Originally screened in 1998, Bride of Chucky represents a shift in the Child’s Play franchise from subtle elements of comedy in a horror film to overt black comedy with facets of horror. Franchise writer Don Mancini does a much better job with this film, which benefits greatly from the directing talents of Ronny Yu.
Although the movie takes place only one month after the events of Child’s Play 3, the plot of Bride of Chucky takes a completely new direction. The story centers on Tiffany (the curvaceous Jennifer Tilly), who is the former girlfriend and often-accomplice of Charles Lee Ray. Also a voodoo practitioner, Tiffany uses her ample charms to convince a police detective to steal Chucky’s remains from an evidence locker. After dispatching the detective, Tiffany reassembles Chucky, using other doll parts (hinting at Frankenstein, the film’s pervasive theme). She then performs a ritual to bring back Chucky to life.
As the saying goes, the gris-gris works, and Chucky is once again back in action. Chucky then dispenses Tiffany’s Goth admirer, Damien(Alexis Arquette), and finds that Tiffany has brought him back so that they can get married. When Chucky cruelly rebuffs her, Tiffany throws the killer doll into a playpen and locks him in it. To mock him, she gives him a doll in a wedding dress. Chucky gains the upper hand, however, killing her while she is in a bathtub watching The Bride of Frankenstein. Chucky then goes one step further, transferring Tiffany’s soul into the doll in wedding garb.
The remainder of the plot has Chucky and Tiffany plotting to return to the grave of Charles Lee Ray. Chucky wishes to retrieve the Heart of Damballa, a talisman that will enable both of them to acquire human bodies. Tiffany then kidnaps her neighbor Jesse (Nick Stabile) and his girlfriend Jade (Katherine Heigl) so that they can drive them to the cemetery. However, Jade’s father (Jon Ritter), who happens to be a police chief, does not approve of Jesse, and soon he is pursuit, only to meet with a hideous death at the hand of the dolls.
Although at odds with each other, Chucky and Tiffany fall in love and actually consummate their feelings, setting up the next film, Seed of Chucky. The dolls, along with Jesse and Jade, eventually make it to the cemetery, but Jade has convinced Tiffany that she and Chucky are mindless killers. Realizing what she is carrying inside her, Tiffany attempts to stop the incantation, stabbing Chucky in the back. The two dolls fight, with Chucky stabbing his bride in the heart. Jade then gains the upper hand, taking Chucky out with a pistol. As always, neither doll is dead. Tiffany gives birth to her child while Jesse and Jade make an escape.
Although better-received than Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky split the franchise’s fan base. There were many who were disappointed in the change in the film’s tone, as well as the lack of characters created during the original film (Andy, his mom, and perhaps even the detective). However, some in the fan base had grown tired of the repetitive nature of the movie and found the change in plot and tone a welcome one. The fact that the film took inspiration from Bride of Frankenstein did not hurt the film, as that film also had an undertone of black humor. Fans were also relatively united in the appeal of both dolls, with Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly turning in stellar performances. Indeed, and acting throughout is good, as is the direction of Wu.
There are some logical lapses throughout, but the movie holds together okay. One of the biggest questions is that if Chucky needs the talisman to transfer his soul to a human, what about the first three movies, where he plans to do so only using a spoken spell?
Filled with black humor but very much a slasher movie with quite a few grisly and gore-laden kills, Bride of Chucky managed to revitalize an ailing franchise. The self-parody of the genre works well, with the film walking a fine line that will please fans looking for something different and gorehounds who enjoy a solid body count. For some it all may seem a bit goofy, but for hardcore fans of the genre, the biting satire will at least make them grin. For those who can’t get enough Chucky, get the Blu-Ray collection Chucky: The Complete Collection—Limited Edition.