Devoted follows of the Chucky franchise (and there must be some out there) have had a long six year wait to see their favourite ginger mopped psychopathic doll back in slasher action. Those familiar with the sublime fourth entry in the franchise 'Bride of Chucky', will remember that even in deepest 1998 a sequel was intended, the film ending on Chucky's slavering razor-toothed offspring springing forth into the world. Here we are, mid-way through 2005 and finally 'Seed of Chucky' emerges, kicking and screaming its way onto R2 DVD. May I be the first to say this film is complete unadulterated lunacy from start to finish, and it's all the better for it.
'Seed of Chucky' marks the feature film directorial debut of one Don Mancini, the Godfather of the franchise having created and scripted every film involving the roguish puppet. Here it is clear to see that Mancini has perhaps spent too much time obsessing over killer marionettes because now, given the director's chair, it becomes clear to see the man is crazy as the proverbial coconut. The film is one of the most deliriously offbeat and demented mainstream horrors of recent times, as Mancini throws everything into the mix, and then throws in some more for good measure. What we are left with is no doubt a mess, but the sheer level of maniacal madcap energy present proves too much to resist.
It's difficult to describe 'Seed of Chucky's' plotline without questioning your own sanity. Chucky's son (looking disturbingly like glam-era Bowie as envisioned by Tim Burton) is taken to England at an early age where he is kept in a cage as a circus ventriloquist attraction by a heartless entertainer. Henceforth, the son speaks with a good old fashioned Dick Van Dyke esque, jellied eels-chicken in a basket cockney chimney sweep dialect (voiced by non other than LOTR's Billy Boyd). Simultaneously Chucky and bride Tiffany are now celebrity, animated marionettes with their own Hollywood film franchise (the film is self-referential to the point it makes 'Scream' look like 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'). Upon seeing his parents on screen, little Chucky Jnr. makes his escape from the freakshow and arrives in America to see his folks. He awakens them with a spout of that classic voodoo mumbo-jumbo that Childs Play so delights in, and bingo, we're in business.
From here in, the movie becomes a domestic comedy, as the awakened couple attempt to come to terms with their newfound offspring. It doesn't help matters that the youngster is confused over his sexual identity (he is ultimately known as Glen/Glenda), or that he really isn't a chip off the old block, repulsed and frightened by the homicidal antics of his parents. Chucky and Tiffany vow to curb their psychopathic instincts for the sake of the family, but their addictions die hard and it isn't long before they are back to their old ways...
To Mancini's credit, he has accepted how ludicrous the Chucky premise was to start with, and has worked it to his advantage. So, instead of the po-faced snore-fests that were Child's Play 2 and 3, 'Seed of Chucky' takes the nucleus of its predecessor and ups the ante. The resulting film is an eclectic amalgam of comedy and horror, where restraint is unheard of. If ever a film could be categorised as a guilty pleasure it's this. The series has long since given up any notion of maintaining itself as a serious horror film and goes for broke as a broad black comedy. The jokes are crass, the acting is over the top to the point of campness, and the gore is, well very gory. The film takes pot shots at everyone and everything in sight. Jennifer Tilly is again a delight, sending herself up above and beyond the call of duty, Brad Dourif is once more superb as Chucky himself, and John Waters has fun in a brief cameo role A special note of congratulations must go to the effects team, as the mannequins are once more superb. It's refreshing to see a franchise that sticks to its guns and puts the work into something you can see, feel and identify with (stick that in your pipe and smoke it CGI).
So does it succeed as whole? Well, it's without doubt hit and miss and uneven as hell. Some scenes are genuinely amusing whilst others fall flat on their face, and the endless stream of poor one-liners does become tedious. It certainly isn't high art, and it's difficult to see this collecting any awards. But you know what? I don't care one iota. This film does exactly what it says on the tin. It doesn't pretend to be something it's not and instead goes all out in an unpretentious stab at producing genuine entertainment. It succeeds big time, as the 80odd minutes flew by, the overriding thought I had was 'this is pure trash... but I love it'. The only thing that lets this down is that the balance of comedy and horror which was so perfectly judged by Ronny Yu in the predecessor just slips a little here. Chucky has become an out-and-out entertainer, like a Barney the dinosaur for adults. There is zero suspense or horror here, and what we are left with is a flat out gore comedy. Whilst I have no real issues with this (other than perhaps that 'Bride' more skilfully handled the intertwining of the two genres), some dedicated horror buffs may be sad to see the 'creepy puppet' side of the franchise laid to rest. This really is 'Carry on Killer Puppets' for the 21st century, but if you can stick with the assorted insanity on offer it certainly provides a worthwhile experience as brainless escapism.
This may be the end of the line for Chucky (who knows?), but if it is, at least the little swine has bowed out in style. Though 'Bride of Chucky' still rules supreme at the top of the franchise, 'Seed' more than holds it's own as a follow up. It's difficult to see where the franchise can go from here, as it's deconstructed itself to the point that parody is the only feasible avenue, but it sure was a fun ride watching it.
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