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/ANALYSIS: The 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.
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/ANALYSIS: Evil 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…
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/ANALYSIS: Evil 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.
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/ANALYSIS: Evil 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.
Evil Bong 420 (2015)
Film review #425
Director: Charles Band
SYNOPSIS: Having escaped the bong world, Rabbit sets up a bowling alley to fulfil his dreams. While he is welcoming his guests for the opening night, Ebee, the evil bong herself, along with the Gingerdead man, who is also trapped in the bong world, arrange to travel to the bowling alley and return Rabbit back to the bong world…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Evil Bong 420 is a 2015 comedy horror film and the fourth film in the Evil Bong film series. Following the last film, where Rabbit was trapped in the bong world, where the evil bong creates illusions to keep people their forever, he decides to follow his dream and opens a topless bowling alley where people can smoke weed. That…is basically the plot of the film. With a run-time of only fifty-three minutes, it’s barely a film at all, and even then it still seems to have trouble filling the screen with content. Most of the first half of the film is just dialogue, with Rabbit welcoming the various guests into the bowling alley. None of these characters are particularly interesting, and only serve as a stereotype to make very specific jokes. You would think that these characters are being introduced only to be killed off later as this is a horror movie after all, but no; none them are killed and only one gets an injury. The whole setup just seems pointless.
Apart from all the new characters that are introduced in the film for no reason, there are a few returning characters, such as Rabbit, who seems to have become the main character of the series now, and Larnell, who is stuck in a love triangle. Of course, Ebee the evil bong herself returns, but spends most of the movie in cut-aways to the bong world, where she engages in trash talk with the “gingerdead man.“ I imagine these scenes are hilarious if you’re stoned watching a bong and an evil gingerbread man arguing with each other, but otherwise they’re pretty uninspiring. The gingerdead man himself is a character from another film series (unsurprisingly called the gingerdead man) made by the same production company, and previously crossed over with the evil bong franchise in the Evil Bong vs Gingerdead Man film of 2013. The character himself is perverted, dirty and a nasty bit of work, but never gets round to killing anyone. The focus seems to be much more on the gingerdead man than the evil bong, which is distracting, and gives the film a different feel than its predecessors. All of the other characters apart from Larnell and Rabbit are however missing from this film, and that makes it feel pretty empty.
The Evil Bong series has definitely not been a high production affair, and Evil Bong 420 definitely continues that. The action is entirely limited to the bowling alley, which is in keeping with the minimal sets of the other films (although they had at least two or three). Someone at least knows how to frame a shot and edit a scene in this film, as even though the dialogue goes on for far too long, at least the camera work breaks up the monotony a little. The CG is pretty bad, but that’s expected. There’s definitely a change in tone with this film, as it doesn’t really make much attempt at a story, and instead just focuses more on being a lot more explicit and crude, mostly in the form of much more nudity and sex jokes. It overall feels a bit tasteless and devoid of any substance (not that there was much to begin with in this film series). On the one hand, I suppose it is appealing more to people who are watching this film while high, as they will have no real concern for the story, but the film still is mostly a lot of dialogue and set-up for things which don’t happen. There’s perhaps one or two funny jokes in the first part of the film, but the flat acting shaves off some of it’s impact. Overall, I think it’s fair to say that Evil Bong 420 is the low-point of the franchise (so far), and is fairly mindless in it’s story, set-up and characters, with an altogether tasteless and crude sense of humour.
Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong (2011)
Film review #423
Director: Charles Band
SYNOPSIS: A strange meteorite crashes onto earth, and a man discovers a bong inside of it. Meanwhile, Alistair McDowell finds it later on alongside his old buddy Larnell, and when the bong coincidentally is bought by their old roommates Brett and Bachman, the group must again stop an evil talking bong from trying to take over the world…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong is a 2011 comedy horror film and the third film in the Evil Bong series. The film opens up randomly with a man burying his wife in the woods after he seemingly killed her. This plays no part in the story other than this opening scene. As he is walking home, he finds a meteorite that has crashed to Earth, and inside is surprisingly a bong. Later on, Alistair McDowell, the protagonist of the previous films, now working for the Space Institute, finds the meteor and undertakes an analysis. He runs into his old friend Larnell, who remarks he didn’t recognise him (a reference to his recasting, which was also done in the second film), and explains he has been training with a “ninja master,” and as usual is knee-deep in conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, Brett and Bachman, now running a weed shop, buy the mysterious space bong off the old man that found it in the meteorite, and find that it is once again an evil bong that wants to take over the world. The story is practically identical to the previous films: an evil talking bong is trying to take over the world, and anyone that smokes from it is taken into the inner “bong world” where the bong tricks it’s victims with illusions. The remaining cast must venture into the bong world to rescue their friends and defeat the bong. Simple stuff, but it has to be simple when you’re a film that’s designed for people to watch when high. Being the third film in the franchise (not since Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has a film franchise been so unnecessary), there’s actually evil bong lore that the film dives into which establishes continuity between the films, but as I said, you’re not going to be too focused on the plot when watching this.
The cast is made mostly up of characters from previous films, which provides a sense of continuity, even though it’s not necessary. Alistair, Larnell, Brett and Bachman are the same guys from the previous films, and nothing has changed much for them. Rabbit, the delivery guy who for some reason seems to have become a main character, is now a priest, and Larnell’s grandfather, now calling himself Dr. Weed, is fully converted to supporting marijuana after his escapades in the jungle in the previous film. And of course, the original evil bong herself turns up to offer advice on defeating the new space bong, with her usual sassy attitude. The expanded cast means there’s a bit of variety between their different perspectives, but there’s no stand-out performances of character developments.
The main problem with this film is it is almost exactly the same film as it’s predecessors, without adding anything new to proceedings. The effects are a bit better, and there’s more than two sets unlike the previous films, but there is so much time spent on the characters standing around talking that it becomes a bore. When characters start trying to explain their motivations it becomes difficult to follow, and there’s always a feeling of it simply not mattering whether you know their motivations or not. Ideally, the film should be breaking up this dialogue with some funny one-liners or jokes, but there’s barely any of that. The bong only really becomes the focus of the last act of the film, which under-utilises the main draw of the film. Despite all this, I think this one still improves on the second one just because of there being more than two locations, and the lore of the evil bong series starts to give the characters and ideas a bit more substance. The acting is still flat, and the budget is still low, but it’s still going to appeal to it’s target audience with plenty of weed smoking, ridiculous voice-overs, and partial nudity.
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.