Aside from a handful of exceptions, the period between the slasher’s ‘Golden Era’ and Wes Craven’s Scream was a downturn for horror. For every Jacob’s Ladder there was a Brainscan or Man’s Best Friend. And it was in this horror ‘dead zone’ that Universal Pictures released horror-comedy, Dr Giggles. Nearly thirty years later it’s hard to understand what the studio was thinking. Slashers had faded to direct-to-video several years earlier. Not surprisingly, critics and audiences alike declared Dr Giggles dead on arrival. But maybe pre-Scream horror fans weren’t ready for a horror-comedy like Dr Giggles. Could a 1992 Dr Giggles find a new audience in the 2020’s?
Years ago, the townspeople of Moorehigh discovered that town doctor, Dr Evan Rendell, was murdering patients and cutting out their hearts to transplant into his dead wife. The enraged people tracked Rendell down, stoning him to death. But his disturbed son, Evan Jr, disappeared. Now an adult, Evan Jr, secretly resides in a psychiatric hospital. His hideous giggle and delusional belief that he is himself a doctor earns him the nickname, ‘Dr Giggles’. But ‘Dr Giggles’ orchestrates his escape from the asylum, leaving a trail of bodies behind him. Soon he’s back in Moorehigh where he plans to continue his father’s bloody work.
Doctor Giggles Misdiagnoses Audiences With Derivative, Overly Long Story
For about 15 minutes or so, Dr Giggles promises a familiar but fun, over-the-top slasher. Unlike some of the fun late-entry 80s slashers, Dr Giggles boasts pretty decent production values. And writer and director Manny Coto serves up some early helpings of silly gore that bodes well for B-movie lovers. Too bad those 15 minutes probably represent the movie’s best moments. Following Dr Giggles’ escape, Coto comfortably settles into a slasher movie filled with tropes. When a Black couple foolishly tour Dr Rendell’s abandoned home, do you even need to guess what happens next? Characters exist primarily to fill out a requisite body count for the movie. Just about every scene feels like you something you’ve seen in another horror movie. To make matters worse, Dr Giggles inexplicably drags well past its expiration date.
A visually impressive set of opening credits segues into a nasty scene in a makeshift operation room. In spite of its complete predictability,
While it’s an entirely predictable slasher with not even a single jump scare to spice things up. Dr Giggles does have a few fun kills. Though it makes no sense, a flashback showing young Evan Jr cutting himself out of his mother’s body is a surprisingly good bit of gore. A visually impressive set of opening credits segues into a nasty scene in a makeshift operation room. In spite of its complete predictability, Dr Giggles’ ‘second climax’ gives its titular character a suitably grotesque send-off.
Dr. Giggles Wastes Larry Drake’s Fun Performance With …
Clearly, Coto and co-writer Graeme Whifler really liked the later Elm Street sequels. Their ‘Dr Giggles’ plays like the Dream Child version of Freddy Krueger. Expect an endless stream of one-liners and ‘doctor’ puns from start to finish. Maybe Joel Schumacher watched Dr Giggles before he made Batman & Robin. Yes, it’s that bad. If there’s any saving grace here, it’s undoubtedly Larry Drake (Darkman). Given little with which to work, Drake has fun with the role and makes the character work better than it had any right to. Too bad Coto and Whifler hadn’t scaled back just a little bit on the puns. Drake’s Dr Giggles might have deserved even a straight-to-video franchise.
If there’s any saving grace here, it’s undoubtedly Larry Drake (Darkman). Given little with which to work, Drake has fun with the role and makes the character work better than it had any right to.
As it stands, Drake eventually exhausts the screenplay and the character becomes tiresome. Still it’s hard not to laugh out loud when ‘Dr Giggles’ approaches a boy mindlessly playing video game before choosing to walk away declaring, ‘Terminal’. In fact, this scene may the movie’s highlight. Certainly, you shouldn’t expect much from the rest of the cast. To be fair, no one here is bad – the performances are fine. Rather it’s the cookie-cutter characters that you’d find in any slasher. And there’s nothing ironic about the overabundance of tropes. It’s just a matter of lazy writing.
Dr Giggles Not Making House Calls Any Time Soon
Sadly, time hasn’t improved Dr Giggles much if at all. Even if watched through the lens of ‘self-aware’ slasher movie, Dr Giggles isn’t much more than a derivative entry to the subgenre. Though Coto and Whifler litter their screenplay with enough puns that would make Batman & Robin blush, this slasher inexplicably takes itself too seriously. It’s hard to tell what Coto was aiming for here. Aside from the endless one-liners, Dr Giggles plays out as a rather straightforward slasher. There’s no surprises what’s put on screen isn’t particularly memorable. Instead, you’ll find a 96-minute movie that feels much, much longer.