Dr. Giggles: night-prowling surgical M.D. (as in Maniacally Deranged) takes a vengeful whack - or saw, scalpel, stomach pump or whatever else he finds in his little black bag of medical malpractice - at teens, cops, and other residents of a once-pleasant town.
Otis: Otis has everything he needs for the prom: the corsage, the convertible, the cool baby-blue tux (not to mention the fully equipped torture chamber in his basement). He even has the girl -- a pretty blonde he's named Kim -- who is dying to be his date. Literally.
In another double feature release from Warner Home Video, two flicks are lumped together on a single disc with very little in common. At this point, I've given up trying to figure out how they arrive at these decisions since the two movies offered barely show any similarities. The two either star with the same actor or they share comparable genre themes. In this case, we have two low-budget features which can be categorized as horror comedies with a twisted, gory sense of humor. And they're also pretty bad. Other than that, 'Dr. Giggles' and 'Otis' are unrelated, except that the former is a better film. Also confusing is the fact that the latter has already been released on Blu-ray. So, why not give horror fans something different to accompany the nutty doctor rather than the same crummy movie all over again. Just a thought for future reference.
One of the best parts of 'Dr. Giggles,' a slasher flick from the early nineties with a twisted sense of humor, is the endless one-liners. The role of an escaped lunatic playing doctor offers miles of clichéd expressions and medical jargon outrageously appropriate for the gruesome deaths of his imagined patients. And each line is delivered with terrific, nutty goofiness by the creepily animated Larry Drake. The character actor, also known for his Robert Durant role in 'Darkman,' is given top billing is this bizarre horror feature about revenge, heart transplants, and some likely malpractice suits. It may not have led to the A-list for Mr. Drake, but there's no doubt his performance is the star of the show, and without him, the movie would easily be forgotten as another badly-made B-movie campfest.
His real name is Evan Rendell, Jr. and the nickname "Dr. Giggles" was given him during his 35-year stay in a mental institution due to his relentless — and somewhat infectious — giggling. When he breaks out from the hospital, he heads back to his hometown of Moorehigh where his father once set up shop as a family physician. But one day, the townspeople turned on the doctor and killed him after discovering several patients missing. Set on finishing what his father started, Dr. Giggles resumes the search for the perfect patient and perform the first successful heart transplant. As it turns out, this little sleepy town, which has turned the Dr. Rendell history into urban legend and a nursery rhyme, happens to have a young teen with a heart condition. (I think a "well, duh!" is in order right about here.)
Only problem is that Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs of 'Charmed' fame) isn't really in the best mood for medical experimentation at the moment. She's dealing with other emotional issues, typical of most teenage girls. And this is also where some of the fun comes into play because the cast is given complete freedom to overact their roles in these comically cheesy subplots. First, she just found out that her summer will be spent with an unsightly heart monitor. Added to that, her mother has recently passed away due to some heart complications, but daddy (Cliff De Young) has already moved on with a bitchy live-in girlfriend (Michelle Johnson). To top it all off, her persistent, horny boyfriend (Glenn Quinn) is being chased after by the local schoolyard floozy. And now this! A psychopath wants her as a test subject. Being a teenager is really tough for poor ole Jennifer.
There's really nothing scary or frightening about 'Dr. Giggles,' but it's quite entertaining for a boring, rainy day. For horror hounds, the flick comes with some imaginative, laugh-out-loud kills. The oversized Band-Aid is a freaking riot! Besides Drake's flawless portrayal and the funny deaths, the movie has an amusing and playful style to it. Best known for his work on the '24' series and 'Star Trek: Enterprise,' director Manny Coto provides the horror comedy with a facetious, carnival-like atmosphere. Weird, off-center camera angles, wacky close-ups and a cool sequence in the house of mirrors serve as constant reminders that the movie's intention is to tickle your funny-bone not make you fear your next doctor visit. 'Dr. Giggles' is an off-the-wall slasher for those with the sense of humor to laugh at the madcap craziness. (Movie Rating: 3/5)
Watching 'Otis' is similar to enjoying some bizarre, oddball thing that in the back of your mind you know you really shouldn't find amusing or even remotely funny. But that's exactly what's happening with this Raw Feed production about the torture and abduction of a young teen in the hands of a deranged, overweight psychopath. Technically speaking, societal norms forbid us from seeing the humor in the poor girl's struggle to survive or the vengeful rage fueling a married couple's dispute over the best methods of inflicting pain. Alas, there is no other way to really watch this wacky straight-to-video movie because much of what happens on screen is so freakishly weird and sleazily preposterous that one has to laugh in order to get through it. This horror comedy is truly a guilty pleasure in every sense of the phrase.
Also surprising is that this comes from the same team, director Tony Krantz and screenwriter Erik Jendressen, that gave us 'Sublime' the prior year. In fact, Mandingo (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) makes a wittily strange and very brief cameo appearance in the hallway of a hospital. While the first movie is meant as a trippy dream versus reality movie, 'Otis' is a curious off-the-wall test of endurance. What type of sick and depraved horror fanatic are you if you actually laugh at any of this? Yes, the jokes are mostly stupid, often tasteless and lack any real style, delivered so sloppily that it becomes part of the humor. But it's meant to be a vulgar and badly modernized reimagining of Craven's 'Last House on the Left.'
'Otis' kicks things off with a hilarious exchange between an insensitive anchorperson and the parents of a missing girl. Some of the things said foreshadow part of the movie's premise and the attempt at social commentary, which in all honesty it fails miserably at. There's really nothing observant about the title character (Bostin Christopher) trying to relive his high school glory days by forcing girls into a fantasized prom or in watching two suburban parents (Daniel Stern and Illeana Douglas) argue over how to exact justice while torturing an innocent man. At the end of the day, the entire spectacle feels like a silly and morbid comic book brought to life. The fun lies in just watching the lack of common sense amongst the characters and their reactions.
It's to the credit of the cast that much of the movie doesn't end up being an annoying mess. Then again, Jared Kusnitz's Reed can be quite irritating and grating at times. Thankfully, Christopher's amateur acting overshadows Kusnitz's in every way. Kevin Pollack also has a decent role as Otis' older brother, Elmo, but we don't get to see enough of him. It's a bit surprising to see Ashley Johnson — you know, little Chrissy Seaver from 'Growing Pains' — playing Riley and doing some of the things she does. Other than Christopher, the best character is the incompetent, tactless and self-important FBI Agent Hotchkiss, played to perfection by Jere Burns. Ultimately, 'Otis' is a sick, dark parody of other slasher flicks, and it does reasonably well for a low-budget feature. (Movie Rating: 2.5/5)
Making his Blu-ray debut, 'Dr. Giggles' looks fairly nice in high definition and has some really great moments. Unfortunately, details and overall resolution generally fall on the average side for this 1080p/VC-1 encode, presented once again in a 1.85:1 frame instead of its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Blacks are attractive and deep, but shadows tend to ruin delineation in several sequences. Low-lit interiors show the worst aspects, and grain structure is a bit inconsistent though not terribly intrusive. A few scenes, however, are suggestive of digital noise reduction being applied, yet they don't distract too much from enjoying the rest of the presentation. Contrast is suitable with bright, clean whites and only a couple outdoor scenes which are attractive. Primaries are overly saturated and look artificial, but secondary hues are better rendered and stable with natural flesh tones. The transfer has its moments, but by and large, it makes for an average video quality on Blu-ray. (Video Rating: 2.5/5)
Side to side comparison reveal this 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) of 'Otis' is identical to the Blu-ray release from 2008, not that I expected anything different. Despite being filmed with HD cameras, the picture quality is downright poor, looking generally hazy and out of focus in most all interior sequences. Digital noise is noticeably visible during these same scenes. Contrast is pretty bland and unexciting, but highlights are consistently blown and there’s a great deal of white-washing which takes away from clarity and resolution. This also ruins black levels into muddled, grimy blobs with only a small number of moments where they appear clean and solid. Shadow details tend to fall below average and indistinct thanks to all of this. Colors show decent saturation and rendering, but they're by and large quite drab and dingy, except for some very bold reds. Overall, this straight-to-BD presentation of the horror-comedy is plainly bad. (Video Rating: 2/5)
'Dr. Giggles' arrives on Blu-ray with a hale and hearty DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that fans can really enjoy. Dialogue reproduction is clear and distinct while the low end is only noticeably mild during certain scenes. The lossless mix is a stereo presentation, as it should be, but the musical score allows for the soundfield opening up and spreading into the background convincingly. The mid-range remains uniform and clean during these moments, creating a pleasant and highly enjoyable front soundstage. There’s very little in terms of discrete effects, except for those scenes at the carnival, which is more by design than anything else. In the end, 'Dr. Giggles' is just a fun listen on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 3/5)
It's nothing terribly exciting or very active, but at least Otis sounds better than he looks. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack offered in this double feature is the same as the previous release. A few minor and rare moments of movement in the surrounds try to extend the soundfield, but they're easily localized and feel artificially forced. The lossless mix's best aspect is in the soundstage, where it offers strong dynamics and good imaging. The music and song selections do the majority of the work, spreading across all three channels with attractive balance. While vocals are cleanly delivered and intelligible, they also feel flat and lifeless. This might have a great deal to do with a weak and lackluster low-frequency bass. In either case, the track accomplishes its intended goal. Only with nothing to really impress along the way. (Audio Rating: 3/5)
As with previous double feature releases, Warner Home Video offers this Blu-ray package with zero supplemental material. It's understandable that disc space might be the deciding factor in this area, but I'm pretty sure fans would gladly do without 'Otis' if it meant providing some minor bonus features for 'Dr. Giggles.' Oh, well. I suppose we're still getting two movies for the price of one.
For this package, horror fans are offered two gory comedies with little else relating them. Dr. Giggles' is a fun early-nineties feature thanks to Larry Drake's excellent performance as the titular character and also stars future 'Charmed' star Holly Marie Combs. 'Otis' has some great funny moments due to Bostin Christopher and Jere Burns, but the overall story tries too hard to be smart and clever rather than simply having fun with the material. The Blu-ray package arrives with poor picture quality, an average audio presentation, and zero supplements. In the end, fans are better off renting and waiting for a standalone release of 'Dr. Giggles,' because in all honesty, that's the better movie.