Picture a young boy around the age of nine or ten sitting at the edge of a Motel 6 bed flipping through the channels while his parents are getting ready for bed. He finds what looks to be HBO and stops at a scene his 10-year-old brain thinks is the scariest thing he has ever seen. An unknown killer has just injected something into Doug E. Doug – who was a rising star at the time mind you – and Mr. E. Doug is collapsing to the floor with chunks coming from his mouth. That is when the boy’s mother forced him to change the channel, depriving him of closure.
I spent over a decade trying to find that movie and to re-watch that scene. It wasn’t until my wife introduced me to Dr. Giggles that I was finally relieved of my curse. It was a bittersweet moment for me because I crossed something off my bucket list, but that something happened to be one of the cheesiest horror movies of all time. Still, I love it not just for the personal nostalgia, but because it is a perfect storm of “so bad it’s good.”
Dr. Giggles managed to pull in some decent actors for a script which had to be written as a joke. The late Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles) had a long career in both on-screen roles and voice work. Doug E. Doug was relatively unknown at the time, but it was shortly after this film that he starred in the classic family film Cool Runnings. Glenn Quinn (Max) went on to star as Becky’s boyfriend on Rosanne and the beloved Doyle on Angel. Quinn tragically lost a battle to drugs, so who knows where his career would have gone. Finally, Hollie Marie Combs rounds out the list as the final girl; Combs has had a solid career on TV with long stints on Charmed and Pretty Little Liars. This movie probably would have been lost in the archives instead of a cult classic if it weren’t for all of the talents in it.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Dr. Giggles is about an escaped mental patient with a penchant for giggling. Thanks to his bond with his equally deranged M.D. father, the man believes that he too is a doctor, which earns him the moniker of Doctor Giggles. The good doctor goes on a murdering spree in a small town for no other reason other than the fact that he is crazy. For the most part, it is your generic late ‘80s/early ‘90s slasher with the exception of a story that can only be described as extraordinary.
Everything about this movie is delightfully ridiculous, from Doctor Giggles’s chosen tools of death to the swiss-cheese plot. There is an intangible to this film that I can’t quite put my finger on because people will usually cut you short if you try to explain to them why a movie called Dr. Giggles isn’t that bad. As this film comes up on its 25th anniversary, I think it’s important that we remember this awesomely bad movie that shaped a young boy’s life and is one piece of the puzzle that made him love the horror genre so much. I’d say that watching this movie at least once a year is a guilty pleasure, but I don’t even feel guilty about it.