Saturday, July 10, 2010

Undress You And Possess You

For maximum pleasure, catch Fred Olen Ray's EVIL TOONS on a double bill with Jim Wynorski’s HARD TO DIE. Both have the same plot, plenty of bare breasts, and dressed-down but top-heavy Monique Gabrielle. Its mixture of live-action and animation surprisingly anticipates COOL WORLD and STAY TUNED, though don’t expect richly detailed animation or even more than a couple of minutes of it. I don’t know if any filmmaker does this kind of sexy tongue-in-cheek horror better than Ray, who not only has an eye for cheap entertainment, but also the taste and resources to hire name actors like David Carradine that add a little class to what is really just a dumb movie about four hot chicks in lingerie fighting a demonic cartoon.

Four sexy coeds—Megan (Monique Gabrielle), Roxanne (Madison Stone), Jan (Barbara Dare), and Terry (Suzanne Ager)—are hired by crusty Burt (Dick Miller!) to spend the weekend cleaning a creepy old haunted house. To criticize the girls for their porno-movie acting is beside the point, considering two of them (Stone and Dare) really were porn stars and a third (Gabrielle) would become one.

Their first night, after working up a sweat moving empty cardboard boxes in the cellar, the ghost of Gideon Fisk (Carradine), who hanged himself before the credits, appears at the front door and drops off an old book that looks like the Necronomicon from THE EVIL DEAD. It produces a (poorly) animated wolf that kills one of the girls and then takes her place and wrecks havoc. Every twenty minutes, Ray splices in a random closeup of Carradine to make you think he’s a bigger part of the movie.

If the actresses were more charming, EVIL TOONS would be a lot better movie. Ray, who was also the screenwriter, tries to inject some Bowery Boys-type humor into the haunted house chestnut, but the girls just aren’t talented comediennes. To be fair, they were cast for their willingness to take their tops off, but I suspect Ray’s haste to pull the production together (one of his more endearing and sometimes frustrating traits) prevented him from casting more carefully.

Shot in eight days on basically two locations (plus an hour in Ray’s living room), EVIL TOONS is disposable late-night entertainment, more slowly paced than it should be, but with a sense of humor and fun that seems quaint by today’s standards. With Dick Miller watching himself in A BUCKET OF BLOOD on TV, Michelle Bauer as his sexy topless wife, and the voice of Robert Quarry (THE DEATHMASTER).

1 comment:

bruce holecheck said...

Also of note is that the creature was designed by influential genre critic Chas Balun (RIP).