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The horror...the horror — a closer look at 'Chucky' Season 2's homage to 'Apocalypse Now'
"You're an errand boy, sent by Good Guy dolls to collect a bill."
We love the smell of a new Chucky episode in the morning...or evening! Just roll with it, okay?
**SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS BELOW FOR CHUCKY SEASON 2, EPISODE 6, "HE IS RISEN INDEED"**
Season 2, Episode 6 ("He Is Indeed Risen") of the hit SYFY and USA Network series fully introduced viewers to the mysterious Colonel — a sadistic, bald-headed Good Guy doll with a macabre necklace of severed ears who dispatched Good Chucky (tasked with collecting non-lethal intelligence) and Swole Chucky (tasked with murdering Jake, Lexy, and Devon) to carry out his bidding at Incarnate Lord.
For the last year or so, The Colonel has set up shop in a remote cabin in the woods near the school with a disheveled Andy Barclary (Alex Vincent) as his prisoner, regularly slicing open the man's leg for fresh meat. Sure, the killer doll's always been a sick and twisted individual, but this behavior goes beyond anything we've seen before.
RELATED: Recap: Andy Barclay and a shocking death arrive at Incarnate Lord in 'Chucky' Season 2, Episode 6
The Colonel is truly insane and his appearance, voice, and mannerisms — even the way he's lit against the fireplace — are obviously meant to recall Marlon Brando's Colonel Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, the seminal Vietnam War film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Major props to Brad Dourif who can do an impersonation of Brando while still in character as Chucky. That's talent right there!
An adaption of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness set against the backdrop of America's futile effort to rebuff the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, Apocalypse Now centers around Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), a troubled man sent on a top secret mission to locate Kurtz in the jungles of Cambodia and terminate his command "with extreme prejudice." Kurtz has long since lost his mind and broken away from the rules and regulations of the U.S. Army, choosing to fight the conflict with a breakaway militia that worships him like a god.
Coppola and his cinematographer Vittorio Storaro mostly shrouded Brando in near-darkness for Kurtz's initial encounter with Captain Willard, which was both thematically useful as well as practical, seeing how the celebrated actor famously showed up to set overweight (Kurtz was originally envisioned as a fit and strapping member of the Green Berets). "He was bigger than a water buffalo," Coppola states in the director's commentary, going on to add that Brando was "very embarrassed" about his appearance. "I was very touched that he was shy about it. He didn't want to be portrayed or have the fact that he was so big to be made part of the scene."
He later continues: "Vittorio lit him where there was just a little ray of light and indeed Marlon, who is very conscious of what the camera is on and what the camera is seeing, acted with his bald head. He played that beam of light almost as though he could see through the camera. He gave you a little hint of the top of his head and then he went back into the darkness and showed you another sliver of himself. I think [during our discussions prior to filming] Marlon had said, 'A character like this, you can never really see him, you can give [a] tenth [of the] audience some razor slices of him.' And that's what we did."
Willard ultimately succeeds in his mission, assassinating Kurtz, who mutters "The horror...the horror..." just before he dies (a line lifted directly from the 19th century source material). Chucky's ode to the mad Colonel utters the same words after he's stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors by a vengeful Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent). Speaking with SYFY WIRE about the cabin sequence, production designer John Dondertman confirmed the connection to the Coppola classic.
"It's based on Marlon Brando's character at the end of Apocalypse Now," he explained. "So we also try and build in, like, conceptually — lighting, atmosphere, and character. I mean, that's the joke. That's the trope, right? So that would've gone to Brad Dourif as well with his vocal performance. That was the one basic piece of information conceptually that I got from [showrunner] Don [Mancini] in the scene."
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. If you'd like to watch the new season for free, click here for our guide on how to watch three episodes at no cost.
Additional reporting by Tyler McCarthy