By Landon Evanson
The horror community has been abuzz since the trailer for Cult of Chucky dropped last week, which is the perfect excuse to revisit Bride of Chucky (1998), perhaps the finest installment of the franchise, and a film so fun, not even Katherine Heigl could ruin it.
If you’re looking for classic, piss-your-pants horror, Bride isn’t for you. However, if popcorn entertainment that’ll leave you in stiches is what you seek, then buckle up, because the fourth chapter of the Child’s Play saga will scratch that particular itch.
In Bride of Chucky, Mancini made the decision to veer from the standard into a new direction for his golden ticket. Fearful that the series was beginning to regurgitate the same plot line film after film, Mancini embraced the humor inherent in both the premise and his animatronic leading…man, and it was a master stroke.
Of course, Brad Dourif returns as the ever-present, cackling voice of Chucky, but as stated, this tale has nothing to do with Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), and comes complete with an unforgettable co-pilot by the name of Tiffany.
Mancini wrote the part of Chucky’s love interest with Jennifer Tilly in mind, but had no idea whether she’d be interested or willing to accept the role. To say that she was perfect would be an insult to understatements.
Tilly is not only a talented actress, but playful and funny, as well as sexy and sassy, and with those eyes and that voice, she possessed just the right amount of crazy to make Tiffany work. And my, oh my, does Tiffany work. In a way, she overshadowed the star of the series, and in no way was that depressing.
The film opens with Charles Lee Ray’s (Dourif) one-time lover in human form, bribing an officer to bring her the remains of the Chucky doll so she could employ the voodoo incantation we’ve all come to know and love to resurrect our favorite diabolical doll. Once back and better than ever, however, Chucky laughs off the idea of marriage, but Tiffany doesn’t find the idea quite as humorous and imprisons the little fucker. Once he makes his escape, Chucky takes care of Tiffany while she’s watching Bride of Frankenstein (1935) in the tub. And yes, it’s a not-so subtle reference that pays off more than once.
“Barbie, eat your heart out.”
Beyond Elsa Lanchester, there are references to genre fare throughout, including an appearance by John Ritter that’s nothing like his Ben Hanscom character from IT (1990), or short of outstanding. Let’s just put it this way, you will get Jack Tripper as Pinhead followed by a one-liner that is pure bliss.
The crux of the story is that what’d been missing from Chucky’s numerous attempts to inhabit a human body was the amulet he’d worn around his neck on the night he was killed in Chicago, which had been buried with his corpse. Upon this revelation, Chucky and Tiffany come to understand that they need to get to New Jersey for an exhumation to remedy the situation, but, they’re dolls, so they be fucked. Tiffany, however, knows that her neighbor is looking for money so he and his girl can start a new life and offers some dinero for him to pick up some dolls that need to be dropped off. Problem solved, right? Nay. Mayhem ensues, replete with over the top kills and jokes, up to and including a love scene between Chucky and Tiffany that is, to ballpark a Mancini thought, tastefully done. Rest assured, you will be howling with laughter at the brilliance of the concept, and those hilarious dolls. Oh, David Kirschner, you magnificent bastard.
As alluded to earlier, Heigl stars as the human love interest, but her notorious off-screen unpleasantness clearly didn’t have a negative impact on what made it into the film, and that’s as far as we need to go on that subject.
Cult of Chucky (and Halloween) are right around the corner, so grab those Child’s Play flicks and have yourself a ball. But if you only have time for one and want to make those minutes count, you could do a lot worse than Bride of Chucky, because it’s just a good time, and that’s what horror is all about.