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review added: 3/24/99



Bride of Chucky
1998 (1999) - Universal Studios

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Bride of Chucky DVD Film Rating: B+
Who would have thought that a sequel to Child's Play would be any good, but this one is. It's a fun movie, that knows exactly what it is: a fun movie.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B-
The visuals on this disc are really great. The sound is equally great. The disc also comes with some great extras. But according to the commentary tracks, there are a bunch of cut scenes that would have been great to see.

Overall Rating: B+
I'd call it a must own for most fans of digital cheese. The flick doesn't take itself seriously, but DVD fans should.

Specs and Features

89 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, 2 theatrical trailers (Child's Play 2 is hidden in Dourif's bio), Spotlight On Location piece from Showtime, Jennifer Tilly's on set diary, The History of Chucky, 2 audio commentary tracks: one with director Ronny Yu, and the other with Jennifer Tilly, Chucky's voice Brad Dourif and producer writer Don Mancini, production notes, cast & crew bios, film-themed menu screens, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) & French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English & Spanish, Close Captioned

Review

Any way you slice it, Chucky gets lucky in this energetic sequel to Child's Play. It's been 10 years since the hapless soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (funny how all killers/assassins have three names, isn't it?) ended up in a Good Guy doll. Through the years we've seen Chucky stalk a little boy named Andrew through an apartment (in the original), through a toy factory (part two) and in a military academy (oh, god -- can we please forget part three?). Each time, Chucky apparently died -- and each time they found a way to bring him back. It's enough to make you throw all your dolls away. Although Chucky doesn't quite have the same evil that say that clown doll from Poltergeist had, he does have a certain charm that makes him as legendary (and bankable) as Freddy, Jason and Michael. It says a lot, to be on a first name basis with your movie killer.

In these high concept 90s it takes a little more than a possessed doll to scare us. The one thing missing from the Chucky series is cleavage -- and guess what? Thanks to Jennifer Tilly we now get plenty. Gone from the storyline is little Andrew, the original intended victim of Chucky. We now have Tilly as Chucky's old flame Tiffany. Tiffany is trying to bring back her lost love, serial killer Charles Lee Ray. Thanks to the book Voodoo For Dummies, she brings our old friend Chucky back from the big doll house in the sky. The plan is to bring the Chuckster back, and make him man again so they can get married and have kids. But we all know that Chuck ain't a cuddling type of doll, this doll was made for slashing. Tiff finds out the hard way, and ends up a piece of plastic like her intended. Together they have to race against time, and make it to Jersey to dig up the body of Ray and pull off an amulet that will help them become flesh again.

That's where stupid teenagers come in -- two of them. Of course, what would a cheesy horror film be with out a sub-plot? Here we have a young woman in love with a no good punk with a heart of gold. John Ritter plays the girl's uncle, who doesn't quite approve of their love affair. As we all know, he who doesn't approve gets a knife shoved somewhere uncomfortable -- so when the two take off to be with each other forever, who's the first to get offed? That's right.

Chucky and Tiffany are on the road and in-between killings, they riff back and forth and maybe even fall in love -- who knows. There are also some great on screen killings, including (but not limited to) death by nails, a new use for a ceiling mirror, and an exploding male figure skating enthusiast. Bride Of Chucky just has that feel good comedy thing going for it. Dourif and Tilly (the voices of the dolls) are really good together, and you can tell they had a load of fun doing this flick. There are references everywhere to other slasher films, starting with the opening scene. The rest of the cast is just as good -- some faces you will recognize, others are brand new. The pace of the film works nicely, it just pops along.

The thing that really sets this film apart from the rest is director Ronny Yu. Hong Kong film fans will recognize that name as being the man behind one of the most gorgeous HK films ever, Bride With White Hair. Yu has brought his style to America, and I for one am a better film goer for it. Chucky, even ripped to shreds, has never looked better. The colors and camera perspective in this really elevate the film. The writing isn't half bad either. Don Mancini, the writer for Chucky since the beginning, must have found his pace after four films. It's not perfect, but it'll do pig, it'll do. The movie is self-referential enough that it's funny but not annoying. And in a horror film that's much appreciated.

As a disc, I was amazed. The film looks great, and it's not even dual-layered. Blacks are black, and they're deep black baby. The colors on this disc really pack a wallop too. And it's in anamorphic widescreen for you kids with new 16x9 TVs. In a way, it's a shame that a movie like this gets a star treatment with a new, high-quality transfer, but films like The Deer Hunter and 1941 (both also by Universal) don't look nearly as great as they should on DVD.

The sound is pretty good, but then again, who could tell really -- the best thing to listen to on this disc are the two audio commentary tracks. You hear the human (and funny) side of the making of the film, by listening to Dourif, Tilly and Mancini discussing all the finer points behind-the-scenes. Mancini references a boat-load of stuff cut from the film, and some of it sounds great. Why it's not on the disc is a question for Universal. I'm happy with the existing extras, but there was some great stuff cut from the film it sounds like. Yu's track is more formal, but it's also the perfect director's track. He lets us in on the way he shot things and why, how the set was broken down, and how he manipulated his crew to get the best performance from a doll.

Along with the commentary tracks, we get the standard trailer, production notes and cast and crew bio. There's also a diary written by Jennifer Tilly (that I think first appeared in Premiere magazine) which can be printed out through DVD-Rom, a History Of Chucky and a behind-the-scenes piece from Showtime. It's a lot of stuff for a cheese filled slasher flick.

Bottom line

I can complain that I didn't get everything I wanted on this disc, but I'd be petty in doing so. So, I won't -- there's a more than enough on this disc for the fans. The quality is high, the film is fun and the commentary is some of the best out there. So go ahead and indulge in a guilty pleasure.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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