Seed of Chucky
There was a time when a horror film just had to terrorize the audience. Now, there is a sub-genre that has become wildly popular, especially among the younger set, the horror-comedy. Not only do you need a villain bent on killing every person they encounter but they have to do so while dispensing witty one liners. Usually these films find themselves part of a franchise such as the Nightmare on Elm Street series or in the case of the film being reviewed, the infamous Chucky (Child’s Play) flicks. For those out there that have been in an undisclosed location for the last 17 years Chuck is one of the Good Guy Dolls, when serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is about to die he transfers his spirit into the doll in order to continue his killing spree. Along the way he has invaded homes, a military academy and even took a wife, another demonic doll named Tiffany (voice of Jennifer Tilly). Even possessed dolls can want children and the spawn comes our way in this latest installment.
There is some modicum of a plot, just enough to hold things together somewhat between quips and killings. Glen (Billy Boyd) a rather meek ventriloquist's dummy named Glen comes to the belief that he is actually the offspring of the famous possessed dolls Chucky and Tiffany. He needs to be reunited with his parents so he travels to Hollywood where a Chuck film is being made. Once there he resurrects the demonic duel who immediately resumes their murderous past time. Glen’s hopes of a tender family reunion are shattered when his parents want him to continue in the family business. This causes a split in Glen’s personality, mild Glen and villainous Glenda. He is stuck between a good boy or a really bad girl.
This film employs a tried and true Hollywood gimmick, the film within the film. The action follows the real life actors as they make the latest Chucky film. Actress Jennifer Tilly is at her comic best making fun of every aspect of her life from her weight gain to her now famous lesbian scene in Bound. Known best for her voluptuous figure and tiny voice Tilly has some of the best lines in the film; "I'm an Oscar nominee and now I'm f***ing a puppet". She even has scenes opposite her voice over self in some of the best moments of the flick. It takes a lot of confidence to take on such a self deprecating role as this but Tilly handles it like a pro. It also takes and actress of some intelligence to play a bimbo with such with and flair as she does. There is a bit where Tilly as Tiffany calls a twelve step hot line in a vain attempt to put her lethal ways behind her.
Another actor of considerable skill here is Brad Dourif. He has been in many excellent dramatic roles including his current gig as the alcoholic doctor on the hit HBO series Deadwood. Here he flies with his voice over work. He knows that these films has been a great source of income over the years and pays homage to the character he made so famous. It takes a lot to play such an over the top role as this as if this was a ‘regular’ film. Dourif is priceless as the fatherly doll trying to show his son the ropes in the family business.
Although not seen many people will recognize the voice of Billy Boyd. His recent resume includes his work as the mischievous hobbit Pippin in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy. Here he plays the gender confused doll to the hilt, with fast paced dialogue that will keep you laughing. Tilly’s hapless assistant is played by Hannah Spearritt formerly of the prefabricated pop group with a TV series, S Club 7. She does well here but her scenes are almost completely in the shadow of Tilly’s comic abilities. One of the best choices in casting here is the appearance of director John Waters. This man single handedly made off beat dark comedies an underground phenomenon. For those that know about Waters love for another off beat director, Ed Wood the whole Glen or Glenda is right from a infamous Wood’s flick about the tribulations of a cross dresser.
Director Don Mancini has built his career on the Chucky films, at the helm for all five of the flicks. Aside from a stint directing an episode of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt this has become his life’s work. As such he now has it down to a formula but still provides the dark humor expected of this genre. Mancini has the pacing down pat. This film moves along for all of its eighty seven minutes. While many hold these films in distain there has to be an audience for them, Hollywood is not known for letting a franchise run five films unless someone is paying to see them. Sure, over the five flick run there has been a movement from straight horror to more along the dark comedy lines but this is enough to entertain. With the rapid fire pop culture references, including a Brittany Spears’ look alike the script actually is witty. Realistically, you don’t go to a film like this expecting to see something that will be among the year’s Oscar nominations. Mancini gives free reign to his talented cast whether they are voices or actually on screen. He lets them have fun with their roles and this translates well to the audience.
Universal has provided several versions of this film of DVD, a pan & scan, widescreen and an unrated widescreen. Just a guess here but considering the fan base here I think most sales will be with the unrated. This release is jammed pack with extras that every Chucky fan will want to have. There is a commentary track with Tilly and Mancini where they demonstrate just how much fun was had in the creation of this flick. Another commentary with Mancini and puppeteer Troy Gardner goes into some of the more technical problems that faced production. Over 150 Chucky trivia facts are available for the hard core fan as well as a family album of the murderous doll clan. There is a featurette that provides a retrospective look at the past seventeen years of Chucky films. Rounding things off are two interviews. The first is with Chucky himself including his original ‘screen test’. Another is with both Chucky and Tiffany; both have the actors completely in character. Even though this is targeted mostly for the fans the newbie can enjoy the humor as well. Certainly not the best of the genre this film does deliver what is promised, a raunchy time, albeit not for the kiddies.