Monday, March 15, 2010

Bride of Chucky (USA, 1998)

White trash time! It only took four films for them to do it, but finally there made a really excellent killer doll flick. Okay, Child's Play I (1989 / trailer) and Child's Play II (1990 / trailer) weren't really all that bad, especially in comparison to a lot of the other crap that was around at the time. The killings were bloody enough, and Chucky the killer doll always had more snappy lines than Freddy ever did—and generally they were much more apt to the killing of the moment than those of the man with the glove—but by the third film in 1991 the series had definitely got tired and dull, no matter how the victims died. Hard to believe that the series could ever be successfully rejuvenated after sitting moribund for seven years, but with the fourth time around a mixture of old and new hands made the blood flow all the more merrier than ever before.
The Bride of Chucky is a blood-drenched black comedy featuring a psychotic plastic pair of trailer trash scum on a hilariously tasteless killer drive across New Jersey (!). The film is not light on the imitation blood or special effects—those dolls are amazing!—but what makes The Bride of Chucky so enjoyable is its hip, hilarious and tasteless sense of humour. Self-referential to the horror genre in the same way as many of the better post-modern horror hits of the late-90s like Scream I (1996 / trailer), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997 / trailer), The Faculty (1998 / trailer) or Cherry Falls (2000 / trailer), The Bride of Chucky surpasses them all. Featuring better direction, better acting (from the dolls at least), a tighter script and better jokes, this is a film that keeps you laughing even the second time around.
Ronny Yu, best known to fans of Hong Kong films due to The Bride With White Hair I (1993 / trailer) and II (1994 / trailer), made his American directorial debut with The Bride of Chucky, and of all the Hong Kong masters that have yet crossed the ocean, his Hollywood debut is undoubtedly the most consistent, if not the best. Yu has an excellent eye, both for moods and for framing, which he tempers well with expert editing, a fluid camera movement and a lot of visual energy. Scriptwriter Don Mancini, who also wrote all other films in the series, has either gotten better with age or he must have had some pretty fucking good weed when he wrote the script. He pulls no punches and as a result gets a lot of laughs as well as an occasional scare. True, the first half hour after the exceptionally perfect opening sequence is a bit slow, but it is also needed to introduce both the movie's nominal heroes and the background to the events that follow. Even the music isn't too bad, one of Graeme Revell's better jobs, even if parts of it aren't fit to be played during a quiet night at home. (Revell, ex-member of the legendary SPK (Surgical Penis Klinic) before they started doing crappy disco music, is a genre stalwart nowadays, having created the aural background for films ranging from Dead Calm (1989 / trailer) to No Escape (1994 / trailer) and onwards up to Sin City (2005 / trailer) and beyond. Unlike such mega-popular film music composers like the ever employed Danny Elfman, Revell usually belongs to the school of film music composers that believes the music should accompany a film rather than overwhelm it.)
All that trivia aside, The Bride of Chucky starts off on the right foot with a moodily shot scene of a cop breaking into an evidence room that contains, amongst other things, Freddy's glove, Jason's and Michael's masks, and Leatherface's chainsaw. He steals a bag and soon after, just as his curiosity finally gets too much of him and he peaks a look, he gets offed by a nail file-wielding Tiffany ("You know me, I'd kill anybody, but I'd only sleep with the man I love."). In no time flat, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) is back in her trailer reviving her ex-boyfriend with the help of a copy of Voodoo for Idiots. Once done, it doesn't take long for the two psychopaths to get on each others nerves, and before Tiffany can even finish watching The Bride of Frankenstein (1935 / trailer) Chucky (voice of Brad Dourif, as always) goes and pushes the television into the bathtub on her. Exit Tiffany the Hot Bod and enter Tiffany, killer doll number two. (The most disappointing aspect of The Bride of Chucky is that Jennifer Tilly, in all her trailer trash glory and still exuding that come-hither-and-fuck-me desirability that made her so memorable in Bound (1996 / trailer), never lets us see any skin. Damn, white trash or not, she rates high on the bonkability scale—at least until she opens her mouth.)
Now there are two dolls eager to get the graveyard in Hackensack, New Jersey, where the magic amulet is buried that can transfer their souls into human bodies. Two less than intelligent eloping young teens from opposite sides of the track are the boobs they manage to trick into "delivering" the dolls, and the trail of blood and violence that follows them soon has each of the young lovebirds convinced that the other is a murdering psychopath. By the time the dolls reveal the truth and kidnap them at gunpoint, the kids are wanted by the police and have little hope of escaping. Along the way, there is the infamous doll sex scene and the immortal exchange in which Tiffany moans "Ohh Chucky, do you got a rubber?" and Chucky answers "Tiff... I'm ALL rubber!"
The Bride of Chucky doesn't win any brownie points as a horror film, but it gets top notches as a camp black comedy with tasteless laughs and great dialogue coming in a steady stream. The big showdown is almost a bit out of tone to the rest of the film, but up to the point at which the cop lets the two teens leave it holds water and fits well enough, considering that the film is about two murdering dolls. As for the ending, well, Chucky obviously speaks much too soon when he says "If this were a movie, it would take three or four sequels to explain". The Bride of Chucky is definitely worth grabbing next time you're at the local DVD store. Buy some good smoke and beer to go along with it, and you'll laugh the night away.

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