I must admit, I was dreading watching this movie. When I think about it, though, I only watched it twice. I watched it in the theater and then around 10 years later when I got a boxed set of Chucky movies. I was happily surprised when I watched it for the purposes of this article, though. Typically, our memories become fuzzy and sugar coat things, but this time my memory was too harsh and unforgiving. This will never be among my favorite films, not even among my favorite Chucky films, but it was not as bad as I remembered.

Bride of Chucky (1998) takes place about a month after the events of Child’s Play 3 (1991) in 1998. By Child’s Play 3 (1991) being set at a military school, filmmakers inadvertently gave it a timeless quality and the timeline between these two movies work. For many, Bride of Chucky (1998) starts a new set of films and is set apart from the first three. At the very least, it marks a change in tone from the other films, but it does start a new era for the franchise in several ways.

For starters, the title is no longer a variation of Child’s Play, it now has Chucky in the name. This signifies the status of Chucky as a horror icon and places the spotlight on Chucky (Brad Dourif). This also marks the change in Chucky’s appearance. Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) must stitch and staple Chucky back together because he was chopped up in a fan at the end of the previous movie. This stitched look will be the normal appearance for Chucky. This film also marks the first deviation from the idea that Chucky must transfer his soul into the body of the first person to whom he has revealed himself. Chucky’s goal in this film is to get to the grave where his physical body is buried because he was buried wearing the Heart of Damballa amulet which is what will make it possible for him to transfer his soul to a different body. This is also the first film to not include Andy Barclay.

Aside from tone and the physical appearance of Chucky, the most notable change is that this is our introduction to Tiffany. Tiffany was Charles Lee Ray’s one time girlfriend who mistook a ring he had stolen from a murder victim for an engagement ring. She found it the same night Ray was gunned down. Tiffany becomes obsessed with Ray, framing clippings of his death and exploits over the past ten years, and even hoarding different baby dolls to have spare parts. She finally obtains Chucky in his chopped-up doll form from a dirty cop who stole him from an evidence locker. Interesting enough, the same evidence room contained Freddy’s glove, Leatherface’s chain saw, and Michael Myers’ and Jason’s masks.

Once Chucky tells Tiffany that he was not going to propose and she realizes he is indifferent to her, she locks him away in a playpen. She mocks him, blows smoke in his face, and even brings him a talking bride doll. Chucky gets even when he escapes the wooden bars of the playpen and kills Tiffany by electrocuting her when he knocks her television into the bubble bath she is soaking in. Chucky then uses Voodoo to transport Tiffany’s soul into the bride doll.              

Tiffany died while watching The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), but that is not the only allusion to the classic film. Obviously, the title is a reference, but Chucky has been stitched up with parts from different dolls is a direct link. A quote from the film, “we belong dead,” is also said twice. Rob Zombie’s song “Living Dead Girl” is played in the movie. Both Tiffany and The Bride are the reanimated dead.

The movie is fun. It makes fun of the franchise and pop culture in general, but not obnoxiously so. Tiffany pays her neighbor, Jesse (Nick Stabile) and his girlfriend, Jade (Katherine Heigl), to deliver collectable dolls (secretly Chucky and Tiffany) to New Jersey, the place of Ray’s burial. Chucky leaves a path of dead bodies as they travel and Jesse and Jade are now accused of being serial killers. This allows for a lot a jabs at the previous films. As Chucky explains how he and Tiffany became dolls, he quips that if his story were a movie, it would take several sequels to do his story justice. Chucky also complains about current music being terrible and comes off almost as an Al Bundy-like grump to the adoring Tiffany.

Other highlights of the films include cameos by John Ritter and Kathy Najimy. Ritter gets to play a hard ass while Najimy pops in as a hotel maid who discovers bodies. I am not sure how the two actors became involved in the film, but their performances strengthen it without stealing the show.

This film is also the first of the franchise to contain an openly gay character. Even though it is a horror comedy, it treats homosexuality, something that is often used for cheap laughs, with respect and dignity. David (Gordon Michael Woolvett) is Jade’s best friend and also pretends to be her date to pass her protective uncle/guardian’s scrutiny. He is openly gay, but not depicted as negative stereotype. It is just part of who he is in the film and an important statement from the openly gay writer/co-creator, Don Mancini.

In just 10 years, the special effects and puppetry that bring Chucky to life really have grown by leaps and bounds, largely due to the problems faced by the crew over the years. I think the one of the problems with this film is that the filmmakers were able to do more, so they did it in order to show off their skills instead of accentuating the movie. Chucky eats in this movie and we have never seen him do that so far. Does he need to eat to live or does he just eat because it tastes good? He says that he is anatomically correct, so that would mean he eats and uses the bathroom. Chucky smokes weed that has been planted in his van by Chief Kincaid (John Ritter). Even though Jesse and Jade are trying to lay low, Chucky blazes up with a cop right outside of Jesse’s van. The effect was cool and I am sure all of the stoners in the crowd cheered, but it just did not fit. Tiffany also smokes cigarettes, cries, and is able to conceive a baby. In the previous films, the longer Chucky was in his doll body, the more human like it grew. Tiffany has been in her doll body for around 24 hours when she starts to taking on the biological human attributes.

One of the scenes that totally cheapens the film is a sex scene between Tiffany and Chucky. It is done in the shadows, but it seems like something out of Team America (2004). It is beyond cringe worthy. I was fine believing that Chucky is simply flat down there or has the flesh-colored outlines of underwear like a Ken doll.

Scream (1996) points out that if a victim does drugs or has sex, then they are punished by the killer of a horror movie with death. That is not the case with Chucky. He does drugs, has sex, and still kills while throwing his head back in a maniacal laugh.

I am glad I revisited this movie. It is full of late 1990’s nostalgia and contained a lot of laughs along with sneaky Easter eggs. I do not think time will be as kind to Seed of Chucky (2004), but we will see. At least it also has Jennifer Tilly in it!

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