Hooptober 2022 #27: Seed of Chucky (2004)

About a third of the way through Seed of Chucky, Glen (occasionally Glenda) sees their parents, murderous dolls Chucky and Tiffany, brutally murder someone. Later that night, they asks their parents why do they kill. The two dolls look at each other flabbergasted. It’s framed as the awkward question a parent isn’t ready to explain to their child. However, it also seems like a question no one bothered to ask them before and clearly neither gave the subject much thought. It’s a weird, funny moment in a film full of them. While Seed of Chucky might be a bad film, there’s moments that make it worth watching.

Seed of Chucky is about Glen/Glenda, the plastic child of murderous dolls Chucky and Tiffany. They don’t know where they came from other than a “Made in Japan” stamp on their wrist. Also they keep having nightmares where they’re killing people. Then they see an entertainment piece on the making of “Chucky Goes Psycho” with two very familiar dolls and suddenly they know their lineage. They’re off to Hollywood! Except when they get there, the dolls are dolls. Good thing, Glen/Glenda brought a familiar amulet with them inscribed with a familiar phrase. Soon Chucky and Tiffany once again go on a killing spree. Poor Glen/Glenda wonders maybe meeting their parents wasn’t a good idea?

Look it’s hard for any film franchise to survive five films into a series, especially one about a killer doll. Seed of Chucky acknowledges that at this point most horror franchises become self parody. However, Writer/director Don Mancini is in on the joke and the best parts of this are campy fun. Take for example the warped family dynamic present throughout. You kind of have to laugh at Chucky wanting to bond with his child over a murder and then taking a father/child photo in front of a dead John Waters. Tiffany tries to be a good mother. She gives up killing (reading a 12 Steps in 3 days book!), but well as her relapse counselor tells her, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Mancini has no problems playing up the absurdity of a nuclear family of killer dolls.

Mancini, who is gay, also makes this a deeply queer film. It’s hard not to be when John Waters is a paparazzi photographer and references get made to the lesbian crime drama Bound. They make a lot jokes that purposely reference Psycho, a film with a closeted star and cross dressing. The design of Glen/Glenda purposely evokes Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. They’re designed to be ambiguous and lot of discussion is given to Glen/Glenda’s gender identity. At one point, the character when pressed by their parents asks “Why can’t I be both?!?!” The matter gets settled but if this had been written maybe a decade later, Glen/Glenda might have identified as non-binary or genderqueer. Even the film’s camp nature gives it a queer texture.

Unfortunately the rest of the movie gets weighed down by a Hollywood satire. To put this in context, Seed of Chucky came out at the end of the “meta-slasher” trend started by Wes Craven’s Scream. Don Mancini tries to make it a meta movie where Jennifer Tilly, playing herself, wants a part in Redman’s directorial debut, a biblical epic about Jesus. Now the the idea of stoner rapper and comedic actor Redman directing a serious biblical epic is a funny proposition. It’s just the movie doesn’t really do anything with it? There’s also comedy in Jennifer Tilly being unable to get roles because of typecasting but none of it is here. Instead there’s just a lot of weird potshots at Julia Roberts. These probably weren’t funny in 2004 and definitely are not funny now. All of the Hollywood stuff comes across as inside jokes or jokes only funny to Mancini and the cast. The only redeeming factor of the Hollywood stuff is everyone gets brutally murdered.

There’s also a lot of crude and dumb humor in this film. Folks mileage may vary here. There’s a running gag where Glen/Glenda thinks they’re Japanese because they have a Made in Japan stamp on them. It leads them to ask their parents, after witnessing a tag team murder, if the two are ninja assassins or yakuza. Chucky clarifies they’re from New Jersey. Look you either will laugh at the fact Jennifer Tilly’s bathroom has an issue of Fangoria in it and a killer finds it arousing or you won’t. Confession, I laughed. I also laughed when John Waters catches it and says with all sincerity “Thank god for the little people!” I’m sure he’s disappointed he didn’t think of it first.

Seed of Chucky is a weird, possibly terrible film. It is a defiantly queer and campy one. It’s also a poorly constructed Hollywood satire. You’re either on its wavelength or you wonder why you spent an hour and a half of your life watching it. As someone who likes dumb jokes about puppets, John Waters appearances, and people set on fire, I’ve spent more time watching way more boring films.

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