Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
In the first five seconds of The Gingerdead Man
, Gary Busey, playing the hastily named Millard Findlemeyer, shoots a diner waitress in the forehead. Thus begins an hour of scampering teens and spurting blood which director Charles Band carries off with a bit more finesse than is generally expected of films featuring sentient, homicidal baked goods.
Naturally, Findlemeyer has killed everyone in the diner but young *ahem* Sarah Leigh (Robin Sydney), whose later testimony sends him to the electric chair. But rather than scatter his ashes in the ocean, Findlemeyer's mother delivers them to Sarah's bakery in a box marked "Grandma's GingerBread Seasoning." Sarah's assistant bleeds profusely into the gingerbread dough, and the local beauty queen sends an electrical pulse through the oven, with predictable results. Vengence is wrought upon several colorful locals including the eyebrow-ringed town badboy and the owner of a more successful local bakery, the latter of whom is played, in the film's second most audacious casting coup, by Larry Cedar, a television acting journeyman whom viewers of a certain age will recognize from both the PBS chestnut "Square One Television
" and HBO's "Deadwood."
Surprisingly, given the silly names and the rubber puppet protagonist
and presence of Gary Busey, The Gingerdead Man
avoids the supremely arch posing of, for instance, the Child's Play films, which are its most obvious antecedent. The acting, in particular, is scarcely cartoonish- once characters are killed by the Gingerdead Man, they are mourned in a more or less earnest fashion, and no one takes time from the horror to engage in gratuitous nudity. In fact, were it not for the gaping knife wounds and liberal use of the term "fucker", The Gingerdead Man
could pass for an especially unambitious SciFi Channel Original Movie
. Its overall restraint plays a curious counterpoint to its silly, lurid story.
It is telling to note that the film is barely six times longer than the generous end credits that follow it. Those credits tell an intriguing tale of a group of people who hope to somehow transcend the deeply stupid genre in which they are working. Which responsibilities fell to Second Assistant Director Nick Ameln? What kind of life has led Miles Alpine Gutkin to his work as a co-grip on The Gingerdead Man
? How long has "SAG representative" Toya Hill worked at the Screen Actor's Guild, and who there has she angered? What sort of career awaits Second Unit Director of Photography Vincent Dow? And perhaps most importantly, where can one purchase "I Can't Help This (End Credits Theme from The Gingerdead Man
)" written and performed by director/producer Charles Band?
, a D-T-DVD by Neil Kinsella, features a mobile, slowly re-frosting, female in makeup who would be troubling if she were seen for a moment in the second act and then maybe for a half a minute in the climax, but we see her writhe, howl and (what looks and sounds like) cough up fur balls for almost the entire, excruciating 90 minutes. As she makes her rounds through the film's ski lodge location at the breakneck pace of a Disney float
, she isn't terrifying, she's tedious.
As I learned all I know about the ice age from movies, I had no idea fur balls were a hazard. I can only suppose Manny, Diego and Sid fed them to her.
After a frozen female fossil is found, and the plane carrying her corpse and safe-keeper Dr. Goddard is hijacked, Johnny, a snow bum from Mt. Killington drunkenly beds a boob job and thus threatens his pending engagement. It isn't until the plane carrying the fossil and the doctor hits Mt. Killington that the film begins to show direction. Causing an avalanche, the plane slides down the mountain and buries the lodge that employs Johnny, his friends, his boob job, his future fiancé, and her recovering alcoholic uncle, Ed. When we see Dr.
The nipples are supposed to face the same direction...
Goddard evacuate the remains of the plane inside the ski lodge, all the future mystery is sucked from the film for good. What remains of the picture is a grindingly slow race between the rooms of the lodge, either evading or hunting the explicitly (and repeatedly) dubbed Ice Queen. It's when Johnny sordidly lures the Ice Queen
into a Jacuzzi that we finally hit the narrative and formal climax of the film. Not only is this sequence a desperately non-dramatic,
epilepsy inducing, montage of flashbacks (the Ice Queen's life flashing before her?) it's scored with a synthesizer track that would have been embarrassing in the 70's. Presumably assembled with the guiding theme of "dissolution" the montage sequence reduces its villain into pink goo, which the impossibly extant doctor sees fit to bottle, kiss, and call DNA
... after he crawls out of the ski lodge and the comatose state into which the Ice Queen put him.
The Ice Queen Primordial Soup.
Even more ironic than the conclusion, is the frame story for the behind-the-scenes featurette. Beginning as a newscast on the mountain just after the tragedy has begun, this featurette positively answers the question "can these production values get worse?" (Oh, yes, they can
.) Not only is the predication of this DVD-extra illogical (we learned in the film EMT would not "save the day" because Ed's history of drunken abuses to the local 911 had earned him a reputation and the dispatcher laughed him off the line) but if Channel 5 really did know there had been a severe avalanche/plane crash/lodge cave-in/adulterous love session/escape of ancient freeze monster
, they really should have acted sooner than the DVD extras. I mean really.