Previews
selected from Starburst #249
Preview - our forthright coverage of new sci-fi films - is just one of Starburst's regular Review sections. Every issue has a TV View, from the US or UK: our popular Bookshelf section on the latest Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels, plus Soundtracks, games and websites in Cybertech and the latest take-home releases in Videofile
Bride of Chucky

Chucky

Hello Dolly! Unceremoniously dumped by UIP in Britain for obvious (now, in hindsight, rather pathetic) reasons, thank God for Metrodome who are biting the controversy bullet and theatrically releasing what is not only the best episode in the variable Child's Play series but easily one of the best Horror movies for ages. Bride of Chucky is so fantastic, so funny and so brilliantly directed by Ronnie Yu with dash and flair to spare, the shock you'll be reeling from the most is how expertly re-energized the whole Chucky premise is, under the Hong Kong dynamo's sure hand and writer Don Mancini's Scream influenced script, after an eight year gap

The fourth instalment begins as Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), serial killer Charles Lee Ray's girlfriend, rescues the bagged remains of the Good Guy Doll containing his spirit from a police evidence lock-up and stitches him together. In her ditzy fashion, the trailer trash floozie thought the low-life was on the verge of proposing to her just prior to his mystic transformation. But realizing her mistake too late, Chucky demonstrates his eternal gratitude by murdering her, transplanting her own soul into a bridal doll, and making her his accomplice in obtaining the magical Amulet of Dambala which will allow them both to become human again.

That talisman is on a chain around the neck of Ray's own decayed body in a New Jersey cemetery. Enter eloping teenagers Jade (Katherine Heigl) and Jesse (Nick Stabile), forever trying to sneak away from her guardian, Police Chief Warren Kincaid (John Ritter), and Chucky's long-distance graveyard trip begins to materialize. However, no one has reckoned on Kincaid's determination to tear his niece's relationship apart. While planting drugs in Jesse's van, Kincaid is slaughtered by the Mattel Mickey and Mallory and the carnage continues as the cops close in on the unwitting lovers who begin to suspect each other of the heinous crimes gleefully committed by the Toy Shop terrors in the back seat.

Bride of Chucky lays its sanguinary and satirical cards on the table immediately the bent cop raids the police vaults, wanders past a Jason hockey protector, a Mike Myers mask and a chainsaw, and then has his throat cut in gory close-up. Later on, Hellraiser gets the one-liner once-over in Mancini's mordantly funny script studded with self-referential sparklers about the 'Violence in the Media' debate and its own four episode lineage. Anyone who takes this deliciously edgy romp seriously (the out-of-touch British tabloids, for example) - with such side-splitting scenes as Tiffany resurrecting Chucky using a 'Voodoo for Dummies' guidebook - can be filed under M for Moronic.

Yet, although Yu's top-flight direction defers to each gag with a light-heartedly cynical reverence, he gets the tonal balance between shock send-up and visceral blood-letting exactly right. Both fast-paced strands feed off, and complement, each other in a dazzling updating of The Bride of Frankenstein with outstanding puppet special effects by maestro Kevin Yagher. The patched up Chucky and Tiffany dolls, the latter resembling Lady Penelope with a Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! makeover, are wonderfully versatile and convincing, and their love scene (complete with plastic tongues in each other's mouths and a safe-sex 'rubber' joke) is a laugh-riot. In an impressive array of splatter, worth the price of admission alone is the visually imaginative honeymooners' death by broken mirror shards falling from the ceiling onto their waterbed.

Bride of Chucky's secret weapon, though, is Jennifer Tilly. She's sexy, campy, stupid and loveable all at the same time and her performance as Tiffany is the breakfast you've always wanted at that jewellery establishment. Tilly is rapidly turning into the Susan Tyrell of her generation because she instantly gives a knowing lift to every film role she plays. Here, she's on top form, rising to the dolled-up vicious vixen occasion and equally as animated vocally when reduced to the pint-sized Wedding Barbie-cum-homicidal harlot. With yet another demented Toy Story promised by the atmospheric graveyard finale, Bride of Chucky is hip blood-soaked fun and a very welcome surprise indeed from the Fear Franchise dumping ground.

Starburst rating:
10
out of 10

'Bride of Chucky is hip blood-soaked fun and a very welcome surprise indeed'
Bride of Chucky picture copyright Metrodome

Bride of Chucky: Producer, David Kirshner & David Gilroy • Executive producers, Don Mancini & Corey Sienega • Co-producer, Laura Moskovitz • Director, Ronnie Yu • Screenplay, Don Mancini, based on his original characters • Music, Graeme Revell • Puppet effects, Kevin Yagher

Starring Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, John Ritter, Alexis Arquette, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Lawrence Dane, Kathy Najimy and Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky

89 mins • Cert R/18.

Released America: October 1998 • Britain: June 1999.