I love being scared. I love watching a movie and catching myself holding my breath, covering my eyes, or squeezing my date’s hand so hard he’s lost circulation. These are the effects I’m after when I watch a horror film. I want to be terrified, disgusted, shocked. I want to be flat out traumatized when those credits roll, too petrified to even move. But the thing is, sometimes I want all of this and I want to laugh my ass off. Asking too much? Maybe. It’s a bad habit. Regardless, Dr. Giggles gives me what I want.
Evan Rendell, Jr. (aka Dr. Giggles, played by Larry Drake) is the son of Dr. Rendell, Sr. who was stoned to death in the late 50s for literally ripping the hearts out of his patients. When Evan was a boy, he and his father had been stealing hearts in an attempt to bring back the woman they both loved – Mrs. Rendell. After the father had been killed, young Evan mysteriously disappeared, and the whole idea of the Rendells had become something of a spooky legend among the younger citizens of Moorehigh. They even wrote a song about him, one line being “Stay away from his house ’cause he’s the doctor from Hell.” Catchy.
Now, Evan is a middle-aged mental hospital escapee, and is picking up where his father left off. “The doctor is in,” as he puts it. Dr. Giggles brutally (but in his mind medically) takes care of his patients, the townspeople of Moorehigh, whom he believes are “sick” due to their being responsible for his beloved father’s demise. This is where the comedy comes in, at least for me. The kill methods he uses are all over the top obscene references to medical procedures, His doctor/hospital-related one-liners right before each ghastly act are priceless. And that seriously creepy high-pitched giggle… Disturbing and hilarious, in equal measure.
Jennifer Campbell (played by a very young Holly Marie Combs, of Charmed and Pretty Little Liars fame) becomes the focus of Dr. Giggles’ cure campaign, as she has heart problems just like his late mother. He stalks and terrorizes her, while seeing as many patients as he can while getting closer and closer to his ultimate goal. The most unfortunate of these is probably the teenaged boy who crawled into bed expecting to find his girlfriend (to whom he gave his mother’s lingerie to wear, and who is already dead in the hallway) but finds the doctor waiting for him under the covers instead. I won’t blatantly spoil the scene, but it does involve a scalpel, and the line “I hope you have protection.” I’ll also say that white bed sheets were a poor choice.
Dr. Giggles is, to me, the perfect combination of comedy and horror. One second you’re laughing out loud at the dialogue, and the next you’re cringing away from the screen to avoid what you’re seeing. The doc had it right when he said that laughter is the best medicine.