• Film reviews

    #420 – Evil Bong (2006)

    Evil Bong (2006)

    Film review #420

    Director: Charles Band

    SYNOPSIS: Alistair McDowell rents a room with Larnell, Bachman and Brett, three other college students, who are obsessed with smoking weed. Larnell orders a large bong online that apparently is possessed, and the three roommates (excluding Alistair) enjoy it’s benefits. However, things take a dark turn as the bong starts killing them off one by one after they smoke from it and are taken into the “bong world” where the spirit of the evil bong has total control, and enacts a deadly plan to turn the world into eternal stoners…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Evil Bong is a 2006 comedy horror. The film starts out with a college student named Alistair McDowell going to rent a room with three other students, all of whom continually smoke weed (while Alistair never does, he is not opposed to them doing it). With Alistair’s rent money, Larnell, one of the other students, now says he has enough money to buy an extravagant bong he has found online. There is a warning from the previous owner that the bong is possessed, but that doesn’t stop Larnell from purchasing it. When it arrives, the three (excluding Alistair partake in smoking from it. Later that night, Bachman hears the bong calling him and when he smokes it, is transported into the “bong world” where the bong has the power of illusion and kills Bachman. The remaining roommates notice that he is dead in the morning and attempt to hide his body when Larnell’s grandfather pays a visit. As the film progresses, the rest of the cast are sucked into the bong world as the evil bong grows more powerful, leaving Alistair to enter the bong world himself in order to defeat it. The plot of the film is rather minimal: there’s an evil bong that kills people when they smoke from it. That’s the movie. One of the key things about this film is that it’s more than likely aimed at people who are already high when they are watching this, so they aren’t going to really be able to follow an intricate story. With that in mind, the film just needs to have a few cheap laughs and some surreal imagery and I suppose it does that in the most minimal way possible, with some unoriginal funny lines that may get a chuckle because they always do no matter where they’re used, but again, anything more complex probably isn’t going to get the audience’s attention.

    The characters are all pretty bland, with their personality consisting of exactly one trait. Alistair is the straight-laced nerd, Larnell is a typical stoner, Brett is a jock, and Bachman is a “surfer dude.” They have no personality outside of these tropes. You can quite easily swap around the latter three and it would have no effect on the story, as each of their “unique” personalities contributes to about one joke each in the entire film. Some other minor characters include Larnell’s grandfather, whose one extended scene adds nothing to the film, and also the evil bong’s former owner, played by Tommy Chong (look him up if you don’t know who he is). There’s also a fair few cameos from characters from other films made by the same production company, but I didn’t recognise any of them because I haven’t seen any of the movies. The only one I have seen is the Trancers series, from which Jack Deth makes a brief cameo, but I didn’t recognise him, and I’m not sure anyone would since the Trancers series is hardly a keystone of film history (despite their being six films in the series). The evil bong herself is an animatronic face with limited movement (the lips definitely don’t sync to the words she says), and it’s a bit trippy, but nothing amazing.

    I’m going to assume that this film had no budget, as the entirety of the film takes place in the roommates apartment. The various characters come in and out, but most of the time it’s just the four main guys bantering or smoking weed. The only other location in the film is the “bong world” where everyone goes after they have inhaled from the bong. This world is apparently a strip club where the bong has the powers to create illusions and kill those who are trapped there. It’s a fairly drab and dark setting so you can’t really see what’s going on, but undoubtedly viewers will be more focused on the semi-nudity in these scenes anyway. There’s some surreal-ish imagery that accompanies these scenes with marijuana leaves flying around the screen and a hazy border around the film, but it’s hardly psychedelic and mind-bending…unless you’re already high I suppose. Overall, Evil Bong is a pretty stupid film, but it knows it and doesn’t try to be anything else. It’s obviously intended as a film to get high and watch, so there’s nothing remotely complicated, and also nothing to really make sense of. 

  • Film reviews

    #8 – Primer (2006)

    Primer (2006)

    Film review #8

    dir. Shane Carruth

    An independent film all about time travel. Two guys working on a range of bizarre inventions stumble upon the secret to manipulating time itself…

    For an independent, low-budget movie, Primer should be noted for it’s very complex and technical plot. As each step in the development of this time travel experiment is discussed and laid out in the dialogue, it is obvious that there is a lot of technical thought that has been considered. Even when stepping into the scientific unknown of time travel, there is still a lot of technical background, which although works nicely within the context of the script, it may take scientific and mathematical liberties at some points, but with the sheer amount of technical information pouring out of the script, it is difficult to determine the real and fake science, which I would say work’s in the movie’s favour.

    There is a real trash aesthetic throughout the film. Being an independent film about two guys working from their garage, this is probably what you should expect. The cobbled-together machines give no clue or framework for understanding what is going on, so it requires an attentive viewer to decipher how everything works.

    As you can guess, it is pretty easy to get lost in this movie. If the techno-jargon doesn’t get you, the amount of different timelines that start piling up most certainly will. Just google search “primer timeline” and you’ll get a large number of graphs and charts which people have used to try and decipher the events of Primer. Interesting fact: I never heard the word “time” or “time travel” anywhere in the film.

    If there is one clear message to take away from Primer, it is this: Time travel is messy. Just by doing one simple journey backwards in time throws up so many complications, and even with the precautions the main characters take to remove themselves from the continuum, everything still manages to pile up so much that they have to leave their old lives behind while another version of themselves goes on in their place.

    It’s very much a Pandora’s box: Once you open it, you can’t really put it back. Perhaps the “time machine” (this definition is never used in the movie by the way) being in the shape of a box signifies this rather nicely.

    So is it possible to answer the tag-line question: What happens if it actually works? Not in my opinion. What happens seems to be far out of the control of two guys working in their garage.