Seed of Chucky (2004)
Directed by Don Mancini

Starring Billy Boyd Brad Dourif Hannah Spearritt Jennifer Tilly Redman

A long six years after the success of "Bride of Chucky," the fourth "Child's Play" sequel finally made its way to cinemas. The reason it took such a bloody long time was Columbine, which scared Hollywood away from the genre during the tail end of the Clinton administration. "Seed of Chucky" was actually written in '99 or so.

Then, the awesome success of "Freddy vs. Jason" rekindled interest in the Chucky franchise. The sequel was back on track in '04, with Don Mancini (who penned every single "Child's Play" movie) brought on to direct as well as write.

"Seed" picks up some years after "Bride," with the monster infant born at the end of that film now being exploited by a sideshow traveler in Britain. A puppet who actually walks and talks, he's used to win ventriloquist contests. Unsure of where he came from, he finally spots the image of Chucky and Tiffany (in case you didn't remember, his puppet killer parents from the last movie) on TV. It seems they're shooting a movie based on the urban legend of Chucky and Tiffany, and are using the same dolls recovered from the murder scene. Jennifer Tilly (playing herself) is starring in the movie.

Inevitably, the dolls are resurrected, and the "seed" is reunited with his mother and father. Jennifer Tilly is kidnapped by the dolls who hope to use her in a scheme to take over human bodies, even making a demon baby for their child to inhabit. Redman plays himself as well -- he's the director of a "Virgin Mary" movie Tilly hopes to land the lead in.

Cult movie references abound. Chucky and Tiffany's child is named Glenn or Glenda, because they can't decide what sex he is. He's not anatomically correct, unlike his parents. John Waters (who has long identified himself as a fan of the Chucky franchise) has a small role as a paparazzi. There are some routine homages to "Psycho," "The Shining" and of course "Rosemary's Baby."

The main weakness of "Seed" is that it's one of those sequels that really needed to be seen almost immediately after its predecessor. General viewers probably showed up to theaters not knowing what the hell was going on -- who were these characters? A little too postmodern and self-aware, it lacks the bite and the similar, more arty "Wes Craven's New Nightmare." Killer dolls are normally pretty scary, but in "Seed" only the funnier antics of Chucky seem to get any screen time.

Still, any horror franchise that manages to stick around as long and as consistently as the "Child's Play" series deserves praise. Of the five films, this is better than the third, worse than the fourth, second and first. Not bad.

Mancini has promised to take the series back to its late 1980s, suspenseful roots in the next entry.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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