Saturday, October 29, 2022

#2,852. Dr. Giggles (1992)


Our town has a doctor
And his name is Rendell
Stay away from his house,
He’s a doctor from hell
Chopped up his patients
Every last one
And cut out their hearts
Purely for fun

Having effectively played mentally challenged characters in Dark Night of the Scarecrow and TV series L.A. Law, Larry Drake gets to mix things up a bit in 1992’s Dr. Giggles, portraying a psychotic genius who fancies himself a heart surgeon.

After murdering three staff members, Evan Randell (Drake) escapes from the mental institution where he was being held and makes his way back to the town of Moorehigh, where, years earlier, his father, the local doctor (played in flashbacks by William Dennis Hunt), murdered seven of his patients before himself being dragged into the streets and killed by a gang of vigilantes. Following in his father’s footsteps, Evan now believes he, too, is a doctor, using everything from hypodermic needles to reflex hammers to murder those unfortunate enough to cross his path.

Evan takes a special interest, however, in pretty teenage neighbor Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs), who, like his late mother, suffers from a heart condition. Determined to perform a heart transplant to save her, Evan kidnaps Jennifer, only to be confronted by her boyfriend Max (Glenn Quinn) and police officer Joe Reitz (Keith Diamond), neither of whom has any intention of allowing Evan Randall - aka “Dr. Giggles” – to go through with the procedure.

Larry Drake delivers a bravura performance as the psychotic Dr. Giggles (so named because he’s constantly giggling under his breath), and always has a one-liner at the ready when he’s dispensing his own warped brand of healthcare. After killing one poor girl by forcing a sharpened thermometer into her mouth, Evan looks at her and says “Leave it in for at least a minute”. And like most villains in a slasher film, Dr. Giggles has a knack for turning up when you least expect him, resulting in some violent confrontations that also double as effective jump scares (especially prevalent in the film’s final act).

As for the supporting characters, Combs delivers a solid performance as Jennifer, though I found the scenes with Officer Reitz and his partner Hank Magruder (Richard Bradford) even more compelling; a flashback related by Magruder, set 35 years earlier inside a police morgue, leads to what is easily the film’s most unnerving sequence.

That said, Dr. Giggles is, from start to finish, the Larry Drake show, and the veteran actor does not disappoint.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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