Horror Bride of Chucky (1998) (8/10)

Jethro

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"Let me put it this way. If this were a movie, it would take three or four sequels to do it justice." - Chucky

Tiffany, Charles Lee Ray's ex-lover, isn't done with her psycho love interest and bribes a Cop to get Chucky's mangled remains out of the evidence locker. Doesn't end up well for the Cop, Tiffany is as psychotic as her boy toy. Utilising Voodoo for Dummies Tiffany resurrects the rebuilt Chucky, hey nothing like $6 million spent there, but it's not all wine and roses in the Trailer park of love. Seems Tiffany took the wrong meaning when Chucky left a ring behind just before his fatal encounter with the Cops at the toy store way back at the start of the first movie. One thing leads to another and Chucky ends up in a locked play pen with a bride doll. Naturally the plastic one isn't going to take this lying down, he breaks out and murders Tiffany in her bathtub, and just to be nasty resurrects her soul into the bride doll, hence the title of the movie.

Meanwhile young lovers Jade, hey Katherine Heigl in an early romantic comedy role, and Jesse are running afoul of Jade's guardian Warren, the local chief of police. They need to get out from under Warren's tyrannical rule and the dolls concoct a plan. Seems they need to retrieve an amulet, the Heart of Damballa, that was buried around the neck of Lee Ray in a cemetery in New Jersey. If Jesse delivers the two dolls to the cemetery he'll earn a thousand bucks, just enough to get two young lovers free of guardian overlords. Naturally this plan isn't going to work out exactly as envisage, the dolls being psychotic nutcases, and Warren being in hot pursuit, get ready for a road trip to hell. This ain't no Ferris Bueller's Day Off kids, strap in we're riding shotgun.

So it was a seven year wait between Chucky movies due to the last one having tanked at the box office. Chucky's dad Don Mancini wasn't giving up on his creation however and came back swinging with a whole new idea for the moribund franchise. Clearly audiences were over the whole Andy thing, hey three movies were enough for me as well, so decided we needed to take things to the next level, horror comedy! Well okay that's better than Chucky in space I guess and at least Mancini didn't give up on the psychopath nature of the plastic one, which was a huge relief. Equally importantly Mancini wasn't giving up on horror, how else was he going to explain psychotic animated dolls after all, so I was pretty happy with things overall. Got to say Mancini's makeover is doing the business, the Chuck is back and he hasn't mellowed over the years.

Before getting into the meat of this one, and there's plenty on the bone here, I should point out Bride is chock full of references to other solid horror movies that will have you wide eyed and bushy tailed. I guess this was a chance for Mancini to pay homage, and the old fella wasn't about to let the chance go begging. Besides the obvious reference to Bride of Frankenstein, in one of the truly great scenes in the entire franchise - Jennifer Tilly freaking nailed that scene to the barn door, we get Freddy, Jason, Michael, and Leatherface paraphernalia that would be the envy of any horror fan. The local police station must have the highest number of psychopathic killers in the world! Later we get a great reference to Pinhead, and hey never thought I would say this, well played by John Ritter, and I'm going to put this out there, final scene involves a nod to It Lives. You want more, there is more, dial into the movie to get your own groove train on, I've got limited space.

Bride of Chucky pretty much locks onto surreal and just keeps things in that frame of reference, the whole look and feel of the movie is imbibed with director Ronny Yu's particular aesthetic, nothing approaches what we would expect to see in the real world. Tiffany lives in a trailer park and seems steeped in a 1950s starlet persona. The voluptuous Jennifer Tilly is right across the requirements and lets her curves do the talking for her. Other denizens of the park include Jesse, our Romeo for the evening, and a Marilyn Mansion channelling dude who is infatuated with Tiffany. Doesn't do him any good and got to say a large spider is the least of his problems. Things bounce into the chaotic from this location, and I was having a lot of fun with the shenanigans going down at the toy making trailer park. Quick question, where do I score a copy of Voodoo for Dummies?

The second block of the movie involves the road trip from hell with the Dolls first trying to hide their natures, just toys right, and then having to control a situation that gets completely out of hand. Death by mirrored ceiling, lock and load on that one, Tiffany is a little minx. Actually the best part of this block was the ongoing commentary by Chucky and Tiffany as they remained camouflaged as toys. Naturally a number of deaths ensue and at least Chucky is having a high old time and is getting infatuated with Tiffany due to her nifty death dealing ways, but he remains old school. This leads to some doll sex, seems Chucky is fully functioning below the equator. Eventually our young lovers Jesse and Jade discover their delivery job isn't as easy as they may have supposed, and worse yet they discover the dolls have a dark intention when it comes to their future.

The final block of the movie just takes the mayhem off the leash as Chucky seeks to disinter Charles Lee Ray's body and regain possession of the amulet. Naturally this is not going to be easy sailing and we end with a battle royal, with of course a nice twist at the end to keep things rocking. Actually that twist will come into play during the course of the next movie in the franchise.

Besides the whole amulet thing, since when did Chucky need this trinket to transfer his soul, Bride of Chucky keeps within the Child's Play universe. Tiffany was a welcome addition and nice to see they are still keeping Chucky true to his previous incarnation, hence the scarred look, excellent continuity right there. Added advantage here was Ronny Yu's kinetic direction, with no time taken to slow down proceedings or to overly explain the blatantly obvious in a pretty simple plot.

While the horror elements aren't what they once were, been a while since psycho dolls really worked in chill terms, there was enough happening in a sort of slasher fashion to keep the troops entertained. Don't dial into this one if after terror in the aisles or if wanting gore, things are pretty low key for a modern audience. We get one shock scene with a spider, if arachnophobic, but other than that just some well-designed kills. While tension might be slightly on the lacking side of the plastic I was digging Ronny Yu's atmosphere and colour pallet.

T&A is on the low side of the halter blouse but we do get Jennifer Tilly in tight tops and short skirts, chick certainly has some classic curves happening. The ladies get Nick Stabile with his shirt off, dude been rocking the gym and is sporting the abs. And for the Chucky fanatics, naked doll bum is on the menu!

Thank god Ronny Yu was prepared to head to Hollywood rather than staying put in his Hong Kong lair of Wire Fu. The dude has re-invigorated the Chucky franchise and has us rocking once again to the plastic fantastic's particular brand of mayhem and murder. Naturally there is a whole lot of humour involved but after three Andy movies it was definitely time to seek out a new direction and Don Mancini was not afraid to take a hard right to keep his boy toy alive and kicking. Full recommendation kids, you don't have to marry this one, but it's definitely worth a few nights in with a chilled Chablis.
 
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