Category Archives: Horror-Comedy Films

Bride of Chucky-1998

Bride of Chucky-1998

Director-Ronny Yu

Starring-Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif

Reviewed September 11, 2017

Grade: D+

Bride of Chucky is the fourth installment in the famed late 1980’s Child’s Play hit franchise. The late 1980’s was not the best time for the horror genre in general, but the film was quite the highlight in a slew of duds. By this time in the series, (1998), the child/victim of the doll premise is dropped in favor of dark humor, thus the series immerses itself more into the horror-comedy arena. A treat is the inclusion of a fantastic hard rock soundtrack led by the Rob Zombie classic, Living Dead Girl, adding some points to the films final grade, otherwise having been more dismal.

The film is certainly not a great film and I find perverse pleasure in reviewing poor films. However, Bride of Chucky does have its place- as a late Saturday night viewing choice amid strong cocktails it contains a certain charm. Not to be taken seriously, the placement of a love interest for Chucky gives the film macabre romantic humor. Still, the film suffers from lackluster acting and quickly turns into drivel by the time the credits finally roll.

The action picks up from where Child’s Play 3 leaves off and the appearance of Chucky is now a weathered, stitched appearance that gives the doll a more gruesome and maniacal look- this works given the elimination of a child lead character. Left for evidence in a police compound, Chucky is stolen by Tiffany Valentine, played by Jennifer Tilly. The girlfriend of a deceased serial-killer, Tiffany is convinced that the spirit of her boyfriend exists within Chucky and she is determined to bring him back to life using a voodoo ritual. When the act finally works, Chucky and Tiffany reunite, but shortly afterwards, Tiffany is also turned into a doll and the duo set out on a killing spree.

The best aspect to the film is the camaraderie between Tilly and actor Brad Dourif, who voices Chucky. The duo have a light, comic banter that is fun to watch, as well as fantastic chemistry. Granted the actors only voice the dolls for a large part of the film, but their back and forth works well. This is what makes Bride of Chucky tongue in cheek- let’s face it, with talking dolls as your main characters, director Ronny Yu wisely avoids making the killings too grisly or heavy-handed, but rather, frequently uses quips and one-liners throughout the film.

As Chucky and Tiffany slice and dice their way to Hackensack, New Jersey, their motivations are to embody a neighborhood boy, Jesse, and his girlfriend Jade, played by a young Katherine Heigl. Along the trek, the foursome are faced with ludicrous obstacles, such as the brief introduction of a con artist couple who meet their doom by flying shards of glass after stealing Jesse’s money. The side story of Jade’s overprotective police chief Uncle, played by a miscast John Ritter, does not work at all. His schemes to plant marijuana in Jesse’s van are little more than plot driven machinations to advance the thin plot.

The characters of Jesse and Jade are trivial and secondary and Heigl’s acting is particularly garish to say nothing of the lack of any chemistry between Heigl and actor Nick Stabile. In fact, Heigl seems to wear a pout throughout the entire film. But, not to worry, these characters are as meaningless as all the others.

The gimmick ending, surely meant to “spawn” yet another sequel is as interesting as it is grotesque and a small highlight in a poor film. Bride of Chucky provides a nice lineage to the history of the franchise, a killer musical score, and decent chemistry among the leads, but also suffers a similar fate of many horror films, especially sequels- poor acting, a silly tone, and no character development.

Piranha-2010

Piranha-2010

Director-Alexandre Aja

Starring-Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames

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Reviewed January 24, 2011

Grade: C-

2010’s Piranha is a tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) horror comedy that saves itself from being complete drivel by having some sense of humor. Remarkably, it stars some decent talents- Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, and Elisabeth Shue. The film is pure fluff- not high art in the least, with nary a message or a purpose to be found.

The film is basically terrible, but kind of fun at the same time. It’s complete camp and not to be taken at all seriously. The plot is simplistic and standard horror fare- a school of piranhas are unleashed after an underwater earthquake, kill a fisherman, and ravage a college vacation party on a lake. The college kids come to Lake Victoria to party and lounge on the beach, and typically, are dressed precariously. They are unceremoniously ripped to shred by the angry and hungry killer fish.

Shue and Rhanes must have hit rough times, and have been in need of a paycheck to star in this. They play a Sheriff and Deputy- laughably unbelievable- as they try to protect the beach-goers from a grisly fate. Dreyfuss plays a ridiculous and unnecessary role as the aforementioned fisherman.

On a serious (and sour) note, the objectifying of women is shocking in this day and age. Haven’t we seen enough stereotypes for one lifetime? A few cool kills and humor, but basically a dumb, popcorn horror film.

Dawn of the Dead-1978

Dawn of the Dead-1978

Director-George A. Romero

Starring-David Emge, Ken Foree

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Reviewed November 25, 2015

Grade: B

One of the better installments by famed horror-comedy director, George A. Romero, though inferior to my personal favorite  film of his, Night of the Living Dead, Romero focuses slightly more on the comedy aspect with Dawn of the Dead, though for horror fans, there is plenty of gore to satisfy the more blood-thirsty viewer. This film is glossier and slicker than its predecessor was.

On a slightly larger budget than Night of the Living Dead,  the events largely take place in suburban Pennsylvania, and more specifically, a local mall. An unknown phenomenon has made non-buried humans change form into flesh-eating zombies that prey on other human beings. A group of survivors hunker down in a suburban mall and begin a life of adequacy-utilizing the contents of the mall until events threaten their existence. They must form a militant operation in order to continue to survive.  The four survivors are Stephen and Francine- two staff members of a local television station- and Roger and Peter- two SWAT team members whom they meet in the ensuing chaos. The quartet steal a helicopter and travel a short distance to the mall.

Having viewed Dawn of the Dead on multiple occasions, I am a fan of the film, but not an enormous fan, and it hovers below my Top 25 Horror Films list.  The main flaw of the film is how it delves into the personal lives of Stephen and Francine midstream, a fact I find meaningless and in fact, stalls the plot. Francine has realized that she is pregnant and I just do not understand the point of slowing down the action for this purpose. I am a huge fan of character development (even in the horror genre!), but this development does not work.

Still, the lengthy portion of the film, and with a running time of over two hours (highly unusual for horror), I am enamored with. The scenes in the mall are fantastic and the action in the final act is thrilling. Reminiscent of my youth and spending hours as a child, along with my mother and siblings, being paraded around the local mall, the look of the mall in Dawn of the Dead brings back a flood of memories. From the fake green plants, to the mannequins, the pool of water filled with coins, and, of course,  the redundant, but lovely Muzak in the background.

Romero, as he did with Night of the Living Dead, provides a social element to the film. In the case of Dawn of the Dead, it is the onset of materialism and consumerism that captured the United States in the late 1970’s and the 1980’s that he focuses on, and it took me a couple of viewings to catch onto this point- the zombies stupidly walking around the mall in numbing fashion mirroring how many people did during the day. One character mentions that the zombies are drawn to the mall because it is familiar- much like people frequented the malls in that time period frivolously spending away their time and their money.

Some of the deaths, including one main characters, are haunting. As the character suddenly “turns”, it is frightening to see them in this new light as compared to how they once were. And, in comic fashion, my favorite zombie character is the nurse. Clad in nurse-gear (white shoes, classic nurse cap, and white uniform) she is creepy yet mesmerizing in her body and facial expressions as she lumbers around the mall. It makes me smile each time I see her.

Dawn of the Dead is certainly one of the better, more interesting zombie movies around- I just wish the relationship drama, mainly in the center of the film, had been derailed or modified, as it slows down the pacing of the film. Still, a good, fun, late night flick.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Director-Griff Furst

Starring-Robert Englund

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Reviewed August 16, 2015

Grade: D

To say that Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is a bad film is being generous. It is poorly made, written, and acted. Containing every horror and comedy cliché in the book, it is clearly not a film to take seriously, and is best watched late at night amongst adult spirits. The premise is ludicrous, the acting way overdone, and all characters are “types” and one-dimensional. Having seen the original Lake Placid and Anaconda films (and they were not so great themselves), I was unaware that this is actually the fifth film for both franchises and is a crossover. Premiering on the Syfy network in mid 2015, it is a made for television feature, and the lack of any real gore is apparent for this reason. Robert Englund and Yancy Butler, stars of other installments of the franchise, make return appearances. Sadly, no Betty White or Jennifer Lopez (stars of the original Lake Placid and Anaconda respectively) in this one. Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is not trying to be great art or necessarily art at all, but rather an idiotic late night experience. I did not rate the film a solid F since it knew what it was and did not try to take itself too seriously, which I respect at least.

The story begins in the middle of the woods near Clear Lake, Maine, as an illegal experiment is occurring inside a truck. Serum is being illegally extracted from a sedated crocodile to sell to a giant corporation for profit. Jim Bickerman (played by horror legend Englund) has been paid handsomely to provide information in order for the plot to happen. A villainous corporate schemer is on hand to oversee the events. Inevitably, something goes wrong and the crocodile wakes up and gets loose, encountering large anacondas, who are also on the loose. From this point, we are introduced to other inane characters that round out the film, including a group of bitchy sorority sisters on their way to Clear Lake presumably to pledge and party, and Sheriff Reba (Yancy Butler) and her bumbling team of police officers. Also integral to the story is one of the sorority sister’s (Bethany) father, Will, who attempts to help Sheriff Reba rescue everyone from the killer reptiles.

Side stories include the laugh out loud pledge attempts by some of the sorority wannabees (one is forced to dig a hole in the sand large enough for her to hide in within 20 minutes), a friendship between the only two sensible girls, Bethany and Margot, a high leveled female executive intent on capturing the serum for riches, and a burgeoning romance between Reba and Will.

Silly personified, the film is meant to be goofy and the actors play their roles as they are foolishly written. There is not a shred of believability to the film and none of the characters have any depth. The worst offender from a character standpoint, is humorously my favorite. Tiffani is the comically vicious sorority queen. With her constant berating of the new pledges, she regularly demands that they get in the water and swim for her entertainment. Ultimately, the girls are attacked by the crocodile in the water, allowing for multiple camera shots of the girls swimming underwater while scantily clad. Is this a 1980’s low budget horror throwback? When the crocodile emerges to land the remaining girls flee for safety. In a hilarious scene, Tiffani and one of her minion’s are cornered by the vicious crocodile. The minion asks what they should do and Tiffani replies with, “I have an idea”, and promptly pushes the minion towards the crocodile where she is chewed to bits allowing Tiffani to escape. Later, predictably, Tiffani receives her comeuppance.

I find myself perplexed as to why this film was even made. Clearly, made on a shoe-string budget, with dated CGI effects, little blood, and a preposterous plot. One is to assume that the franchise’s predecessors were similar ventures.

Laced with one dumb scene after another and tough to take at all seriously, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is as poor filmmaking as they come, but certainly to be taken with a grain of salt and enjoyed for its campy badness. Art, hardly, but rather a fluff horror-comedy for a boozy Saturday night.

An American Werewolf in London-1981

An American Werewolf in London-1981

Director-John Landis

Starring-David Naughton, Griffin Dunne

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Reviewed July 2, 2015

Grade: B-

A melding together of British-American horror and comedy, An American Werewolf in London provides entertainment while being campy and silly comedy. While two American buddies, Jack and David, traverse the countryside of England with backpacks in tow, a spring break jaunt of sorts, one is viciously attacked and killed by a strange werewolf setting off a series of strange occurrences that play out over the remainder of the film. From this point the film is told from the perspective of one of the males as the other appears to him in visions warning of his inevitable demise into a werewolf.

An American Werewolf in London does not intend to mock the genre of horror, but is certainly campy and over-the top. Despite cult classic accolades being thrust upon the film, it is not among my favorites. I would have preferred it tilt more towards the horror classification rather than the comedy because it comes across as some sort of a spoof as the main characters overact. The film has a silly quality to it. It is light fare instead of dark or morbid and even the kills are meant to be fun, not horrific. In a way it is almost cheesy and that is not a compliment.

This is not to say that the film is completely subpar. It is decent, but not very believable and I think that is a distraction and a missed opportunity. However, my favorite characteristics of this film are the makeup/special effects and the musical score which features such fitting treats as “Moondance”, “Bad Moon Rising”, and “Blue Moon”. Sense an intelligent theme? The makeup, especially during the reanimation sequences are creative and still impressive today considering the film was made in 1981.

In addition, the best scene of the film is undoubtedly the “Slaughtered Lamb” scene when Jack and David stumble upon the aptly named pub filled with interesting, blue-collar looking locales. When one of the tourists inquires about a mysterious five-pointed star on the wall the pub dwellers become angry and cold leading the young men to be confused and intrigued. This scene is filled with interest and I only wish the pub characters had more of a chance to shine as they seem benevolent and filled with potential backstory. I would have enjoyed learning more history about these folks. Sadly, the focus is by and large on Jack and David and a poorly constructed love interest- Nurse Alex Price, who is not to be taken at all seriously and played for one-dimensional laughs.

A lighthearted, sort of fun late night flick, An American Werewolf in London is a cult film, though I would not agree with the cult classic distinction.