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Let's talk about that homage to 'A Clockwork Orange' in the latest episode of 'Chucky'
IT'S A SIN! IT'S A SIN! IT'S A SIN! IT'S A SIN!
If last night's episode of Chucky made you feel like committing acts of violence while dancing to Gene Kelly, don't panic. That just means the brainwashing has done its job effectively. All joking aside, did you catch that homage to Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange? Of course you did! It was pretty hard to miss.
In an effort to get answers out of Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif), our young heroes — Jake (Zackary Arthur), Devon (Björgvin Arnarson), Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind), and newcomer Nadine (Bella Higginbotham) — subject the killer doll to an endless stream of ultra-violent horror classics (like The Thing, for instance) until his lust for carnage has eroded and his mind is like clay in their hands. This method of brainwashing works a little too well, rendering Charles Lee Ray a docile and respectful husk of his former, sociopathic self. If we're being honest with ourselves, we'd say this version of Chucky is much creepier than the homicidal maniac we usually know him to be. Watching the character be kind and courteous just feels...wrong in a way.
But let's get back on topic here. The way in which Chucky is restrained and his eyes propped open (not with medical forceps, but with bobby pins) immediately recalls the famous torture scene from A Clockwork Orange, in which social offender Alex DeLarge (played by a young Malcolm McDowell) goes through a similar harrowing experience the character dubs the "Ludovico Technique." He's wrapped in a straitjacket, strapped to a chair, and forced to watch violent footage until the mental strain becomes too much.
Speaking with NME in honor of the film's 50th anniversary, McDowell recalled how the iconic scene resulted in a scratched cornea. A moment of feigned torture ended up turning into the real thing.
"And then a week later [Kubrick] says: ‘I’ve seen all the stuff, and it’s great, but I need a real close-up of the eye,'" the actor said. "And I went: ‘Well, why don’t you do it on the stunt double? That’s what he gets paid for.’ ‘Malcolm, your eyes are… I can’t do that.’ So I had to go back in and do it again! And of course, they scratch my corneas [again], nothing like originally but I knew it was coming. That was torture because I knew what to expect… but, you know, it was worth it."
Similar to Chucky, Alex represents the brutal rawness of humankind when the "civilizing" bumpers of society disappear. "What we respond to subconsciously is Alex's guiltless sense of freedom to kill and rape, and to be our savage natural selves, and it is in this glimpse of the true nature of man that the power of the story derives," Kubrick explained to The New York Times in 1972.
New episodes of Chucky premiere on SYFY and USA Network every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. The complete first season is now streaming on Peacock.