Directed By: Manny Coto
Written By: Manny Coto & Graeme Whifler
Cinematography By: Robert Draper
Editor: Debra Neil
Cast: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Glenn Quinn, Cliff De Young, Sara Melson, Zoe Trilling, Michelle Johnson, Keith Diamond, Richard Bradford, John Vickery, Doug E. Doug
The psychopathic son of a mass-murdering doctor escapes from his mental institution to seek revenge on the town where his father was caught. The giggling doctor kills his victims with a surgical theme. His goal is to give one of the townfolk a heart transplant.
This film always seemed like a series that could continue into a franchise. Even if it was just straight to DVD sequels. One could even accept one sequel strangely enough. As here you have an iconic rather ridiculous horror character and a rather goofy yet entertaining horror film.
Though lead actor Larry Drake has unfortunately passed. I am sure it is ripe for a reimagining. I mean if Corbin Bernsen had THE DENTIST series of films. Which were a rather guilty pleasure of mine. Why not DR. GIGGLES?
While this film is not the best it fulfills a certain uncentered feel during the film. Where you laugh one minute, groan the next, then finally are appalled the following.
This film has an old-school vibe that while not classic like the universal monsters. Feels like some kind of attempt to create a more studio-friendly one.
The problem is that the film isn’t really that scary. Nor as violent as one would expect. The only time it even really gets grimy is a gory birth or rebirth scene in flashback. As the film is campier than anything. That keeps trying to make you laugh at the macabre.
It’s an example of the rather soft horror films studios were putting out At the time. This film feels more suited for 13-year-olds rather than adults with its goofiness at times as it gets over the top with puns and one-liners and the doctor having overgrown murder tools and accessories that couldn’t have been bought. So they must have been created. Making him quite the artist as well. Though also makes him come off as a crazed clown with an identity crisis. Which makes an odd screen psychopathic killer.
Director, Manny Coto, revealed that the MPAA told him he had a lot of work to do on the film before they could give it an R rating. They had to cut out a lot of the gore because the MPAA was particularly harsh on them since horror films faced heavy censorship in the early 1990s. Which would explain why the film feels so clean when it comes to deaths and violence. Nothing really terror-inducing
Larry Drake is an all-star here. He does an impressive job and is memorable. As he usually did in other films. He is a favorite in the DARKMAN series of films. He never quite got his break as a more popular character actor. Hard to believe he was actually considered only after Ted Danson and Matt Frewer turned the part down
The problem here is that his film is meant to be an introduction, but feels more like a sequel of sorts. Where we are supposed to know about him already. We see the doctor in action more as a phantom in the background. So we never get to see exactly how dangerous he was originally. So the murders he commits here seem more secondhand. Not as shocking or powerful As they should feel.
The rest of the cast unfortunately is forgettable as they just seem your average type cliche one-note characters. There didn’t seem to be an effort to humanize them. So as they are slaughtered you feel nothing or rather cheer for their demise. Making for a macabre crowd pleaser. The film is as fun as the title suggests. One just wishes there was more to it. As it easily runs out of room with its initial premise. So it keeps adding to pad out the film. Though really the film feels like an attempt to make a big-screen slasher. Though ends up coming across more as the type you would see in a film that needs a horror film for the characters to watch that could be very generic but needs a hook.
I find myself being more kind to this film than maybe I should as it is a childhood favorite. When I stuck to mainly studio horror films out of fear of the more extreme ones.