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Voodoo for dummies: A quick guide to how magical possession works in the 'Chucky' universe


By Josh Weiss
Child's Play (1988)

Are you bleeding out and need to transfer your soul into an empty vessel in order to stave off the oblivion of certain death? Then look no further than the wondrous world of Voodoo, which allows the notorious serial killer Charles "Chucky" Lee Ray to survive total annihilation.

How to Watch

Watch Chucky on SYFY. Stream from the beginning on Peacock.

Ever since being gunned down in that Chicago toy store by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) more than 30 years ago, Chucky (Brad Dourif) relied upon the powerful spirit known as Damballa (a serpent god in Haitian Voodoo mythology) to flit between animate and inanimate forms — whether it's a Good Guy doll or Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif). In the case of Nica, however, Chucky shares the young woman's body and can only take control at the sight of blood and/or violence.

The magical incantation — "Ade due Damballa. Give me the power, I beg of you!" — brings about broiling storm clouds of lightning and thunder in the skies above as the practitioner effectively swaps one body for another. Chucky's knowledge of the occult also includes Voodoo dolls (which he uses to kill Dr. Death) and the Horcrux-like ability to split his soul between several different dolls at once (something he makes great use of in Chucky, the TV series on SYFY and USA Network). Bride of Chucky retconned the mechanics a bit with the reveal that Chucky was wearing a magical amulet called The Heart of Damballa in the first movie, allowing him to invoke the spell.

RELATED: Recap: Father Bryce performs an explosive exorcism in 'Chucky' Season 2, Episode 7

While writing the original Child's Play, Don Mancini envisioned Chucky as being "a supernatural manifestation of the boy's id," he explains in a making-of documentary about the 1988 film. This initial draft of the screenplay featured the idea of Good Guy dolls containing "synthetic blood," which would have factored heavily into a blood pact ritual that would have brought the toy to life.

"I really did like the idea of the story, but there were elements — to me — that were missing," adds producer David Kirschner (now serving as an executive producer on the TV series). "What was very important to me was to really give more of a specific to the central villain of the story ... I felt that there needed to be more of a backstory with something malevolent that would possess this doll to be so evil. And that was the soul of this serial killer."

Mancini himself admits that the biggest change to his story "was the addition of Voodoo" from the project's director, Tom Holland (Fright Night), who did a credited pass on the script. The rest, as they say, is history. Voodoo, particularly its use in switching bodies to achieve immortality, has been a major tenet of the franchise ever since, much to the chagrin of Mancini.

"It's such a big piece of the mythology," he remarked during an interview with /FILM in 2017. "There's really no turning away from it, I think. Also, a lot of people just really like it. This is my perspective and I can't be objective about it. I didn't create that so I always had problems with it but it might just be that I can't be objective. Plenty of people seem to like it. It's also just very useful, which is why Tom Holland used it in the first movie. It's a useful device ... People really like the Voodoo so I've used it. I've used it comedically, I've used it practically. It's a part of the mythology, no running away from it."

Still, he's made the best of it, playing fast and loose with the rules and declaring over Twitter: "Voodoo is not an exact science!"

The Season 2 finale of Chucky premieres on SYFY and USA Network next Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 9 p.m. E.T.

The complete first season is now streaming on Peacock. If you'd like to watch some of the new season for free, click here for our guide on how to watch three episodes at no cost.