The early ’90s may as well have been the ’80s, with its fluorescent colors, rotund eyeglass frames, high-waisted pants and, as Dr. Giggles so eloquently illustrates, dead black supporting actors. Dr. Giggles was one of the last gasps of the ’80s-styled slasher film, which had by that point become an unintentional self-parody, before Scream reinvented it as intentional self-parody.
As such, there’s no attempt to pretend that, of the group of teens that the killer doctor targets, the black couple will survive. Trotter and Leigh (Doug E. Doug and Dee “I Got Beat Up By Dr. Dre” Barnes) don’t even make it past the first 20 minutes, as their “friends” decide to play a prank on them by locking them inside the homicidal doctor’s now-abandoned home and walking away, apparently not caring if they ever get out. Of course, since the doc just happened to have escaped from the nut house the day before, the home is no longer abandoned, and Trotter and Leigh never do get out.
But lo and behold, Dr. Giggles bucks the trend by introducing a third black character (there’s actually a fourth, a psychiatrist in the loony bin, but he’s only on screen for a minute): Officer Joe Reitz (Keith Diamond). A newcomer to the town police force, Reitz hears rumors about crazy doctor Evan Jr. (Larry Drake), but as is standard with films of this ilk, there’s a dark town secret that the cops don’t want dredged up; that is, a lynch mob killed equally homicidal doctor Evan Sr. when Evan Jr. was a child. So Reitz basically does all the research to find out who’s responsible for the recent murders — Evan Jr., natch — and is on his own when tracking him down at Evan Sr.’s old clinic, where he stops the doc from slicing open heroine Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs) AND performs CPR to bring her back to life.
For a minute, I thought that such hard work, courage, brains and initiative uncommon for horror movie black characters would have to result in some sort of reward for Reitz, but when he draws the doc away from Jennifer and her boyfriend by shouting, “Over here, motherfucker!” I knew he’d just signed his death warrant. Behold, the textbook heroic death. So, while Reitz is busy getting killed by the doctor, Jennifer and her good-for-nothing boyfriend WHO JUST CHEATED ON HER escape and live happily ever after. Otherwise, Dr. Giggles is fairly enjoyable fluff if you don’t mind bad postmortem puns and incessant (but predictable) giggling.