B Movie Challange – Dr. Giggles

As the late-night movie cuts for a break, a commercial drops and there’s a man in a lab coat. “Hi. I am not a doctor, but I have played one in a student film before. Do you know about iatrophobia, the fear of seeing a doctor?” It is my hope you don’t suffer from that! I also hope you don’t suffer from Gelotophobia, the fear of laughing, or Aichmophobia, the fear of sharp objects (or what I suffer from, Badmoviesaresogoodophobia). If you suffer from any of these conditions, you might want to pop a few aspirin and skip this prescribed horror classic. I might need a second opinion (don’t all of us horror fanatics) but in my humble opinion, strictly as a professional, Dr. Giggles is a bite of a delicious red apple, which hopefully will keep this sturdy-hand physician away… for good!

As you watch the movie (and count down from 100, 99, 98…) you can’t help but come to the realization “Holy crap! Universal released this in theatres!” Not because it’s bad, but stories like this usually end up at Trimark on the straight-to-video express (Toot! Toot!). No doubt, after the success of Darkman, some executives at the studio felt Larry Drake would be the next Vincent Price (he was the best killer of Santa Claus in the premier episode of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt) and I think they came pretty close. In a world of Kane Hodders, Julian Sands (R.I.P. dear Warlock), and Robert Englands, there was certainly room, but with its seven million budget only grossing eight million at the box office, it was a terminal case of Nosequalitis for this patient. The concept of the film was from a unique development deal with Dark Horse comics, in which after a movie was made there would be a comic book series to continue the story. Director Manny Coto developed several plot lines for the good doctor to make a few more house calls after his house blew up!

A long time ago, there was a very wealthy doctor who had a loving wife and a dotting son who wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, the path led to the doctor killing a bunch of his patients to steal their hearts for his sickly wife’s bad ticker. Not only did the son inherit his father’s eyes, but he also inherited the desire to practice bad medicine (cue the Bon Jovi in your head). Winding up in a sanitarium sometime and somehow later (I think the filmmakers drank a little too much cough syrup in editing) the doctor, now with a severe case of Pseudobulbar effect, escapes to revive his father’s private practice. Along the way, some teenagers, who are plighted with a batch of the boredoms, sneak into the old abandoned hospital where the laughing gas is turned up and the scalpels are sharp! Add in a local carnival, some great Dutch angles, and a wild memory of a child being hidden in the bowels of his dead mother, and physician, heal thyself!

Lobotomizing your way at a germ-free ninety-six minutes, and directed by Koto (who went on to direct Star Kid and write episodes of Dexter), the film almost had Jennifer Anniston cast as… well, Jennifer and Matt Fewer of Max Headroom as the Doctor. You can find this little bowl of red Jello intravenously placed on streamers like Peacock, Prime, and Tubi (everything great is on Tubi), but look at your local thrift for the Warner Bros. Twisted Twisted Terror Collection (a multi-pack with this along with gems like Deadly Friend and The Hand) or get the Scream Factory blu-ray with one of the last interviews with Koto, who sadly passed away this summer. So cure that hypertension with some late-night viewing, Transplant some dollar-store popcorn into a bowl, and make sure to re-stitch those sutures from all the laughs you’ll have watching this little benign horror prognosis!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

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