Dr. Giggles (1992)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Release Date - Oct 23, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Japan , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This morbidly funny horror film riffs on both the slasher and mad doctor subgenres at once and does a surprisingly good job at achieving this dual purpose. Simply put, Dr. Giggles works because it hits the right blend of chills and laughs. The smart, inventive script never allows either element to shortchange the other: Dr. Giggles' backstory works in a touch of pathos to offset his frequent one-liners and the finale offers up a number of situations and images that are shocking and witty all at once (like a waiting room packed with the doctor's dead victims). Manny Coto's direction maintains the humor/horror balance with confidence, allowing it to be a horror film with a sense of humor instead of a self-parody. He clearly loves the genre and that love shows itself in several taut setpieces: the best moments are a disorienting, surreal chase through a carnival's hall of mirrors and a creepy flashback that reveals how the young Dr. Giggles escaped from certain doom as a young boy. His work in these moments is supported nicely by the slick cinematography of Rob Draper and a likeably old-fashioned horror film score from Brian May. Dr. Giggles further benefits from strong performances: Holly Marie Combs brings the right level of vulnerability to her heroine role and Keith Diamond's performance makes his character the rare cop hero in a slasher film that fans will actually want to cheer on. That said, top honors must go to Larry Drake, whose sly, deadpan turn in the title role manages to make his character amusing without ever sacrificing its potential for creepiness (he sells each of his character's one-liners in a way that is likely to make the viewer smile and grimace all at once). To sum up, Dr. Giggles is a sly blend of horror and comedy that is likely to entertain genre fans who can see wit in the macabre.