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By Pete Vonder Haar | November 13, 2004


The fact that there have been ten “Friday the 13th” movies, seven “Nightmares on Elm Street” (not counting Freddy vs. Jason, which finally brought these two giants of the cinema together), and now, five “Child’s Play” films probably says something unpleasant about contemporary American society. And I think it’s wonderful. Of course, creator Don Mancini stopped using the “Child’s Play” name after 1991, wisely deciding he’d taken the pun as far as it could go. Don’t be fooled, however; “Seed of Chucky” is only the latest of that storied lineage to feature the homicidal possessed doll and his decidedly not-suitable-for-all-ages appetites.

Tiffany returns as well, once again voiced by Jennifer Tilly. In an amusing turn, Tilly also plays herself (or a version thereof) in the film. She hates Julia Roberts and is desperate to jumpstart her career. So desperate, in fact, that she’s willing to sleep with “rapper-director” Redman (also playing himself) in order to play the Virgin Mary in his new Jesus epic (the irony of which is not lost on the filmmakers).

But wait, I forgot to mention that there’s another possessed doll in the film. Stuck in England (and saddled with the unfortunate moniker “Shitface”), this one has horrible dreams of murder and mayhem. When he sees a TV show about a film being made of the “urban legend” of Chucky and Tiffany, however, he heads across the Atlantic to meet the two he’s sure are his parents.

(If we tell the religious right this is a “family” movie, do you think they’ll leave it alone?)

Shitface is pretty creepy looking, even by “Child’s Play” standards. If Chucky and Tiffany are evil alternate dimension versions of otherwise normal dolls, Shitface is what you’d get if an Edward Gorey creation was knocked up by Charlie McCarthy. But best of all, he’s voiced by none other than Pippin from Lord of the Rings, Billy Boyd. Boyd is great in the role, and is obviously having more fun here than that other hobbit stuck on a tropical island with Matthew Fox.

Upon arriving in Hollywood, it doesn’t take Shitface long to find Chucky and Tiffany and revive them. Both are still out to find human hosts for their souls, and the upcoming evening rendezvous between Tilly and Redman affords them the perfect opportunity. Of course, they also need a child as a vessel for Shitface’s soul, who now goes by Glen or Glenda (‘sup, Ed Wood?), depending on which parent is doing the talking. It seems the poor puppet isn’t anatomically correct, which leads to loads of always funny gender confusion jokes. Lacking immediate access to a baby, they plan to impregnate Jennifer Tilly in a voodoo ceremony using Chucky’s semen. Throw in John Waters as an obnoxious paparazzo and you’ve got the makings of some highly entertaining mayhem.

The in-jokes and references to other films are fun to pick out in “Seed of Chucky,” as is the apparent murder of Britney Spears. The fact that Mancini has been along for the whole run has allowed him to create a fairly cohesive narrative arc and really “flesh out” the characters of Chucky and, now, Tiffany. Compared to some of the severely uneven entries in the Freddy and Jason franchises, the “Child’s Play” movies have always maintained a high level of quality.

Again, compared to the Freddy and Jason franchises. We are talking about killer puppets, after all.

Mancini also takes a few jabs at the conventions of the genre (the use of one-liners, especially) and the recovery industry. The scene where Tiffany, trying to 12-step her way out of murder, calls the widow of one of her victims from the last movie in order to atone for her actions (Step 9) is as much comic genius as it is in horrible taste.

Not that there’s much in the way of horror here. Even more than Bride of Chucky, “Seed of Chucky” is much more of an exercise in camp and satire than it is a horror film, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If there’s anything we can reassure ourselves about over audiences cheering for mass murderers like Chucky, Freddy, and Michael Myers, it’s the fact that these movies really are comedies more than anything else. The victims are usually ignorant, stupid, or evil anyway, so that makes their decapitation/disembowelment acceptable, right?

“Seed of Chucky” is recommended for the toothsome Jennifer Tilly, the manic Billy Boyd, some inventive deaths, some inspired gore, and one frankly hilarious scene involving Tilly and a decapitated corpse. It won’t give the infamous scene in “Re-Animator” a run for its money, but it’s funny nonetheless. Go see “Seed of Chucky” this weekend, and prove the studios wrong for not allowing the press to screen it in advance.

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