In Gingerdead Man Versus Evil Bong, right out of the gates we're met with three sets of titties swarming around the Gingerdead Man in an erotic frenzy. Gingerdead Man is a serial killer doomed to inhabit the cookie body through a bit of magic. If you've seen Chucky from the Child's Play movies, you'll understand; it's just like that.
This first scene frightened and upset me. I hated G-dead and fretted over the fate of a soul so cruelly wedged in a godless space. I worried I'd made a terrible mistake by agreeing to review this movie, that this was more than a film but a mirror reflecting how the world really is as crude and ugly as G-dead's face. But, from there, the film gets better. Either that, or I smoked just the right amount to tip me over the too-heady ledge, which it turns out was as much weed as I could possibly smoke in a 70-minute period.
Indulge me in a little film history, for these characters didn't just come out of thin air. Gingerdead Man Versus Evil Bong, which was released last year, represents the culmination of intersecting film franchises from Full Moon Features, a B-movie production company in Hollywood. There are three earlier films starring G-dead and Evil Bong, but this is the characters' first fight. Charles Band made a name for himself in the late '80s with his movie Puppet Master and he directs this and all the other films in the series. This is what happens when digital technology meets with old school props and makeup, when a stoner's laid-back approach mixes with just enough ambition and financing to get the film printed and distributed. In the marketing material we're told that Gary Busey and Tommy Chung star in the movie, but that's basically a lie. They appear for brief moments in archival footage from the earlier films, the plots of which have been helpfully summarized.
After the erotic frenzy, the film cuts to "Dick's Head Shop" where our hero Larnell (John Patrick Jordan) runs the worst head shop I've ever seen. The counter's red and green lights cast a sickly Christmas glow on all the pieces, which are mostly cheap, plastic and sparsely arranged. (Later on, a man with a pig face show up, adding to the hopeless and trapped atmosphere.) The head shop looks like a dusty room in the basement of someone else's dream, which is also where 70 percent of the film feels like it takes place.
There's a suspiciously short man in a tie-dyed T-shirt working in the shop called String. His voice sounds both raspy and high-pitched, like it's not really coming out of his body, but it is. And why this man is so short? The camera goes out of its way to keep him in close-up or medium frame. We never see his knees. IMDB says this actor's real name is "The Don" and he's 4-feet-5-inches, but I have lingering doubts over both facts. He spends the whole movie dreaming of pot and murder until he eventually meets with bad luck.
Evil Bong, voiced by a sassy actress named Michelle Mais, lives bound and gagged in a locked safe in the back of the head shop and for good reason: People seem to go crazy in her presence. They kill people or get killed, or if not that, they enter a weed dimension in a fantasy forest. Evil Bong thrives on weed, and is summoned just like the character in Beetlejuice, except instead of saying her name three times, you take a huge bong hit in order to enter the marijuana underworld.
Larnell joins forces with Sarah Leigh (Robin Sydney), the heroine of the Gingerdead series, and together they defeat the monsters. Or the monsters defeat each other? It's pretty open to interpretation and possible sequels.
If anything, I hope kids seeing this movie on 4/20 (or Sunday, as many of us call it) will be inspired by the fact that making terribly written and poorly conceived films is a fun and worthwhile thing that anyone can do.
Gingerdead Man Versus Evil Bong screens at the Wilma Theatre Sun., April 20. Doors at 7 PM, raffle, giveaway and film at 8 PM. $8.