Child’s Play 4: Bride of Chucky (1998)

childsplay4_1998_poster
Child’s Play 4: Bride of Chucky (1998)
  • Time: 89 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror | Romance
  • Director: Ronny Yu
  • Cast: Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif

Storyline:

Serial killer Charles Lee Ray is back! This time his girlfriend Tiffany has revived him, once again in the form of the popular “Chucky” doll. Shortly after the “happy” couple’s reunion, Chucky kills her and brings her back in the form of a girl’s bridal doll. The two then embark on a killing spree en route to dig up Ray’s corpse, which was buried with a Satanic voodoo charm capable of bringing back the dead.

One review

  • Although he was late in the decade, the foul-mouthed serial killer Charles Lee Ray who transferred his soul into a “Good Guy Doll” still made a name for himself as a famous horror icon. After transferring his soul into the doll, Chucky (as he would later be addressed) gained quite a following for his disruptive antics and morbid enthusiasm. Upon his first appearance, Chucky had an imposing presence that made several viewers uncomfortable because of how creepy dolls are in general. However similar to other franchises, the scare factor and level of seriousness viewers began to accept was beginning to stretch too thin. By the time Child’s Play 3 (1991) came out, fans and viewers a like became fed up with Chucky’s goal of trying to transfer his soul into the body of Andy Barclay. For writer and creator Don Mancini, a small hiatus was in order after being pushed around to make sequel after sequel for his brainchild. A decade after the release of the original Child’s Play (1988), Mancini returned and wrote for this feature that began Chucky’s new trilogy.

    To some this was an improvement over Child’s Play 3 (1991), while others were shocked the see the abrupt change. What Mancini had changed was the tone of the script. For the last three films Mancini wrote them as if they were literal; happening in the real world. The new intonation was that the story would be self aware in its execution but still continue from where the last film ended (roughly). An old lover of Charles named Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) acquires the shredded remains of Chucky (Brad Dourif) and resurrects him. After being brought back, Chucky decides in order to finally get out of his body, he needs the amulet he had from the time of Child’s Play (1988) located in his casket where he was buried. Paralleling these events is troubled couple Jade (Katherine Heigl) and Jesse (Nick Stabile) who are constantly harassed by Jade’s uncle Chief Warren Kincaid (John Ritter) for Jesse supposedly being a bad influence.

    As much as some viewers find the self-aware script jarringly different, having the series turn a comedic cheek to that of serious was a good move. Considering it became sillier as time went on, parodying it seems like an okay solution even with its flaws. For example the fact that it pays homage to its own films by clearly making a comment about it is funny for the fans to see. Even better, it references other horror icons directly and indirectly. It does bring up some clerical issues though. For example, other than Chucky how would another character know how Chucky killed people in the prior films? Also, is this now a universe where all the horror icons have been locked up or killed that their item that made them popular is now in storage? It doesn’t make sense even if it is funny to see on screen. As for physical comedy, there are some ironic moments in the film involving Chucky’s plastic body. Yet again, some bits are silly because of how physically impossible it works out.

    One other component to the writing that may make the plot feel predictable is because of how familiar viewers are with Chucky’s nature. If you know how Chucky works, well then things may be more transparent than expected. The acting is adequate for what is asked though. Brad Dourif again succeeds at voicing his plastic counterpart with just the right amount of comedic and quotable lines. Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany matches Dourif’s chemistry nicely by being just as foul-mouthed and violent. Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl as the troubled couple feel authentic and end up demonstrating the power of teamwork later on. John Ritter as the annoying uncle plays his part like it should be too. There’s even an appearance of Lawrence Dane from Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995) playing a detective. Since this is a comedy now, there is no scare factor unless the viewer doesn’t like stitched up Chucky. The violence though is just as bloody as were compared to its other sequels. The kill scenes just keep getting more and more inventive by the jigsaw doll.

    The cinematography shot by Peter Pau was decent too. Pau as director of photography has had more experience in the action genre and his skills are highlighted when the few action scenes in this feature show up. For every other frame, the scenes are well lit and conceal the illusion of the living dolls. Also an important side note; as time has gone on, Kevin Yagher’s production of puppet effects designers / puppeteer coordinators has really gotten the knack for lifelike movement. The original Chucky was pretty convincing but now it looks great and perfected. The film score by returning composer Graeme Revell was unique. For this entry, Revell creates a new theme for Chucky and keeps some old ones from his score of Child’s Play 2 (1990). He also has a theme for Chucky and Tiffany, which consists of solo guitar and chanting girl choir. The rest of his score has a mix of the classic horror cues and action related arpeggios. The soundtrack containing songs sung by Rob Zombie and others is an okay addition but not necessary per say. It does make it feel quite 90s.

    It still has its problems of unexplained loopholes, ridiculous concepts involving physical comedy and continuity errors but it’s a nice self-twist. The self-aware referencing script, the violence, the musical score and acting help make it watchable fluff.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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