Chucky films defended

THE director of a horror film linked to the murders of both Suzanne Capper and James Bulger yesterday denied screen violence encouraged real-life sadism. Tom Holland, director of the first Child's Play film, whose central character is a demonic doll Chucky, said viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were 'unbalanced to begin with'.

During the Suzanne Capper trial it was said that Bernadette McNeilly, 24, jailed for life on Friday for the murder of the 16-year-old, had said 'I'm Chucky, Chucky wants to play' as she injected Miss Capper with amphetamine.

Jean Powell, 26, another of Miss Capper's killers, told the trial: 'Chucky is Bernie (Bernadette McNeilly). I have also seen the film about a doll that comes to life and kills people.' A tape of rave music repeatedly played to Miss Capper by her captors before they doused her with petrol and set her alight featured the doll's catchphrase 'I'm Chucky. Wanna play?'

Child's Play 3 came under scrutiny last month during the trial of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, both 11, for the murder of James Bulger. Venables' father, Neil, hired the 18-certificate video less than a month before James was killed although he denied his son had watched it. The trial judge, Mr Justice Morland, suggested 'exposure to violent videos' may have influenced the boys' behaviour.

The first Child's Play film was released in 1988. Holland dismissed evidence from the Capper trial that McNeilly had taken on the Chucky character as 'ridiculous', and denied horror films could trigger violent behaviour. He conceded it was wrong for children to be allowed to watch scenes of graphic violence.

'I can see it giving adolescents nightmares but I can't imagine why anybody would let an adolescent see a film that scary,' he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

David Elstein, head of programmes at Sky TV also rejected a cause and effect link between violent films and the two sadistic murders. The station cancelled a third screening of Child's Play 3 two days after the end of the James Bulger trial on the grounds that showing the film would be 'inappropriate and insensitive'.

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