What technically serves as the fourth movie in both of Charles Band’s (Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, Trancers) recent franchise series comes off as an unexpected mash-up when the mass murdering cookie, Gingerdeadman goes toe to toe with the smoky seductress, Ebee or the Evil Bong. But it’s definitely not like you think. Freddy Vs. Jason this is not, and there’s no real sign of battle expressed in the movie. It’s actually quite tame in most regards, having more to do with softcore scenes and stoner humor than anything else. As you can expect, our deranged cookie still takes out a few unlucky victims; but the majority of the tale really seems to center around the Evil Bong series, which might upset fans of the Gingerdeadman films.
I did not feel that a nearly twenty-minute recap (or what felt like one) of the first three Evil Bong movies were necessary. All this did was make the film press on a bit longer than it needed to and it felt like a way to kill time, to be honest. Full Moon is better than that. I hope they’re not starting to slack off. Yet again, we needed to be reminded of the very first Gingerdeadman film; which I also didn’t think was truly necessary, especially if you’ve already got the DVD’s like myself; and are already familiar with the story. Perhaps these are here for newcomers, but I would shun anyone who watches this film without having watched any of the precursors. That’s like seeing Puppet Master 4 first, instead of starting with the original. While the Gingerdeadman films did not tie into each other, the three Evil Bong films certainly did; hence the need to watch all of them in succession.
When the plot finally got rolling, we were greeted by a very familiar face in Larnell, who’s role has been reprised by John Patrick Jordan. This time, he’s finally moved on up to owning his own headshop and he’s hired a short but murderous fellow by the name of string, who is played by The Don. Amy Paffrath plays the role of the carried on girlfriend, Velicity from the Evil Bong series, but her performance (or perhaps the character in general) just seems a bit flat for me this time. It’s also too short to notice. A little bit of T&A and she’s out the door. Interestingly, several Ooga Booga references pop up into the film, like Hambo (Chance Rearden) and an Asian couple (Tian Wang, Jinee Joung) of tourists who seem to mock the stereotype of The Gook as in displayed in the Ooga Booga series of figurines. The mouth appliance that Tian wears is exactly like the teeth displayed on the figure. At any rate, numerous other Full Moon characters appear in the film and other references can be found for those with a keener eye than mine. It would appear that Larnell has been locking Ebee/Evil Bong (Michelle Mais) in a cabinet, where he hopes to find her secret. Yet another familiar face plops into the shop (too many coincidences for the story to make sense though) by the name of Rabbit (Sonny Carl Davis) who all Evil Bong fans should remember. The man was unmistakable in his performances and I’ll go out on a limb to say that Sonny’s performance was without a doubt one of the most memorable in the film. Rabbit is such a loveable character and I don’t think that anyone else could capture him (especially the multitude of emotions on his face which make him look like a crazed old man who just escaped the nuthouse) the way that Sonny does. So without a doubt, his work on the film makes it all worthwhile in the end.
Now that we’ve covered the headshop, let’s move onto the bakery. Obviously, since Gingerdeadman 2 & 3 were alternate timelines, only the original is rehashed and they do it quickly enough so that it’s not so much of a bother as with the Evil Bong recaps. The story brings back southern belle Sara Leigh, the brave young woman who first battled the cookie (Robin Sydney, she also plays someone else but I don’t want to get punched in the nuts for uttering her name as it says on the sign) as well as a new employee by the name of Debbie (Victoria Levine) who more or less interacts with a pervert (Timothy Bennet) and ends up fucking her boyfriend Larry (Ryan Curry) in a backroom of the bakery, where they are both eventually slaughtered. It goes without saying that Sara Leigh now owns her own bakery right in California, which is also close to Larnell’s headshop. (But since marijuana is practically legal there, I wouldn’t be surprised as to how many bakeries collide with headshops out that way.)
Then comes the cookie, which I was quite upset to see at first. First of all, Gary Busey isn’t reprising his role for some reason or another this time around; but Bobby “Busey” Ramos is now taking the job. But that’s not the problem, as Bobby does a fine job with the character and makes me think that it’s still the same guy. My problem is the odd decision to not use the puppetry that Full Moon has been known for since the beginning. Instead, they’re using real human mouths for the puppets; which seem to stem from either lack of funds or the fact that they’re just trying to get it done as quickly as possible. Either way, this is the worst that I’ve ever seen the Gingerdeadman, ever. It’s pretty bad when you see the rehash of the first film and notice how well the puppetry was done, only to find that many years later things have gone down the tube completely. Come on Charles, what happened? You’re better than this. I’ve actually been watching a few of the older (and somewhat more obscure) Full Moon films like Vampire Journals and Meridian, noticing just how well done they were in terms of story and makeup. But this one seems kind of rushed and I’m curious as to why.
I’m not going to spoil the entire movie for you, but I will let you know that fans of Masuimi Max’s life preservers will be able to see them shaking about throughout most of the latter half of this film, which is more cubic ton of jiggle than we got to see in Unlucky Charms (a definite Full Moon classic, by the way). Apparently, she seems to be enjoying roles in which she can shake those things around and who’d blame her? If I had a body like that, I’d probably try to fuck myself! Yet there are of course, other interesting things; like the Wall Of Breasts (and yes, it deserves capitals) which seems like it took a painfully long amount of time to construct and paint, yet it doesn’t appear to look fake either. When it really does look like there’s a giant wall of mammaries directly behind the characters, someone’s done a great job in the special FX department. I was especially checking this one out because of actress Veronica De Mare who plays the short role of the Cherry Tart; but it’s not really quite as memorable as her work in the Killjoy franchise and I’m sure that if and when Killjoy 5 gets rolling, she’ll deliver another outstanding performance.
Once again, while I don’t really want to spoil the plot or reveal all of the characters to you; please don’t expect a “war of the monsters” sort of deal with this one. It’s very comedic and seems to be more about the characters than the overall action, which is what we expect from a Full Moon picture to begin with. The film has an ending that I would describe as “intriguing” but it’s definitely the slashfest of the Gingerdeadman films, despite having his appearance. There’s arguably more Evil Bong in the film than there is Gingerdeadman, which makes me think that this might have been a rush idea to keep fans busy until the next big thing from Full Moon Studios. But then again, the store went as far as to include the film in two separate sets of cereal boxes, aiming for a collector’s item from this clash film. I think that more went into the merchandise than the actual film however, as nothing was done with Unlucky Charms as far as marketing; yet it turned out to be one of the most memorable films I’ve seen from Full Moon in quite a bit. It definitely made up for the lackluster Ooga Booga, which also had plenty of marketing muscle behind it. Don’t get me wrong, because Full Moon direct has some awesome collectibles and he goes well out of his way to making interesting items based on his films. Apparently there was some sort of Reanimator Puppet Master doll action going on when I checked over there a few months back, so I would be quick to assume that other interesting things are currently cooking up on the website right now, (www.fullmoondirect.com) so check them out. In a completely unrelated note, Charles is also taking some of his older films and releasing them in DVD/Blu-Ray format now for your enjoyment, as well as the Full Moon Streaming subscription site, in which you can watch plenty of his works daily. With 266 movies and counting, it seems there’s no stopping the man.
But the bottom line is that Gingerdeadman Vs. Evil Bong wasn’t quite all that it was cracked up to be. It had plenty of Full Moon appearances, but not enough of a plot to keep it going. It just wasn’t long enough. Too many recaps and ridiculously expectable plot developments make this one only a decent film at best, which pales behind the previous installments. And once again, the use of actual human mouths on the puppets is so terrible that I can’t believe it was ever considered. That’s something out of amateur film making, and for a man who’s got more films to his name than there are people in some towns; Charles Band is no amateur. If and when the next Gingderdeadman installment comes out, I’d certainly hope that the original art of puppetry comes back into play. But I don’t expect that to come for a while, as I’m still waiting on Evil Bong Vs. The Killer Crack Pipe!