February 14, 2011

Movie Review: Bride of Chucky

In 1988 Charles Lee Ray transferred his soul into a Good Guys doll and took on the name Chucky. He went on to terrorize young Andy Barclay as he looked to get back into a human body. That movie was surprisingly creepy and scary, a truly effective horror film. Two years later Chucky returned in a more amped fashion in the decent first sequel. One year after that we see Chucky back again and still chasing after Andy. This third film was not so good and it looked like this death of Chucky would be his last. Fortunately, the killer doll was revived in 1998 for a fourth film, one that breathed new life into the franchise and pushed it in a new direction, dragging it to new heights.

This entry dumps the Child's Play moniker in favor of one a little more comical and a little more in line with the tone the film takes. Bride of Chucky is a play on the great Frankenstein sequel, but that really goes without saying. The movie tones down the genuine horror aspects, while still keeping the bloodshed, amping up the inherent comedy to be had with a killer doll, takes that to the next level by adding a second doll, and finally puts them on the road in a modified take on the road movie. The funny thing about this whole thing is that it is about as far removed from the first film as you can get, but it still feels like a pure distillation of the evilness of Chucky.

As Bride of Chucky opens a police officer has stolen the torn up remains of Chucky from Child's Play 3 from a police lock up (passing by cages containing Jason's hockey mask, Freddy's glove, Michael Myer's mask, and Ash's chainsaw). Why would he do such a thing? Well, he has been bribed by Tiffany, Charles Lee Ray's girlfriend who has spent the better part of a decade tracking him down. This leads to our first kill and a great looking, noirish introduction to Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly).

Back at Tiffany's trailer park home, she seeks to revive the doll. It works, but in a fit of rage the spell gets used again and Tiffany finds herself in a doll. At this point the plot can really begin. They need to find a way to get both of their souls back into human bodies. Enter the B-story of our film. Katherine Heigl is Jade, a teen in a rebellious relationship with her police chief uncle (John Ritter) over her bad boy boyfriend, Jesse (Nick Stabile). The two decide to run off together when Tiffany offers them money to take a couple of dolls to New Jersey.

What follows is a funny journey of death and dolls. There is a bit of a throwback feel to the original when people start dying and the questions of who did it comes up. There is plenty of one-liner laced banter between the dolls, mediocre to poor acting from the humans, and some very good effects to bring the dolls to life. Bride of Chucky thrives on energy, this movie just keeps going and going, it has style and a delightful lack of class.

The movie was directed by Ronny Yu, who was behind the martial arts classic The Bride with White Hair and Warriors of Virtue. This was his second American feature and he brings a very distinctive look. He makes even static shots seem kinetic, also the sharp contrast in the colors and deep blacks is just great. Yu credits the colors to a, at the time, new film stock from Kodak that produced those deep blacks and helped  create a strong contrast. Along with you is the ever-present Chucky creator Don Mancini who wrote the script, which he has said was written in part as a reaction to Scream and the changing landscape of horror.

This is probably my favorite of the series and one of the better killer doll movies ever made. It is a flat out bizarre film that is hard to look away from.

Highly Recommended.

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