The “Child’s Play” franchise is known for two very stable and dependable things — Chucky the doll is a homicidal maniac with one of the greatest laugh in Cinematic Slasher history, and you can count on seeing Don Mancini’s name underneath “written by”. Mancini created the original film and has written all the subsequent sequels, but has never directed. That changes with the latest installment, which brings back the supernaturally endowed killer doll that began life as a “Good Guy Doll” but ended up housing the soul of a mass murderer with black magic prowess.
Having gotten hitched and somehow impregnated a female doll in the previous installment, Chucky returns back from the dead yet again. This time around the homicidal doll and his equally homicidal, but a tad more prone to regret significant other Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly), plans to use actress Jennifer Tilly (played by, who else, Jennifer Tilly) to give them new life as real people.
The film actually opens with Tiffany and Chucky’s offspring, the unfortunately named “Sh*t Face” (voiced by Billy Boyd), in England working as the dummy half of a ventriloquist team. Ol Sh*t Face is having terrible nightmares about killing rampages, and wondering who his parents are. The answer comes via a TV spot reporting on an in-production movie about killer doll urban legends. Sh*t face quickly hops a plan to Los Angeles, where he hooks up with mom and dad, gets renamed “Glen” (or “Glenda”, as ol Sh*t Face is a bit perplexed about his sex), and go on a killing spree as one big, happy family.
Now in its fifth installment, it’s no surprise that Mancini has decided to take the franchise into the post-modern world, the way Wes Craven did with his “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. With the film’s tongue stapled to its cheek, “Seed of Chucky” plays out as goofy slapstick comedy with a lot of spurting blood, an impressive bodycount, and intestines that, once sliced open and dropped to the floor, smokes for some reason. It’s all done with an eye toward pleasing the Chucky fanbase, and no doubt anyone who has waited with bated breath for each “Child’s Play” movie will howl with joy at what Mancini is offering.
“Seed of Chucky” is a fan’s movie, first and foremost. For non-fans, or anyone not familiar with the horror franchise, I’m not sure if any of “Seed of Chucky” will make any sense at all. It’s also any wonder that Mancini was able to convince Jennifer Tilly to not only provide the voice of Tiffany the doll once again, but to also play herself. And to play herself in such a self-defacing role, too. Tilly pokes fun at just about everything associated with her cinematic personality, from her bountiful bosom to her “loose” image. A lesser actress would have balked, but it’s saying a lot about Tilly that she’s able to not just make fun of her celebrity image, but kick it around like a rag doll.
For fans of gore and blood, there’s plenty here to get excited about. It’s probably because the film is relatively short at 80 minutes that there isn’t more blood and guts. B-movie filmmaker John Waters has a funny role as a sleazy tabloid reporter who accidentally snaps pictures of Chucky while the disfigured doll is pleasuring himself to a copy of Fangoria magazine. Brit Hannah Spearritt (“Agent Cody Banks 2”) plays Tilly’s exasperated assistant, but unfortunately she doesn’t get nearly enough screentime. It might have been a better idea had Mancini given Spearritt a more prominent role than simply to show up, disappear for a long time, then show up once again just to get summarily killed off.
There’s little doubt that “Seed of Chucky” is a major guilty pleasure. There’s nothing here to take seriously, from the whole dysfunctional family portrait of Chucky, Tiffany, and Glen/Glenda, to Jennifer Tilly trying to titillate rapper-turned-director Redman (playing himself) into giving her a major part in his movie by seducing him with wine and sex. Also, the film uses animatronic dolls exclusively, and if there were any CGI present when it comes to Chucky and his fellow killer dolls, I must have missed it. A little “old school”, perhaps, but that’s probably what Mancini was going for. It certainly adds to the nostalgic value of “Seed of Chucky”. People just don’t make movies the old fashion way anymore.
If you can’t laugh at “Seed of Chucky” and admit that it’s good, clean fun (at least from the point of view of a horror fan) then you’re way too serious about movies, and should never have seen this particular movie in the first place. To wit: if you went into “Seed of Chucky” expecting a Merchant Ivory film, it’s entirely your fault.
Having said that, there are some missed opportunities in “Seed of Chucky”. With so many killer dolls running around, Chucky gets shortchanged, and all of his kills (at least the ones that appear onscreen) are tag-team efforts. All of this results in Chucky looking less menacing than usual, although the ending, when the evil doll that we all know and love finally returns, is a welcome plot twist. Also, Mancini makes some stabs at spoofing the self-importance of Hollywood and its residences, but he really doesn’t go nearly far enough. The gag where Chucky runs a Britney Spears clone off the road and to her fiery death is amusing, but after seeing the scene in the film’s trailer about 500 it loses much of its impact.
“Seed of Chucky” is what it is, and if you like seeing homicidal killer dolls masturbate into a cup and an English doll suddenly develop martial arts skills because he has “made in Japan” stamped on his wrist, then this movie is for you. But if none of the above sounds promising, I wouldn’t bother. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Don Mancini (director) / Don Mancini (screenplay)
CAST: Jennifer Tilly….Herself/Tiffany (voice)
John Waters….Pete Peters
Guy J. Louthan….Don Mancini
Brad Dourif….Chucky (voice)
Billy Boyd….Glen/Glenda (voice)