Universal // 2004 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 15th, 2007
Time to raise some hell.
Iconic slasher doll Chucky's last -- and final? -- outing abandon's the franchise's roots as a straight-arrow horror film and embrace slapstick comedy and weird Dr. Phil riffs.
When we last left the homicidal puppet couple Chuck and Tiffany (voiced by Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly) they were dead. Now Hollywood has latched on to their story and a movie based on their bloody exploits is in production, starring Jennifer Tilly (played, again, by Jennifer Tilly).
Meanwhile, an androgynous puppet that may or may not be a boy or girl realizes he or she is the cursed offspring of Chucky and Tiffany. So he/she sets off to track them down and bring them back into the world and inadvertently unleash more carnage in the unsuspecting saps on the movie production.
Chucky and Tiffany arise, name their spawn Glen/Glenda and start spilling blood. But Tiffany, besieged by some kind of maternal instinct is overtaken by guilt and tries to change her ways and steer her child away from turning into a killer. Chucky isn't interested and blah blah blah some puppets swing axes at each other.
There's a decent amount to like about this horror-comedy. The puppetry from top to bottom is impressive and props to director Don Mancini for using practical effects like robotics and puppeteers to bring his diminutive wiseass headliners to life. The Glen/Glenda puppet is especially noteworthy, featuring convincing facial articulations and a bizarre design. The creature effects are light years ahead of the stilted doll movements we saw in the first Child's Play.
Speaking of the vast discrepancy between this Chucky entry and his debut, the tonal shift is unmistakable. Beginning with the ridiculous Child's Play 3, the series began to dispatch its thriller-based slasher feel and moved into tongue-in-cheek waters. Eventually, the plots became so out there and Chucky descended into self-parody that you could barely classify the films as "horror" anymore. With the introduction of Tiffany as Chucky's counterpart -- a dull creation if you ask me, though the filmmakers seem to think she deserves iconic status along with her red-headed hubby -- the whole franchise morphed into a whacked-out Muppet show with gallons of fake blood and foul language.
That previous paragraph may sound tinged with animosity, but I really don't mind the series shift. If in fact Mancini and company continued with the Child's Play and Child's Play 2 game-plan and kept resurrecting Chucky to keep killing in a more serious tone, I hazard to say the films would have become goofy and self-lampooning anyway. At least this way, the writers can get ahead of the curve and embrace the inherent goofiness of talking dolls being able to overpower full-grown adults and stabbing them in the neck.
Seed of Chucky discards any semblance of seriousness and while the consequences of that is a total dearth of suspense or scares (one guy has his head lopped off, but it's about as far from scary and disturbing as you could get). In exchange you get a lot of wisecracks from the dolls and side-plots about gender identity, puppet pacifism and voodoo pregnancies. Some of the stuff is clever and some is corny, but the biggest complaints to lob at the film is the tediousness of the story when it hits the final stretch: you're going to have to endure endless dialogue, some of which is funny but most of which is merely trying to be funny. And the ending is a major letdown.
The high-definition release brings improved picture and sound but retains the bonus features from the standard-definition DVD release with nothing added. The 1.78:1 1080p visual treatment is indeed an improvement over its last generation predecessor. Seed of Chucky is a colorful movie and the levels are strong throughout. Chucky himself, clad in his red and blue get-up, stands out especially as does the copious bloodletting. Universal has been good about beefing up the audio in its catalog releases, and continues the trend with a 5.1 TrueHD track and a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix, both of which are active and clean.
Extras: a pair of feature commentaries with Mancini and Tilly and Mancini and Tony Gardner the puppeteer; a disposable deleted scene; behind-the-scenes of the Chucky films; Tilly's Tonight Show video diary; a slew of corny interviews with Chucky and Tiffany (ugh); storyboards; and a buggy pop-up trivia track missing whole chunks of text. This looks like a lot, but there's little of interest or substance here, aside from the feature commentaries.
I dig some of the humor and the kills are over-the-top, but stalled storytelling and a batch of forgettable and/or broken extras make this a disc worth getting only for die-hard Chucky fans, itching for cleaner picture and sound quality.
Maybe it's time for this doll to head to the yard sale?
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two Feature Commentaries
* Deleted Scene
* Interview with Chucky
* Behind-the-Scenes on the Chucky Films
* Jennifer Tilly Video Diary
* Chucky Family Photos
* Interviews with Chucky and Tiffany