Cult of Chucky

The voices of Brad Dourif and Danny deVito sound so similar they could be… twins…Anyway, Cult of Chucky does double-up, but on Dourifs. Brad’s daughter Fiona (known for her role as a prostitute sent out to the badlands of Deadwood, and as Casey in True Blood) co-stars with dad in this, the 7th installment of the franchise based on a doll with a shock of red hair. And it’s a series which still has shocks to spare.

From the get-go, things seem bleak. You get the obligatory horror sequel exposition, told in flashbacks and you wonder whether this Child’s Play entry is headed straight for the sewer.

Then, we see dissevered Chucky’s head, stuck full of nails, and chained to a table. And like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, Chucky lives on. Young Andy, all grown up and living in a survivalist, taxidermied apartment,  has been exacting revenge, taking a blowtorch to the doll’s dome and abusing what’s left of it.

In a nearby insane asylum, wheelchair-bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been going through therapy, institutionalized as the fall guy/patsy for Chucky’s murders. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch, but she’s more than capable and compelling enough as a character to have the flick revolve around her.

As part of hers and her fellow patients’ rehabilitation, resident psychologist Dr Foley, introduces them to a ginger therapy toy, and filicidal Madeline (Elizabeth Rosen) takes to the Good Guy doll as if it were her own son, a fascinating twist.

Soon, each patient starts to claim that the doll is sentient, prompting the not-so-good doc to observe, “it’s fascinating to see mass hysteria in action!” (The Foley/Chucky dynamic is terrific: Turns out Foley has been dosing patients with Methohexital and abusing them when they’re under, and Chucky can’t help but be impressed by his malpractice maleficence).

Tiffany Valentine/Ray (Jennifer Tilly) arrives to fill in the backstory and provide Child’s Play franchise continuity.

But things get fun when Chucky cuts loose to do what Chucky does best: kill.

There’s even one thrilling horror movie weapon death that would have made it into our book.

Cult of Chucky is a pretty stellar entry in the Child’s Play series. This is one mean-spirited red-head who could give Oliver Cromwell or Axl Rose a run for their money.

*** (out of 5)

Sorority House Massacre II

Five sexpot sorority sisters track down a real estate bargain…a downmarket California mansion that they can put in a low-ball offer for without an inspection? That’s just speculation on our part, as the abode in Sorority House Massacre II: Nighty Nightmare is a real fixer-upper. In real estate parlance, it has “good bones,” but nothing else (nothing else except…BAD MOJO…ominous cackle).

Little does the fivesome know, there’s a heavy breather neighbor peering at them behind his drapes across the way. Luckily, the girls busy themselves tackling beer and tequila and within the first 7 minutes, the Greeks* are given the particulars about the “old Hokstedter place,” by one of their own, a Goth-lite named Janie.

The new sorority digs was “the best they could do for the money,” and we know what that means in horror. But that’s the first of their (many) mistakes, the others being, taking part in elaborate seance (and in the midst of a nasty storm to boot) and letting their greasy neighbor in to regale them about how the bodies were found.**

This is pretty audacious, gonzo film-making. Director Jim Wynorski, a year after making the send-up, Transylvania Twist (featuring a self-parodying Angus Scrimm in Tall Man form) returns to helm what is a straight-ahead slasher with a, uh…twist: flashbacks from a different movie entirely. Yes, as the girls get backstory aplenty, it’s paired with flashbacks from The Slumber Party Massacre! Guess oversights like this can be expected when a film’s entire production took about a week and a half.

Sorority House Massacre 2 follows the girls-in-a-house motif, established in Black Christmas, and carrying on through Halloween and up to any number of seemingly interchangeable “massacre” movies.

There is lots of door jiggling, a basement animal trap, which became a hallmark of horror in the 2000s, and of course, copious screaming.

Not much to be said about this sequel, but it does feature a few Wynorskian touches: to wit, lingering, and what some might call gratuitous, shower and strip sequences.

** (out of 5)

(*Fraternity/sorority colloquialism; **reiterated by a cop: it was a “real butcher job, body parts were scattered all over the house, fingers in the sink, scalps on the mantel, guts cooking on the oven.”)