It’s almost October, and that means only one thing: HALLOWEEN! So coming off Dark Horse Comics’ two issues based on horror film baddie Pumpkinhead and before we get into the super fun horror filled month of October, I decided we will take a mini look at a horror film doctor…no, it’s not Dr. Butcher M.D. (no comic company has been that cool to make a series based on him) and it’s not Dr. Frankenstein who has many comic based around him and or his monster or even horror host Dr. Creep. You give up? Well it’s Dr. Giggles who Dark Horse Comics had a two issue mini series based around his 1992 film from Universal Pictures. The good Doctor also made a few appearances in the comic series “Dark Horse Presents”, but let’s not waste any time and jump into the very small legacy that Dr. Giggles made in the world of horror. Beware of spoilers in this write up.
Dr. Evan Rendell Jr. was a young man who helped his father, a small town doctor, kill some of his patients to steal their hearts to transplant into his mother who had passed away. Rendell Jr. was given the nickname Dr. Giggles because of his sinister laugh. When the townspeople find out about the crimes Rendell Sr. is killed and Jr. is locked away in an asylum. 35 years later, Jr. escapes and returns to the small town to finish his work of “helping” the sick and testing his bizarre twisted methods of health care. Dr. Giggles was a town legend used to scare children at night, but a real person became town folklore with many stories of his killing ways. Every town has a boogeyman: Haddinfield has Michael Myers, Springwood has Freddy Kruger, Crystal Lake has Jason Voorhess, Skull Island has King Kong and the town of Moorehigh has Dr. Giggles.
The film follows Dr. Giggles who escapes from the asylum, returns home to the sleepy small town of Moorehigh and starts killing towns people when he finds their old files in his father’s now run down clinic. Dr. Giggles sets his sight on Jennifer Campbell, a young woman in need of heart surgery and spends his time stalking her and killing poor innocent people along the way. The local cops go after the good doctor where he is shot and then left for dead after an explosion. The burnt Dr. Giggles shows up at the hospital where Jennifer is getting her emergency heart surgery and is finally killed off when he is electrocuted then stabbed with his own nasty interments of death by Jennifer who in turn gets her surgery and is cured. The film starred Larry Drake as Dr. Giggles and Holly Marie Combs of TV’s Charmed fame as Jennifer Campbell, along with others and was directed by Manny Coto who also directed Star Kid. The film was met with poor reviews and was only a small box office earner for Universal who at this time was making more money on the Childs Play films. I first saw this film by renting it on VHS with my brother from K&L Video and remember being entertained but disappointed at the same time. While the film has some fun moments, it really just felt like a cheap direct to video horror film with a small budget and lots of tongue in cheek humor that had a terrible pay out when it comes to the main villain’s death. Over all the film is a dumb good time and is a fun one to waste a night watching with your favorite snack food and late night beverage.
The film had a score done by Brian May, who also did the scores to such films as Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Missing in Action 2 to name a few. The score can be found on CD as can the soundtrack to the film that has such bands as House of Lords, Ten Inch Men, Copperhead, Paul Rodgers and Girls Bones Found. The soundtrack is pretty much the only merchandise that was released around this film besides the comics from Dark Horse. Giggles didn’t get an action figure, t-shirt, Sega Genesis game or anything, he just came and went at the theaters and at some point showed up on home video. I mean come on, you know you would have played a side scrolling horror game based on Dr. Giggles on your Genesis!
So there you have it, a brief look at Dr. Giggles the character, the film and soundtrack. So let’s gear up and get ready to dive into the two issue mini series based on the film from Dark Horse Comics. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So the Doctor is in and ready to be reviewed! I want to thank Lone Star Comics for having these in stock.
Dr. Giggles # 1 **1/2
Released in 1992 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse Comics #1 of 2
Dr. Evan Rendell Jr. aka Dr. Giggles has escaped the insane asylum and on his way out kills a few of the staff for good measure. High School couple Jennifer Campbell and Max are having issues as Jennifer is having some major health issues with her heart that she is keeping hidden and her sudden limits on after school activities is making this an awkward situation between them. Dr. Giggles has returned home and has taken up in his fathers old home clinic. He makes quick work of a few kids who have decided to snoop around his dad’s old killing field and recovers his dad’s old client records to restart the health care his father was dishing out, roaming around town killing off all those he can. Meanwhile Jennifer is mad at her boyfriend Max and even more disappointed in her father and his new younger hippie girlfriend who are going out for dinner that night leaving Jennifer alone and mad at her illness as she looks out her window and sees her boyfriend with another woman. As Dr. Giggles sneaks into the dinner party Mr. Campbell is at, the cops are just starting to piece things together that they have a killer on the loose.
This first issue of the film adaptation starts off with a bang and has Dr. Giggles using the scalp of a victim to try and escape the looney bin. Gruesome stuff as the man-made wig is still oozing blood as he closes in for a kill on a young nurse. Dr. Giggles is clearly shown in this issue to be insane and a pun spewing smart ass much like Freddy Kruger and kills a number of people from beheading, torture and poisoning. So in short, this first issue is a nice way to show the evil murdering side of Dr. Giggles and makes him one hell of a bad guy for the hero Jennifer to get away from. Speaking of Jennifer, she is your normal teen besides the fact she has a weak heart and hates the fact her father is dating a new woman a few months after her mother’s death. Her boyfriend Max is pretty much useless and the cops are as well besides Magruder who seems more aware that something bad is going on. The story is fast paced and all that you really need to know about the history of Dr. Giggles is told via quick talk panels by teens or the cops. The art is well done and has that pure 90’s Dark Horse look, using lots of blood to express the horrors, but while the inner art is great the cover is just meh and not really that eye catching and for the most part is pretty lame. So far this is a good start to the film adaptation and delivers enough over the top kills to please most slasher horror comic fans, so let’s see how issue two holds up, shall we?
Dr. Giggles # 2 **1/2
Released in 1992 Cover Price $2.50 Dark Horse Comics #2 of 2
Jennifer is now home alone, drinking and upset over her boyfriend’s cheating ways as Dr. Giggles, who has just killed two teens, is now creeping into Jennifer’s house as she leaves to confront Max. Mr. Campbell and his girlfriend return home to find Jennifer missing and the house disheveled. As he goes to look for his daughter, his girlfriend gets her flesh eaten off the bone by a chemical Dr. Giggles placed in her make-up remover. Jennifer goes to the town fair and sees Max. The two fight as she runs into the fun house. Dr. Giggles follows, makes short work of Max and follows Jennifer to help her with her weak heart. While Dr. Giggles is doing so, he kills a cop but not before he takes a shot to the gut that he himself removes. Jennifer goes to her doctor’s office, leading Giggles along with her who kills her doctor and kidnaps Jennifer to perform surgery on her. She is saved by Officer Magruder who fights with the crazed man and blows them both up as well as the Giggles homestead. Jennifer is rushed to the hospital where she is once more attacked by Dr. Giggles who has survived the explosion and is burnt badly but sill wanting to help fix Jennifer’s heart. In the end, she electrocutes Giggles and wakes up with her heart fixed and her father at her side who she thought dead after Giggles attacked him at the Campbell home.
This is a nice wrap up to a silly, over the top horror story about a killer doctor. In this one, Dr. Giggles acts like he did in issue one, delivering more cheesy lines and acting even more like a nut as he kills victims with knives and scalpels and sets his sites on truly helping Jennifer with her broken heart. Jennifer is part victim and part hero as she becomes the captive and then fights back against the crazed Doctor. Max and her father are useless once more as Officer Magruder is the one who helps set up the end of Giggles’ night of terror and dies like a true hero of the horror screen. The issue is even faster paced than issue one making for a quick read with lots of fun over the top deaths. The only real issue is the fact you can tell they rushed a little too much and lots of questions are never answered like is Max dead? In the comic they never really say, while in the film he is alive at the end. Plus it’s 100% silly in the movie and in the comic that Dr. Giggles survives a massive explosion, let alone is well enough to travel, kill and fight. The art is well done and once more the cover is just boring and not eye catching To wrap it up, this is a fun movie adaptation that uses the film and script as a guideline but makes its own choices to cram it into two issues of a comic. I chuckled at Dr. Giggles and his silly comic book murdering adventure.
So there you have it, Dr. Giggles made a fun silly read and was a nice follow up to reading Dark Horse Comics’ two issues of Pumpkinhead. I actually had an idea about doing a fantasy warfare between the two titans of two issues just to add a little more fun to this quick pre-halloween update. So let’s set the mood and get ready for a fight between a crazed doctor and a demon of revenge. This will take place in the backwoods of Eaton, Ohio, a location where the White Eyed Bigfoot has been spotted as well a werewolf. Dr. Giggles is hiding out from the cops, but he has something more dangerous then the cops to worry about as a loved one of his last victim has called upon Pumpkinhead to avenge their death. So the mood is set and the battle ground chosen, let’s see who would win in a fight between Dr. Giggles and Pumpkinhead.
Dr. Giggles is running through a soybean field towards a covered bridge that is surrounded by woods. His medical bag filled with his metal instruments of death is tucked under his arm. As the police sirens fade, he makes his way across the bridge and into the woods where he finds a place to rest and eat his lunch, nothing special just a ham sandwich, potato chips and a can of Mt. Dew he has packed along side his items of death. As he enjoys his lunch, a man with a shotgun creeps up behind him and aims the barrel at the back of his skull and tells the Dr. to get up. This triggers the Dr. to start giggling like a school girl. The man explains to him that his name is JC Jazz, a one time low budget film editor who had his girlfriend murdered by Dr. Giggles in Xenia, and that it’s time for Dr. Giggles to meet his end. This makes Dr. Giggles’ day as he drops whats left of his sandwich, stands and turns toward JC. He flips a sharp scalpel at him that strikes him in the throat, knocking his attacker to the ground grasping his neck that is now oozing blood. Dr. Giggles chuckles as JC manages to get words out and warns him it’s too late. As the wind picks up and the sounds of locus fill the air, a lumbering monster makes his way towards the Dr. fast. That monster is Pumpkinhead! Giggles is able to grab a large knife from his bag and and plunges it into the stomach of Pumpkinhead who shrugs it off as if he didn’t feel a thing and quickly grabs Giggles by his skull as JC takes his final breath. Pumpkinhead smashes the skull of Giggles and collapses as well as the one who called upon him is also dead. The woods are quiet as JC lies motionless, the body of Pumpkinhead starts to shrivel and the brains of Dr. Giggles are mush on the ground as ants have already started to collect around the massive wound that was once the mad doctor’s head. The ham sandwich also sIts on the ground but not for long as the White Eyed Bigfoot shows up and picks it up and eats whats left of Giggles’ Lunch and watches as the clouds go by.
So yeah, Pumpkinhead would win hands down and would have made really short work of Giggles. That’s why I had to add in JC Jazz, who in fact was an editor for some of Independent B Movies’ early work and was a fake name that I used when I didn’t want my name all over credits. So with that I hope you had fun with this update and hope you are looking forward to next month as much as me as Rotten Ink kicks off the Halloween season with Dell Comics’ look at classic Universal Monsters like Dracula, The Mummy and Wolfman! So until then, read a comic and be ready to be scared to the bone next update,and stay nerdy.