Thursday, September 20, 2012

So Unfunny, It Hurts: "Dr. Giggles" (1992)



Manny Coto, the director, is let down in this wannabe slasher classic by Manny Coto, the cowriter.

Larry Drake is an escaped mental patient who returns to his old hometown to exact revenge. It seems years before, his dad killed seven patients looking for a heart for his ailing wife. Being a good dad, he involved his young son in his diabolical scheme before being killed by angered townfolk. He did manage to save his son, however, by sewing him up in his dead wife's corpse so he could dramatically emerge later at the morgue. Gosh, and all my dad ever did was encourage me to do better in school.

Drake becomes fixated on Holly Marie Combs (who wouldn't?) who has mitral valve prolapse, a heart condition that could worsen. Holly is having boyfriend troubles, her dad Cliff DeYoung has shacked up with a young Michelle Johnson (who wouldn't?), and Holly's mom died after going in for a routine heart operation.

The script throws in enough victims who get slashed and ripped before we have a chance to care about them. We also have the rookie cop who figures the whole thing out, despite the rest of the police department poo-pooing the teens' stories about a lunatic doctor with a bad bedside manner. You can script the ending, as Combs is rescued in the nick of time from Drake's twisted heart transplant, but the real battle comes later on during Combs' real heart surgery, as the villainous doctor is one of those unkillable type slashers.

The set up for the film is introduced immediately, and then the cast really has nothing to do but wait for Drake to come a-killin'. This makes for some pretty suspenseless scenes. We know who the killer is, we know why he kills, and we know who he is going to kill. Coto has great visuals here, but his cowritten script gets goofier and dumber as it goes along. The excellent funhouse mirror room scene is offset by an embarassed cast with embarassing lines. Poor Drake, normally a superb actor, is given a literal ton of bad doctor cliches to say. I have never been a fan of the "funny" killer in horror films, and this film proves my point. I could not warm up and laugh, especially at all the carnage going on here. If you want to laugh at buckets of blood, see "Body Melt" or "Killer Tongue."

Coto also ignores rather a obvious plothole. Drake escapes from a mental institution, where he was listed as unidentified. Yet, the town where his father did all the killing, and where the child Drake disappeared from, is within fifty miles of the asylum. If a seven year old boy went missing from a local mass murderer's family estate at the same moment a seven year old boy was knocking on the asylum's front door, I would be suspicious. I guess news does not travel fast in movieland. Also, a lot of the action takes place in the old basement offices of the killer doctor. The film makers shot this in an obvious real hospital, which means the basement of this decrepit house is the size of a football field, complete with working fluorescent lights. Sloppy, sloppy.

I am not kidding when I say every cliche a doctor has uttered is here. From "physician, heal thyself" to Drake turning to the audience while dying and asking if there is a doctor in the house. Unfunny, but watching this bad film gave me the same feeling in my groin as the last time I was asked this question, oddly not found in the script: "Turn your head and cough."

"Dr. Giggles" is not funny, and in need of an emergency suspense transplant. I call this one dead on arrival. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: Dr. Giggles (1992)