Dir:Don Mancini. US. 2004. 87mins.

Poor old Jennifer Tilly. She was turned into a doll in Bride Of Chucky,the 1998 revival of the Child's Play horror franchise, and now shesuffers even worse indignities in the follow-up. It wouldn't be so bad - forTilly or the audience - if Seed of Chucky, from Focus Features'relaunched genre label Rogue Pictures, was as effectively tongue-in-cheek asits predecessor. But while it's certainly knowing and kitschy, the new movielacks Bride's cohesion and ends up a weird, if occasionally amusingragbag of bizarre gags and over the top slashing.

Rogue(which made its debut with the recent US release of Shaun Of The Dead)launched Seed wide in the US at the weekend, aiming to provide teens andurban moviegoers with an R-rated alternative to adult and kid-orientedpre-Christmas fare.

However,with a couple of other horror films already performing well in the marketplacethe resulting estimated gross of $8.7m from 2,061 sites was slightly below somepredictions and suggests that Seed will not match Bride's $32.4mdomestic total. Focus and its parent Universal should still be able, though, touse the theatrical launch as a platform for a profitable video release.

Independentdistributors that have acquired the film from Focus for internationalterritories will have to make the most of franchise recognition - with fivefilms under his belt Chucky qualifies as a minor horror icon - in their localmarkets. Some may be aided by the appearance in the film of Hannah Spearritt,from British pop group S Club 7.

DonMancini, who created the Chucky character and wrote or co-wrote all theprevious franchise entries, writes and directs this time out. With a nod tolegendary schlockmeister Ed Wood, Mancini introduces Glen/Glenda, a living dollof indeterminate gender who runs away from a British freak show to seek out hislong lost parents, Chucky and bride Tiffany, in Hollywood.

Thedolls are working - as animatronic puppets - on a movie with Jennifer Tilly(who plays herself), but Glen/Glenda revives their evil spirits and the familysets out to find fresh human bodies to inhabit.

Thescript has the always game Tilly cracking jokes about her weight and careertrajectory and eventually being artificially inseminated by a turkeybaster-wielding Tiffany. The other human cast members don't fare any better:rapper-turned-actor Redman (also playing himself) is disembowelled halfwaythrough; modern era schlock king John Waters (playing a paparazzi) getsdrenched in acid; and Spearritt (as Tilly's personal assistant) gets a facefulof burning hairspray.

Glen/Glendais the film's weirdest element, a pasty-faced doll with a wimpy British voice(supplied by Billy Boyd from The Lord Of The Rings), a Tiny Timpersonality and an odd physical resemblance to the late-seventies David Bowie.The character only gets weirder later in the plot when he/she, confused byargumentative parents, starts cross-dressing.

Thepresence of the offspring leaves less screen time for Mum and Dad, which leavesthe film short of the kind of jokey malevolence that perked up earlierepisodes: here, Tiffany (voiced by Tilly) is actually trying to break herkilling 'addiction,' and while Chucky (voiced as usual by Dourif) is still hisevil old self his antics are not central to the story.

Acoda to the main action leaves the door open for yet another Chucky adventure,though it's hard to imagine where the franchise can go after as curious anouting as this one.

Prod cos: Rogue Pictures, La Sienega Productions
US dist:
Rogue Pictures
Int'l sales:
Focus Features
Exec prod:
Guy J Louthan
David Kirschner, Corey Sienega
Vernon Layton
Prod des:
Peter James Russell, Cristian Niculescu
Ed: Chris Dickens
Pino Donaggio
Main cast (voices):
Jennifer Tilly, Redman, Hannah Spearritt, JohnWaters, Billy Boyd (voice), Brad Dourif