Dr. Giggles (1992)

  • Time: 95 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Horror
  • Director: Manny Coto
  • Cast: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff De Young


The psychopathic son of a mass-murdering doctor, escapes from his mental institution to seek revenge on the town where his father was caught. The giggling doctor kills his victims with a surgical theme. His goal being to give one of the townfolk a heart transplant.

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  • With comic book characters and brands being all the rage when it comes to adapting stories to films, the one’s that that people know of the most belong to DC and Marvel. Depending on how much a viewer wants to know more, if researched, the end result is that there are much more than these main two properties that have been adapted. Of them, IDW, 2000 A.D., Icon and Image comics are a few that have also received film adaptations. Among these however, possibly the third highest adapted comic book brand would belong to Dark Horse Comics. The company itself has made several films starting in the early 1990s. Some of their movies aren’t the greatest according to an overall agreement but some also don’t get enough appreciation. It’s very first outing; Dark Horse produced a horror comedy based off of a two part series they had released. Somehow in its release, the reception wasn’t too accepting. It definitely is not the worst Dark Horse comic book film that’s for sure. It may have some very typical problems but this is made up for in other areas.

    The movie title is about an insane doctor (Larry Drake) who enjoys performing malpractice on live patients and finds it comical, thus giving us his nickname Dr. Giggles. After his latest murder, Dr. Giggles returns to his hometown to finish killing the neighborhood folk that destroyed his life. All the while, Jennifer Campbell (Holly Marie Combs) a teen with an abnormal heart rate is tried to be comforted by her boyfriend Max Anderson (Glenn Quinn) and her father Tom Campbell (Cliff De Young) as she copes with the loss of her mother. Written by Graeme Whifler and Manny Coto (the producer of the 24 and Dexter series) and who also directed give this story a bit of a mix between Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). However, this is only on the very surface that it borrows its ideas from. One of the biggest blunders this movie commits is including numerous horror trope cliches. This is from jump scares, to predictability and the order of kills. It’s okay if some of this is there but all of it makes it feel generic.

    Among these issues, the script also includes a number of events that just feel highly improbable. This is either due to physical limitations or just being plain obvious. Unfortunately, with this the actors who mostly try end up coming across as quite uninteresting. Very few of them actually stand out from one another; many of them are just fodder for Dr. Giggles to perform surgery on. Though there are two cops named Joe Reitz (Keith Diamond) and Hank Magruder (Richard Bradford) who try to figure out what’s going on. Sometimes they will help a character or they will help the audience understand the antagonist better. Of the teens, Holly Marie Combs is the only actor that gives any kind of defining performance. She does manage to show courage and bravery when needed. Any other teen portrayed in this film are like others seen before. Actors Sara Melson, Darin Heames, Deborah Tucker, Denise Barnes, Doug E. Doug and even the stepmother played by Michelle Johnson all have predictable dialog and development.

    And although he isn’t the character viewers should want to win, Larry Drake is gleefully the best part of the film. Drake as Dr. Giggles does have a pretty encouraging laugh and his ability to be creepy and funny works well in his favor. This is Drake’s forte after all. He played Robert G. Durant so well in Sam Raimi’s Darkman (1990) and Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995). The horror and comedic elements are fairly good throughout. For horror, the gore or scare factor isn’t too prevalent but Drake’s acting is unpredictable and the kills can get inventive at times. Along with that, the kills shown are a bit skin crawling as well. For comedy, the only real parts that it has going for it are the one liners that Drake says to his patients before he kills them. It’s actually surprising to hear how many doctor or hospital related jokes can be made for an hour and half. Yeah, it’s corny at times and campy but it resembled very much of the tone that Freddy Krueger evolved into over time in his series.

    The director of photography to this project was handled by Robert Draper. Draper also worked onHalloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989). Despite this, most of his skill has focused on TV movies. Movies in general require cinematography but TV movies are shot very differently to that of theatrical films. Being that the ratio is 2.35 : 1, it shows that Draper worked at getting as much as he could, but much of it was limited. Draper does capture some effective set pieces like Dr. Giggle’s house and shots of various practical effects. For the film score, Brian May composed the music. Sadly this would be his last theatrical film score dying a few years later. May was also the composer to Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare (1991). For what is produced May shows that he can produced good music. There is a main theme for Dr. Giggles and it is creepy. Occasionally the music will sound a little over dramatic but it still works.

    The story has numerous cliches, occasional implausible logic and several unoriginal characters. Thankfully, Larry Drake as Dr. Giggles manages to make the viewing experience campy fun. The visual effects, gore and music are made decently enough to get something out of this early Dark Horse comic book movie.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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