Seed of Chucky: Unrated and Fully Extended
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: French and Spanish
Audio: English – Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1
June 7th, 2005
Directed by Don Mancini, and starring Jennifer Tilly, Billy Boyd (voice), Brad Dourif (voice), and rapper Redman, Seed of Chucky continues the saga of the killer doll that just won’t die (although I really wish he would)! In fact, Seed is the fifth entry in the “Chucky” series, which began with a formerly inanimate toy doll becoming host to the spirit of a killer, who uses his new form to continue his evil ways and deeds. Though the first film, Child’s Play, wasn’t bad, it was by no means a horror classic, and I think the premise is far too absurd to sustain an entire franchise. Judging from the increasing amount of self-deprecating humor in successive entries, it seems the filmmakers realize this as well.
With any horror series having multiple sequels, it undoubtedly becomes increasingly difficult to remain original and generate scares as the number of sequels grows. Thus, in the Chucky films, as in many other modern horror franchises, filmmakers have displayed a tendency to move away from trying to scare. Instead, many have tried to infuse comedy into sequels, while still mixing in enough blood and guts to offset the laughs and satisfy horror fans. Too often, however, the attempt to marry funny and frightening fails, and the later installments in a horror series become mere parodies of their predecessors (think of the later Nightmare on Elm Street films) as a result. In my opinion, Seed of Chucky is just such a movie – a virtually humorless and fright-free mockery of the initial film in the franchise, which was not exactly a great horror film to begin with.
If you couldn’t already tell, I’ll set the record straight - I have never been a real fan of the Chucky franchise and don’t think he is a great “movie monster”. Still, over the years I have seen them all, and to be honest, I did think Bride of Chucky was moderately enjoyable. Unfortunately, where Seed of Chucky really goes wrong is by taking every successful element of Bride of Chucky to the extreme, the result of which is an unoriginal, poorly plotted, and awfully unfunny attempt at a horror/comedy film.
Now let’s be honest, the plot is an afterthought in almost all horror films, and this one is no exception, but it does need to be covered, so you will have a basic idea of where the storyline places the characters. You will also see for yourself why I dislike it so. Basically, Seed of Chucky commences with Jennifer Tilly (playing herself), who is upset that her career has declined to the point that she is starring in a “Chucky movie”…what a clever joke (insert hearty laughter here)!
Like any once-famous actor whose star has fallen, Ms. Tilly wants desperately to revive her career, and believes she has found a great opportunity in a movie about the Virgin Mary, which is being helmed by rap artist Redman. Why she would think that starring in a drama about a religious icon being directed by Redman would be a good career move is beyond me, but whatever…
In the meantime, a ventriloquist’s dummy with the unfortunate name of Shithead (voiced by Billy Boyd) sees an interview with Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and Tiffany (voiced by Jennifer Tilly) on television, and believing that they might possibly be his (or her?) parents, Shithead decides to track them down. When the reunion finally takes place, Chucky and Tiffany are surprised to discover that their child is androgynous, a fact which is shown to viewers in detail (personally, I would have been willing to take the dummy’s word for it) !
Anyway, the now-proud parents decide to rename their offspring - thank god! – both Glen and Glenda. Why two names? Well, since Chucky wanted a son and Tiffany wanted to have a little girl, they simply chose to take full advantage of the androgynous appearance of their offspring’s uncertain gender. Interestingly, within a short time, Chucky and his bride warm up to the idea of being parents so much that they decide more additions to the family are in order. There is just one little problem – the little woman does not want to go through all the mess and hassle of carrying and giving birth to the children herself, so they will need to obtain the services of a surrogate mother, whether that person is willing or not!
After mulling it over for a while, the result of the couple’s planning is to have Chucky impregnate actress Jennifer Tilly, and they set out to get the job done! In a nutshell, that is the plot, and as you can see, it is not only offbeat but also fairly simplistic, which allows for plenty of off-color humor and superfluous characters that meet untimely and violent ends. That being said, while Seed of Chucky has its share of violence and gore, it will disappoint those looking for some scares, because no effort is made to frighten, and it seems as though the murders are tacked on to the film because they are supposed to be there.
Worse yet, the acting, outside of good voice work by Dourif , Tilly, and Boyd, and a good cameo by John Waters as a reporter, is barley decent…at best. Sadly, this includes Jennifer Tilly’s performance as well, but the worst performances really belong to Redman and Hannah Spearritt, who both look lost every time they are onscreen. Even when taking into account the fact that the performances in most horror films are not very good, these still are inadequate. When puppets exhibit more life than human beings in a film, you have a problem.
I know these Chucky films have got to be profitable, or the studio would not continue to finance them, but taking money out of the equation, was yet another Chucky film really needed? The story says “no” to me, but Mr. Mancini was still able to secure financial support from Universal’s Rogue Pictures outfit, so here we are with Seed of Chucky – a dreadful mess of a horror comedy that tries desperately to get viewers to laugh or be frightened, and fails almost completely in both areas. Do me a favor Chucky…die already!
SO, HOW DOES IT LOOK?
For Seed of Chucky, Universal has given us an anamorphically enhanced widescreen (1.85:1) transfer that looks bloody good! Okay, enough of my awful jokes, let’s talk about it…
Colors are vibrant and error-free, including flesh/plastic tones, and contrast is very nicely balanced throughout the feature. Another positive is that blacks are not only deep, but exhibit no low-level noise, so detail is evident even in dimly lit scenes. Further, whites are clean and bright, and never reach the point of blooming.
Aside from the occasional speck, the print used was also very clean, and in terms of detail, the transfer absolutely excels, rendering an image that is as sharp as a finely honed blade. Indeed, little nuances can be noticed in the sets and on the characters, in both close-ups and shots where the “actors” are a distance from the camera.
Finally, I did not notice anything in the way of digital distractions, such as edge enhancement or compression artifacts, intruding on the image at any point during the film. Basically, the image transfer for Seed of Chucky is very good to excellent in every respect, and the film looks a lot better than some films that cost much more. Good job Universal!!!
WHAT IS THAT NOISE?
If you are like me, and love options, you will be pleased to find that Seed of Chucky has not one but two surround mixes - Dolby Digital and DTS! In comparing the two, I found each to be a quality accompaniment to the outstanding image transfer, with a wide soundstage, smooth midrange, and good overall frequency response (although the DTS track did exhibit better imaging, as usual).
This being a new film, I was not surprised to find that dialogue was reproduced cleanly as well, without any hissing or other apparent distractions. There are also a few instances where directionality is required, and characters’ speech is panned across the front of the soundstage in response. Not to worry though, for the effect is appropriate to what is transpiring onscreen and not overdone.
In terms of surround usage, the rears are used to generate ambience or reproduce location-specific effects quite a bit, with arguably the most aggressive usage occurring during the opening “swimming” sequence. The LFE channel information will also put your subwoofer through its paces as well! I should note that although low frequency response is impressive on both tracks, the DTS version boasts slightly better composure in this area.
To sum things up, both of these soundtrack are fine reproductions of Chucky and family’s latest murderous rampage. Although I would give the DTS track a slight edge, the difference in sound quality is a bit closer than usual, so if you’re A/V equipment or DVD player lacks the ability to decode DTS, the Dolby Digital track is no slouch.
NOTE: Extras unique to the Unrated DVD are denoted by asterisks!
Audio Commentary #1
Writer/director Don Mancini and actress Jennifer Tilly contribute the first of the feature-length audio commentaries for Seed of Chucky, and it is quite a busy track! No offense to Ms. Tilly, but the thing that surprised me the most was how much of value she actually had to say, and how knowledgeable she was on so many aspects of the film’s production.
Although the conversation is not overwhelming, there are very few breaks in the discussion, and between the two speakers, fans will really learn a lot about Seed of Chucky, including some ideas dropped from the film, a variety of information pertaining to the technical challenges of the production, and of course, interesting anecdotes from the set!
Perhaps this isn’t saying much, since I really did not find Seed of Chucky to be worthwhile, but I actually enjoyed this audio commentary more than the film!
*** Audio Commentary #2
The second feature-length audio commentary on the disc features the pairing of Don Mancini and Seed of Chucky’s head puppeteer, Tony Gardner, and the result is almost as good as the first commentary. As you might expect, given Gardener’s participation, their discussion is much more technical than the one that Mancini and Tilly engaged in, but it is not very dry, and both men are entertaining.
I preferred the other commentary, but this one is a good listen as well, and I imagine fans of the series will definitely want to spend some time with this commentary, particularly if they are interested in how the puppets work – they really do look amazing in this film.
*** Chucky’s Insider Facts on Demand
“Insider Facts on Demand” is a text commentary, consisting of pop-up boxes that appear throughout the feature and impart information to viewers. Much of the information provided here is covered in the two audio commentaries, but there are interesting/random pieces of trivia throughout, and additional information on topics like:
--- How the opening sequence pays homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween.
--- Why Glenda was made androgynous.
--- How rap artist Redman became involved in Seed of Chucky.
*** Slashed Scene
There is one excised scene from the film available, which is about on par with the material that made the final cut. If you so desire, you can elect to view this unfinished deleted scene, apparently cut for pacing reasons, with forced commentary by Don Mancini and actress Debbi Carrington, who plays a character Mancini referred to as the “Sharon Stone of little actresses”.
*** Heeeere’s Chucky
In this funny little value-added piece, Chucky, the killer doll, sits down for a nearly 2 1/2–minute interview with Jim Moret…and reveals some of the parts he has tried out for over his years in show business. Thanks god he did not get any of them!
*** Storyboard to Final Feature Comparison
The storyboard comparisons, which run for 14 minutes, compare the storyboards for the following sequences to what made it into the finished film:
--- “Nightmare Sequence”
--- “Death of Santa”
--- “Death of
--- “Death of Joan”
Family Hell-iday Slide Show
Chucky, Tiffany and Glen(da) host a viewing of some slides from their travels through Paris, the Big Apple, and Tinseltown, among other places, in this extremely lame 3 ½-minute long extra.
Jennifer Tilly on The Tonight Show
In this brief (1 1/2 –minute) bit Jennifer Tilly hams it up in a video diary/”Letter to Jay Leno”, where she gives an account of her experiences with Chucky.
Jennifer Tilly’s Diary
This extras consists of a rather large number of text pages, where Jennifer Tilly reveals her experiences on Seed of Chucky, both in pre-production and on the set. Fans should give this diary a look - it is actually much more interesting than I was expecting it to be, and provides some interesting tidbits of information about Seed of Chucky!
Conceiving The Seed of Chucky
This nearly 19-minute long mini-documentary takes a look at the film legacy of Chucky, which has somehow grown to 5 films over nearly two decades! It is comprised of interviews with Don Mancini, who reveals that Chucky was inspired by the popularity of Cabbage Patch dolls, and Jennifer Tilly, Redman, and the film’s producers, among others, all of who discuss the evolution of the franchise and its characters. There is also an neat behind-the-scenes look at all of the hard work that goes into designing, sculpting, and operating the puppets.
FuZion Up Close with the Seed of Chucky Stars
This 4 ½-minute mun2 featurette begins with a cheesy, ridiculous introduction to cheesy interviews with Jennifer Tilly (who looks terrific here!), Tiffany, and Chucky, who are promoting their latest, and hopefully last, film.
Cast and Filmmakers
Brief bios and filmographies are available for:
--- Jennifer Tilly (as herself/Tiffany)
--- Redman (as himself)
--- Hannah Spearitt (as Joan)
--- John Waters (as Pete Peters)
--- Billy Boyd (as Glen/Glenda)
--- Brad Dourif (as Chucky)
--- Don Mancini (writer/director)
--- David Kirschner (Producer)
--- Corey Sienega (Producer)
--- Guy Louthan (Executive Producer)
Chapters 21 & 22
Be sure not to miss “Emotional Parents” and “Sound Booth”, which are very short pieces filmed for the DVD. In fact, the latter of the two features Chucky pimping the DVD!
The theatrical trailer for Seed of Chucky (2:10) is included, as is the teaser trailer for the film.
The disc kicks off with trailers for Unleashed, Assault on Precinct 13, and White Noise soundtrack.
(on a five-point scale)
THE LAST WORD
After watching Seed of Chucky a couple of different times for this review, the initial feeling I had after the first viewing has been reinforced - it is an unnecessary sequel that fails to scare, fails to amuse, and fails to entertain, despite its efforts. To put a finer point on it, the vast majority of the jokes just don’t work, most of the human actors in the film are abysmal, the horror elements feel completely arbitrary, and the story…well ridiculous is a word that comes to mind! Bottom line, this film seems like it was made for just one reason – money – and I don’t think it adds anything to a franchise that did not amount to much to begin with.
Of course, that is only my opinion, and you should feel free to disagree with it. If you like Chucky, you have every right to do so, and I am not hatin’ on you! I would suggest however, that if you are looking for a horror/comedy done right, that you check out Shaun of the Dead, also released by Rogue pictures, which is a far funnier and more entertaining film, and a wonderful experience on DVD!
I would have to encourage that the uninitiated sit this one out, but for fans of the Chucky series, the “Unrated and Fully Extended” DVD for Seed of Chucky is a good DVD for the following reasons: the audio and image transfers are very good and there are a wealth of extras included that are in line with the film’s tone. Further, this “unrated” edition not only adds a little more to the film, but also contains several exclusive bonus features, such as the audio commentary with Don Mancini and Tony Gardner and the Storyboard Comparisons. If you are a fan of the series, and you absolutely have to buy it, the unrated version is the one to get.