Seed of Chucky you had the identity crisis of the daughter/son and the doll had a sexual gender crisis, which was hysterical! A lot of fans were wanting the threat and the thrill to come back into the franchise and that is exactly what Don Mancini did with this rendition. With that, alongside with a lot of questions that have long-awaited answers and plus you’re getting Chucky at his most terrifying and finest. I read one review that said, “Hitchcock does Chucky.” Like, there’s this real Hitchcockian sensibility with the camera angles, the movement of the camera, the reveal and the element of surprise. Even the colour palette reminds me of The Birds or Rear Window. There’s these beautiful greys and blues and greens. It’s scary stuff.
Horror has come so far since the original release of Child’s Play and the films that follow. Do you still think there’s an audience out there that will be afraid of a killer doll?
Dolls will always be scary, just as I think clowns will always be scary. Like I said, it’s something that is meant to be seemingly so good and wholesome in your life, that can also be evil. There’s an episode of The Twilight Zone called ‘Talking Tina’ and that was the first time that these old-fashioned porcelain-faced dolls in this little girl’s room would really come to life, called Tina. There was this line that she used to say, “I’m Talking Tina and I don’t like you.”
That’s creepy. When something that looks so innocent can be so scary..
Exactly. So, to answer your question, yes I think that the franchise will always work within every generation. The one thing that I want to give kudos to Don Mancini and Tony who was the main puppeteer, is that they try to use as little CGI as possible. So, we had this team of brilliant puppeteers with animatronic dolls really working it to look as lifelike as possible. You know, I think that CGI can add a great quality of realism, but also be a hindrance. When you can tell it’s CGI, I don’t know about you, but it takes me out of the movie entirely. I feel like it’s not real and, therefore, I’m not scared.
I think a lot of modern horrors fall down because their CGI is not very good. When you can tell something is fake, it’s over for the audience really.
Yeah, think back to The Twilight Zone again, they use very little CGI, if any at all. The original Willy Wonka movie, as much as I love it, it will always terrify me. It wasn’t like the remake where Tim Burton used the same oompa-loompa exponentially through the computer, where it was the same dialect and there was like a thousand of them. I love Tim Burton, this is no slam on him, but in comparison to when there was very little computer generated effects and now, when you can do basically anything…I think less is more.
I think there is definitely a gap in the market where killer dolls are concerned. Why do you think not too many horror directors or film-makers have made films solely centred on them?
In the first Saw it looked at the little puppet; with the swirly eyes..That was James Wan who, obviously, has directed me in Insidious 2. I guess he used it as more of a mascot as opposed to a whole movie being based on the premise: a killer doll comes to life. I suppose Chucky was such a big personality that it kind of cornered the market. Maybe that’s why other film-makers haven’t been inspired to their rendition of that, but I’m no film-maker so I have no idea what is going on in their minds. *laughs*.
I know that James Wan likes to put his little Jigsaw doll in other films such as Insidious and Death Sentence; I’ve seen it!
You have a very good eye! That’s a little Easter egg for all of the little devotees of James Wan and Saw. I don’t know whether that happens in Insidious 2, but of course, I was only in so many scenes. It’s quite possible. James is very mysterious and you want to keep your eyes peeled…
So, what are you currently working on now that both Curse of Chucky and Insidious 2 are both finished?
Good question! Right now I’m writing, interestingly enough. There’s a web series, a screenplay and a television show that I’m developing with a few writer friends of mine. I have another feature that’s coming out in January and it’s an ensemble comedy called Back in the Day. It was written, directed and produced by Michael Rosenbaum who played Lex Luthor in Smallville. This is him coming out as a writer/director/producer and it’s hysterical! There’s an incredibly talented group of comedic actors; every single person in the movie you would recognise. It’s starring Morena Baccaarin from Homeland, Nick Swardson…There’s a huge cast! Anyone who has ever been in high school or to a high school reunion will definitely relate to the humour in this movie. I’m really excited for that to come out. Other than that, I’ve just been doing random different television shows; I haven’t found myself as a series regular yet but I’m just about to embark on pilot seasons. Whatever comes down the pipeline when these movies come out, with both Insidious 2 and Chucky I imagine there’ll be a lot of play in the world of sci-fi, fantasy and horror which are the genres that I really love and enjoy.
We’d like to thank Danielle for speaking to us and remind you all that Curse of Chucky received it’s UK premier on the 22nd of August at the Film4 FrightFest and is all set for home release this Monday, 21st of October, just in time for Halloween. We’ll leave you with the latest red-band trailer released by Bloody Disgusting.