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Oops, I Did It Again: Score: Chucky, 2: Jennifer Tilly's career, 0.

Gone to Seed

All right, Chucky movies were never great, but do they have to drag Jennifer Tilly down with them?

By Steve Palopoli

Quick, name this actress: A dark-haired sexpot with a wild streak, she made her name with a couple of roles in critically acclaimed films, one of which earned her an Oscar nomination. But within a couple of years she was camping it up in a movie about a killer doll, and suddenly she was more cult figure than actress, trapped in an uncomfortable place between horror icon and cartoon.

The actress: Karen Black.

In other words, it's kind of creepy that Jennifer Tilly is starring in another film in which she tries to steal someone's life, 'cause with Seed of Chucky she completes her transformation into Karen Black II.

She ought to be careful: Black, who won acclaim for her role in Easy Rider in '69 and then an Oscar nomination the next year for holding up against Jack Nicholson in Bob Rafelson's Five Easy Pieces, couldn't get within 1,000 feet of a good role after she starred in 1975's Trilogy of Terror (which, by the way, had more evil-doll scares in its final third than there have been in five entire Chucky films). She finally cemented her legacy as loony horror vamp playing Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie's House of a 1000 Corpses. She's also been immortalized by the band who named themselves The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. So, that's something.

Tilly almost got an Oscar for 1995's Bullets Over Broadway, and everybody loved her the next year in Bound. But this is her second Chucky movie and she's already sunk into relentless and only-sorta-funny self-parody. Not to overstate the case or anything, but most of the jokes are about how she doesn't have a career anymore, and how she has to sleep with directors to be considered for serious parts (in this movie at least--let's hope it's just another bit of that overhyped Chucky black humor). The postmodern angle has Tilly playing herself providing the voice for Chucky's doll wife Tiffany--both dolls are of course resurrected, this time by their doll offspring, and find out they're so famous that a movie is being made about them. Rather than take advantage of what would appear to be a pretty sweet doll's life, Chucky and Tiffany scheme once again to transfer their souls into humans, with Tiff in particular coveting Tilly's identity. You could argue the whole thing with Tilly is a parody of what Wes Craven did in the Scream films and (more literally) his last Freddy movie, but after the Scary Movie parodies, not to mention Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, this is hardly the fresh comic idea the producers want you to believe it is.

But Tilly is at least something to watch, as is John Waters in a small role. There's also a great running Ed Wood joke.

Other than that, this movie is a complete mess, neither remotely scary nor all that clever. It's just bizarre enough that five years from now it might be a contender for the next edition of the Psychotronic Video Guide, but that's little consolation for sitting through an hour-and-a-half of dumb puppet-sex gags.

Seed of Chucky (R; 87 min.) directed and written by Don Mancini and starring Jennifer Tilly, Redman and the voice of Brad Dourif, plays countywide.

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From the November 24-December 1, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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