Bride of Chucky
Never underestimate the power of a sequel. When Bride of Chucky was released in the theater, I had very little interest in seeing it. I enjoyed Child's Play, but the sequels just didn't seem to do anything for me. I was in awe at how Bride of Chucky gave the ailing franchise such a breath of fresh air. Dark humor, creative kills, and so many film references, you have to see it more than once to catch them all (even then you'll probably miss a few). So, did the DVD do the film justice or did Universal treat it like last Saturday's left over dinner?
We begin on a rainy night at the Rockport Police Evidence Library where they have locked up some of the horror genres most treasured props. Jason's hockey mask, Leatherface's chainsaw, and Michael Myers mask are just a few things that are locked away to keep the public safe from these menacing characters. A cop comes into the evidence library and steals a bag from the 'Unsolved' locker. What could be in this mysterious bag? Where is the cop taking it? Alas, the tension is already mounting.
The officer makes a call to a lady letting her know he is on his way. "And don't forget my money" he tells her as he nearly has a head on collision with another driver on the road. He ends up in an abandoned warehouse, smoking a cigarette, and waiting for his money. Curiosity is aroused and the officer decides to peak inside the bag. As the viewer is waiting for Chucky to pop out and claim his first victim of the film, the officer is attacked from behind by a woman. We get our first glimpse of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), a sexy vixen who decides to take Officer Bailey's lighter as a little souvenir as she walks off with the left over pieces of our favorite deranged doll. She takes Chucky and sews him back together piece by piece mixing parts of other dolls in to fill any missing areas. That's when we get our first look at Chucky - ugly, disfigured, grotesque Chucky. A night and day difference from his temptress and eventual re-animator Tiffany.
As this is going on, see another small town drama unfolding. Jessie (Nick Stabile) and Jade (Katherine Heigl) are high school lovers. Police Chief Warren Kincaid (John Ritter) is Jade's overprotective uncle. Chief Kincaid doesn't think that Jessie is good enough for his niece, so he will go to great lengths and abuse his power of the law in order to keep them apart. What is the link between these two stories? Jessie and Tiffany live in the same trailer park.
After Chucky is brought back to life using voodoo, Tiffany explains her plans for the two of them to get married, raise a family, and live happily ever after. Chucky laughs at the idea, so Tiffany locks him in a playpen with a clean cut doll in a wedding dress to keep him company. He escapes, kills Tiffany, and brings her brings her back as the wedding doll she mocked him with. He explains the only way for them to become human again is to travel to New Jersey, dig up the body of Charles Lee Ray, and use the Heart of Damballa to transfer their souls into human bodies. Tiffany calls up Jessie and pays him to take the dolls to New Jersey. Jessie sees this as an opportunity for him and Jade to start a life together. The two of them set out not knowing that they have two possessed dolls riding along with a taste for blood.
Bride of Chucky is a riot to watch. It pays homage to various films and doesn't take itself too seriously. There are some plot points that really are absurd, but they seem to work with the feel of the movie. Even some of the cheesy dialogue is forgivable when looking at the big picture the film has to offer. Chucky comes back and is more of a bad ass than he ever was before. Throwing around one-liners that are simply classic in the genre, Chucky really shows his true colors in this film. The movie focuses more on Chucky and Tiffany rather than the traditional approach of focusing on the victims. It really works well having these animatronic dolls as leads when they seem so lifelike. They are adjusting to life as dolls (though Chucky pretty much has it down) as they observe the world around them and learn more about one another. Chucky is a stereotypical thief/murderer who only looks out for himself while Tiffany is a romantic who feels she has found her true love in Chucky. You can see glimpses of how the two rub off on one another which gives the viewer a sense of reality to the relationship.
Jennifer Tilly does an excellent job as Tiffany. She can go from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye. I particularly enjoyed how Tiffany is portrayed as a woman who just can't seem to get a break in life. She has this dream of love and happiness with Chucky, but that is where the problem lies - it's with Chucky!!! As for our favorite rubber/plastic doll, Brad Dourif is excellent as usual. He seemed to have a lot more freedom with the character than in previous installments. His energy carried over to Chucky and, in turn, over to the audience watching. I must say that John Ritter was fun to watch as well. Forget Stay Tuned or Problem Child 2, John Ritter needs to play an overprotective relative in every movie. His last scene is great, never once did I think about Three's Company.
Universal did a great job with the picture on Bride of Chucky. It is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film was in great shape, but did seem to be a bit muted. It would be like seeing a photo with a gloss finish compared to one with a matte finish. They both look good; one just looks a little sharper. Bride of Chucky would be the one with the matte finish. I have seen sharper pictures on other films, but this one is very good. There are virtually no flaws in the print and the colors are deep. I was particularly impressed with the black tones in the film. Upon listening to the director commentary, I found out that they had used a special stock from Kodak to make the print high contrast and really show off the black in the film.
I thought the film did a great job in the sound department. The default is set to a moderately aggressive 5.1 Dolby Digital mix. The musical score by Graeme Revell is excellent. At times it has a bit of a throwback sound to it that reminded me of early horror movies; at others it was created a dark mood that complimented the film perfectly. In addition to the great score, there are songs on the soundtrack from Rob Zombie, Monster Magnet, and Insane Clown Posse.
There is quite a bit to cover here and it was all worth the time. The first commentary with Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, and Dan Mancini (Writer) was one of the best I have heard. It was a very laid back commentary that almost seemed like a bunch of friends just chatting about a film. They gave insight into different aspects about the movie and shared on-set stories and encounters. Did you know that if you film in Canada that a percentage of the cast has to be Canadian? One note, they do give away the killer in Urban Legends. Those of you who haven't seen that movie should avoid the commentary for now. The second commentary is with Director Ronny Yu. It was a bit drier in atmosphere and covered mostly technical aspects about the film. He talked about some of the same things that Jennifer, Brad, and Don discussed and went more into his particular style of filmmaking.
There is a Spotlight on Location featurette that runs approximately 7-10 minutes. It is on the making of Bride of Chucky and gives quite a few behind the scenes shots. There is cast and crew interviews as well as letting viewers see the crew controlling the animatronic Chucky. Jennifer's Diary was first published in Premiere magazine. It is ported over to the DVD as a step feature and gives Jennifer's thoughts on a little of everything from February 26th, 1998 through May 7th. It was very cool reading her personal thoughts, opinions, and fears on the set. The diary not only gives more depth to the film, but to the actress as well. It shows that all the glitz and glamour comes after uncomfortable wardrobes and salary disputes.
There is a segment called The History of Chucky for those of you who need to catch up on the series before watching the fourth part. It is basically a text chronicling of Child's Play 1-3. It gives a film synopsis and lets you know how Chucky was killed in each film. Of course, the disc is rounded out by cast and crew bios, Universal web links, and theatrical trailer. There is also a semi-hidden feature. First, you select Brad Dourif in the Cast & Filmmakers menu. Then you step forward until you get to his filmography. When you get to Child's Play 2, you can highlight and click on it to see the theatrical trailer for the film.
Considering the wealth of supplements, Bride of Chucky is a good buy. I have seen less expensive special editions, but Universal has catered to the horror fans with this release. An anamorphic transfer and a great Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix just round out a great overall disc.
I dare you to find a better fourth installment of any horror movie. Even the cherished Friday the 13th Part Four does not equal the all around fun and mayhem that Chucky and Tiffany bring to the screen. In addition, the supplements add to the overall experience that Chucky has to bring. If you thought Scream was too teeny bopper for your tastes and still want a great mix of dark comedy and horror - look no further.
Movie - A
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B
Supplements - B+
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