Bride of Chucky

Bride-of-Chucky-rev Bride of Chucky  (1998)    Universal/Horror-Comedy    RT: 89 minutes    Rated R (strong horror violence and gore, language, some sexual content, brief drug use)    Director: Ronny Yu    Screenplay: Don Mancini    Music: Graeme Revell    Cinematography: Peter Pau    Release date: October 16, 1998 (US)    Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Alexis Arquette, Lawrence Dane, Michael Louis Johnson, Janet Kidder, James Gallanders, Vincent Corazza, Kathy Najimy, Park Bench, Emily Weedon.    Box Office: $32.3 million (US)/$50.6 million (World) 


 As much I thoroughly enjoy the first Child’s Play movie, Bride of Chucky is my favorite installment in the series. I love it for many reasons not the least of which is Jennifer Tilly in what I think is her second-best role, the first being the lesbian neo-noir thriller Bound (1996). She plays Tiffany, a serial killer groupie with a special fondness for the killer doll Chucky. Could it be because the soul possessing him, serial killer Charles Lee Ray, was her fiancee while he was still among the living? Funny he never mentioned her once in any of his three previous outings. I guess men really are from Mars. Don’t ask me what planet Tiffany is from.

 1998 brideDirected by Ronny Yu (Freddy vs. Jason), Bride of Chucky changes things up in many areas most notably, the tone of the series. Whereas the first three movies are to be taken seriously (as seriously as you can take movies about killer dolls), this one is more comedic. Chucky (voiced, as always, by the great Brad Dourif) has a savage wit to go along with his savage nature. Not only that, he has a great rapport with Tiffany. By great, I mean funny. All she wants is a man to appreciate all she does for him. He, of course, doesn’t get it. They bicker and snipe…. that is, when they’re not killing some poor dope. Murder is really the only thing that brings then together. I see a future Jerry Springer episode here.

 Another thing that’s different about Bride of Chucky is that Chucky is no longer after Andy Barclay. He still wants to transfer his soul into a human body but it doesn’t have to be Andy anymore. All he needs is a magic amulet that was buried with Ray in (for some unknown reason) Hackensack, NJ. Once he has it, he can transfer his soul into any body he chooses. He still has to recite a voodoo incantation though.

 In real time, it’s been seven years since the events of Child’s Play 3. In Bride of Chucky’s reel time, it’s only been a month. Now the key to understanding the comedic self-referential nature of Bride of Chucky lies in the movie’s opening minutes which take place at a police storage compound. Take a look at the items in some of the lockers. Do they seem familiar? They should if you like slasher flicks. They belonged to other well-known mad slashers. Anyway, we’re here because there’s something else of importance in this place. Namely, Chucky’s mutilated remains. A cop retrieves them with the intention of selling them to Tiffany. Instead, he gets his throat slashed for his efforts.

 In true Frankenstein fashion, Tiffany reassembles Chucky from other doll parts and sews his face back together resulting in a new scarier look for our three-foot antagonist. She tries to bring him back to life with incantations she reads from “Voodoo for Dummies” but it’s doesn’t work. At least, not at first. It isn’t until she offers up a faux-Goth admirer (Arquette, The Wedding Singer) as a human sacrifice that Chucky comes back to life and resumes his old murderous ways. But first he needs an accomplice. He kills Tiffany via a TV thrown in the bathtub and transfers her body into a bride doll. After she makes a few appearance adjustments, they’re ready for a road trip to NJ to retrieve the amulet. And they’ve already chosen the bodies they want to inhabit.

 Meet Jesse (Stabile, Sunset Beach) and Jade (Heigl, Under Siege 2), a pair of teenage lovers who run away from home to elope after her strict uncle/legal guardian Warren (Ritter, Problem Child 1 & 2) forbids them to see each other. If not, he can make life difficult for Jesse; he’s the local chief of police, he can do whatever he wants with complete impunity. Tiffany hires Jesse (over the phone) to drive the dolls to NJ for $500 up front and $500 more upon delivery. He asks Jade to come with him. They have to get out of Dodge fast though; the police think they’re responsible for at least two killings. Little do they know that the real culprits are their plastic passengers.

 Bride of Chucky is a cool throwback to the kinds of teen horror movies I used to see in the 80s. I thought back to those Friday and Saturday nights of my youth as I sat watching it at my local multiplex on a Friday night in ’98. It was a great feeling! More than that, I was watching a legit cool horror flick. It has this whole Goth vibe going for it. Tilly is great as Tiffany. I love her voice. She’s a great match for Dourif whose voice simply oozes evil menace. Even in the guise of dolls, they have great chemistry. Arquette is perfect as the wannabe Goth (and Tiffany’s wannabe lover). Ritter shows a real nasty streak as the dick uncle. Also good is Gordon Michael Woolvett (the TV series Andromeda) as Jade’s obviously gay friend who poses as her prom date to try and fool her uncle. It doesn’t work; I’m not sure if it was his interest in theater arts (as a college major) or expertise in orchid care that gave it away. PLUS, Bride of Chucky contains the first doll sex scene I can recall. Remember, it came out a whole eight years before Team America: World Police (a modern comedy classic!). Bride of Chucky already had me from the start but the sex scene sealed the deal.

 Bride of Chucky has a body count of 11 and some very cool kill scenes. One guy nearly buys it when the killer dolls rig a car airbag to launch nails into face making him look like a certain Cenobite that shall remain nameless. Chucky finishes the job later with a knife, a method of killing that Tiffany derides as “too 80s”. In another scene, a couple at a sleazy Niagara Falls honeymoon hotel gets impaled by shards of glass from a ceiling mirror while having sex on a waterbed. A teen is hit by a truck and splattered all over the road. There are shootings, a death by car explosion, another by burning and one smothering-by-pillow. There’s plenty of gore in Bride of Chucky. As you know, that’s a real selling point for me. The gore effects are really good. So are the animatronics. The Goth metal-heavy soundtrack enhances the tone greatly. The final scene is funny, gross and horrifying all at the same time. Simply put, Bride of Chucky is AWESOME! I really dig this flick. Don Mancini’s script is full of great lines and references to other horror movies. Yu imbues it with a sense of fun. It’s one of the best funny fright flicks of the 90s! 

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