Todd & the Book of Pure Evil (DVD)
Directed By Craig David Wallace, Charles Picco, Anthony Leo
Distributed by eOne Entertainment
“Sorry, Todd, this bad bitch is gonna burn!”
Awareness of this series began last summer when FEARnet was finally getting their shit together and preparing to go back into television. They had a press release out that stated what they had lined up for their channel. "Todd & the Book of Pure Evil" was on that list and it was slated to make its debut in the fall. I subsequently went to YouTube, found a trailer and was not even the slightest bit impressed. In fact my first reaction to it was, ‘this looks so fuckin’ stupid.’
I didn’t turn into a hardcore fan until it had been on for a while and I came across a listing of some of the episodes on FEARnet’s On Demand channel. I think it was a Sunday morning. Figured, what the hell, and put the first few minutes on. What I saw actually made me laugh and for some reason it had a very 80s vibe to it. Later that day when I had gotten up, I decided to watch that first episode in its entirety. From that moment on I was a "Todd" disciple.
“You kids sure know how to party. Man, I haven’t seen this much blood since that kid that bled out his ass this morning.”
The series focuses on four high school kids; Todd Smith, played by Alex House; Jenny Kolinsky, the girl he’s constantly crushing on, played by Maggie Castle; Curtis Weaver, Todd’s best bud, played by Bill Turnbull, and Hannah B. Williams, the girl who’s constantly crushing on Todd, and the Science geek of the group, played by Melanie Leishman, and two adults; Atticus Murphy, jr, played by Chris Leavins, who’s the guidance counselor and dutiful butt monkey to his Satanist worshipping father—who, personally, steals the show, in my opinion—and Jimmy the janitor, Todd’s Obi Wan Kenobi, played perfectly by Jason Mews. A role, as I understand it, that was written specifically for him.
The school they attend is called, Crowley High, and there’s this Book Of Pure Evil that’s plaguing it, a tome that looks like it could give H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon a run for it’s money, that shows up at the most opportune times when certain students are at their weakest, and most desperate. When it does, it has a nasty habit of granting wishes, but wishes that eventually end up taking the life of the wisher and random students when the wish runs amok and shows it’s evil side, as it is designed to do.
Todd’s involvement with the Book is on a much grander level, for as the season progresses he learns he’s got some weird connection with it and the evil it creates. Like Hellboy, he learns he might just be the instrument by which Evil destroys all of mankind with. The season finale is a real kick with the final scene showing Todd sitting on the front steps of his school with a huge sword and blood spattered on his face proclaiming with heartfelt reticence that “Destiny sucks!”
The series is comedy/horror at its core, but it does venture into moments of drama, when need be. As I mentioned before, for some weird reason, there’s this very 80s vibe in it. There isn’t one specific thing that I can point to that makes me think this; it’s just in the way the show looks. I know that doesn’t make sense, but the clothing styles and the hair, it all looks so non-21st century. Even the lighting gives me that 80s buzz. But it’s not a period piece series; I could see that once cell phones and laptops started to appear.
Aside from the comedy being actually funny and the characters being relatable, the series has got one more thing going for it that makes me like it; the FX are practical. Well, not entirely, there’s CG augmentation in it, but it’s for little things, when there’s a monster cock on the loose, or a homunculus stalking the halls that looks disturbingly like Todd, or a giant baby, or even when blood and guts need to exit the bodies of the Books victims, it’s all in camera, practical, and/or animatronic.
Not every episode is a winner; some are funnier and bloodier than others. My favorite is “Cockfight,” about the school bully who has a small dick and wants a bigger one, so he makes a wish on the Book, but the cock he gets is python-sized, tipped with a giant maw, can actually talk and has a penchant for turning people, who look at, into stone.
“So, I guess I gotta go fight Baily’s evil wang now.” A seriously twisted, and funny, episode, but, what can I say, I think, I have an odd attraction to horror tales about mutant sex organs that seems to go back to my fascination with certain anime when I was younger. “Baily, you’re cock is killing me!”
The series started out as a 17-minute short film that was released in 2003. Both Todd’s are similar; metal music loving outcasts but the Todd in the short film is a grubbier looking individual thanks to the terrible acne he has. Todd from the series does not have a skin condition, and is also a bit more congenial. And The Book Of Pure Evil in the short flick is more of a conventional book, as opposed to the amped up and more animated tome that haunts the series.
The 2-Disc DVD comes loaded with the same special features the Canadian version has, including the aforementioned short film. Disc 1 has the first eight episodes, while Disc 2 has the remaining five plus all the extras.
Three of the episodes (Monster Fat, The Phantom Of Crowley High, A Farwell To Curtis’ Arm) have commentaries with various members from the cast and crew; all three are extremely informative and fun to listen to.
As for the rest of the supplemental material - Pure Evil Is All Shits And Giggles - Blooper Reel: Self explanatory, and very funny! Outtakes And Deleted Scenes: There are 11 of them and you can play them all or choose them individually. The Bowels Of Hell: Extended Musical Scenes: I want to go on the record and say I hate musical episodes in any series. These were scenes that were cut for time. There are 5 of them plus the ending scene where Curtis tongues a cut off tongue and here’s the shit they couldn’t use. You also get to either play them all or individually. Q&A With The Quixotic And Awesome Cast: Again, this is pretty much self-explanatory. No option here but to play the whole 14 minutes. "Todd & The Book of Pure Evil" - The Original Short Film. Short Promotional Clips: These are simply seconds long clips to promote the series. There are 20 of them and you can play them all or individually. Next Time On Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil Promos: These are simply coming attraction promos for each episode, except the first one, which is not included. Same thing here, you can play all 11 clips or select them individually.
For all you people you have never heard of this series, or have and have yet to check it out, you need to your shit together pronto and start watching this. Season Two has been completed and has already aired in Canada and as of this review it is just a week away from premiering on the FEARnet channel. So far, though, a season three has yet to be greenlit.
4 1/2 out of 5
5 out of 5