Sunday, June 05, 2005


'What Would Martha Stewart Say?': A Film Review Of 'Bride Of Chucky'

Before I begin this, let me say that I absolutely adore 'Bride Of Chucky', and recommend everyone to watch it. Therefore, if you haven't, the review below contains spoilers, and so don't read it. Watch the film instead. You won't regret it, I promise. I should also like to add that I haven't seen all the films in the 'Child's Play' franchise - I've seen 'Child's Play', 'Bride Of Chucky' and 'Seed Of Chucky.'

Because of how much I love this film, when I discovered my best mate hadn't seen it, and we had nothing better to do, I suggested we watch it. And do you know what? He didn't like it. I know this because he turned to me about half an hour before the end and said, 'This is shite.' He couldn't have hurt me more if he'd driven a pickaxe through my heart. Something, incidentally, that Chucky himself would do.

Murderous dolls. And why not?

So, in light of this, I decided to try and see what it is that I love so very much about this film. The plot goes like this: it's been ten years since the Good Guy doll containing the spirit of mass-murderer Charles Lee Ray was put to rest in the (allegedly execrable) 'Child's Play 3.' Chucky's old flame Tiffany decides to stitch the old doll together again, and brings him back to life with that wonderful tome, 'Voodoo for Dummies.' Due to something of a domestic, Chucky electrocutes Tiffany in the bath and moves her soul to a bridal doll. In order to return to human form, the two murderous dolls need human bodies, so they persuad Tiffany's trailer-park neighbour to drive them to the cemetery containing the amulet which can achieve this. Trouble is, Jesse, the neighbour, has fallen in love with Jade, the niece of the Police Chief. They attempt to escape together. Unfortunately, the police try to stop them, meaning that the dolls have to take matters into their own gory hands.

The plot, which is a clear riff on the horror classic 'Bride Of Frankenstein' (the connection is made clear by the fact that Tiffany is watching that film while lying in the bath), is fine in itself, but is really a vehicle for no end of wonderful dark humour and gore. The humour is everywhere in the film, and really there's far too many great gags for me to list here, but my personal favourites are the references to Martha Stewart being Tiffany's idol, as the title of this review exemplifies. There are many, many eminently quotable lines, from 'if this were a film, it would require three or four sequels to do it justice' to 'I'll be BACK! . . . but dying is such a bitch' to the bizarre philosophies of Tiffany's mother. I've seen the film a fair few times, but it still cracks me up all the way through.

Chucky gets lucky!

The film has other wonders too. The casting of Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany was simply inspired, and Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile offer fine performances as the runaway couple, with Brad Dourif being as reliable as ever with the psycho voiceover for Chucky. The late (and sadly missed) John Ritter is great too in the role of the Police Chief.

The sexy, incredibly gorgeously sultry Jennifer Tilly.

John Waters, the director of such trash classics as 'Pink Flamingos' and 'Hairspray', apparently claimed that 'Bride Of Chucky' was his 'favourite film of the year!' It wasn't the best film of 1998, that honour going to perhaps my absolute favourite film 'Lola rennt', but it was probably second best. In fact, I don't know if this is deliberate, but in Waters new film, the wonderfully bizarre sex comedy 'A Dirty Shame', Tracey Ullman, when tarting up', draws a mole above her upper lip in exactly the same place that Jennifer Tilly has a mole. Is it a homage? Who knows. Whatever, 'Bride Of Chucky' is definitely a trash classic in the Waters tradition.

Another of the many reasons for the film earning this earmark of quality is its glorious soundtrack. Director Ronny Yu, who has previously been behind the chair of several quality films such as 'The Bride With The White Hair' , clearly decided that the trailer trash theme could be emphasised with a great metal soundtrack, with songs such as Rob Zombie's 'Living Dead Girl' and Monster Magnet's fantastic song 'See You In Hell', which I would number as one of my top twenty tunes period. Still, this doesn't win the award for the best soundtrack moment in the film, which goes to the use of 'Call Me', Blondie's best song, over a montage of the Tiffany doll dressing up as the evil bride. It is a wonderful, wonderful scene, and words can't express how much I love it.

Monster Magnet are just one element of the films sound.

The frights are definitely toned down in place of the humour. 'Child's Play' was a genuinely frightening film, and the two immediate sequels 'Child's Play 2' and 'Child's Play 3' apparently followed the tradition. Yu doesn't try to fill 'Bride Of Chucky' with too many wanton scares, which works in the films favour. It is, howerver, quite gory in places, though scarcely ever anything other than hilariously so. Undoubtedly the best moment in this regard is the shattered mirror ceiling falling down upon a couple of thiefs on a water bed. As plumes of water and blood gush into the air, Yu creates a surprisingly beautiful scene.

A little gore never did anyone any harm.

The truly astonishing thing is that the film was ever made at all. The furore over 'Child's Play 3', which was implicated in the murder of James Bolger, despite the fact that there was no evidence the killers had even seen the film, reached America too, and it appeared that the franchise was dead. It was only because horror enthusiast Yu was dead keen to reinvigorate the franchise that 'Bride Of Chucky' came into being, so it's him we have to thank. Yu's passion for horror cinema can be seen in the appearance of horror props such as Leatherface's chainsaw and Michael Myer's mask in the opening scene. Yu later continued his work on reinvigorating dead franchises with the film 'Freddy vs Jason.'

All this makes it something of a shame that 'Seed Of Chucky', which I saw last week, may well have put the franchise back on the life-support machine. It had its moments, including a wonderful scene riffing on 'The Shining', in which Chucky breaks down a door with an axe, only to say 'Dammit! I can't think of anything to say.' Credit is also due to Jennifer Tilly and rap superstar Redman for shamelessly sending themselves up. Nonetheless, it lacked the edge that 'Bride Of Chucky' has, and wasn't consistently funny enough, and it could be that the door has finally closed on one of the strangest horror franchises.

That's the attitude!

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