Monday, September 26, 2011

'Gingerdead Man 3' travels back in time and quality

Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011)
Starring: John Carl Buechler, Paris Wagner, Travis Walck, Kimberly Pfeffer, Kent Fuher, Muffy Bolden, Steve-Michael McLure, Laura Kachergus, Brendan Lamb, Tiffany Danielle, and Steffinnie Phrommany
Directors: William Butler and Sylvia St. Croix
Producers: Charles Band, William Butler, and John Acalo
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

The most evil cookie to ever plague the world, the Gingerdead Man (voiced by Buechler) escapes confined in a research lab and time travels back to 1976 where he proceeds to murder the skaters and employees at a roller rink.

I had high hopes for this one, which is perhaps why I was so disappointed with it. I thought after the very entertaining "Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust" that Band & Co. were hitting a Gingerdead Man stride. Well, if they were, they stumbled with this one, delivering a film that is far below the quality found in "Gingerdead Man 2" and even a little worse than the original "Gingerdead Man" film.

Like the second film in the series, "Saturday Night Cleaver" offers up an endless stream of references to other movies. While the second film in the series was an excersize in Full Moon/Charles Band self-mockery, this installment pokes fun at a range of films and popular genres from the 1970s with "Carrie", "Porky's", and "Silence of the Lambs" being the most obvious ones, but there are literally over a dozen more references to other movies, pop culture figures, and general 1970s America. Trying to catch all the references makes the film more fun to watch than it might otherwise be. And a good number of them are actually quite funny... with the "Silence of the Lambs" riff that opens the film being the best of them and my favorite sequence in the entire film.

By the way, the references here actually all make sense in context of the story and grow organically either out of a gag or character interactions. Even when not at his best, Charles Band and the creatives he works with produce better spoof-heavy comedies than the cinematic weapons of mass-destruction Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Yet, somehow, they continue to have access to funding at ten times the level than Band. There is no justice in the movie business....

As has been the case in most Band productions for the past decade, the special effects range from weak to awful, with a massacre-by-nail gun and a death-by-acid sequences being perhaps the most embarrassing parts of the film. They goes on for too long and both put the bad CGI too prominently on display. In the acid scene, the gags also fall flat and are then crushed by the bad CGI. (A small clip from the scene I talk about above is featured in the preview; if that was all they'd included CGI-wise and otherwise have scraped together the time and money for practical gore effects, it would have been a far stronger sequence.)

A similar ongoing issue with Band struggling to meet the standards his films set in the 1980s and 1990s is the animation of the Gingerdead Man. While the killer cookie is better executed and animated than he was in "Gingerdead Man 2", the illusion of him actually being a living creature is broken by the fact that the puppetry is so low budget that he has to only be seen peeking around corners so the puppeteer can be out of view of the camera. It also doesn't help that the CGI clip of him running across the floor is the same bit of animation of him from the waste down used over and over in slightly different environments. In fact, every time I saw those legs again, I couldn't help but wonder if I was looking at a cropped and re-skinned version of that digital baby that kept showing up in "Ally McBeal" back in the day.

As for the acting, it ranges from community theater-like delivery to pretty good. Paris Wagner and Kent Fuher (as two generations of "roller skater prodigies") are particularly good in their parts, but John Carl Buechler almost manages to rise to the level of Gary Busey in the original film.

Sadly, though, the bad once again overwhelms the good in a modern Full Moon production. "Gingerdead Man 3" is better than many bigger budgeted spoofs and satires out there, but it's not a great effort, and it pales in comparison to many of Band's classic productions.

1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your opinion. I love seeing what fellow fans have to say!