Tuesday, August 23, 2022


Full Moon goes meta.

Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust is Full Moon's Gremlins 2. It's their The Player. To perhaps use a more apt point of comparison, it's their Terror Firmer. It's the movie that lays waste to everything the company is and does, burning it all to the ground in a blaze of satirical glory. It's a funnier, more ambitious, more accomplished movie than its predecessor in every conceivable way. That it happens to be a Gingerdead Man movie is almost incidental, even though it ends up being a better Gingerdead Man movie than the original Gingerdead Man. And, yes, the title is telling the truth: the cookie will be crucified before all is said and done. This is a movie that wants to offend everyone.
Welcome to Cheatum Studios, a low-budget family business known for schlock like Hamburger Time Traveler Detective and Dance Spankers 2015. Kelvin Cheatum (K-von Moezzi), son of the man who started the studio, is attempting to stave off bankruptcy with the production of Tiny Terrors 9, another installment in the studio's long-running franchise of killer doll movies that features characters like Shit for Brains (a baby with poop on its head) and Haunted Dildo (a haunted dildo). The production is riddled with problems, though, including effects going wrong and fighting among the cast and crew. Into this chaos comes the Gingerdead Man (no longer voiced by Gary Busey, but rather John Vulich), delivered in a box of baked goods by Michelle Bauer -- I mean, not the actual Michelle Bauer, but a character played by Michelle Bauer. With Gingerdead Man 2, you have to make these kinds of distinctions. Before you know it, cast and crew alike are being killed off by the murderous cookie, who never met a good baking pun he wouldn't use.

I was disappointed by the original Gingeread Man, a movie that seemed content to rest on its funny premise and the participation of Gary Busey. Passion of the Crust is the movie the first Gingerdead Man should have been: twisted and subversive and determined to be completely outrageous. Directed by Gingerdead Man writer William Butler under the pseudonym Silvia St. Croix, the movie exists to skewer everything about Full Moon, from the nepotism at the top (Full Moon head honcho is the son of director Richard Band, though, to be fair, it was Charles who started both Empire in the '80s and Full Moon in the '90s) to the ridiculous tiny monsters around which the franchises are built to the low budgets and rushed shooting conditions. Much of the exposition comes courtesy of Tommy, a terminally sick Cheatum obsessive getting a tour of the studio as part of his End of the Rainbow wish, an easy but effective device to give us the lay of the land and and introduction to most of the major players before all hell breaks loose.
From the opening title theme, an approximation of Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" with the lyrics changed to be about the Gingerdead Man, it's clear that Passion of the Crust is more clever and inspired than its predecessor. The gags are never highbrow, to be sure; they're usually very obvious and in poor taste. But it's the kind of movie that regularly rewards you for being a fan of Full Moon by inviting you in on the joke. There are cameos by the Full Moon regulars like the late, great John Carl Buechler as a frustrated director and creature maker ("Who built this shit?" "I did!") and David DeCoteau, seen reading a newspaper while directing Space Spankers, a weird sci-fi kink movie, and having this dialogue exchange:
Actor: "Was that good, Mr. DeCouteau? Did you like it?"
David DeCouteau: "Was it 'good?' Did I 'like it?' Was it in focus?"
Off-Camera Voice: "As far as I could tell!"
David DeCouteau: "Kid, you were fucking brilliant."

The Gingerdead Man himself is still brought to life fully through puppetry, rather than the Conan O'Brien mouth replacement effect that would come to be used in the Evil Bong crossover films. The effects, by Buechler are a ton of fun on the cheap, from the Gingerdead Man puppet to the Tiny Terrors to some of the gore effects that appear in the wake of Gingy's carnage. His dialogue is funnier, too, if only because it can sometimes be amusing to listen to him curse and spout off one-liners. Bloody kills and ridiculous dialogue like "Get ready to have your biscuits burned!" are exactly what I want out of a movie with Gingerdead Man in the title, which is something the first movie forgot. Not the sequel. It goes bigger and better in every way.
For as much as Gingerdead Man 2 tears down all things Full Moon, there's a celebratory quality to the spirit of low-budget independent filmmaking and the kind of movies the company makes still to be found. Sure, it's buried in splatter and snark, but it's there. Cheetum makes a speech to the crew of Tiny Terrors 9 early in the film, saying, "I know that the movies we make here aren't considered 'art' or 'mainstream,' but for me it's a passion. And for the select crowd that wants something different, I've got 'em lining up around the block. Love 'em or hate 'em, you always know that at my studio, you're in store for something you just can't see at any regular old movie house." This emotion of the speech is undercut, of course, by having another character yawn through it -- the point is made, but eyes are still rolled. And though one of the few moments of possible sincerity in the film is undercut with ironic detachment, writer/director Butler's words hold true of companies like Full Moon: love them or hate them, they're always going to give you something you can't get anywhere else. In a cinematic landscape that's more and more defined by hegemony and sameness, that's something special.

Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust (also known as Gingerdead Man 2: Bakery of Blood, a much less funny title) isn't available on Blu-ray yet, but it can be watched on Full Moon's streaming channel or, like most Full Moon movies, for free on Tubi.

1 comment:

  1. {takes out piece of paper...titles it Scary Movie Month 2022 list...}

    1. Gingerdead Man 2