Starring Gary Busey, Robin Sydney, Ryan Locke, Alexia Aleman, Jonathan Chase, Daniela Melgoza, Margaret Blye, Larry Cedar
Directed by Charles Band
It took the Red Sox 86 years to win another World Series. It took the White Sox 88 years to win another World Series. I don’t know how many years it has been – it sure feels like it’s been nearly a century – but Charles Band has finally made another movie worth going out of your way to see. What the hell took so damn long?
Clocking it at only an hour in length with an additional ten minutes worth of slow crawling credits, The Gingerdead Man may be a streamlined horror movie with a story that’s often undercooked, but unlike some of Band’s recent productions, he doesn’t waste time using stock footage montages or other crap to pad out the running time to a somewhat respectable length. The flick is only an hour long but it’s an hours worth of non-stop fun. This is mindless entertainment at its finest.
Psychopath Millard Findlemeyer murders the father and brother of pretty young Sara Leigh (Yes, the heroine’s name is actually Sara Leigh!) during an attempted robbery and leaves her for dead. She survived to testify against him and Findlemeyer ends up frying in the electric chair. It turns out that Findlemeyer’s mother is an actual wicked witch who mixes her son’s ashes with come gingerbread dough and secretly delivers it to the Leigh family’s bakery. Just add a few drops of blood from the cut finger of another bakery employee and you got a recipe for terror. Sara uses the dough to bake a foot tall gingerbread man but instead the gingerbread man comes to life in the form of the Gingerdead Man, a vicious-looking, foul-mouthed, homicidal gingerbread man voiced by Gary Busey.
Folks, that right there is the main selling point of this movie. It’s basically the same premise as the original Child’s Play only instead of a killer doll voiced by Brad Douriff we get a killer snack treat voiced by Gary Busey. Busey is one of those actors who is always a hoot whenever playing an over-the-top character (go back and rent Under Siege for some vintage Busey) and allowing him to go nuts as only he can but with his vocalizations coming out of the mouth of a gleefully sinister looking John Carl Bueschler creation is a thing of B-movie beauty. Busey’s dialogue as the Gingerdead Man basically consists of either vulgar taunts or bad puns. I’ll give you an example of the bad puns. Before lopping off the finger of a female character he lets out a one-liner along the lines of “Who likes ladyfingers?” Get it? Pretty dumb, huh? And yet it works. You know why it works? Because Gary Busey is snarling that line and his voice is coming out of the mouth of a foot-tall, pissed off looking gingerbread man!
Gary Busey is the man! He might be clinically insane in real life (possibly due in part to his much gossipe-about addictions) but Busey is still a great actor, especially when he’s playing someone not altogether there mentally, as evidenced by the surprisingly unsettling prologue (the only time Busey himself ever physically appears in the film) where he murders the heroine’s family members. His gravelly, sometimes cornpone voice is so distinct that it makes him a perfect choice for doing voiceover work for a character like the Gingerdead Man.
Busey’s manic energy must have been infectious because the rest of the cast is equally up to the task. Everyone is clearly aware that they’re in a campy horror flick and play their roles with equal amounts of enthusiasm whether without ever taking things too far over the top or winking at the audience.
Sara is played as a shy girl still traumatized by the murder of her father and brother yet determined to keep the family’s bakery going while take care of alcoholic mom, who has devolved into a habitual drunk to the point of standing outside the bakery with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a shotgun in the other that she uses to blast the sign of the rival franchise bakery that has just opened up across the street. Sara’s friends and co-workers include a very pretty Latina Alyssa Milano look-a-like and a wrestling obsessed moron who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler named “The Butcher Baker.” If you think the idea of a wrestler using a gimmick persona based around being a badass pastry chef sounds astoundingly stupid then just wait until you hear how the Gingerdead Man himself reacts to it.
The owner of that rival franchise is a cowboy hat wearing weasel determined to buy out Sara’s bakery; and when Sara refuses, his southern fried Veruca Salt meets Paris Hilton daughter tries letting some rats loose in the bakery in hopes that the health department will shut them down. Her gun-toting delinquent boyfriend Amos joins her in her antics but he turns out to be an old childhood friend of Sara’s. This actually leads to some rather unlikely romantic flirtations and more bitchy rage from the rival owner’s daughter. There are moments in the film where Sara and Amos begin reminiscing and flirting with one another, seemingly forgetting that they’re trapped in a bakery and being stalked by a homicidal maniac back from the dead in the form of a walking, talking, stalking pastry.
Not only are all these people good actors, they play their roles with an infectious glee that should be studied by other actors planning to star in a low budget horror comedy. The characters may be flimsy on paper but the cast gives them tons of personality. They clearly had a blast making this film and it translates on-screen.
Sure, the plot does leave a ton of unanswered questions. Countless questions regarding Millard’s mother and her witchcraft ways is never explained in the slightest. It really is just an excuse to set-up him coming back as a killer cookie. For that matter, exactly how this foot tall killer cookie manages to rig booby traps and drag the bodies on unconscious characters into other rooms is never even hinted at. And you know what? I don’t care. You know why? Because it’s a movie about a vicious-looking, foul-mouthed, homicidal gingerbread man voiced by Gary Busey! Just the sight of the Gingerdead Man hurling profanity-laden taunts at a rat he attempts to pick a fight with makes this one a future B-movie classic.
One thing I found strange was that the film was made under Charles Band’s seemingly defunct Full Moon banner and not his new Wizard Entertainment. If this movie does mark Full Moon’s last gasp then one can definitely say they went out with a blast. The Gingerdead Man was so much fun that I almost find myself amazed to know that Charles Band directed it. After Decadent Evil, I’d pretty much written the guy off but now I’m left wondering if maybe there’s hope after all. Heck, I might even buy one of those Gingerdead Man action figures he’s producing. One thing is for certain, if Band plans to spin this into its own franchise he’d better make sure to have Busey back for the sequels because Gary Busey is the Gingerdead Man and there is no franchise without him.
Like any good snack treat The Gingerdead Man is non-nutritious, but it just tastes so damn good. The movie is utterly ridiculous, totally preposterous, unapologetically stupid, at times bordering on incoherent, and yet I enjoyed every last bite.
“Evil never tasted so good.” Damn straight!
4 out of 5