Bride of Chucky (1998)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Child's Play

Child's Play 2

Child's Play 3

Bride of Chucky

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Our rating: four LAVA® motion lamps.

Bride of Chucky
The happy couple.
If you're one of those people who thinks Scream was too jokey to be a good horror film, you won't like Bride of Chucky. If you're one of those people who thinks Jennifer Tilly's voice is annoying, you won't like Bride of Chucky. If you're one of those people who is easily offended, you won't like Bride of Chucky. We're guessing a lot of people won't like Bride of Chucky, but fortunately, we don't fit into any of the categories above.

Bride of Chucky drops most of the baggage that the Child's Play movies carried with them. Heck, it even drops the words "Child's Play" from the title. Also gone are all references to Play Pals and Andy Barclay. Bride of Chucky starts from scratch with Chucky's reconstruction from his remains by a woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly, who has the sexiest voice this side of Joey Lauren Adams). Tiffany was Charles Lee Ray's girlfriend back when he was still the very human Lakeshore Strangler, as opposed to the pychopathic doll we all know and love. Tiffany has held a torch for Charles for the last ten years, dreaming Martha Stewart dreams of a blissful domestic life with the serial killer she loves.

Bride of Chucky
We really can't explain
why, but this is our favorite
shot in the movie.
After his resurrection via a mystical chant (thank you, Voodoo for Dummies), Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif yet again, though he's turned the Jack Nicolson impersonation down a couple notches) is back to his old ways. But when he spurns Tiffany's wedding plans, she locks the diminutive psycho in his playpen, where he can do little besides spell "KILL TIFFANY SLOWLY" with letter blocks. When, however, has something like that ever done more than slow Chucky down a bit? He escapes his prison, kills Tiffany, and transfers her soul into the body of a female doll. Hence, Bride of Chucky.

Because we need something to spur the action forward, Chucky and Tiffany decide that they need an amulet, currently buried with Chucky's human corpse, to transfer their souls back into human bodies. The amulet, called the Heart of Druballa or something, is pretty much a classic McGuffin. It never does anything, but it drives the entire the plot. Our two favorite homicidal dolls hitch a ride with two eloping, unsuspecting teenagers (who seem to have wandered into this film from a totally different film, and are doomed to be the objects of some serious body-jumping should Chucky and Tiffany have their way), and make tracks for a New Jersey cemetery, leaving bodies and other forms of destruction in their wake. Much of the humor comes from the fact that the two eloping teenagers are totally ignorant of why death and destruction follows them across country, while the police suspect them of being the perpetrators. Meanwhile, the two teens, Jesse and Jade, begin to even suspect each other.

We've seen a lot of complaints about the fact that this movie just isn't scary. For the most part, that's true, but it's not a fault of the film, it's a feature. The writer and director have intentionally strayed from trying to be creepy, because by this time it's much too difficult to try and scare slasher-movie audiences. Halloween: H20 did a good job, but only in fits and starts. Bride of Chucky limits its creepiness to the beginning and end of the movie, because it has a much more important job to do -- this film wants to make us laugh.

Bride of Chucky
You know what's even scarier?
John Ritter is in this film.
Jesse: So how did you end up like this?

Chucky: It's a long story -- in fact, if it was a movie, it would take two or three sequels to do it justice.

Bride was directed by Ronny Yu, the HK director behind such films as the The Bride With White Hair and Legacy of Rage. So it's not to surprising that Bride of Chucky looks great. But Yu also manages to inject a strain of truly black humor into the proceedings. Not the kill-a-guy-and-throw-off-an-ironic-one-liner type humor that is so frequent in the modern horror movie, but humor that makes you laugh and gag. Any movie that explores the possibility of safe sex between dolls wins our approval in a big way.

Bride of Chucky also won our affections for being both funny and audacious without succumbing to the usual clichés that plague slasher films. For example: David is the gay friend of Jade and Jesse, the teenagers in question. Although David did act as Jesse's beard on prom night (Uncle Warren, as played by John Ritter, having banned socialization between Jesse and Jade), a fairly stereotypical role for a gay friend, the rest of his behavior rejected Hollywood stereotypes. David acts like a normal kid, instead of the flamer that most directors would use in order to hammer home the point that the boy is gay. Most relieving, David's death has nothing to do with the fact that he's homosexual.

True to form, however, Bride of Chucky leaves itself the inevitable opening for yet another sequel. And since this is a Universal film, we're hoping to see the traditional Universal movie-monster formula for those future films. We can just see it now:

  • Son of Chucky
  • Ghost of Chucky
  • Chucky meets the Werewolf
  • House of Chucky
  • Abbott and Costello meet Chucky
Review date: 10/17/1998

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