Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong
I don’t usually get into stoner movies, but this time around we’re actually doing a Gingerdead Man sequel that has some direct connections to the original film and that in particular interests to me.
The Gingerdead Man had been making cameos in the Evil Bong series for a while now, and the lead actress from Gingerdead Man, Robin Sydney actually appears in every Evil Bong movie, so I suppose it made sense to finally bring them together in a versus movie, much like Alien versus Predator. It opens with the Gingerdead Man on a beach, being flirted with by three topless girls. I can’t help but notice that his lips are not really animated, but rather somebody else’s lips have been composited in so that he can talk. This doesn’t give me a great deal of hope for the effects in this one, especially when I notice that I don’t recognize the name of the person behind the special effects here. I also note that William Butler (or his pseudonym Sylvia St. Croix) is nowhere to be found.
Oh well, let’s get into this.
The credits deposit us at a head shop where the employees are squabbling. As the owner’s girlfriend sets up a leech woman doll (a nice little easter egg), he recounts how he got into the business – It’s a good excuse for giving flash back to the first and second Evil Bong films (Good thing too, I’ve never seen any of them. I’ll get there eventually, it’s on one of my upcoming box sets). It’s a reasonable way to pad the run time, and gets us to well into the film before actually beginning anytime of story.
Some stoners wander in and Larnell , the manager, tries to sell them on a gas mask bong. (This is a missed opportunity by the way, I was sure I was seeing Chekhov’s gun here. Sadly, no), but even as I’m trying to comprehend this, that’s when the clown walks in. He’s selling freaky little Indian statues. Argumentative employee is distracted by some tourists that he up cells and doesn’t notice the clown taking a photos of them, for apparently no reason. (I kept waiting for this to pay off in the plot later, but it never comes up agian, it’s just schtick to introduce Larnell and his dimunitive employee Sting.
In the back, we discover that Larnell has the Evil Bong gagged and bound in the closet. He wants to unravel her secrets and possibly use her for good. Me for my part,I’m waiting for the Gingerdead Man to show up again.
Down the street from the head shop, there’s a new bakery called “Dough, Ray, Me”. Weirdly enough, they’re selling Gingerdead Man shaped cookies. Of course it’s run by Sarah, the heroine from the first Gingerdead Man film. Judging from the palm trees, she’s moved from Texas to L.A. There was a recent article on her in the paper and they use this to briefly recap the original Gingerdead Man film.
We finally finish up with all of the flashbacks to previous movies about halfway through the film. Larnell shows up at the bakery to grab one of the cookies and behind him you can see the Gingerdead Man peering through the window. He’s there to take his revenge on Sarah. Larnell is trying to pitch some cross-promotion between the bakery and the head shop while back at his store, his old partner has unleashed the Evil Bong.
When Sarah heads over to Larnell’s shop to check it out, a couple of heremployees head to the back to get busy. The Gingerdead Man sees his opportunity to ply his trade. he’s back to using the switchblade that we’re familiar with from the DVD covers, though an axe will still work in a pinch.
Over at the head shop, Larnell discovers the evil bong has been freed. The Gingerdead Man dispatches his employee, and we get the first epic confrontation between the Gingerdead Man and the Evil Bong. She offers to make him a man again if he’ll smoke from her. The Gingerdead Man is tempted, but he has unfinished business first and takes an axe to the office door to try and get to Larnell and Sarah.
To even the odds, Larnell and Sarah both take a hit from the evil bong, forcing the Gingerdead Man to follow them into the bong world. as soon as they arrive, the evil pastries from Gingerdead Man 3 start to taunt them, even as the Gingerdead Man stalks them. Things only gets stranger from there as the Gingerdead Man encounters King Bong and the other homicidal pastries who put him on trial in a scene designed to homage the Phantom Zone sequence from the original Superman.
Ultimately it becomes fight to escape the Evil Bong and hopefully leave the Gingerdead Man trapped forever.
Gingerdead Man vs Evil Bong really is more of an Evil Bong film then it is a Gingerdead Man film. The character of Larnell overwhelms Sarah who is reduced to little more than a sidekick in this movie, and while the Gingerdead Man is certainly is the more murderous of the two villains, it’s the Evil Bong that really drives the story. Outside of a few clever set pieces, the Gingerdead Man is largely irrelevant and that’s a shame because I was really hoping for more of his influence.
On the other hand, half the film is taken up by recaps and flashbacks – making this more of a Gateway film, trying more to interest you into either of the other franchises rather than creating its own entry. We’d see Puppet Master go through this phase as well, particularly with the Puppet Master : The Legacy installment. Charles Band isn’t pulling out any new tricks here, versus movies and clip shows have kind of become his stock and trade at this point. This one is really only for fans of the franchise and it’s kind of unsatisfying as a final chapter.
Gingerdead Man 3 : Saturday Night Cleaver
We begin the movie at the scientific Institute for research on homicidal baked goods. So right off the bat, you know exactly what kind of film we’re going into. It’s a parody of Silence of the Lambs, with a sort of Clarice Starling character getting ready to go see the Gingerdead Man
Down in the basement we see a evil baguette, a small cherry pie, a brownie and a cream puff that spits Cream Cheese at her. The puppets are beyond over-the-top. Finally she arrives at the Gingerdead Man cell in the interview begins. They’re doing it almost word-for-word from Silence of the Lambs, and the Gingerdead Man even has a Hannibal Lecter mask on. It’s shocking in its audacity, and ridiculous beyond parody. We are in full cartoon mode now and it’s glorious. This sequence has to be seen to be believed.
The interview is interrupted by a invasion of pastry activists who free all of the evil baked goods. Gingerdead Man Isn’t impressed and bites the nose off of one of the activists (homage to the story of Lecter swallowing the nurses tongue?) before running away. Still, he can’t figure out where to go and is still trapped in the Institute… That is until he finds the time-travel study room and jumps into a machine that transports him into 1976, in the middle of a Roller Boogie session.
It’s the most stereotypical portrayal of the seventies imaginable, and the Gingerdead Man is rightly appalled. The look is of though -Too many of the guys are still sporting close-cropped do’s and while thier sideburns might be long, they are also groomed and trimmed and distinctly not 1970s (ah, low budgets….)!
The problem is, this roller rink is about to be foreclosed on by the IRS. Also the DJ is completely coked up and the owner’s daughter Cherry (“And I’d like her to stay that way!”) has a sort of Carrie vibe going on.
The first to go are a group of empty-headed bimbos who staged a bikini car wash in an attempt to save the roller rink. Gingerdead Man ogles them until he remembers what he is here to do and discover is a vat of hydrochloric acid to do it with. The results are predictable, and largely CG. In fact I’m noticing a significant CGI component in this film all around. Somebody is really good at After Effects. The Gingerdead Man is frequently rendered as an animation rather than composited or puppeted as a real element, particularly when he’s walking or running. At least the corpses are practical.
Back at the Roller Rink, Cherry, the daughter is learning to skate, falling in love with the skate rental guy, and getting a makeover to try and become the new roller queen. Also, among the skaters and Junkies, keep an eye out for a large lady in a white shirt with a red sweater. That’s Muffy Bolding, co-writer of both this film and Gingerdead Man 2!
Back upstairs, the owner of the rink, and Cherries mother Trixie, (a drag queen played by Kent Fuher – director William Butler has a long Association with RuPaul’s Drag Race and the drag community) is not pleased. She had tried all her life to keep Cherry from the roller skating scene. She tells the tale of a tragic roller skating incident the day that she performed for FDR and distracted everybody from Pearl Harbor. The entire incident is told in stock footage flashbacks stop this is why she never wanted Cherry to skate, But Cherry wants to live her own life and when the roller Boogie Queen contest! Lights explode as she gets angry.
Cherry is indeed nominated as one of the finalists for roller Boogie Queen, but that’s the least of her worries. She finds gingerbread man-shaped footprints and follows them to some bloody boxes in the kitchen. She expresses her concerns to her crush who kind of dismisses it even as the Gingerdead Man sneaks past behind him with a cleaver. In the meantime, the girl who’s won the Roller Boogie Queen the last four years, schemes to win the title this one last time. Her plan involves pig blood – so we can pretty much tell exactly where this is going.
Before she goes completely Carrie on them we get a break from all this silliness when the Gingerdead Man sneaks up behind a guy in the bathroom and slashes his Achilles tendon again, and again, and again. It’s the fresh infusion of blood that this film really needed, it’s been a little lighter on gore this time around. Unfortunately, the Gingerdead Man then finds the DJ stash of coke and replaces it with Drano. It’s okay, the Gingerdead Man is still there to spin records in her absence.
Cherry is, of course, crowned the roller Boogie Queen, and as soon as she takes her crown , down comes the pig’s blood. Only it hits the wrong girl, and the Gingerdead Man is quick to follow, killing everyone in sight. Now it’s Cherry’s telekinetic gifts versus the homicidal Gingerdead Man in a hail of computer-generated blood.
I can’t help but notice how much lower the production values have gotten on this entry. There’s an overuse of CG, with as many After Effects generated as possible. We get very few shots of the Gingerdead Man in context. Only a handful of long shots, with most of his coverage being done as extreme close-ups of his face talking. It’s not just once, it’s constant. While the film is still quite self aware, the parody and satire aspects have kind of been toned down and the entire thing feels just a little bit less satisfying than before. This franchise may actually have peaked at part two, but there’s still one more to go.
Gingerdead Man 2
Gingerdead Man 2 begins with a fairytale style recap of the previous film. We get the best moments and an adequate explanation for the sort of insanity that were about to witness.
By the way, I don’t put this out there all the time, but I’m a born-again, conservative, evangelical Christian, so if this title was meant to offend someone it’s me. I find it hilarious – and yes, this scene does appear in the film (at the very end).
The run run run theme song is amazing – it’s like somebody mashed together “run as fast as you can I’m the gingerbread man” with “cherry bomb” and it’s the perfect theme as we movie into a movie studio set where they’re making a horror film. This is Full Moon Pictures kind of making fun of itself – this horror movie appears to be a mixture of Ghoulies and Puppet Master. I’m amused that I have the dagger the dark wizard uses.
Wonder what is better accidentally hits the wizard, he screams cat – and we get a glimpse of John Carl Bulchler who is the director of this unfortunate picture.
Craft service arrives with a box of goodies – cookies, doughnuts, and the Gingerdead Man!
A Make-A-Wish kid arrives at Cheatum studios because his last wish was to see the horror movie studio empire. Things aren’t going well – the studio has too many things in production, they’re running out of money, and horror blogs are constantly trashing them. On the set, people are quitting, fighting and there’s just general chaos.
Meanwhile, the ginger dead man is getting edgy – he’s got to kill somebody before he gets too stale! Normally I’d complain about the fact that the first kill happens off screen, but it’s such a hilarious spectacle – we cut back to the Gingerbread Man standing over at the decapitated corpse with several knives sticking it in another one in his hand that it just works so well.
“1 down, 4 to go!”
In the meantime we get back inside the studio where David DeCatoeu is directing a sci-fi picture on another set, while a porn crew is filming a gonzo movie in the directors office, and the Gingerdead Man is off to find his next victim! This ends up being an extremely offensive kill involving an electrified curling iron. The outrageous and offensive really become the pattern – even when it’s a traditional kill like a stabbing it’s punctuated by the Gingerdead Man delivering the most offensive and ridiculous dialogue the filmmakers can think of. This is how we get scenes like the Gingerdead Man hitting on one of the the puppets from the film, before humping it and then destroying it with a chainsaw (which is bad news for the puppeteer, whose hand is still in there).
They begin to realize something is wrong when the Make-A-Wish boy is abducted by the chainsaw wielding cookie man. They discover the Gingerdead Man has rewired the robot on the sci-fi set and comes after them using it as a Mecha. And that’s about the time when we hit the third act twist.
The brilliance of Gingerdead Man Two isn’t just the fact that you can get away with the cookie saying whatever he wants, no matter how outrageous or offensive, but it’s the self depreciating satire that this film is. It’s a satire that completely deconstructs the Full Moon legacy – much the way Terror Firmer did with Troma. Gingerdead Man is just good, lunatic fun – filled with Easter eggs and inside jokes for horror fans.
In 2001, Charles Band asked writer William Butler what the craziest idea he ever had was. With no hesitation he replied “Gingerdead Man!”. Band said “Great. Write it up. You shoot next month.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out quite that easily.Butler’s script came in on time, but WAY over budget. Full Moon pictures was in the middle of a rebuilding phase and couldn’t afford to shoot the script as written.
“I wrote what was like a three million dollar budget picture. Charlie looked at this and said ‘We couldn’t film this in a million years!’.”
Butler struck a deal with Band. Full Moon would still buy the script and concept, but they would have it rewritten in-house. That way, it would still make it on screen. The rewrite chores fell to Full Moon regular and Critters scribe Brian Muir.This might confuse casual viewers since the opening credits cite August White and Sylvia St. Coix (Who would also be credited as the director of the second film) as the writers. Both are psydonyms. White is Muir and Coix is Butler. Throw in John Carl Buechler doing special effects in a Charles Band movie and I think this is definitely a recipe I can get behind.
Gingerdead Man starts off with Gary Busey on a rampage in a diner. I’d say that’s off to a good start. It’s pretty much all you are going to see of Busey though, just enough to establish him as the soul that gets trapped in the Gingerdead man. Band has been pretty open over the years about this being stunt casting. “We cast Busey for the bragging rights” he mentioned one year at Cinema Wasteland. If you ever see him at a convention, he’ll always be ready with a Busey story from set.
Busey for his part was confused He’d been booked for a mere two days, but was under the impression that he was in the entire film and shot off an infuriated letter to his agent telling hi they were crazy if they though they could shoot enough coverage for an entire film in just two days. Band sent word back to the agent that Busey would only be on set for one scene and that the rest of his contribution to the movie would be ADR. When Busey arrived to lay down his vocal tracks, he arrived with a girlfriend and a guitar. Band tried to get him into the booth. Busey pulled up the guitar.
“Yes. but first….a song!”
He proceeded to serenade Band before finally heading into the ADR booth to record the voice of the Gingerdead Man.
The film moves to a bakery, and Baker Sarah. She’s played by Robin Sydney, a Full Moon regular who would go on to star in every one of their Evil Bong movies (This’ll be pertinent later). It was her father and brother that were killed in the opening segment. A knock on the door and a mysterious “Grandma’s gingerbread seasoning” is left for her. What she doesn’t actually know is, these are the ashes of Gary Busey. When accidentally mixed with blood, it becomes the perfect ingredients to create the Gingerdead Man!
Across the street from the bakery, there’s a new competitor moving in. It’s a slimy chain store and it’s equally slimy owner comes by to intimidate and try and buy the bakery out. They’ll have no part of it and simply go back to work, making baked goods, gingerbread men oh, and one special Gingerdead Man!
Lorna, the daughter of the developer, sneaks in to try and plant rats in the bakery. Her boyfriend Amos joins her and it’s then that they all discover the Gingerdead Man. He runs off and finds Sarah’s drunken mom and takes revenge for every time the Pillsbury Doughboy has been poked in the belly…
Boyfriend Amos goes to the car to grab his gun while the Gingerdead Man kills the power to the bakery. Outside he scampers off to the developer’s car and runs him down. At least the baker’s competition is gone! In the meantime he heads back in to get the developer’s daughter – with a brief side argument with the rat.
In the back, Amos tries to fix the power, and Sarah deals with her crush on him. I supposed a subplot love story is inevitable though it seems like poor judgment to fall in love with a guy who thinks you can kill a demonic cookie with a pistol. a BIG pistol.
Still, with Mom in the oven and Sis in the freezer, it’s up to them to stop the evil Gingerdead Man!
What is perhaps most surprising about Gingerdead Man is how straight they play it. Oh, the Gingerdead Man still says tons of outrageous things and we get the occasional ridiculous quips “got milk?”, but by and large they play it as a straight horror film, infused with the general fun that we expect from a full moon feature. The ultimate hero at the end he is actually somewhat unexpected (and straight out of Butler’s orignial concept), although we get a bit of a Twist in the last few minutes that would be mirrored in later installments as well.
it’s not obvious the sort of franchise that this film will become from just watching the first movie, but on its own, this stands as a massively fun full moon feature.