The Austin Chronicle

Dr. Giggles

Rated R, 95 min. Directed by Manny Coto. Starring Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Glenn Quinn, Cliff Deyoung, Richard Bradford.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 30, 1992

Who would have thought that a formula horror film about a deranged M.D.'s son with an outlandish penchant for vengeance could be such a hoot? Manny Coto (best known in the industry as the author of The Ticking Man, the as-yet-unproduced screenplay that initiated an explosive bidding war last year) has cobbled together an endless stream of two-bit medical gags and splatter film conventions and come up with a low-rent quickie that's so over-the-top it's impossible not to like. Evan Rendell (Drake -- Benny of L.A. Law) is the thoroughly homicidal M.D.-wannabe, playing out his revenge fantasies in a smallish, Rockwell-esque town that he blames for his father's death. Armed with a nervous, stress-induced giggle and a bottomless black bag full of O.R. weaponry, Rendell escapes from the asylum that's been his home for the last 20 years, sets up shop in his old home town and begins making unauthorized housecalls on the unsuspecting citizenry. Coto has unapologetically cadged his plot from every horror film of the last 15 years, most notably John Carpenter's Halloween and Wes Craven's Nightmare On Elm Street series, but these blatant acts of thematic freeloading come across more as slapdash homages than outright theft. Drake, for his part, is wonderfully crazed as the mad (literally) doctor who just can't help himself when it comes to matters of medical malpractice. Like some twisted fugitive from the A.M.A., he moves from house to house, performing unwarranted open-heart surgery and the like, his fluting little giggle cropping up every five minutes alongside groan-inducing puns and so-bad-they're-hilarious M.D. quips. Make no mistake, I'm not saying Dr. Giggles is a cinematic watershed or anything like that, but it does manage to mix humor and horror in a way that very few films ever manage successfully.

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