If they make it past three or more films, horror movie icons typically make the leap from terror to comedy. It’s not always the best move, but when you’re a “supernaturally possessed doll,” it’s probably your only option.
I am, of course, referring to Chucky, who first slashed his way into our plaything-lovin’ hearts in 1988’s Child’s Play. The fifth installment, Seed of Chucky, is directed by the series creator, Don Mancini.
This being Mancini’s first time up at bat as a director, he tends to swing a little wildly, sometimes hitting the ball out of the park, as in a sequence involving the evisceration of the rapper Redman. Most of the time, however, Mancini misses, going well beyond his allotment of three strikes.
Apparently, Chucky and his plastic gal-pal Tiffany had a baby at the end of the last film, Bride of Chucky. The kid — a gaunt, mournful creature with big blue marble eyes, spiky red hair, sharp little pointy teeth and a “Made in Japan” birthmark — is a gentle soul, one who, in a nod to Norman Bates, notes that he “wouldn’t even harm a fly.” He’s also gender-unclear — there’s nothing where something should be — a juicy little detail that Mancini, who is gay, milks for all it’s worth.
Chucky wants the offspring to be male, so he names it Glen. Tiffany wants it to be a girl, so she counters with Glenda. The reference to the infamous film by Ed Wood is purely intentional.
The narrative deals with Glen/Glenda’s confusion — as well as a mortifying realization that the parents units are “stark raving mad.” At one point, the doll plays dress-up, resembling a drag queen doing a very bad blend of Bette Davis and Joan Collins. As voiced by the British actor Billy Boyd, who played the hobbit Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s a delicate sweetness to Glen/Glenda. She/he’s so bloody polite, you almost want to rip out his batteries.
The other major plot thrust deals with Tiffany’s insistence that she possess the body of a movie star — namely Jennifer Tilly (who, as she did in Bride of Chucky, supplies the Tiffany’s voice). Tilly gamely makes fun of her flighty demeanor and faded stardom — she’s willing to sleep with Redman (who she calls Mr. Man) to land the part of the Virgin Mary in his personalized version of the story of Christ.
Seed of Chucky hasn’t one ounce of fear factor. And there isn’t really much on hand for gore-lovers other than the aforementioned moment involving Redman’s steaming intestinal tract and another involving a slimy paparazzi (John Waters) who gets an acid bath.
All that’s left is the comedy. Occasionally the script zings to life. “Is mummy ill?” Glen/Glenda asks Chucky of Tiffany. “The courts thought so,” snarls his father. But mostly the humor is obvious and flat. Mancini expends too much energy trying to startle us with gratuitous oddball moments — the sight of Chucky, for instance, masturbating. Well, it ain’t called Seed of Chucky for nothing.
There comes a time when toys should be put away for good. Chucky passed that time long ago.