John Lafia, who directed the horror film Child’s Play 2 and co-wrote Child’s Play, died by suicide this week in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office. He was 63.
Lafia’s family confirmed his passing Saturday in a statement to Deadline. “It is with great sadness we announce that loving father, film and television writer, director, producer and musician John J. Lafia passed away on Wednesday, April 29,” the statement said.
Born on April 2, 1957, Lafia was influential in the Los Angeles experimental music scene in the 1980’s before launching a successful film career.
He attended UCLA, and his first feature film was The Blue Iguana (1988), which he wrote and directed as well as produced the soundtrack. The film featured a theme song by rap legend Kurtis Blow, was Dylan McDermott’s first role as a leading man, and starred Flea, Jessica Harper, Pamela Gidley, and James Russo.
Most notably, Lafia co-wrote the screenplay for the hit horror film Child’s Play (1988). He coined the name “Chucky” and contributed the line to the script: “Hi, I’m Chucky, wanna play?”
The coroner’s office listed his cause of death as hanging and said he was found in his basement.
Lafia collaborated with Tom Holland and Don Mancini on Child’s Play. Mancini said in a statement through Lafia’s family that the late writer-director was an “incredibly generous artist.”
“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,” the statement said. “John was an incredibly generous artist. 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.”
Lafia’s other credits included New Line Cinema’s Man’s Best Friend (1993), which he wrote and directed. In 2004, Lafia wrote, directed and produced the NBC miniseries 10.5, about a massive earthquake on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada. He also created the sequel 10.5: Apocalypse, which followed in 2006.
In the mid-1990’s, he directed the Digital Pictures/Sega live-action video game Corpse Killer, which combined computer technology with live-action imagery and digital graphics to immerse the audience in an interactive world.
In 2012, he independently released a musical drama called The Ballad of Frank and Cora. He wrote, directed, shot, and edited the film as well as co-produced the soundtrack with musician Bill Jones. The film featured lead vocals from Lafia and Michele Rene and starred Irena Costa and Tobias Jelinek. It was his final film.
Lafia is survived by his children Tess and Kane and his former wife Beverly. The family urged anyone at risk of suicide to call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.