Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gingerdead Man Double-feature

The Gingerdead Man (2005)
Starring: Gary Busey, Robin Sydney and Ryan Locke
Director: Charles Band
Producers: Charles Band and Dana Harrloe
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Sarah (Sydney) and her friends must fight off an enchanted gingerbread man that is being animated by the spirit of a mad killer (Busy) who murdered Sarah's father and brother.

It's a given that one shouldn't expect high art (or haute cuisine) from a film titled "Gingerdead Man", but I expected better from the studio that brought us other films featuring pint-sized horrors, namely the excptionally creepy creations in "Puppet Master."

What we got here was a very dumb, badly acted, and simply badly conceived movie with a monster that was both unfunny and unscary, and a horror film that was pretty much completely devoid of scares. (The one chilling moment came toward the very end, following shortly after the one truly funny--if completely predictable--moment.)

That said, Gary Busey does make give a great voice performance as the killer cookie. I'm not sure if it's a testament to Busey's talent or his eccentricity, because Charles Band tells a story at his public appearances about how Busey basically frittered away the studio time and then pounded out the lines in perfect take after perfect take at the very end of the day. For all the other weaknesses of the film, Busey rocks.

This Charles Band-directed effort was a dissapointment... but at least that gave plenty of room for improvement when the sequel came around a few years later.

Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (aka "Gingerdead Man Man 2: Bakery of Blood") (2008)
Starring: K-von Moezzi, Kelsey Sanders, Joseph Porter, Jacob Witkin and John Vulich
Director: Sylvia St. Croix
Producers: Charles Band and William Butler
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

The cookie possessed by the soul of a homicidal madman is back! This time, he's rampaging through the sets of Cheatum Studios, a low-budget movie mill on its last legs, looking to kill enough vicitms to perform a Satanic ritual so he can transfer his soul back into a human body.

When the Gingerdead Man made his first appearance in this, a sequel to a movie I count among the worst I've ever seen, I thought, "Hang on. How did he come back? Wasn't he destroyed in the original film?"

Then I thought, "This is a movie about a foulmouthed gingerbread cookie that murders people. Why am I trying to make sense of it?!"

And, once I went with the flow, this movie turned out to be quite a lot of fun. You'll be especially amused iif you're a fan of classic Full Moon films like "Puppet Master" or "Demonic Toys". A few of the jokes may be a bit "Inside Baseball" in nature--unless you're truly an Uber Geek or someone who takes and interest in the ups-and-downs of independent filmmakers like Roger Corman and Charles Band and the production companies they head--but most of the gags will be easily grasped as the self-mockery and overall ribbing of the low-budget fillm industry.

Unfortunately, while the movie may be fun, it's not all that good. It is far better than the original "Gingerdead Man" movie, but it still leaves alot to be desired.

Basically, the film feels half-baked (yeah, pun intended). The jokes are mostly ho-hum and the story feels disjointed and completely unmotivated until the Big Reveal surrounding Tommy, the terminally ill kid who has come to Cheatum Studios to see where his favorite movies were made before he dies. In fact, I was about ready to stop the film when it suddenly got good. The last half hour or so goes a long way to making up for a weak start. A plot development surrounding Tommy will be even more amusing to you if you've ever watched a B-movie, including this one, and thought to yourself, "That actor is entirely too old to be playing a teenager."

If just a little more time and effort had gone into developing the script, this film would have been much better. I know I said up-top that making sense of this movie is not something one should try to do, but I still would have liked a hint as to why the Tiny Tots animated to save the day at the end of the film. I have an idea, but I would have liked to at least see some hint as to the "who" and the "why" because the obvious answer makes no sense. (And, no, I don't think it's a spoiler to mention the "Demonic Toys" spoofs in the film come to life; when these puppets show up at the beginning of the film, you now they had to go on an uncontrolled rampage at some point.)

As for the acting and the sets and the puppets featured, is all passable, with Joseph Porter as the dying boy with a big secret being the only standout member of the cast. The cinematography could be better, as there are scenes where actors should be visible in a shot aren't, and others where actors are cut off by the edge of the screen, almost as if this was a bad pan-and-scan transfer. (It occurs to me that perhaps some of that was done intentionally, but it was more annoying than entertaining.) The soundtrack music was very well done, and it's the one area where the film is high quality.

In the end, I think it's a movie that big fans of Charles Band and Full Moon Features-type pictures will get a laugh out of. It's not as funny as I thought it would be based on the preview, but I still enjoyed it.

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