Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Dr. Giggles

Larry Drake, then known for winning two Emmys as intellectually disabled Benny on L.A. LAW and playing supervillain Durant in DARKMAN, finally starred in his own feature, 1992's DR. GIGGLES, a slasher film influenced by the silly NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels. There’s little doubt director Manny Coto (24) and Universal intended Drake to star in a series of Dr. Giggles horrors, but the box office for this one just wasn’t there.

Drake plays the eponymous killer, who escapes from an insane asylum (how, we don’t know, and I guess Coto believed we wouldn’t care) and returns to his hometown to wreak vengeance upon the people he blames for his physician father’s death.

Everything in the screenplay by Coto and Graeme Whifler (SONNY BOY) is way over the top, including the telegraphed Kruegeresque one-liners that punctuate all the bad doctor’s kills. Drake’s performance is pitched as far as it can go without teetering over to the other side, and Coto Dutches the camera in a frenzy to accentuate Giggles’ madness (a shot looking out at Giggles from inside his victim’s throat is absurd).

Is the movie funny or scary? Eh, not really. The jokes are corny and obvious, and the horror is based on every cliché you can think of. The doc’s first victims are a black couple and a couple preparing to have sex, and since none of them have anything to do with the people who killed his father, the killer’s rampage lacks a point. Holly Marie Combs, later on PICKET FENCES, CHARMED, and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, is fine as the teenage Final Girl.

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