Film Review: Dr. Giggles (1992)

Also known as: Doctor Giggles (alternative spelling)
Release Date: October 23rd, 1992
Directed by: Manny Coto
Written by: Manny Coto, Graeme Whifler
Music by: Brian May
Cast: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff DeYoung, Glenn Quinn, Doug E. Doug

Largo Entertainment, JVC Entertainment Networks, Dark Horse Entertainment, Universal Pictures, 95 Minutes

Review:

“Sorry…the Doctor is in…sane” – tagline

I remember how hard the studio was marketing Dr. Giggles when it was coming out. Being that I was in 8th grade, at the time, I didn’t see it in the theater and just planned to wait for it to come out for rental on VHS like most horror movies when I was that age. However, it came and went and I never did rent it.

So nearly thirty years later, I finally checked it out.

To start, it’s not very good. But it’s also not terrible. It’s very middle of the road, predictable and doesn’t make a big enough mark to warrant a film series like so many other slashers with unique villains that came out over the ’80s and ’90s.

That’s not a knock against Larry Drake, who plays the title character. Drake is a multi-time Emmy Award winner and a talented actor in the right role. I’ve always liked him in movies where he’s the villain like the Darkman series or when he’s just simply in a horror movie like Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

Drake really got to shine as the focal point of this picture and he was superb at being creepy. His laugh was great and unique. His character also had a decent backstory, capped off by an incredibly well-crafted scene where the child Dr. Giggles emerges from the womb of his dead mother in the morgue. It’s actually the highlight of the film, if I’m being honest.

The rest of the cast is pretty bad, even if the movie has some notable people in it like a young Holly Marie Combs, Colin Quinn, who played Mark on Roseanne, and Cliff DeYoung, who I will always have a fondness for because of his role as the dad in The Flight of the Navigator. The movie also features Doug E. Doug before he’d become better known in Cool Runnings and Cosby.

Apart from those actors, the rest of the cast is abysmally bad and it drags the movie down, as it relies on throwaway caricatures and tropes for these characters.

This is a forgettable movie and that’s probably why people forgot about it immediately after its release in 1992.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Release Date: October 24th, 1981
Directed by: Frank De Felitta
Written by: J.D. Feigelson, Butler Handcock
Music by: Glenn Paxton
Cast: Larry Drake, Charles Durning, Tonya Crowe, Jocelyn Brando, Lane Smith

Wizan Productions, CBS, 96 Minutes

Review:

“[about Marylee being attacked] Bubba didn’t do it.” – Bubba Ritter

For a “made for TV” horror film, this was surprisingly good. It’s tame, considering that it came out at the height of slasher movies but the suspense and the story are handled well.

We are first introduced to Bubba, a small town simpleton in the same vein as Jobe from The Lawnmower Man. He is blamed for a girl’s brutal death even though he tried to save the girl and she does actually survive. A local mob, led by an insane mailman, track Bubba into a field where he is hiding in a scarecrow. They murder him in cold blood only to find out, just after the grisly killing, that Bubba actually saved the girl’s life and is a hero.

As the story progresses, strange things start happening to the four men that murdered Bubba. One is mangled in his tractor and another is buried alive in a corn silo. The mailman goes further insane, as this spirit of Bubba and the little girl are working together to get revenge.

This film builds suspense quite well and there isn’t even a full reveal of the undead Bubba until the very end. This isn’t a film full of gore and visual horror. It alludes to things happening and does a great job of selling the majority of the violence off screen. It was made for television in the ’80s so a straight up gore fest wasn’t possible. But I think that it actually makes for a better film overall.

At times, the picture can drag a bit and seem dry but as a viewer, you want to see the mailman get his just desserts.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is effective and it used its creative limitations as strengths. It’s a well made film for the time, the budget and its format.

Plus, Larry Drake plays Bubba. You may remember him from Dr. Giggles or as the villain in the Darkman movies.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: ScarecrowsSuperstitionThe Burning.