Bride of Chucky
1998, R, 89 min. Directed by Ronny Yu. Starring Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter, Alexis Arquette, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Brad Dourif.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 23, 1998
No matter that Brad Dourif snagged an Academy Award nomination for his work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -- for legions of moviegoers, he'll always be best remembered as the voice of Chucky, poor guy. If it's any consolation, this fourth entry in the killer doll franchise is by far and away the best, a surprisingly affecting tale of pint-sized love and dismemberment that's remarkably well-done. Hong Kong transplant Yu (The Bride With White Hair) reworks the Chucky mythos while cinematographer and frequent collaborator Peter Pau punches up the visuals -- together they make one of the most original-yet-self-referential comic horror shows since Bride of Re-Animator. This movie begins 10 years after the original Child's Play took place, at which time the soul of serial killer Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray was transplanted -- via voodoo -- into the body of a plastic Good Guys doll. Now, Ray's ex-girlfriend Tiffany (Tilly, all oozy sexuality and breathy, helium squeaks) has stolen the remains of Chucky from a police evidence locker and raised him from the dead. A black vinyl Martha Stewart fanatic with a latent taste for homicide, Tiffany and beau Chucky immediately hit a brick wall when the topic of matrimony comes up, which results in Tiffany's soul being unceremoniously transferred into a bridal doll's plastic shell and the sudden death of Alexis Arquette (don't ask). From here, Bride of Chucky morphs into a Barbie and Clyde road movie as the pair hijack a couple of young newlyweds (Heigl and Stabile) and make their way to Hackensack, NJ to retrieve Chucky's decade-old corpse. It may not be the most original horror film of the last five years, but it's certainly close, thanks in equal parts to Yu's dazzling imagery and series overlord Don Mancini's witty, pithy script. If you thought Kevin Williamson's Scream was the height of genre-specific comic horror, Mancini goes it one better, tossing in wry, underplayed gags aimed at everything from Bride of Frankenstein to the Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus stable of relationship theory, and then giving the whole shebang a raucous, nasty twist. Make no mistake, this is a horror film, and effects artisan Kevin Yagher gets impressive mileage out of some hoary genre clichés. Gore flows in copious amounts here, so much so that I wondered how this crept past the MPAA with only an R rating. In addition to the gallons of red stuff, Bride of Chucky also works the nerves in other ways as well. Despite (or perhaps because of) the film's comic undertone, the more serious aspects of Yu's film -- serial killers, relationships, plastic dolls making the beast with two backs -- are all the more disturbing. It's not quite as relentless as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but Bride of Chucky is still sick and wrong in all the right ways.