[SEQUEL SEPTEMBER II] Bride of Chucky (1998)

Ronny Yu

Jennifer Tilly - Tiffany
Brad Dourif - Chucky
Katherine Heigl - Jade
Nick Stabile - Jesse
Alexis Arquette - Damien Baylock
Gordon Michael Woolvett - David Collins
John Ritter - Chief Warren Kincaid

Genre - Horror/Comedy/Supernatural/Slasher

Running Time - 89 Minutes

A busty blonde named Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) bribes a cop to steal the doll remains of Charles Lee Ray a.k.a Chucky. Apparently Tiffany was Chucky's long-time girlfriend when he was human, and she wants to reunite with him in some way by bringing him back to life. Since Chucky was left in pieces after the events of CHILD'S PLAY 3, Tiffany stitches him back up and does some voodoo to bring his soul back.

When Chucky murders a wannabe paramour of Tiffany's (
Alexis Arquette) in front of her, she's ecstatic that her spell worked. But when Chucky realizes that his doll body won't be able to do much with Tiffany's adult body [especially when she treats him like an actual doll, which upsets him greatly], Chucky murders Tiffany and transfers her soul into a female doll. While Tiffany is upset at first, she makes the most of it due to her love for Chucky.

Chucky and Tiffany, wanting to get rid of some dead bodies, learn along the way that an amulet needed to transfer souls into human bodies has been buried in Chucky's human grave. And due to the murders, which has Chucky's fingerprints on the bodies, the authorities plan on exhuming Charles Lee Ray's body. Using a pair of young lovers (
Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile) who want to get away to get married, Chucky and Tiffany hitch a ride to New Jersey where the amulet is located to start their new lives once they take over the bodies of the unsuspecting young couple.

Since CURSE OF CHUCKY is finally out on VOD, and will be out on DVD and Blu in October, I figured it's the right time to discuss the last two sequels prior to CURSE's release - BRIDE OF CHUCKY and SEED OF CHUCKY [next review]. That being said, I still don't understand why so many horror fans look down on BRIDE OF CHUCKY. Even when I had first watched the film back in 1998, I thought this was definitely a huge upgrade from the disappointing third installment from 1991. Maybe it's because BRIDE OF CHUCKY has the SCREAM effect - a horror film that's so aware of itself, that it tends to be more of a comedy with a wink to its audience rather than a scary movie. I can see why a certain audience would turn their nose up at that. But BRIDE OF CHUCKY, even 15 years later, is still a fun, entertaining, and even clever film that gives the CHILD'S PLAY franchise a fresh coat of paint it needed once the Andy Barclay story was done.

Seriously, was anyone scared of Chucky by this point anyway? Hell, he was on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro to promote this damn movie! How is anyone going to take this character seriously? I think it was a great idea to make him a bit more comedic, while keeping a bit of that sadistic side we fans grew to love. Add in a doll love interest in Tiffany, and you have Chucky feeling fresh again because he has new motivations and a backstory to now play with, even if it is for laughs.

Speaking of Tiffany, it's interesting to see the type of woman Chucky would be in love with. She doesn't take Chucky's crap, which makes Chucky fall more in love with her, as well as having a bigger urge to kill her when she steps in his way. Their Bonnie and Clyde relationship is pretty much a realistic portrait of most couples out there - two people in love with each other who constantly fight to maintain some level of power over the other. Sure, most couples don't consist of two serial killers. But the fact that they're dysfunctional makes him easy to identify with. This is also helped by the two human characters, Jade and Jesse, who display this idealistic portrait of two people in love. They come together stronger when outside forces want them apart. When bodies pile up around them, they doubt each other's involvement, yet still love each other and end up getting married. In fact, their relationship is one that Tiffany has always dreamed about. But like a lot of women, she ended up with the bad boy she thought she could change, but couldn't. I've read and heard a lot of people knock the Jade and Jesse characters because they claim the two don't add much to the film other than a plot device for two shells that Chucky and Tiffany want to transfer their souls into. But the couple is there to differentiate the Chucky-Tiffany partnership, giving us a look at the couple they want to be, but never will due to their past and bad habits.

I will say that other than Chucky and Tiffany really, the other characters don't really have much characterization. Jade and Jesse are likeable, and I love how they doubt each other when the authorities believe one or both are behind the murders. But we don't really know much about them besides the fact that they come from two different worlds and her family wants to drive them apart - like Romeo & Juliet. But they're really supporting characters to two dolls who have 10 times the personality they each contain. David, the best friend, is the voice of reason and gay, which gives him his personality stereotypically. Chief Kinkaid is just a prick who wants to control his neice, Jade. There's nothing much to any of these people. It's the Chucky and Tiffany show.

Also, why do Chucky and Tiffany need this special amulet to transfer their souls anyway? I remember Chucky doing pretty damn well without it in the previous films. I get that there would be no story without this motivation, but it feels kind of forced.

I do like the homages to other horror films in BRIDE OF CHUCKY. There's the obvious BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN reference [the film is actually playing on television] during Tiffany's death scene which leads to her soul being transferred into the doll. The opening sequence, inside the police evidence room, shows Freddy Krueger's glove, Jason Voorhees' hockey mask, and Michael Myers' William Shatner mask as items. And John Ritter's death scene involves nails that impale his face, making him resemble HELLRAISER's Pinhead. All of this is done tongue-in-cheek, which makes it work really well.

BRIDE OF CHUCKY is pretty bloody for a horror-comedy. I thought John Ritter's demise was pretty fun to watch. I love the mirror murder inside the hotel, as Tiffany throws a bottle of champagne towards a ceiling mirror, which shatters and stabs the couple to death who were laying below it. And the best one had to be the truck accident that splatters a character into pieces as it rams into him. Of course, both Chucky and Tiffany get beat up as only these dolls could as well. I thought the death sequences were visualized extremely well.

Ronny Yu, who would later direct FREDDY VS. JASON, really breathes new life into the franchise through his visuals. Yu injects a ton of style in this film, with bluish tints, crazy angles, and adding a rock/metal soundtrack that energizes the scene it accompanies. The pacing is wonderful, the editing is slick, and the picture quality is quite nice. I also thought the CGI effects were done believably. While there's no real suspense or tension, BRIDE OF CHUCKY isn't meant to be a true slasher/horror film anyway. I thought Yu gave the film a ton of energy that made it fun to watch.

The acting is decent enough for the film, to the point where it doesn't really drag it down. Brad Dourif reprises his voice role as Chucky, which always puts a smile on his face. He's the only actor I can picture voicing the character. Dourif's voice alone gives Chucky a ton of personality and charisma. Jennifer Tilly looks great, and her helium voice fits Tiffany well. I thought Dourif and Tilly had nice voice chemistry with each other, making their banter a hoot at times. Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl are decent in their roles of Jesse and Jade. Stabile comes from the world of soap operas, so he's really in the film because he looks great without a shirt. Heigl fares better, as this role led to her being cast in Roswell a year later. Too bad her ego pretty much ruined her career in recent times. Gordon Michael Woolvett is pretty good as David, who has a memorable exit. Nice appearance by Alexis Arquette as a wannabe goth boyfriend for Tiffany. And the late, great John Ritter is fantastic as the evil Chief Warren. I really miss that dude.

A lot of fans consider BRIDE OF CHUCKY the downfall of the franchise. However, I think it revived it and reboots the series into a different direction. The script is funny and aware of itself. The death sequences are pretty neat. Ronny Yu's direction is fun and energetic. And the acting isn't all that bad. Sure it's not a slasher film like the first three CHILD'S PLAY's that came before it, but I respect that the film took a risk in turning into something more of a horror-comedy that poked fun at itself. I think BRIDE OF CHUCKY is a fine sequel that I still enjoy quite a great deal. It's a stupid movie, but it's a stupid movie that made me laugh for 89 minutes. It doesn't go too over the top with its subject matter, which unfortunately will be something to discuss when I get to the next sequel in the franchise.

3.5 Howls Outta 4

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