Horror review: Bride of Chucky

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 29, 1998

By Steve Newton

While still a student at UCLA Film School, screenwriter Don Mancini wrote the original Child’s Play script as a reaction both to child-oriented advertising and to the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the mid-’80s. His tale of a psycho killer’s soul transferred into the body of the hottest-selling toy of the year, a “Good Guy” doll, struck a chord with filmgoers, who were won over by the blackly comic shenanigans of its pintsize and perennially pissed-off antagonist, Chucky (perfectly voiced by freakoid character actor Brad Dourif).

Director Tom (Fright Night) Holland’s low-budget film of 1988 went on to gross more than US$40 million and garnered a place in infamy when one of its sequels was cited as the inspiration for a shocking child murder in England that was committed by two children. But by the time the much-maligned Child’s Play 3 appeared in 1991—with Chucky causing action-movie havoc at a military boarding school—the devil-doll idea had run its course.

There’s only so much you can keep riding on one little pair of rubber shoulders.

The makers of Bride of Chucky must have clued in to that idea, because they added a second doll to the mix and—with the visual flair of Hong Kong director Ronny Yu (The Bride With White Hair, The Phantom Lover)—came up with a well-paced, colourfully shot, and keenly edited sequel to challenge the original.

It’s just a helluva lot more twisted.

The story begins with a corrupt cop stealing the bagged remains of the dismembered Chucky from a police evidence lockup with the intention of passing them on to buxom blonde bimbo Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). Turns out she’s the ex-girlfriend of dead killer Charles Lee Ray and has been carrying a torch for him ever since he was gunned down in a toy store and reborn as the titular plaything from hell.

After slitting the cop’s throat in the first of several gruesome scenes, Tiffany, with marriage on her mind, patches Chucky up and, reading from Voodoo for Dummies, brings him back to life. The first thing the bug-eyed brat does is rip the lip ring from Tif’s goth boyfriend, Damien (Alexis Arquette, the Boy George imitator from The Wedding Singer), then slowly suffocate him with a pillow while he’s bound half naked to a bed. This is all standard Child’s Play fare, of course, but the really good stuff starts after Chucky electrocutes Tiffany in a tub and—while Bride of Frankenstein plays on a nearby TV—transfers her soul into a two-and-a-half-foot bride doll.

Then Bride of Chucky’s pitch-black humour clicks into high gear, thanks to the state-of-the-art puppet effects of Chucky creator Kevin Yagher. Yagher and his animatronics crew imbue the dolls with hilariously humanlike expressions that range from sweet smiles to murderous rage, and the bickering interaction between the twin terrors as they embark on a homicidal rampage makes for loads of sick laughs.

During the passionate consummation of their marriage—don’t worry, it’s only shown in silhouette—Tiffany asks the thrusting Chuckster if he’s wearing a rubber, and the little guy blurts out in exasperation: “A rubber? I’m all rubber!”

With lines like that, who needs a gripping story line?

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