Friends ’til the End – Bride of Chucky (1998)

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They killed him thrice… but he is back… as usual!

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After the franchise had hibernated for 7 years writer Don Mancini and producer David Kirschner went for a radical change of tone. Introducing Chucky’s (Brad Dourif) former flame Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) mixed up the formula and revitalized the franchise. 

Bringing him back for the 3rd time
Right from the eery opening the movie feels completely different. Instead of repeating the mistakes of the previous sequels the story does not try to connect the dots exactly. Instead the Chucky doll is now stored in an unsolved mystery department of the police – where there are also other pop culture remnants like Jason’s mask.

Everything is so radically different and because I re-watched Child’s Play 3 and Bride of Chucky back to back it highlighted for me just how much of a refreshing change this fourth movie was. Director Ronny Yu and Mancini’s screenplay drop the viewer into this mysterious opening where someone wants to acquire some mysterious bag of “evidence” from a policeman.

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The beauty of the opening is that it is not important to watch the previous Chucky movies. One can start with the film and even wonder what exactly is in the evidence bag. The tension is broken when Tiffany ruthlessly deposes the officer, walks off with Chucky and works on re-awakening him. Much like the set up, the movie also does a fantastic job of catching up viewers who have never seen any of the previous movies. There are logical reasons for the exposition be it newspapers Tiffany has collected because she is obsessed with the killer or Tiffany bragging about Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray – it is clearly leagues above the mandatory slide show at the Play Pals factory from the previous two movies.

Tiffany
Jennifer Tilly’s Tiffany is the adrenaline shot the franchise needed. Where previous Chucky-movies tried very hard to come up with miracle accidents that bring Chucky back the killer’s love is a completely plausible way to bring the doll back as she has spent years to finally get everything together for Chucky’s return – nicely taking care of the seven year time-gap between this and Chucky’s last adventure..

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What follows is a very unique chemistry since Tiffany is the first protagonist not to be scared by Chucky – quite the contrary, she is in many ways an equal to the killer and their casual way of talking about killing as if it were a mere hobby makes for a very macabre love story.

Yet like every other couple there are some arguments and where regular couples simply shout at each other an argument with Chucky might end with you getting killed and your soul transported into a puppet-body. But don’t despair puppets: using the book Voodoo for Dummies the characters find out that there is an amulet which allows their souls to be transferred back into two humans… but which two humans?

The two lovebirds and the dolls

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The “human storyline” of Bride of Chucky follows Jesse (Nick Stabile) and Jade (Katherine Heigl) as two star crossed lovers who decide to make a run for it to escape Jade’s evil foster father (John Ritter) who doesn’t approve of their undying love. In retrospective it is funny that the storyline on paper is a typical Katherine Heigl romantic movie and were Jesse and Jade the protagonists in the vein of Andy, Kyle and Tyler the movie would have crashed big time.

And this is the thing that makes Bride of Chucky so successful: Had we been introduced to Jesse and Jade first and had their love been the dramatic driving force the movie would have fallen apart like the last installment. Instead we see the entire movie from Chucky’s perspective as the couple’s escape roadtrip turns into a murder spree that gets pinned on them and not on the two dolls in the back of the truck.

Always do the dishes
While Jesse and Jade are mostly confused and start suspecting each other Chucky’s and Tiffany’s relationship is a very complex one – but that comes from having a dysfunctional relationship to start with. Don Mancini stated multiple times that he wanted Chucky and Tiffany to go through all stages of a love story that culminates into carnage and slashing. Everything is played to the extreme yet the characters never become too much of caricatures. Tiffany and Chucky have a playful competition and we learn important lessons from both of them:

  • love sets you free
  • Tiffany’s mom always had a smart quote at hand
  • Tiffany never gets a good guy
  • woman is spelled B-I-T-C-H

and most importantly:

  • Always do the dishes!

Bride of Chucky also knows when to end yet still promises a return in one of the funniest lines of the franchises:

Go ahead shot me! I’ll come back! I always come back!

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Verdict
It’s probably very clear after this review that Bride of Chucky is my favorite movie of the franchise. I’d even go as far as say that if you were to watch only one Chucky movie it should be Bride of Chucky. No previous knowledge is required. The movie holds up much better than the original. It is a funny and weird horror comedy featuring two very disturbed protagonists which you kind of grow to like despite their horrible nature.

Trading horror for laughs was a radical decision but the best decision possible. Bride of Chucky knows its strengths yet it is not too much enamored with itself (more about this to come). The gamble payed off as the movie became a success and a sequel that was teased during the final moments of the film would soon arrive:

Seed of Chucky

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Wolfgang Verfasst von:

Der Host des Flipthetruck Podcasts. Mit einem Fokus auf Science Fiction und Roboter sucht er ständig jene Mainstream Filme, die sich nicht als reine Unterhaltungsfilme zufrieden geben.

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