(A man dressed like Santa sneaks into a dimly lit room and puts two ugly stuffed dolls under a Christmas tree. The dolls resemble L.L. SOARES & MICHAEL ARRUDA.)
LS: Is he gone yet?
MA: I think so.
(Dolls begin to move)
LS: Good, now we can review our movie for this month, SEED OF CHUCKY, where the perennial evil doll returns to spawn a child. With references to PSYCHO, THE SHINING and even Ed Wood’s GLENN OR GLENDA?, to name but a few, this movie provides some laughs as it pokes fun at the horror genre. We meet Chucky’s “son” Glenn right away, as he turns up in England as a modern Pinocchio, forced to be a thug’s ventriloquist dummy and kept in a cage. But when Glenn sees Chucky and his “bride” Tiffany on television, he figures out who his real parents are and escapes to Hollywood to be reunited with them. Little does he know that the real business his parents are in isn’t show business – it’s killing.
The cast, made up of B-List celebrities (Jennifer Tilly and rapper Redman, fresh off his bad FOX sitcom), is lackluster at best. But we do have Brad Dourif once again as the voice of Chucky (Dourif actually is a great actor, although you may not be able to tell that here), and also along for the ride this time is cult filmmaker John Waters, as a paparazzo who gets a sulphuric acid facial. But It’s not the actors you go see a Chucky movie for, it’s the puppets. And like the recent TEAM AMERICA, you either get it or you don’t that puppets doing horrible things can be just plain funny.
By this point, the Chucky series has given up all pretense of being straight “horror,” and has degenerated into dark comedy, which isn’t totally a bad thing, since most horror franchises usually become parodies of themselves at some point anyway. At least Chucky is aware of this and embraces it. Sure there’s gore, but it’s all in good fun. Some of the jokes work, many don’t. But like its predecessor BRIDE OF CHUCKY (also featuring Jennifer Tilly, and the movie that introduced us to her doll counterpart Tiffany), SEED can be kind of fun if you just go with the flow.
I thought SEED OF CHUCKY was okay, for what it was. But you can definitely wait to rent the DVD for this one.
MA: Well, I found nothing fun about SEED OF CHUCKY. It’s the type of film that gives horror a bad name, and even worse, a bad reputation, which is something we in the horror genre don’t need. There is nothing redeeming about this movie. When we horror writers tell people what we do, we are often asked why we enjoy all that senseless blood and gore, and we usually reply that horror is much more than that. When it comes to horror literature, we’re usually right, but unfortunately, the general public gets their impression of horror from horror movies, and a film like SEED OF CHUCKY is the last film I’d want a potential horror fan to see. It’s gross, disgusting, dehumanizing, and plain old dumb!
(The LS doll hums as he climbs up the Christmas tree)
MA: I didn’t find it funny, mostly because I missed the part where killing is funny. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against violence being humorous. I like Monty Python, for example, and they’re about as bloody as comedians have ever been on screen, but they were funny. I’ve said this before in other columns, and I’ll say it again- I don’t see horror movies to laugh. When I want to laugh, I see a comedy. Now, I love the use of humor in a good horror movie to break up the tension. But here, there’s no tension to break up. And it’s certainly not funny enough to stand up on its own as a straight comedy. Unless of course you think a man being gutted at his dinner table is humorous. I don’t.
LS: Well, I do, if it’s done right. It’s not reality, after all. It’s only a movie.
(MA shaking his head in disbelief)
LS: Besides, horror and humor are actually the flip sides to the same coin and have more in common than you’d think. They both elicit an involuntary response – fear or laughter…
MA (muttering): Blah, blah, blah.
LS: …And I see no reason why the two can’t be combined. While SEED OF CHUCKY may not be a great example of this, another recent film SHAWN OF THE DEAD, does the humor/horror mix much better.
MA: You just made my point.
LS: I did? That’s news to me. I’m still not sure what your point is! But I don’t think SEED is a big enough deal to inspire the strong reaction you’re having, either. And don’t you think it’s a little ironic that you don’t like horror and comedy to mix, yet you write a humorous column that reviews horror movies?
MA: You like to put words into my mouth. I never said I don’t like horror and comedy to mix. What I said was, I don’t go to a horror movie to laugh, and while I sometimes enjoy some good laughs during a horror movie, I didn’t with SEED OF CHUCKY, for the simple reason that it’s not funny.
It also fails as a spoof. Take THE SHINING scene. In THE SHINING, we have Jack Nicholson axing his way through a bathroom door, delivering his infamous (and funny!!!) line “Here’s Johnny!” Here we have Chucky doing the same and saying, “I can’t think of a thing to say.” That must have been what director/screenwriter Don Mancini was thinking when he wrote the script.
LS: Like I said before, not all the jokes work. You know, you’re taking this way too seriously. (Hurls some ornaments down on MA’s head).
MA (ducks out of way): Yes, I am. Know why? I take horror seriously. I love horror. I’m moved by it. I find beauty in it, not ugliness, and when someone serves it to an audience like garbage, I’m offended. That’s why when I see films like the last two we reviewed in this column, THE FORGOTTEN and THE GRUDGE, two well-made yet flawed films, I give them the benefit of the doubt because they at least try to make a thought-provoking, moving, and scary movie.
SEED OF CHUCKY is a miserable piece of celluloid that unfortunately confuses “horror” with “horrible.”
LS: Well, I’d rather see an entertaining “bad” movie like this than another cliché slasher film that takes itself seriously and bores me to tears. Obviously you didn’t find it funny, and that’s fine. Humor is subjective, anyway.
Personally, I think that the best horror movies are ones that are truly disturbing, that make you feel uncomfortable as you leave the theater. But there’s enough room in the genre for everything. Quiet, serious horror. Extreme horror. Jokey horror. Even fun trash like this. It’s in the spirit of stuff like the movies of Herschell Gordon Lewis, Roger Corman’s LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and Frank Henenlotter’s BASKET CASE. Are these great movies? Probably not. But they are entertaining.
And you claim to find beauty, not ugliness in horror. But if there is one genre where we can embrace both, it’s ours.
MA: I embrace ugliness when there’s a point to it. THE EXORCIST is one of my favorite films.
LS: I enjoyed SEED OF CHUCKY more than I did THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW or even THE GRUDGE. Sometimes a big, serious movie that fails can be much more disappointing . SEED OF CHUCKY, with its bad jokes, lame puns, and all, didn’t strive to be anything more than it was. And I at least respect its honesty.
MA: You’re a sick man.
LS: You’re the one who put on bunny ears last column!
MA: No comment.
LS: As for giving horror a bad name. I don’t think one film or series can do that all by itself.
MA: Well, SEED OF CHUCKY certainly contributes to it. You honestly don’t think a movie like this makes people in general look down upon horror? My gosh, I’m a horror fan, and I was turned off by it.
LS: You’re turned off by everything. I’m actually much more insulted by big-budget idiocy like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. Why don’t you just lighten up?
MA: Sure. If we’re done talking about the movie I’ll lighten up.
( LS pushes tree over and it crashes ) : TIIIIMBER!
MA (holds his broken doll head together): Now that really cracked me up! Happy holidays, everyone!
LS: Rats! You’re still alive! (turns to audience) See you all again, next year! (evil laughter)
© Copyright 2004 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares