The ’90s are often abused by horror fans. After many successful films about editing and the creative effects of the 80’s, the 90’s offered a variety of opportunities for horror travel. Although there were many successes, hidden gems and little-known classics, the 1990s were generally not as marked by a love of horror as other decades. It’s time to change that.
One of the reasons why the horror of the 1990s doesn’t get the love it deserves is that the decade lacks an easily recognizable and defined tone. While each decade has seen a diversity in their awful production, the 70s and 80s have a general idea of their sequence of tones. Of course, this widespread reading of a decade is never true, but it always shapes how people experience that decade. The ’90s were a time when horror mainstream was pleasantly diverse, but it also meant that there were more films that didn’t appeal to the audience because they were so different.
This is the case with Dr. Giggles, the horror/comedy of director/writer Manny Coto from 1992. The story is a crazy reef on the tried-and-true campfire story of an urban legend. This time the bogeyman is the son of Dr. Evan Randall, who lost his mind when he tried to save his dying wife by tearing out the hearts of his patients. After the city had killed Randall, his son fled, but ended up in an asylum. At the beginning of the film, Dr. Evan Randall Jr. escaped and decided to take revenge on the city that had murdered his father.
It’s easy to understand why Dr. Giggles wasn’t a hit with the public at the time. Directed by Manny Coto, Tales, an episode of Sclept, was practically transformed into a feature film adapted to the Mournin’ Mess episode, which premiered a year earlier, and such a high-end horror comic is difficult to access for the general public. But almost 30 years later, we can appreciate Dr. Giggles for what he is.
And it’s a total movie revolt.
Dr. Giggles is not ashamed of his dice in the movie Slasher, and he seizes every opportunity to have fun with his past and his character. If you think Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin is pushing the boundaries of inferior humour, you must witness Dr. Giggles’ shameless attitude to doctor jokes. She’s so impressive and so ruthless that you can’t help but love her.
A lot of that sound works thanks to Larry Drake as title doctor. Drake is not recognized enough for his incredible talent in general, but his work with Dr. Giggles is one of the few times he has had to be put in the spotlight. He knew exactly how to approach the line with this material – he had already appeared in two episodes of Crypt – and it was his skilful tonal balance that made Randall such an entertaining and fascinating villain. Drake knows he’s here to have fun and be stupid, but that doesn’t mean he’s a party clown. Drake portrays Randall’s designs as authentic, and it is this sense of seriousness that reinforces the character in something more than a joke about his father.
Drake’s performance alone would have been enough to recommend Dr. Giggles, but the film is also a buffet of director’s flair and gonzo effects/jokes. Coto clearly has more than a little love for Sam Raimey, and his energetic installations and spells reinforce the fact that the film wants you to laugh with him. From lethal liposuction to thermometer readings, Dr. Giggles does everything he can for his turn as a psychologist. That’s exactly what you expect from movies like this! Those who accuse the film of diminishing in value cannot be bought for this kind of joke humor.
Fortunately, the times were very favorable for Dr. Giggles. The exaggerated approach and strong leadership were so perfectly combined that they simply didn’t get bored in the early nineties. If you’re looking for a reason to laugh, Dr. Giggles will prove to you that laughter is the best medicine.