Chucky! He's so Eighties! He's not even scary!
In 1988, a new horror villain arrived on the scene, a killer doll named Chucky. "Child's Play" toyed with two childhood fears-- the unseen and possibly sinister nocturnal activities of toys, and the concerns of children not being taken seriously by adults. This slick horror movie had serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif, last seen in "Alien Resurrection") being cornered in a toy store, where he was fatally gunned down by police. However, before expiring, he transferred his soul to a nearby 'Good Guy' doll with the help of a voodoo incantation. The possessed doll then came into the hands of the young Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), who soon discovered that Chucky wasn't your run-of-the-mill talking doll. Of course, when Andy tried to warn others of his new toy's homicidal tendencies, the adults merely brushed him off, chalking up his paranoid ranting to an overactive imagination.
Hi, I'm Chucky! Wanna play?
One aspect of "Child's Play" that clicked with audiences was the movie's streak of dark humor. Despite the horrible things that Chucky did to his victims, Chucky would always release the humor in the situation with a wonderfully banal throwaway line. Not surprisingly, Chucky has made his way into pop culture vernacular, with jokey references popping up on such television shows as "Ally McBeal" and "The X-Files". Despite such a brilliant start, the "Child's Play" horror franchise never materialized, as two inferior sequels came-and-went over the next three years.
Well, hello dolly...
Now, on the tenth anniversary of the first (and best) "Child's Play" movie, comes "Bride of Chucky", riding the popularity of the "Scream"-inspired teen-horror-comedy. This time around, Charles Lee Ray's trailer-trash ex-girlfriend, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly of "Liar Liar"), liberates the remains of Chucky's plastic carcass from a police evidence lock-up. Using scrap doll parts and a sewing kit, she puts Chucky back together again. Hoping to finally be with her long-dead lover after ten years, Tiffany uses a voodoo incantation to bring Chucky back to life. However, Tiffany discovers that settling down is the last thing on mind of her former boyfriend, and as punishment, she locks Chucky in a playpen.
If I were you, I would take Jade and get the hell out of Dodge.
Unfortunately, Chucky is not so easily contained, and he exacts his revenge on his homicidal hussy by killing her and transferring her soul to one of her dolls. Tiffany, now trapped in a plastic shell, becomes Chucky's accomplice and together they hatch a scheme to get both of them new human hosts. In order to do that, they must retrieve a voodoo amulet from Charles' grave in New Jersey. Fortunately, they find their means to get to New Jersey-- Jesse (Nick Stabile) and Jade (Katherine Heigl). These two teens, both easy on the eyes, are looking to get out of town, where Jade's uncle (John Ritter of "Sling Blade") is the chief of police and does whatever he can to keep the two lovebirds apart. And so begins a road trip, where Jesse and Jade become the unwitting accomplices of the 'Mickey and Mallory' antics of Chucky and his bride.
You know me... I'll kill anybody, but I'll only sleep with someone I love.
In this outing, the reins were handed to celebrated Hong Kong directorRonny Yu, whose distinct visual style earned him a standing among the 'Hong Kong New Wave' directors of the late Eighties and early Nineties. Yu, who won numerous accolades for his work in the fant-asia classic "The Bride with White Hair" and had his North American debut in last year's "Warriors of Virtue", took the helm on the condition that he could bring his trademark style to the production. Unfortunately, Yu's eye for cinematic richness and penchant for choreographing color and movement can't save this sleazy and cheesy affair.
Have you got a rubber?
What? A rubber? Tiff, look at me! I'm all rubber!
I thought you were plastic.
While Yu's hand in the overall look and feel of "Bride of Chucky" is evident (though nowhere near the visual splendor of his Hong Kong heydays), the movie is bogged down with an unremarkable script and leisurely pacing that zaps whatever little suspense it had. Scribe Don Mancini (who has scripted all of the "Child's Play" movies) does his best to find the humor in the contrast between Chucky's homicidal activities and Tiffany's domicile yearnings, and peppers referential humor throughout the script (including some interesting 'artifacts' in the police evidence lock-up). However, much of this material misses the mark, most notably an eye-rolling sequence where Chucky and Tiffany have sex. Finally, the two blandly-characterized teen protagonists, Jesse and Jade, do little to raise audience interest in their plight, and it is evident that the amount of attention that went into developing their characters was no more than what went into naming their characters.
So how'd you end up like this?
It's a long story. In fact, if it was a movie, it would take three or four sequels to do it justice.
With Halloween around the corner, there will be a number of films out attempting to capture the spirit of the season and cash-in on the teen-horror-comedy craze. Unfortunately, "Bride of Chucky" is neither scary nor funny. In retrospect, even "Urban Legend" had more suspense than this flaccid follow-up.