There are tons of horror movies I’ve missed out on over the years. Some of which I’ve never heard of and others that I simply just forgot about. A number of things happen that seem to jog my memory. Regrettably, this time around, it was the untimely passing of the film’s star, Larry Drake, that reminded me of this film’s existence. The movie that I’m referring to is Manny Coto’s Dr. Giggles.
Doctor Evan Rendell escapes from the ward where he is institutionalized. In the process, he murders members of the staff who know him only as Dr. Giggles. This is only where the killing begins, however. The good doctor returns to his childhood home where he lived with his sick mother and psychotic father. He goes on a spree, leaving bodies in his wake, and becoming infatuated with young Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs, television’s “Charmed”), who has a heart condition similar to the one that took his mother’s life.
It doesn’t take long for things to get going in Dr. Giggles. Within the film’s opening minutes, the titular character is already shown operating on someone with an entire group of, what we learn to be, patients observing from above. He then kills multiple staff members of the hospital, in turn making his escape that much simpler. Thankfully, that momentum never really lets up and things continue down this same bloody path. There are some pretty great kill scenes with enough variety to please even the most jaded slasher fan. All gore is executed with practical effects, too, looking as realistic as horror movies got in the early nineties.
Written by [director] Manny Coto and Graeme Whifler, Dr. Giggles features one of the best scripts I’ve witnessed from a slasher film in a very long time. The duo must have had a blast writing this one because virtually every line delivered by Drake, as our antagonist, is a cheesy one-liner. A few of my favorite examples are as follows:
“Laughter is the best medicine,” said while the rest of the patients laugh maniacally overhead; “He should have kept his hands to himself,” uttered after groping a young nurse with his victim’s severed arms; “If you think that’s bad, wait’ll you get my bill,” declared over the dying father of his target, Jennifer.
Even with all of the silliness present in the script, Coto and Whifler managed to deliver a cohesive back-story and a fair amount of character development. A big part of the story is how young Evan evaded the police back when his father was killed. No one knew where Evan Jr. ended up, but the flashbacks to young Evan and his father [who looked to also be progressively losing his mind] gave a little more insight each time. The best part is when the budding killer’s hiding spot is finally revealed, during officer Hank Magruder’s (Richard Bradford) flashback. Without giving anything away, I urge you guys to watch this film just for this brief scene alone, for it certainly is one of the most creative things I’ve witnessed in horror in a long while, cementing Dr. Giggles‘ spot among other great slasher films.
With creative cinematography, including a shot from the inside of a mouth, looking out at the doctor’s face, and a fun scene that utilizes a funhouse’s twists, turns, and plethora of mirrors perfectly, Dr. Giggles captures the spirit of the best of the 1980’s slasher sub-genre, while helping to spring it into the next decade. The twisted doctor is the perfect villain and Larry Drake played the role perfectly with his emotionless face and child-like nervous laughter.
If you love slashers as much as I do and have missed out on this film in the past, do yourself a favor and give it a watch. It has great acting, an entertaining and dark script, and impressive practical gore effects. You won’t be disappointed!
I give Dr. Giggles the repulsive seal of approval with 4 home-made surgical tools out of 5.