Wednesday, May 11, 2011

He may be Dr. Giggles, but I ain't laughing

Recently, while on EBAY, I stumbled upon a new obsession. Weird comic book adaptations of movies. Not movie adaptations of comics. Oh no. Comic book adaptation of movies. And I want weird ones. Ones where I have to think to myself, “Out of all the films in the world, why in the hell would they have adapted this one?”

I mean, look, I have the original Batman movie adaptation. That makes sense on a number of levels. But I also own Time Bandits and Krull. Yes, Time Bandits and Krull comic book adaptations! Ain’t life grand?!

For instance, right now I am considering purchasing comic book adaptations of Predator 2, Child’s Play and Logan’s Run. I can’t imagine each and every one of those being anything less than fantastic.

Well, let me rephrase that statement just a bit. I can’t imagine them being anything less than festering piles of dog feces. Because that’s what comic book adaptations are. Crap. A quick way for Marvel (or DC, or whoever) to turn a quick buck on cheap rights and what they HOPED might be popular movies by using cut-rate artists and writers. What, you think John Byrne is taking time off of his Fantastic Four run to pencil “Time Bandits?” Oh, silly reader.

So it was with much glee and maybe just a bit of self-sadism with which I ordered Dark Horse Comics’ adaptation of Dr. Giggles. And what a festering pile it is.

I have seen a lot of movie adaptations in my time, but the art in Dr. Giggles really takes the cake. Take a look at this page. Everybody in the entire comic book have faces which look like they are made of silly putty. And why is everybody wearing purple? Hell, the kid’s hair is purple in panel 5! I think it is supposed to signify night time? Maybe? But, then, why are Dr. Giggles pants bright yellow?

I looked through the rest of the issue to try and make sure the villain of our piece was really wearing a purple trench coat with bright yellow trousers but was unable to discern. In other panels he’s wearing a doctor’s coat and in some what appears to be a sweater vest with a bow-tie. I’m not sure why he changes clothes so much, but I know for damn sure everything he wears seems to be purple…

You see the person on the right? The one who looks like Christopher Walken mid-stroke? That’s a woman!

If there’s one thing I CAN say about the comic, it is particularly gory. Much gorier than the movie really. As I remember, in the early 90s Dark Horse kind of had a reputation for being the more “adult” publisher of the “major” three.

Hold on a second. Maybe this is a good time to mention something. Because of the complete lack of narrative coherency in the comic, I decided to watch the film.

There are a lot of differences in the comic and the film. The most glaring is the film, at the very least, explains why Dr. Giggles is crazy, a plot point which the comic book adaptors thought unimportant. In short it’s something about his mom dying very young, which drives his father insane, and then pulling the hearts out of people. Eventually Dr. Giggles, as a child, crawling out of his dead mother’s sutured wounds. I don’t know. I was either half asleep or half drunk during the explanation. And also I didn’t care.

Luckily, the one similarity they share is they both fucking suck.

I am not sure if it is to cover for lack of imagination or capable goresmiths, but the film employs a technique I was never fond of. In most scenes, just as you are about to experience the gory money shot, it cuts away to either a scream or a squishy noise. Or sometimes both. I seem to remember lot of this in horror films of the early to mid-90s.

For example, there’s a scene where Dr. Giggles (played by Larry Drake, better known as Durant from Darkman fame. Or maybe just “otherwise” known. I’m not sure how much more one is “better” known over the other) corners a girl against a wall. Her means of death? A foot long thermometer, sharpened on one end, which he stabs through the back of her skull.


There are two ways this scene SHOULD go. The girl (believe me, her name is totally immaterial, both as an actress and as a character in the film) should either:

A.) Slowly fall straight away from the wall, allowing a fleeting glimpse of the thermometer protruding from the back of her head


B.) Not being instantly dead, she should wander slowly about while trying unsuccessfully to remove the thermometer from her face. Before falling on the ground. Or maybe down a nearby staircase.

Either would be completely acceptable. What we get instead is a close up of Giggle’s face as he pushes the thermometer in, a fleshy squish sound, and a one-liner.

“Leave it in for at least a minute.” ZING!
He kills some kid just as he thinks he’s getting ready to get laid.
“I hope you have protection.” ZING!
He opens up a bucket of hearts and throws one at a cop.
“Have a heart.” ZING!
“Good think I make house calls.” ZING!
He’s like a vicious Rodney Dangerfield!

I’m pretty sure the movie is meant as a comedy, since the focal point seems to be ridiculous deaths (A blood pressure cuff and a giant band-aid head the list) and one-liners. Too bad it isn’t very interesting on any level.

The movie is just barely more coherent then the comic, which is completely incoherent. There’s one panel early in the comic where Giggles finds an old patient manifest of his. I don’t know if those are the people he’s killing or what, as it is never seen again. The cops mention something about the accidental death of one of his patients when he actually WAS a doctor. It was a young child, and then they say it must have caused Giggles to go insane. That’s pretty much the entire explanation. Giggles runs around killing people randomly. There is never any context as to who the people are, or where they live or, really, why he’s killing them. He appears here, there, everywhere, but nowhere, really. And the art, being beyond terrible, offers no help.

In this scene we see the heroine of our piece, Jenny Campbell, running from Giggles (hey, look, he’s wearing purple! Or he’s in the dark! I don’t know which!). Can you tell what’s happening in the second panel? She’s getting hit by a cop car! Not only is it hard to tell what’s happening, but you are seeing a blow up of half a page. In reality it’s so tiny the first time through I completely overlooked it. The very next panel takes place in a police station with Jenny laid out on a table (don’t worry, just a few scuffs) and I was, like, “How in the hell did she get there?”

One more example, just one.

This is a 4-panel piece I have cut to three. The first panel, the one that looks like a pensive Charlie Sheen sweating deep in the grueling jungle of ‘Nam ala Platoon? That’s our heroine in a mirror-house! I don’t know what the fuck these other panels represent. Is that guy hanging from a rope? Nothing in previous panels suggest it. Is that blood coming out of his nose or his mouth or just the general vicinity of his face? And why the hell is everything green?! And words can’t describe that third panel, that beautiful, beautiful third panel.

In the end either reading this comic or seeing this movie is a waste of time. If you find yourself in a particularly masochistic mood, I might recommend the film marginally more since Larry Drake really chews up some scenery in it. The delivery of his final death cry (“Is there a doctor in the house?” ZING!) is so absolutely terrible it’s classic. Not to mention there is a fine supporting cast as well, including Doug E. Doug and one of the witches from Charmed as Jenny Campbell. The one who isn’t Alyssa Milano or Shannon Doherty or Rose McGowan. You know. That one.