FANGO Flashback: “BRIDE OF CHUCKY”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
Following the release of CURSE OF CHUCKY, fans of the CHILD’S PLAY franchise rallied behind the film, many of whom called it a return to form for Don Mancini as well as Chucky as a frightening character. In fact, those same sentiments echoed that of the last time the CHILD’S PLAY franchise underwent retooling, following CHILD’S PLAY 3 beating a dead horse with the same old slasher formula. Of course, the last reinvention of CHILD’S PLAY came in the form of BRIDE OF CHUCKY, which not only served as a strong introduction of Charles Lee Ray into the serial-killer culture of the later 20th Century but built upon the mythology of the franchise to refreshingly weird places.
Helmed by a pre-FREDDY VS. JASON Ronny Yu, BRIDE OF CHUCKY is definitely a product of the environment in which it was made: goth subculture, heavy/nu-metal loaded soundtrack and some decidedly non-PC dialogue all keep the film grounded in the late ‘90s. However, BRIDE OF CHUCKY is still a major departure from the films that came before it, putting Chucky front and center while playing the kills for laughs instead of scares. Make no mistake: Chucky is still the foul-mouthed, soulless murderer of CHILD’S PLAY past, but here, he’s given a bit more emotional flexibility as a character; even if he doesn’t necessarily treat anyone nice, his civility with Tiffany is still more than one-dimensional sociopathic behavior.
However, if there’s anything that does carry over from CHILD’S PLAY 3 to BRIDE OF CHUCKY, it would be the mean streak in the kill department. While the first two CHILD’S PLAY films didn’t let its victims off the hook easily, they didn’t quite make such an effort to instill punishment in their kills as CHILD’S PLAY 3. Though BRIDE OF CHUCKY doesn’t always instill a grueling edge to the death scenes (in fact, the most splattery death on display is largely played for laughs), it sure does bleed into the majority of its kills, especially considering BRIDE OF CHUCKY largely employs practical effects.
In a way, BRIDE OF CHUCKY also feels like the first time Don Mancini was able to inject his sensibilities into the CHILD’S PLAY franchise without kowtowing to fan expectations. BRIDE OF CHUCKY feels completely sleek and subversive, offering sharper visuals, darker humor and a bold, taboo story choices, particularly regarding Chucky and Tiffany’s “honeymoon” (and the shocking reveal of the result). Then there’s the rather fantastic story on display, as two on-the-run lovers who both begin to suspect that the other one is a serial killer, that is presented alongside Chucky and Tiffany’s murderous rampage, giving the franchise agency outside of the Andy Barclay angle.
BRIDE OF CHUCKY also offers a definitive change in the performances of the CHILD’S PLAY franchise, even going as far as to give even more for Brad Dourif to do in his vocal performance outside of one-liners and admonishments. Of course, most notably, the addition of Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany is an inspired choice, injecting the franchise with a dry wit and unabashed swagger that it desperately needed, especially considering the weird, wicked places BRIDE OF CHUCKY goes. And the supporting cast is rather great as well, including a young Katherine Heigl, Nick Stabile, Alexis Arquette, Gordon Michael Woolvett and John Ritter, the latter whom gets the film’s most memorable exit (as well as an oddly meta pun from Chucky).
Overall, BRIDE OF CHUCKY certainly holds up nearly 20 years later, even if the film’s aesthetics are mostly dated. While Mancini would certainly get to show more of his visceral, off-beat vision for the CHILD’S PLAY franchise in the incredibly meta SEED OF CHUCKY and the aforementioned CURSE OF CHUCKY, BRIDE OF CHUCKY served as a rather strong entry for a new chapter in the tale of Charles Lee Ray. And furthermore, the film would offer the best mixed-gender killers in horror in quite some time, even if they are 2 feet tall and made of plastic.