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DR. GIGGLES (1992)

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Dr. Giggles may have been released in 1992, but is very 80s from it’s look and feel to the metal tune blasting during the end credits…though sadly it reflects the exhaustion of the 80s slasher trend more than anything else.

The story has it’s roots in 1957 where Dr. Evan Rendell was murdered by the townsfolk of Moorehigh for killing his patients by removing their hearts in order to revive his dead wife. Rendell’s son escaped the mob and has disappeared without a trace. In modern day (1992, that is), a John Doe mental patient referred to as Dr. Giggles (Larry Drake), for his obsession with medical procedures and disturbing laugh, escapes an asylum and makes his way to Moorehigh. It would seem Dr. Giggles is actually Evan Rendell Jr. and he has set his sights on the people of the town for revenge. His plans alter a bit when he encounters pretty young Jennifer Campbell (Holly Marie Combs), a teen with a heart condition of the same kind that claimed Rendell’s mother…and Jennifer’s own. Now Dr. Giggles is out to acquire his patient and perform surgery on her at all costs and will kill anyone that gets in his way…or has the right amount of heart!

Flick is directed and co-written (with Graeme Whifler) by Manny Coto, who is far better known for his TV work than his few feature films. Coto doesn’t seem to know what kind of film he wants to make, as while Dr. Giggles has a serious tone, it is filled to the brim with goofy kills and frequent quips from it’s killer that highlight all the medical jokes and clichés it can fit in it’s 96 minute running time. Is it a comedy?…or a horror? The problem is that, as either, it is not very successful. The film has it’s fans, but it’s dull as a routine slasher and the medical jokes and exaggerated kills get tiresome quickly. There are little chills and suspense and the kills aren’t quite gruesome enough to shock…and are neutered by the jokiness anyway. There are also some major plot holes, such as when did Giggles have the time to make all his exaggerated/comical medical implements to use on his victims and if his father was suddenly dragged from his home and stoned to death, who sealed up his secret operating room in the basement? His escaped son was only seven. There are a few more questions we’d liked answered, but the film never really does and only it’s climactic showdown between Rendell, heroine Jennifer and her boyfriend-to-the-rescue Max (Glenn Quinn), gives us some intensity and action. Otherwise, this is a fairly ho-hum horror with a few gross moments, but mostly a lot of bad doctor clichés and far too obvious plot holes that just illustrate how tired slasher flicks had become at this point.

The cast, at least it’s leads, are far better than the film deserves. Larry Drake is very creepy as Giggles and gives him just the right balance of over-the-top and restraint. Too bad the material let’s him down. Same can be said of pre-Charmed Holly Marie Combs who makes Jennifer a feisty, strong-willed young lady and she is very likable. Cliff De Young is fine as her recently remarried dad and 80s hottie and horror veteran Michelle Johnson is hot and bitchy as Jennifer’s new shrew of a step-mom. Glenn Quinn is also likable and charming as Jennifer’s boyfriend Max and makes a suitable hero. A decent cast with sadly weak material to work with.

Not overly fond of this flick. It has a few scant moments, but for the most part, is dull and a perfect example of the slasher genre out of gas and at the end of it’s initial run, before Scream came along and revived it as self-aware, pop-culture reference dropping homage. The cast are actually very good, but the script is weak and full of far more holes than usually tolerable in a horror movie. Director Manny Coto doesn’t leave much of a signature on the film and was far more successful writing for TV. The flick has it’s fans, so it’s up to you if you want to catch up with it, if you haven’t seen it yet.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 (out of 4) scalpels.

dr giggles rating