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The Gingerdead Man: because God and Gary Busey both hate you.
There are some films, that once you learn of their existence, you HAVE to see them. That might not be true for everyone, but I'm a sucker for films that, in a world of rational thought, really shouldn't exist. This, of course, brings me to the Full Moon pictures classic: The Gingerdead Man. Well, it came out last year, so I don't think I can really call it a classic...but that doesn't stop me from pretending that the story of a killer gingerbread man is truly a timeless thing. For the sake of time and trying to limit my word count when killer cookie films are involved, let's start breaking down what the heck I rented last week:
You may have noticed that a film's title is often all that it takes for me to review something. There are better reasons to spend a bit of time talking about this film, but sweet mother of Christ let's start with the title. It's not "The Gingerbread Man." Oh no, that would have been too simple. It's the GingerDEAD Man. You know, because he kills people. I think I've mentioned it before, but I really have a love/hate relationship with movie titles that try too hard. Like the old movie "Good Will Hunting"...it's about a character name Will Hunting and it's cleverly titled to look like someone's hunting for goodwill. Damn it, if you're going to name a character something stupid, don't draw attention to it for God's sake. I'd complain more, but the rant would start devolving into how I hate it when a story features a character with a name that's cosmically perfect for what they end up doing. Comic books are great for this kind of crap...if your birth name is Harley Quinn, chances are you're going grow up to become an evil clown by the name of Harlequin. :sigh: Let's move on.
The Gingerdead Man is a film brought to you by Charles Band, the director/producer/entrepreneur behind Full Moon Pictures. This needs to be pointed out because Charles Band has directed, produced, and written hundreds of films that you've probably seen without knowing who the heck he is. Ex-porno director Wes Craven makes a handful of films and we all know his name, but Charles Band's success has sort of been low-key and continues to fly under the radar. Maybe it's because very few of his films are what you'd call "good films"...but that doesn't mean you haven't seen something that he had a part in creating. He's one of the main people behind the entire Puppet Master series, for one. Charles is also the guy who's brought us Ghoulies, Dollman, Demonic Toys, Troll, Dolls, Doll Graveyard, Blood Dolls, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys...I should just stop. The guy's made a lot of flicks but he's infamous for his filmmaking obsession with tiny marionettes (of terror). Seriously, the guy alone has made more horror movies involving tiny puppets than you can imagine...it's hard to visualize his company without pictures of dolls with knives glued to them springing to mind. So the fact that he wanted to make a horror movie about a doll shaped like a gingerbread man shouldn't surprise anyone. What might surprise you is who he got to play the part of said gingerbread man.
If you're a bit older than I am (and voted for Taft or Grover Cleveland), then you probably know exactly who that is. If you're of the younger persuasion, here's a hint: He starred in "The Hand Job" and "Lolly Madonna XXX." Still no clue? Fine. That's Gary Busey, probably best known to the mainstream as the guy from "Lethal Weapon" or "Predator 2." Of course by "mainstream" I mean myself. Point is, you probably have seen him and heard about him before. And lo and behold, here he is voicing a cookie...and he's excited about it. That 2nd picture up there is from an interview on the DVD, where he holds up pictures he printed off his home computer to show us his dramatic personae in Charles Band's latest film. I'd make a joke about that, but if I got to play a killer cookie in a movie, I'd sure as hell have the pictures to prove it with me wherever I go. You KNOW I would.
So let's walk you through this little bit of cinematic history, shall we? The film starts with Gary Busey killing a young female baker's father and brother...five minutes later we learn that the surviving lass testified against Gary and he was sent to the electric chair. We ALSO learn that he was cremated and that his ashes were given to his mother. This becomes important in only the most retarded of ways. Apparently, bakeries take deliveries in unmarked packages left at their backdoor like abandoned children. Gary Busey's (the killer's) mom decided to take her vengeance by mixing her dead son's ashes with gingerbread seasonings and left it at the bakery's back door. Of course they DO use the "mystery seasonings" despite the creepy woman in the completely black cloak that runs away the moment they open the door to get them. You might be thinking you know where this is going. You'd be half right. The thing about monsters "made of something" is that they all have to be created somehow...be it swamp, snow, or poop (in the case of MonsTurd). The trouble is,sometimes a film can't decide on how exactly their murderous puppet is coming to life so it can begin its murderous killing spree. Admittedly, these are usually Charles Band films, but that's neither here nor there. In the end they decide to assault our logic with a two-pronged attack.
As the gingerbread man cooks in the industrial oven the bakers have, he's surrounded by light and magical energy, like a good/bad acid trip. Considering how his ashes were mixed in with the cookie dough, this sort of makes narrative sense. Sort of. The problem is the "I am the Gingerbread fantastic" story just wasn't enough. So, when in doubt as to what will bring something back to life, there's always one thing to fall back on.
Electricity. Once Frankenstein did it practically everyone and everything has been brought to life by a combination of mad science and lightning at some point in the last 100 years of cinema. So if you didn't buy into the magic gingerbread resurrection, surely you think an electrical power surge is enough to create the spark of life, no pun intended. Speaking of being alive, let me introduce you to our star:
By this point, you've probably braced yourself to the reality of a killer gingerbread man voiced by Gary Busey. That still doesn't make it any less weird once you actually see it. Sadly, this film is pretty tame when it comes to murderous weirdness, as Busey the Cookie only kills people in rather boring ways...possibly with one exception. The GingerDead man does have one thing that redeems his obvious lack of B-movie bloodlust: He curses like a sailor. Now I'm not going to bash South Park here but I will say that the language of the show deeply added to its comedic value. Insert the same formula here: A cute (alright, it's not cute at ALL, but it is, theoretically) character from our childhood using every swear word he knows. It's rather awesome really...coming close to the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" level of absurdity. So here's a cursing cookie with the spirit of a serial killer trapped inside it. There's your plot. Well, not completely. Here's your plot:
Rival bakers duke it out while one stock boy dreams of becoming a professional wrestler...while an evil Gary Busey in cookie form lurks in the shadows. Throw in a ten-gallon cowboy hat and an alcoholic mother and you've pretty much got the plot down already. Daughter of evil baker (pictured above with pie on her face) plants a rat in our heroes bakery so they fail a health inspection...where the bad boy boyfriend waits outside and....You don't care do you? Me neither. The fact of the matter is that there's a significant amount of filler in this film, the cinematic equivalent to styrofoam peanuts. You know, those things that shipping companies use to USE UP SPACE. That said, let's get to the "good" stuff as it were, slightly out of order:
Oh my. What horror has the GingerDead Man created here? What ever could those twin sundaes represent? Why do they make me strangely hungry?
Say hello to "Sugar Nipples." The GingerDead Man didn't kill her or anything...he just knocked her unconscious, dragged her to a secluded place, and covered her entire body with frosting. For some reason I'm reminded of my sophomore year in college. I'm not sure why. For those of you who like goofy horror movies for funny and creative methods of murder, this is as good as you're going to get. Not to say that "molesting a girl by covering her sleeping body with whipped cream" isn't an unwelcome addition to the horror genre...but it's not a murder. To put it in other terms: Imagine if Dracula captured a buxom village girl, dragged her to his lair, covered her body with liquid latex, and left her to be found by Van Helsing. Oddly enough, that ALSO reminds me of my sophomore year.
Thank God for special features on a DVD. Without it I'd never know how much effort went into lathering up Sugar Nipples for her big scene, nor how much work went into creating the "full sized" GingerDead man costume...something I can't for the life of me remember seeing in the film. All the close-ups looked like a goofy finger puppet...but apparently one of those shots was a guy in a costume. Go figure. I can only hope it was Gary Busey. Because Gary Busey DRESSED as a giant cigar-smoking gingerbread man is almost religiously absurd.
Speaking of absurd, here's a play by play of one of the most plausible moments I've ever seen in a bad horror movie:
Say hi to the drunk mother. Mom here wanders around the impossibly large bakery (seriously, the entire cast seems to get lost in what is at maximum 3 rooms) with her bottle of whiskey, cursing Gary Busey for killer her husband. Then she sees the GingerDead Man. Instead of freaking out or running (like the rest of the cast), drunk Mom assumes it's a hallucination and decides there's only one thing to do.
Poke it in the belly like the Pillsbury Dough-Boy. You know, because she's drunk and there's no way that's Gary Busey's voice coming out of that tiny pastry man.
"Touch it. You know you want to." If you watch the blooper reel on the DVD, you'll know that the puppeteer was talking dirty to drunk Mom while she was making this face. :shudder:
But of course things don't end well, as a knife is pulled on her and finger is cut off. Of course she isn't killed...but hey. Which reminds me. How DO people get killed in this film?
KILL #1: GingerDead Drive-By.
The evil bakery owner waits outside for his evil daughter when he gets run over by a gingerbread man driving an Oldsmobile. Don't ask me how he's reaching the pedals or how he can see over the dashboard. Just don't.
KILL #2: Knife to the Head.
Not the most creative of kills, admittedly, but it's a cute special effect that someone that grew up on an island in the South Pacific might not have seen before. By the way, that's the evil bakery owner's daughter...so all the evil characters are, well, dead already. So it's almost time to end the film. Before we go down that road, let me also point out the above actress' name is Robin Sydney and as far as I can tell, she's the lovely lady that's decided to model Charles Band's latest line of horror-themed lingerie. It's a total tangent, but really. You need to see this. (Click on the picture to visit the official MonsterBra site.)
Dear God. Even more frightening is Charles Bands (scroll up to see his picture again) promising to personally grope and sign the first 100 Monsterbras purchased. Charles Band might be awesome, but...somehow this makes me uneasy. Oh and while I really wish one of the designs had mouths on them (like those creepy paintings I keep doing from time to time), I do have a personal favorite:
I don't know if it's because her breasts won't stop STARING AT ME or because I'm reminded of my preteen love for a freaky band known as Green Jelly (or Green Jellö, depending on who you ask). One of the girls in the band also had an "eyeball bra"...and while I can't find a GOOD picture of it online, anyone with sharp eyes should be able to spot the flesh in the cut-offs with the Myopic mammaries:
Ah, Green Jelly. We loved you so, despite you being a poor-man's Gwar.
That aside, click HERE if Monster Bras are something that you need in your life.
Back to the movie. The GingerDead Man pulls a revolver. While revolvers are typically known for holding 6-8 shots, this particular model holds about 20, it would seem. I'm sure someone out there would call it a continuity error instead of just saying "Hey, it's a movie about Gary Busey as a killer cookie. Relax." Me. I say both. Anyway, one of the stock boys returns to the store dressed as a wrestler ("The Butcher Baker") and pins the GingerDead man to the ground. That's when the movie melts my brain. Busey starts telling the kid to "Freaking eat me you little bitch!" So he does.
Really. It's gruesome.
Is it too soon for me to use the word gruesome again? The sad thing is that this isn't the first time I've seen a man defeat the bad guy by gnawing on a puppet. When you watch a lot of bad movies, you tend to run across this more than you'd think.
"I can't believe I ate the whole thing."
This could potentially be the best "Got Milk?" advertisement ever.
Sadly, eating the possessed gingerbread man ends up being the dumbest possible thing to do, as now Gary Busey is in control of the heroic stock boy's body. That can only mean one thing:
It's MASCARA time! Everyone knows that the only way to see if someone's possessed by an evil spirit is if they have about 8 pounds of mascara cemented around their eyes. Gary Busey's spirit is no different. Long story short (too late) they shove their possessed friend in the oven and cook him alive. The drunken mother decides to stop drinking and our heroine decides to go to medical school to become a doctor. Epilogue Time:
Oh, look. The store is still in business, and business is Good!
Oh what a happy ending this is! The mother's stopped drinking, the daughter's pursuing her career...what could go wrong? Well, obviously something does, otherwise why would I bring it up? The answer to this becomes clear when a mysterious delivery of GINGERBREAD MEN arrive at the bake sale!
Of course these look like real gingerbread men...except through the magic of editing they all suddenly become evil gingerbread men bent on murder and destruction! You can tell that just by looking into their...
...big cheap googly eyes. I can't believe the ending of this film features cookies with about fifty cents worth of Arts & Crafts supplies glued to them. Still, it's nothing I haven't seen before. At least this one tries to surprise us in the end. Of course, who won't be surprised by a movie featuring arts and crafts from Mrs. Gorman's 3rd grade class as its finale?
There's a reason I don't rate films that I watch. No matter how bad a film might be, there's someone out there who'll enjoy it to no end. Often times that guy is me. The GingerDead Man might have been kind of dull and boring for the most part, but it did feature one thing that no other film has ever offered me: Gary Busey cursing like a sailor while trapped in the body of a gingerbread man. That's the film's gimmick and God Damn if it isn't entertaining. I only wish it'd been on the damn screen more than a minute or two during the whole movie. I mean, really:
Who WOULDN'T like to see that creature curse at you and talk dirty about your momma?
Thank you Charles Band for continuing the tradition of corruption that revolves around any children's story or fable in a way only you can. If you don't do it, Lord knows no one else will.
copyright 2006, except for images used via Fair Use review purposes..as they are the property of their respectful owners, mostly likely Charles Band and his band of horror movie ninjas. Oh and in case you couldn't tell, I'm a huge fan of the Full Moon line-up. If you ever see a copy of Blood Dolls...pick it up. Really. Do it now.