In the final analysis, 'Dr. Giggles' is same old laugh and slash

MOVIE REVIEW

October 24, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

You think Dr. Giggles chuckles when he cuts somebody up? You should hear me as I cut him up! Yukka-yukka-yukka.

"Dr. Giggles" turns out to be standard issue slasher stuff, with a -- of campy irony spritzed lightly across the surface, primarily to provide enough textual evidence to justify the vitality of the movie's preview, which has been delighting audiences for some months now.

That jolly, ripping tone, at once irreverent and darkly troubling, is a knockout when deployed unexpectedly for 90 seconds before a feature; but sustained over an hour and a half, it grows more tedious than an EEG flat-lined into brain-death.

Larry Drake, who can use his unusual features to play either angelic innocence (as Benny on "L.A. Law") or the devil's right-hand man (as here), has a good old time as the unnamed son of Dr. Evan Rendell. The doc once cut the heart out of seven patients trying to find one that would fit in his wife's chest. (He thought hearts were sized like hats, evidently). When the angry townspeople came to stone him, he sewed his son inside his mother to protect him, then died. The boy nestled in the corpse, then escaped one night. Yes, you get to see that escape for your entertainment dollar. Who says the movies aren't fun anymore?

The movie watches as the grown-up son, freshly escaped from the nut house, wanders through town in his dad's clothes and, with his dad's instruments, works his own special version of Medicare. Call it Medikill.

The movie's single joke is that as Doc Giggles dispatches his victims, he utters some medical banality out of the "Marcus Welby" oeuvre or those old American Medical Association ads representing "Great Moments in Medicine." As in, "Take two aspirin and lie down," as he slices somebody's head off.

As one might guess, a little of this goes a long way. Soon enough, the movie has disintegrated into one more rat hunt through dark corridors with a body count resembling Pork Chop Hill's. Worse, it hauls out the old bloody puritanism, a classic stroke of '70s slashers: the bad girls get it, and the good one skates free. In all, quite depressing. Two aspirin just won't get it done. Take three.

'Dr. Giggles'

Starring Larry Drake.

Directed by Manny Coto.

Released by Universal.

Rated R

... **

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