Seed of Chucky

written and directed by Don Mancini

starring Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Billy Boyd and John Waters


review by Stephen Notley

What's Seed of Chucky like? Well, Chucky fans may recall that at the end of Child's Play 2 possessed doll Chucky is dragged into a doll-making machine that fires searing-hot plastic arms and legs into him, reducing him to a boiling mass of Chucky parts. There. That's what Seed of Chucky is like.

I use the term "Chucky fans" advisedly. Are there such people? It's hard to picture. Chucky, a one-dimensional foul-mouthed little shit, just isn't that appealing a character; as far as the various horror-franchise monsters go even Jason Voorhees's implacable murderousness is more engaging. Chucky's appeal, such as it is, lies in the funny/nastiness of having puppets swearing and killing people, and since that's been trumped pretty conclusively by Team America it doesn’t leave Chucky with a lot of room to move.

Not that longtime Chucky writer and thistime director Don Mancini isn't willing to give it a go. Once you get past three movies in a horror franchise it ceases to be about horror and just becomes about itself, its own mythology. Bride of Chucky, the previous movie directed by Ronny Yu (from the Hong Kong old school), was actually not bad, a clever twist on the Chucky formula with some nasty laughs. Bride ended with the burnt husk of Chucky's possessed-doll bride Tiffany giving birth to a sharp-toothed little Chucky-baby. Seed of Chucky picks up awkwardly some years later with the baby now a living doll 10-year-old (?) working as an abused ventriloquist's dummy (??) in England (???). Glen (as the doll is named) has been having disturbing dreams of killing families even though he's a bit of a wimp, a whiny "Please Mummy" Oliver Twist type, and when he sees they're making a movie about the Chucky murders he ships himself to L.A., incants over the prop dolls, revives Chucky and Tiffany and introduces himself to his parents. Thus Seed of Chucky becomes the perverse Child's Play rumination on family as the two murdering dolls assess the responsibilities of parenthood, Chucky by taking Glen out to teach him the family trade of pointlessly killing people, Tiffany by resolving to quit her addiction to pointlessly killing people.

Jammed into all of this is Jennifer Tilly playing not only the voice of Tiffany but also herself, Jennifer Tilly. Bosomy, squeaky-voiced, slutty, Tilly demonstrates a profound willingness to laugh at herself, or at least to indulge every possible cheap shot and scuzzy indignity and leering boob closeup. Indeed, one starts to cringe on her behalf and wonder why she agreed to this public lambasting of her own persona. Presumably there's some satisfaction of being able as Tiffany to take the piss out of herself, but how does that really stack up against being subjected to a turkey-basting artificial Chucky-insemination?

Seed of Chucky is low, low humor; it makes Team America look positively snooty in comparison. This is, after all, the franchise whose biggest catchphrase is "Don't fuck with the Chuck", so we're in for some unimaginative profanity, some puppet semenics (Seed of Chucky, natch) and a few okay mutilations, most notably garroting a guy's head clean off and melting John Waters with acid. Oh yeah, John Waters is in this, but only for slightly longer than it takes to get melted.

Chucky fans, whoever you are, you'll probably enjoy Seed of Chucky; it pushes the Chucky narrative forward and it has plenty of the Chuckyness you presumably like (though he does take a bit of a back seat to Glen and Tiffany this time around). Certainly there's some truth to his declaration that "if this is what it's like to be human, I'm glad I'm a supernaturally reanimated doll!" Don't we all feel that way sometimes?

Non-Chucky fans, if you want to see puppet humor see Team America.