Saturday, May 29, 2010

The 'Evil Bong' Double Feature:
The more wasted you are, the funnier the films

Evil Bong (2003)
Starring: David Weidoff, Brian Lloyd, John Patrick Jordan, Kristyn Green, Robin Snyder, Mitch Eakins, Michelle Mais, and Tommy Chong
Producers: Charles Band
Director: Charles Band
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

When his pot-smoking roommates and the lovely Janet (Green) fall victim to the mysterious powers of the Voodoo-cursed Evil Bong, it's up to the nerdy, straight-laced Allistair (Weidoff) to save them all.

"Evil Bong" is part stoner comedy, part horror movie spoof. It's also a far more effective anti-drug movie than most films that are made to exclusively be anti-drug screeds. None of the potheads in the film are very likeable and Tommy Chong (in a role as the vengeful owner of the Evil Bong) provides a hilarious charicature of what someone becomes after too many years of smoking too much pot.

When "Evil Bong" is on its game, it's quite funny in a stupid sort of way. Unfortunately, it's not on its game most of the time.

Most of the time, this movie screams "Wow... this could have been excellent if a there had been a few more tens of thousands of dollars in the budget" because more money was needed to make the sets better and to buy the time and craftsmanship needed on CGI and props.

This is the first Charles Band film I've seen where his vision overreached his budget, and, as is always the case when this happens, the movie suffers greatly for it.

The Evil Bong (nicknamed EeeBee) isn't animated to the point where it should be--the eyes move and the lips twitch occassionally, but more facial animation was needed to bring it fully to life... the puppetry eithe needed to be far more elaborate than what we have, or lips needed to have been CGI'ed onto the bong model for it to be effective instead of just cheap-looking. EeeBee makes the Gingerdead Man puppet (from Band's 2004 effort of that same title) look impressive.

The Bongworld, the nightmare dimension into which EeeBee draws the souls of those who take hits from her, also suffers from the film's apparent lack of budget. It's a drab and unimpressive place that needed a lot more set decorations and patrons to fully bring it to life. Like EeeBee herself, it's little more than a sketch of what it should have been. It should have rivaled the cantina from "Star Wars" for the craziness of its patrons, particuarly since EeeBee seems to have been collecting souls for a long time, but instead it feels like a skidrow strip club at 10am in the morning.

Partially related to the film's budget restrictions--if I understand comments made in the making-of documentary correctly--this film's concepting, writing, pre-production and principle shooting all took place within a two-month period--is a bit of obvious padding to the script. There's a fairly long and completely irrelevant scene where one of the pothead's grandfather comes for a visit. It's a funny scene, but it has nothing to do with the action line of the film (and it even strikes a discordant note with Bongworld, as the grandfather appears there too, along with characters from other Band-produced movies), and it's a scene that woud have been replaced by something else if a proper number of revisions had taken place on the script.

It's a shame that Band didn't have the money or time to give this film its proper due, because there are a number of good things about it. Although the characters aren't particularly likeable, the actors protraying them all do a great job. Robin Snyder is particularly funny in a scene where a hit on EeeBee gets her all "hot and bothered". Tommy Chong also puts on a good show as... well, Tommy Chong.

"Evil Bong" is only for the hardest of the hardcore members of the Full Moon fanclub or for those who can't get enough of stoner comedies. (Actually, it might also be a good candidate for a Bad Movie Night Double-bill with "Reefer Madness".)

Evil Bong II: King Bong (2009)
Starring: Brett Chukerman, John Patrick Jordan, Sonny Carl Davis, Mitch Eakins, Brian Lloyd, Amy Paffrath, Jacob Witkin, and Robin Sydney
Producers: Charles Band, Dana K. Harrloe, Thomas Smead, and Garin Sparks
Director: Charles Band
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Three friends (Eakins, Jordan and Lloyd) were cursed by smoking from a demonically-animated bong and are now suffering from exaggerated symptoms from smoking pot--one is perpetually horny, the other is wracked by monstrously intense munchies, and the third from severe narcolepsy and memory loss. Together with their straight-laced friend Allistair (Chukerman) They travel to South America to uncover the bong's origins and hopefully find a way to lift the curse. Instead, they become embroiled in a fight for control over the most powerful marijuana crop ever discovered... an idealistic doctor wants to use it to cure cancer (Paffrath), an evil capitalist wants to distribute the pot to stoners everywhere (Witkin) and the sexy members of the Poon Tang Tribe, the Amazon slaves of the mighty King Bong.

The set-up for the film is convoluted, but the film itself is a simple collection of simple-minded pot jokes and stoner stereotypes. If you liked "Evil Bong," I suspect you'll like this sequel, as it delivers more of the same... even if it's crasser than the first movie, both with the level of profanity and the level of nudity in the film. (The Poon Tang Tribe girls are all topless during their scenes, and they confirmed for me once and for all that I prefer looking at natural breasts than ones that are "enhanced." At least if they're not covered up.)

Like the original "Evil Bong," this is more of a comedy than a horror film. In fact, Band doesn't even try to evoke any horror here, going instead for all-out blue humor of the crassest and most low-brow kind. Unfortunately, the jokes are more crass than funny... although I suspect the more intoxicated you are while watching the film, the funnier it becomes.

When I wrote my original review of "Evil Bong," it included a note about how this sequel would be worth watching if it showed the same level of quality improvement that existed between "Gingerdead Man" and "Gingerdead Man 2."

Well, it that improvement didn't manifest itself. While there are a number of points where "Evil Bong II" is superior to its predecessor--Eebee the Evil Bong is better animated than she was in the first film (yes, she was blown to bits, but she gets repaired), and Band doesn't let his vision overreach his meager budget. The Bongworld present in this film is pretty well done, considering my apartment is probably bigger than the sound stage this film was made on. The make-up and special effects are also superior to what we were subjected to in the first film.

On the downside, this film isn't as funny. While the Poon Tang Tribe shows up to provide a little nudity to distract from the overall lameness of the script, they can't hide the fact that there are precious few laughs in this comedy. In fact, the inside gags--such as when one character remarks to another who is being played by a different actor than in the original film that, "I hardly recognized you" or that Sonny Carl Davis' character is named "Rabbit" like the one he played in "Trancers II"--are funnier than any of the set-piece jokes. Well, with the exception of the bizarre "Who's On First"-type routine that Davis and Jordan perform at one point, and Eakins prat-falls as he falls alseep without warning; those bits are midly amusing.

All in all, "Evil Bong II: King Bong" sees Charles Band end the 2000s decade as he started it... with a movie that is a far, far cry from earlier efforts like "Blood Dolls", "Hideous!" and even "The Creeps". Like the first one in this series, it's a film that only hardcore Full Moon fans should bother with. (Of course, for all I know, it plays like "Bringing Up Baby" or "Blazing Saddles" if you're stoned. If someone wants to conduct that experiment, let me know how it turns out.)

One more thing... there's the theme song from the "Evil Bong" movies set to a fan-made video. It's a catchy little tune.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I actually really enjoyed the straight-forward stoner parts of EVIL BONG and thought they were genuinely funny, but the horror movie parts were terrible and ruined the rest of the movie. I'd actually consider watching it again one day. I haven't seen the sequel though.


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