A doll’s house
Dourif gave an excellent performance in John Huston’s Wise Blood (1979), a good film shown to empty houses. Then came a succession of smaller roles, smaller films, work in Europe, and a lot of television. Having avoided Heaven’s Gate (1980) upon release, I really didn’t see Brad again until Blue Velvet (1986), in a very minor role as one of Frank Booth’s cronies. When you start playing second fiddle to Jack Nance, it may be time to rethink your career.
Among all the junk and good intentions, he had limited screen time in Child’s Play (1986), a nasty, darkly comic horror movie that introduced Chucky, a killer doll. Brad did the voice of the doll, which made him something of a celebrity in horror circles, those mysterious places where a guy like Robert Englund is considered an icon.
Since then there have been sequels, modestly budgeted schlock a cut above the product emanating from both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street camps, making Brad a pivotal member of the Chucky franchise. (Yes, there is a Chucky franchise.) For the fourth in the series, Bride of Chucky (1998), an effective marketing campaign made Chucky temporarily hip. He had sex with a Jennifer Tilly doll. There was rock music on the soundtrack. The jokes got raunchier. And Chucky basked in his fifteen minutes of fame.
The latest entry is Seed of Chucky (2004), and it’s brand new on DVD. Brad/Chucky (who’s beginning to resemble Pat Sajak) and Jennifer and the Jennifer doll are back, with an androgynous offspring in tow. Introduced in a weird subplot about a deranged ventriloquist recalling Lindsay Shonteff’s Devil Doll (1964), he/she poses a dilemma for the plastic parents, who can’t decide whether to name him/her Glen or Glenda. He/she is played by the voice of Billy Boyd (who chewed some scenery with Dourif in the Lord of the Rings movies), but the face on the figure had me thinking of Rita Tushingham.
Jennifer’s put on a little weight since her wedding night with the Chuckster six years ago, all of it now packed into slinky sex kitten outfits like nine pounds of shit into a five pound bag. Playing an actress named Jennifer Tilly who desperately wants the role of the Virgin Mary in a Biblical film for director Redman (a real-life rap star), she’s artificially inseminated with a turkey baster full of Chuck-ejaculation in a conception that’s far from immaculate. Meanwhile, using sperm in the promotion was the kind of outré gimmick you’d expect out of Todd Solondz, from the print ads (“Get a load of Chucky!”), the “coming” attractions, and all that white goo oozing over the opening credits.
Despite a running time of eighty-seven minutes, there are a couple of dry patches that momentarily stall Seed of Chucky, but if you take into account the dire condition of the horror film in general this seems a minor quibble. Why I’ve followed Chucky’s oeuvre may be a concession to the trash fan in me, or perhaps it goes deeper. Could Chucky be my inner child?