BRIDE OF CHUCKY (1998)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Horror Violence and Gore, Language, some Sexual Content and brief Drug Use

Directed by: Ronny Yu

Written by: Don Mancini

Starring: Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, Alexis Arquette, Gordon Michael Woolvett, John Ritter, Lawrence Dane & Michael Louis Johnson

In 1988, CHILD’S PLAY introduced the iconic killer doll known as “Chucky.” Though CHILD’S PLAY 2 and CHILD’S PLAY 3 were fun follow-ups to that first slasher flick, they were both a step below the original. Ten years after its creation, the CHUCKY series returned to its former quality 1998’s BRIDE OF CHUCKY. This fourth installment had a distinct change in tone from previous CHUCKY entries. While the pint-sized plastic serial killer had previously made goofy quips and cheesy one-liners in the past, those pieces of humor are nothing compared to the deliberately over-the-top nature of BRIDE OF CHUCKY. This is straight-up horror comedy that has loads of laughs, some of the best kills in the series, and also pays homage to old school Universal monster movie BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. To put it quite bluntly, BRIDE OF CHUCKY is one of the best films in the consistently entertaining CHILD’S PLAY series.

A few months after the events of CHILD’S PLAY 3, long-deceased serial killer Charles Lee Ray’s former girlfriend Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) collects the bits and pieces of his Chucky doll form. With a little black magic and lots of stitches, Tiffany puts Chucky back together and brings him to life once again. However, things don’t quite work out as planned because Tiffany winds up dead and her soul is thrown into a female doll. As a result, Chucky and Tiffany road trip to Charles Lee Ray’s grave to recover a voodoo amulet that can transfer their souls into human hosts and they’re eyeballing naïve young couple Jesse (Nick Stabile) and Jade (Katherine Heigl) as potentially nubile new bodies.

BRIDE OF CHUCKY is far more clever than most folks might expect. Series creator and constant screenwriter Don Mancini structured his fourth CHUCKY installment as a romantic comedy with killer dolls and gory kills. This means that there are lots of misunderstandings that lead to funny hijinks alongside a developing relationship between couples Jade and Jesse…and Chucky and Tiffany. The way that these subplots weave in and out of each other is pretty damn entertaining to watch. There are also long awkwardly humorous moments where Jade and Jesse suspect each other of possibly being a serial killer, because bloody corpses are left in their wake. This is all very reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde…but with killer puppets, voodoo, and doll sex (yes, you correctly read that last bit).

To boot, BRIDE OF CHUCKY is directed in a fast paced manner that has plenty of style. The entire film looks slick and there’s a creepy atmosphere to it, even though the events are as ridiculous as you could possibly imagine from the film’s premise. Director Ronny Yu later went on to take the reigns of the long-anticipated FREDDY VS. JASON (another very fun slasher sequel) and his early sense for gory giddiness was showcased here. BRIDE’s soundtrack is also phenomenal with lots of rock and metal from groups like: Rob Zombie, Monster Magnet, Kidneythieves, Slayer, Stabbing Westward, Motorhead, Judas Priest, and more. This is one of the few movie soundtracks that I went to the trouble of purchasing during my teenage years and the rockin songs are incorporated in ways that perfectly jive with the film’s flow.

Brad Dourif is especially fun as Chucky in this fourth go-round, because he’s given extra room to goof off and kill to his heart’s content. The animatronics on Chucky (and Tiffany) are amazing and make you feel like you’re watching an actual performance…when it’s just one big bloody puppet show. It’s also worth noting that Chucky’s stitched-up, mutilated look is far nastier and cooler than his early clean-cut “Good Guy” appearance. Jennifer Tilly is perfectly cast as Chucky’s love-interest Tiffany. This colorful antagonist is a sadistic serial killer who finds a role model in Martha Stewart and maintains a sensitive side. The chemistry between Dourif’s Chucky and Tilly’s Tiffany is believable as these two psycho killers seem (literally) made for each other, resulting in lots of laughs and an ever-changing relationship dynamic. Also, there’s doll sex (which paves the way for 2004’s comedic SEED OF CHUCKY).

As far as the human characters go, Katherine Heigl is the biggest name here and this role was very early in her career. Heigl is fun as Jade, while Nick Stabile (who hasn’t been in many movies since this debut performance) is convincing enough as Jesse. The story’s main focus is on Tiffany and Chucky, whilst Jesse and Jade happen to be unwittingly stuck in the middle of the doll couple’s road trip/killing spree. The rest of the victims, er…I mean supporting characters, are all fun in their small bits of screen time. We get corrupt cops, a pair of swindling swingers, an over-the-top annoying goth, and a few more. There’s also a stoner (who regrettably doesn’t get offed) and he delivers one of the funniest scenes in the film.

As for the kills, BRIDE OF CHUCKY far excels above its predecessors. There’s loads of creativity thrown into each demise and specific scenes pay homage to past horror classics. From a darkly comedic electrocution set to BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN playing on the murder weapon (a TV) to a literal blood bath and one hilarious nod to a certain Clive Barker flick, horror fans are bound to have a great time in watching Chucky “getting lucky” (according to the poster’s tagline). BRIDE OF CHUCKY clearly wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and winds up as a very fun slasher sequel as a result. The 89-minute running time flies by and CHUCKY fans (who enjoy the goofier side of this already silly series) are sure to have a blast watching BRIDE!

Grade: B

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