• Film reviews

    #451 – Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong (2013)

    Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong (2013)

    Film review #451

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: After his many encounters with the evil bong, Larnell has finally defeated her, and opened his own weed shop. Meanwhile, down the street, Sarah Leigh has opened up her own bakery, after putting the horror of the serial killing gingerdead man behind her. Larnell and Sarah Leigh talk about entering into a business agreement to support each others stores, but their respective past horrors return and set out to get their revenge on both of them…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong is a 2013 comedy horror film, and is a crossover of the Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong film series, both made by Full Moon Features. The film brings together – as the title suggests – two villains from their titular horror franchises and pits them against some of the protagonist’s from said franchises. It never gets more complicated than that. The film is structured into a very blatant three act structure, with the first act focusing on the Evil Bong characters, the second act focusing on the Gingerdead Man side, and the third act is the clash and combination of the two. The film leans more towards being a part of the Evil Bong series, as there are more of its characters and the set up feels much more like the films. This is probably because Charles Band, the director of the Evil Bong films, directs this one too. Like most of the Evil Bong films, the film centres on two locations, and a lot of standing around talking, rather than anything actually happening. Some of the dialogue between the familiar characters of the series is fine, but the film also throws in minor characters that serve no purpose other than to push an unfunny joke. The film also fills up its runtime by providing flashbacks from both film series to catch you up on the three films (six in total) before this one takes place, but given that the film’s are a comedy horror that doesn’t really create a coherent narrative and instead focuses on innuendo and jokes, the flashbacks seem rather pointless (a part from to pad out the runtime, which is obviously what their purpose is).

    As mentioned, a number of characters from both series make an appearance in this crossover. Larnell and Rabbit are the main characters that appear from the Evil Bong franchise, and they’re more or less how you’d expect them to be. On the Gingerdead Man side, there’s only Sarah Leigh who returns; mostly because everyone else is dead by the end of the films (Sarah Leigh also doesn’t even feature in the third film). With regards to the titular villains, they are their usual selves, and there’s no real showdown between the two; instead, they mostly just trade one-liners at each other when they finally meet near the end of the film. In the bong world, the Gingerdead Man goes ‘on trial’ where he is judged by other talking pastries which makes very little sense, and has even less impact on the story. There’s some smaller cameos from the other films in the franchise (through flashbacks or otherwise) that add a bit of depth, but not much.

    While there were no more stand-alone Gingerdead Man films released after this film (or after 2011′s Gingerdead Man 3 to be exact), the titular villain went on to become a recurring character in the rest of the Evil Bong films, where he sometimes works with Evil Bong and sometimes against her, and sometimes just does his own thing. Sarah Leigh also shows up in further films, cementing a weird merger of the franchises. Overall though, Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong sounds like a ridiculous clash of ridiculous premises, but like the stand-alone films, never lives up to the premise. The villains do very little and attention is focused on scenes of dialogue between characters that never goes anywhere. Then again, it should be what you expect if you’ve watched any of the other films, as they’re al low-budget comedy horrors that never take themselves seriously. This crossover doesn’t stand out from the rest, and fails to offer anything that the other films don’t.

  • Film reviews

    #441 – The Gingerdead Man (2005)

    The Gingerdead Man (2005)

    Film review #441

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: Following a robbery in which two people are killed, the criminal is executed for his crimes. Sarah, whose Brother and Father were the ones killed while she survived, is working at her family’s bakery when a mysterious delivery arrives. When she bakes a gingerbread man with this delivery, it comes alive with the soul of the robber that killed Sarah’s family, and seeks to finish the job he started…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISThe Gingerdead Man is a 2005 comedy horror film. The film starts off with a robbery in progress at a diner (who robs a diner?), where Sarah watches her brother and father get shot and killed by the robber, but before he can kill her, he is stopped, and eventually executed for his crimes. Years later, Sarah is working at her family’s bakery when a mysterious delivery arrives, and when she bakes a gingerbread using this delivery, it comes alive with the soul of the robber who murdered Sarah’s brother and father, and is looking to finish what he started. The film follows a typical format of horror films, with the cast of various personalities attempting to survive the murderous spree of the villain, who picks them off one by one through somewhat creative deaths. Despite the absurd premise of cursed bakery products, the film for the most part plays it straight, and takes the whole scenario seriously. There’s a few silly one-liners and some of the deaths are over-the-top, but other than that it’s a pretty straightforward affair that doesn’t take much advantage of it’s bizarre premise, and the uneven pacing means that there isn’t really enough tension built up to make it interesting. The whole premise of the robber’s soul being transferred into a gingerbread man isn’t explained at all, and while it’s somewhat easy to piece together what happens, the specifics aren’t explored. This isn’t the type of film to worry about the details though.

    The characters resemble a fairly typical horror film cast, full of conflicting personalities and drama between them. There’s Sarah Leigh and the other employees of the bakery ‘Brick’ and Julia, and also Lorna Dean, whose father runs a nearby commercial bakery attempting to put the family-run bakery out of business, and her boyfriend Amos Cadbury (nice sweet-related surname there), with whom a love triangle is set up between him, Sarah and Lorna. A lot of the character development is done through scenes of dialogue that really slow the film down, and also don’t really add anything to what’s going on. The Gingerdead Man himself we hardly see enough of, as he appears only nearly half way through the film, and given it only really has a sixty minute runtime, there’s not much exploration of the set-up, or giving the villain opportunity to creatively enact his killing.

    The Gingerdead Man is obviously a low budget affair, with the short runtime, the use of a very limited amount of sets, and plenty of scenes consisting of just talking. Gary Busey as the robber/The Gingerdead Man is the only recognisable casting, and is probably where the majority of the budget went (even though he was paid “only” $25,000). The music seems to also to be a bit misplaced; it never seems to fit the scene, or builds up too soon or too late. The Gingerdead Man himself is decently animated and fairly lively, but we only ever see him from close-up shots and never in full view of the camera, probably to hide the strings or whatever puppetry was being used to animate him. Also, the credit sequence consists of the slowest possible crawl of people involved, and runs to over ten minutes in an obvious attempt to increase the runtime, which is ridiculous for such a low budget feature. Overall, The Gingerdead Man does nothing to fill the ridiculous premise that its title promises, and also doesn’t offer much as a parody of horror tropes either. Everything it does the Child’s Play films have done much better, so it has little to offer as a unique film experience.

  • Film reviews

    #439 – Evil Bong 777 (2018)

    Evil Bong 777 (2018)

    Film review #439

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: After escaping “Sexy Hell”, Rabbit, Ebee and the rest of the gang decide to head to Las Vegas to escape the wrath of Lucy Furr and Beelzebud, but the two are hot on their heels to take their revenge…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISEvil Bong 777 is the seventh and final (to date) instalment of the Evil Bong film series. Continuing from where the previous film left off, we see Rabbit, Ebee, Misty, Batty Boop and the Gingerweed Man escaping from “Sexy Hell” and the clutches of Lucy Furr and Beelzebud. On the run, they decide to flee to Las Vegas. The plot of the film basically revolves around the cats just…doing stuff in Las Vegas: they go and see a show (an excuse to show some nudity), they check into a grubby hotel and…well, that’s about it. The film really has no plot, like most of the other films in the series. Every scene is just a chance for either some crude nudity or extended, inane dialogue that goes nowhere. There’s not even a real plot to the film: Whereas in the previous films had some sort of scheme by the evil bong to take over the world, here she just hangs about in the background interrupting with some dismissive comments every so often. Lucy Furr’s plan to escape Sexy Hell doesn’t have any consequences either, as she never seems to have a plan with what to do when she gets out. The series clearly ran out of ideas several films ago, and spends most of it’s runtime on this inane dialogue I have come to expect from the series, and at a runtime that is less than an hour, the bankruptcy of ideas is very apparent.

    The characters from the previous film return, but the original cast of college roommates are long gone and forgotten. The only characters that have appeared in all the films are Rabbit and the Evil Bong herself. I suppose if I were to find a positive in this film, it is that each of the cast has something to do and their own dedicated scenes. None of these scenes really tie into anything in the grander narrative, because as mentioned there is no grand narrative. The inclusion of other characters from other films made by Full Moon Pictures makes things even more confusing if you haven’t watched them. The gag characters of the rednecks and stoner pairs return for their predictable schtick that adds a little energy to the dialogue. There’s also two new creatures made from the Gingerdead Man’s corpse, but they only re-appear at the end of the film to perhaps set them up as the villains of the next film, which has to date not materialised. Introducing the halfway through the film and having them show up only at the end again feels like another pointless endeavour.

    One common theme throughout these films is the lack of settings. Evil Bong 777 has a few different ones, but they’re either pretty sparse, or they’re obviously greenscreened. You definitely never get the sense that they are actually in Vegas. There’s perhaps some attempt to push the series through more absurd and in-your-face nudity and sex scenes, but they don’t really tie into anything. Whereas the previous films might have gotten one or even two mild chuckles, this one didn’t even get that: Evil Bong 777 is really running on fumes in terms of its story, characters and humour. As such, it is not going to appeal to anyone, but I suppose if you’ve suffered through the rest of the films (as I have), you might as well suffer through just one more…

  • Film reviews

    #431 – Evil Bong 666 (2017)

    Evil Bong 666 (2017)

    Film review #431

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: Having bought Ebee’s weed shop from Rabbit, Lucy Furr intends to sacrifice unsuspecting customers in order to open up a portal to “Sexy Hell.” However, Ebee, the evil bong herself, has her own plans for the shop, and intends to once again conquer the world by selling her own weed products…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISEvil Bong 666 is a 2017 comedy horror film and the sixth film in the Evil Bong film series. Picking up from end of the previous film, in which the cast is banished to “sexy hell.” Meanwhile, Lucy Furr has bought Ebee’s weed shop from Rabbit, and when she learns of the existence of sexy hell from Ebee the evil bong, who has escaped from there, she decides to open up a portal to go there herself by sacrificing customers that come to the shop. There isn’t really much of a story here other than Lucy Furr selling weed to customers coming into the shop, and most of the scenes just consist of standing around and talking. This has been the mantra of the last three of these films, but with the others, the characters were at least trying to be funny. The film is severely lacking in comedy or horror, and instead just focuses on some crude humour and nudity which itself is just forced and without any real effort or connection to anything. There’s a sub-plot with a “Faux Betty Boop” character, but I honestly couldn’t work out what was going on there. The previous films were hardly a masterwork of cinema, but they at least tried to deliver some humourous lines or characters. Here, it just seems nobody is trying.

    In keeping with the evil bong continuity (which is a thing I guess), a number of the characters from the previous films return. The evil bong Ebee herself obviously returns, as does Rabbit, who is the only character to have appeared in every film. The character of Larnell, who was in every other film until this point, is missing, and without him the film loses it’s focus, opting instead for making Lucy Furr the lead, who just doesn’t have the presence or character to make it work. The gingerdead man returns as well, but his character has been pretty meaningless for a while. Some other minor characters return, but they’re also barely worth mentioning, and when Ebee or Rabbit aren’t on screen, you get the feeling that nothing of importance is happening (that can also be said when they are on screen too, but slightly less so).

    When the portal to sexy hell is opened, the cast find themselves confronted with “Beelzebud,” because this series loves weed-based puns. The climax of the film is a mish-mash of world domination ploys and bickering, which again isn’t interesting. The film once again only has two locations: the weed shop and “sexy hell” which is adorned by CGI of floating cleavage and other monstrosities that I don’t need to remember. In it’s defence, this is obviously a low-budget film, but that cannot excuse the lack of humour or interesting story. Overall, Evil Bong 666 is a mess that doesn’t really do anything: if it wants to be a comedy, it doesn’t make an effort to have any funny jokes or setups, and if it’s meant to be a horror, there’s no suspense, scares, deaths or gore to invoke any sense of fear or dread. It’s just sixty-five minutes of minor characters bickering without any direction or motivation. As with the rest of the film’s in the series, this is obviously meant to be a film you watch when you’re high and not really focused on the intricacies of the story of evil drug paraphernalia, but there’s nothing visually interesting or funny to enjoy in that state. It’s probably not much worse than the other films, but it’s definitely not better than them, as it barely registers a laugh, and the weed puns have long since been exhausted.

  • Film reviews

    #427 – Evil Bong High-5!

    Evil Bong High-5! (2016)

    Film review #427

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: Trapped in the bong world, Larnell, Rabbit, Sarah-Leigh, Velicity and the Gingerdead man are looking for a way to escape. Ebee, the evil bong herself, sends Larnell, Rabbit and the gingerdead man back to Earth, promising to release Sarah-Leigh and Velicity as well if they can raise a million dollars selling Ebee’s special weed at a new weed shop.

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSISEvil Bong High-5! is a 2016 film and the fifth in the Evil Bong film series. Following on from the end of the last film, in which Larnell, Rabbit, Sarah-Leigh, Velicity and the Gingerdead Man have been imprisoned in the bong world, they are now looking for a way to escape, with the exception of Rabbit, who is quite enjoying it. They try to convince Rabbit to help them escape the bong world (as he did before) but he says Ebee has sealed all of the previous exits. However, Ebee turns up and claims to have a new plan to take over the world, and sends Larnell, Rabbit and the Gingerdead Man back to Earth, promising to release Sarah-Leigh and Velicity if they can raise a million dollars in twenty four hours selling weed to fund her evil plan. The plot of the film is basically that; with the trio attempting to sell various merchandise and weed in order to raise the necessary money. It’s very similar to the previous film, in that most of the film is just scene after scene of new characters coming into the shop and the same process of getting them to buy weed plays out. I’m not sure what Ebee’s plan is supposed to be, or how an evil bong can conquer the world using only a million dollars, but the nuances of the story aren’t really going to be an issue in this film, as with all the other previous films in the series, it’s just a cheap, silly film you can watch when you’re high.

    There’s plenty of returning characters that viewers will recognise. Larnell and Rabbit are the most prominent characters that have been in every film (with the exception of the evil bong herself), and are still their usual selves. The Gingerdead Man seems to have become a staple of the series now after the previous film and the Evil Bong vs Gingerdead Man crossover, but he does very little, apart from the occasional bakery pun. The rest of the characters, many introduced in the previous film, enter scene by scene as they enter the bong shop and perform their one-dimensional characters again exactly like the previous film. Some of them are somewhat funny, but others are unremarkable. Larnell’s grandfather making a return is welcome as he spews out long-winded insults at him, but other than that he just appears in the one scene without any impact on the plot.

    In keeping with tradition, this is not a very high-end production film, and scenes take place in one of two locations: the weed shop, or the bong world (which is just a green-screen). A lot of the film is essentially tied up in dialogue and bickering that goes nowhere; maybe if it ended in a punchline or something funny happening it could be forgiven, but that rarely happens either. There’s plenty of crude humour, nudity and weed jokes that will I’m sure appeal to it’s target audience. If you’re not high as a kite, there’s not going to be much here to appeal to you: it adds little to the series, and repeats a lot of what it has done before.