John Lafia, 'Child’s Play' Co-Screenwriter, Dies at 63

Courtesy of the Lafia family
John Lafia

"John was an incredibly generous artist," 'Child’s Play' creator and screenwriter Don Mancini shared in a statement. "We’ll miss him terribly."

John Lafia, who co-wrote 1988 horror film Child’s Play and also co-wrote and directed Child’s Play 2, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 63.

In a family statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, they wrote the screenwriter and director "was an unstoppable creator and a passionate advocate for the rights of artists in every field."

Child’s Play creator and screenwriter Don Mancini also said in a statement provided by Lafia’s family, "We’re devastated to hear of the passing of our friend John Lafia. He was a crucial part of the Chucky family from the very beginning. He co-wrote the original Child's Play script along with director Tom Holland and myself, and John directed Child's Play 2 — the consensus favorite film among Chucky fans.

"John was an incredibly generous artist," Mancini continued. "He let me tag along with him to every meeting, and shadow him on set; he taught me more about filmmaking during the production of that movie than several semesters in film school. John was also one of the most naturally curious and constantly creative people I ever met, someone who was always taking pictures, and jotting down ideas. We’ll miss him terribly. Much love to his wife Beverly and his children Kane and Tess, of whom John was so very proud.”

Although Lafia's family did not reveal a cause of death, information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was included in their statement. 

Lafia collaborated with Mancini and Holland on the screenplay for the horror movie Child’s Play, which won a Saturn Award for best horror film, as well as a nomination for best writing. He also received a writing credit on the 2019 remake. Lafia coined the name "Chucky" and contributed the infamous line: "Hi, I’m Chucky, wanna play?" 

Lafia was born in 1957 and received a BFA in Motion Picture and Television from UCLA. Ahead of his screenwriting career, Lafia worked in the art department on Alex Cox’s Repo Man and on Space Raiders

His first major credit was for writing and directing 1988’s The Blue Iguana, a crime film starring Dylan McDermott. The pic was selected for a midnight showing in the official selection at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. In 1993, Lafia wrote and helmed the sci-fi comedy Man’s Best Friend. He also wrote, directed and produced the TV miniseries 10.5 in 2004 and its spinoff 10.5: Apocalypse in 2006.

Other directing credits include the TV films Monster! and The Rats, two episodes for the series Freddy’s Nightmares and the live-action video game Corpse Killer. Lafia's final project was the TV movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone in 2006, starring Richard Burgi and Scott Foley.

Prior to his career in film and television, Lafia was a part of L.A.’s underground music scene in the 1980s. His work included Prayers (1984), released by cassette-only label Tranceport Tapes, and tracks on LA Mantra Two (1984) and Phantom Cuts (1985). He also was featured on the spoken word anthology English as a Second Language (1983) alongside local poets Charles Bukowski, Wanda Coleman and Exene Cervenka. Lafia returned to music in 2019, releasing a short rock opera, John Lafia 1980-1985.

He is survived by his children Tess and Kane and his former wife Beverly.