I’ve never seen the first three Child’s Play movies, which are notorious in this country for supposedly inspiring an actual case of juvenile murder, but I happily hopped on board when long-serving writer-creator Don Mancini rebooted the franchise as self-referential comedy-horror (with proper jokes and big name actors!)
For those who don’t know, Bride of Chucky (aka Child’s Play 4), stars Jennifer Tilly as ‘Tiffany’, a gothy murderess intent on resurrecting her former lover, serial killer ‘Charles Lee Ray’ (Brad Dourif), by stitching together the shredded remnants of a dismembered doll he had possessed to deadly effect in the previous instalments. Unfortunately, the reunited couple still have some serious issues to overcome as far as their “relationship” is concerned, and a major falling out results in Chucky snuffing Tiffany in the bath, only to bring her back in the body of a female doll that she’d bought him as a goading gift. Oh no! Their only hope to become fully human again rests in a magical amulet called The Heart of Damballa, and the comely bodies of a courting teenage couple, ‘Jesse’ and ‘Jade’, played by Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl! Jade arranges to elope with Jesse to escape her dictatorial uncle (John Ritter), so Chucky and Tiffany hitch a ride with them, scattering their wake with carnage, and causing all manner of hilarious misunderstandings along the way!
The first thing that has to be said is that Tilly is a brilliant comic actress… Oscar-nominated, in fact… and, even though she’s only on-screen in the flesh for the first thirty minutes of the flick, her distinctive voice lives on, scoring major laughs (and a few tears too), despite the slightly awkward lip-synching of her animatronic avatar. She’s also one of the sexiest women alive, and any movie that kicks off with her strutting along in tight black PVC clothing, while Rob Zombie plays on the soundtrack, was likely to end up on my watch list… so thank goodness the script also provides her with a genuinely engaging character arc, some great quips (many of which were improvised), and a brilliant cliff-hanger ending (which sets ups the even more Tilly-tastic sequel, Seed of Chucky!) She’s all over the extra features too… publishing pages from a “location diary” she kept while making the movie, providing the DVD’s opening video introduction (while smoking like a chimney), and contributing to a highly entertaining commentary track, alongside Mancini and Dourif. She admits upfront that she’s quite a talkative type, and it’s true that she totally dominates the conversation here, but she always stays on-topic, always has something interesting or amusing to say, and always listens politely when the rather taciturn Dourif speaks up.
Heigl, on the other hand, doesn’t get much to do beyond the typical running, screaming and fighting required of horror movie heroines… I mean, she does it well, and you have to give her credit for acting against a couple of puppets for half the movie… but it’s quite a straight, vanilla role, and she doesn’t get many gags or scenes to herself. She does look damn cute though, so that has to count for something, right?
Oh, there’s also a very brief cameo by Kathy Najimy as the ‘Motel Maid’… apparently one of the movie producers, David Kirschner, had worked with her on Hocus Pocus, and talked her into taking the bit part!