Dr. Giggles (1982)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 4, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Warner (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. English, French and Spanish Subtitles. 95 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Manny Coto
Starring: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff De Young, Glenn Quinn, Michelle Johnson
Writer: Manny Coto, Graeme Whifler
Country: USA
Just before the horror drought of the nineties - and you know there was a drought by the fact that Batman was getting Fangoria covers - some companies tried their hands at bringing back the heyday of the eighties slasher, which was tapering off to an end. It seems Dr. Giggles was devised as a great marketing tool: whereas characters like Freddy were mismanaged by many, until he became everything except a Saturday Morning cartoon, Dr. Giggles was carefully marketed with a 'prequel' tale in an issue of Dark Horse Comics' Dark Horse Presents, which was then developed into a four issue limited comic series, and then, a film. This was Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics first attempt at producing a film, and his film career has been pretty hit-and-miss, with other 'comics' related titles such as Alien Vs Predator, Hellboy and The Mask (amongst others), but I guess we all had to start somewhere.

Dr Giggles tells the tale of psychopath M.D. – wannabe Even Rendell (Larry Drake) who has been imprisoned in a mental institution for many years, as an unknown John Doe, but nicknamed 'Dr. Giggles' for his nervous, villainous cackle that emanates from his lips. With an escape using his Michael Myers-like skills, Dr. Giggles returns to his hometown to commit acts of revenge against those who took away his father when they discovered he, a doctor, was killing local women to find a donor organ for his heart diseased stricken wife. In the midst of his revenge against the town, he becomes interested in young Jennifer Campbell (Holly Marie Combs), a young girl who has a similar condition to that of his long dead mother, and slowly makes his deadly way through her friends and family, using all the tools of the medical profession for his carnage.

This is, if you will excuse the pun, a clinical slasher film. The creators have sat down and logically worked out what would make for a good slasher character, and what wouldn't. Dr. Giggles has the stature of Michael or Jason, the hang ups of Norman Bates and the wisecracks of Freddy Krueger. The director, Manny Coto, has many clear influences in his directorial style, from Hitchcock to Bava, which occasionally are striking, sometimes far too obvious but mostly they don't help the film at all. Richardson is a clever guy, and Dark Horse Comics have produced some fine quality comics over the years, but this isn't really evident in Dr. Giggles. It did have a small bit of popularity at the time of its release, which can be attributed to two things: the clever selling of the film through Dark Horse comics, and the fact, in the USA, it had a Halloween release, and as we all know, we all want to see a horror movie at Halloween.

Some positives of this film though, are an early appearance of Holly Marie Combs of Charmed fame, and of course, stalwart weirdo actor Larry Drake desperately shaking of his mentally challenged 'Benny' of L.A. Law character, by playing a psychopathic fruitcake. The rest of the cast are fairly throwaway horror stereotypes, though a lot of pity has to go to Roseanne's Glenn Quinn, the Irish actor who has to play an American AGAIN!
Not the greatest widescreen picture in the world, a little grainy and not sharp enough for my liking, but I wouldn't expect a release like this to be given too much polish.
Just Dolby Stereo I am afraid, but I am sure for the same reasons as the average picture. Why spruce up something that no-one but the truly obsessive are going to buy?
Extra Features
The Verdict
This film isn't essential for your collection, but is an interesting look at how 'marketing' can devise a movie, based on what is popular and what isn't, and still completely miss the mark. Fun, but dumb.
Movie Score
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