CHRISTMAS Month continues at Film Torments with The Gingerdead Man. I’d say more but, well, The Gingerdead Man. Gingerbread is a Christmas thing, right? The Gingerdead Man. Christ.
The average word count for the Film Torments feature is 800-1000. I’m going to have a lot of trouble reaching that range. The Gingerdead Man merits little mention beyond its very title – a pun-tastic projectile vomit of a phrase – and the question of how they managed to persuade Gary Busey, one-time Academy Award nominee, to play the title role.
The answer probably has something to do with Charles Band, independent schlock-peddler extraordinaire. The Gingerdead Man comes from Full Moon Features (or Full Moon Pictures/Studios/Productions, depending on the decade), a stable overflowing with no-budget, direct-to-video creature feature chains, the most (not-) famous of which being Puppet Master, insomuch as you probably saw it in the pre-owned section of your local Blockbuster in 2005.
Pre-internet, The Gingerdead Man – now boasting two sequels, a soon-to-be-released comic book and a crossover with Evil Bong – might have disappeared into comfortable obscurity, perhaps to be resurrected through an appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000. As it stands, in the post-internet age, the film disappeared into comfortable obscurity, occasionally rearing its doughy face to be mentioned in a Cracked article or two.
Band, more often a producer, took the directorial reins himself for this one, presumably to instil a sense of authorial control over his esteemed intellectual property. Understanding that a straight-faced horror film revolving around a re-animated gingerbread bloke would not be the most sensible course of action, Band decided to imbue The Gingerbread Man with an overtly comedic touch, taking a hint from Chucky’s camera-winking example in Child’s Play (or, at least, its sequels).
But where Child’s Play had the good sense to cast Brad Dourif as Chucky, The Gingerdead Man sees Gary Busey take charge as the homicidal pastry, complete with buck teeth and outsized chin, his sleep-deprived eyes begging to be released from the shackles of his straight-to-video fate. Truth is, Busey is barely in the film; his appearance as the human Millard Findlemeyer, a crazed serial killer, barely clocks three minutes before he’s unceremoniously offed in the electric chair, leading to a Busey-shaped hole for most of the picture.
The rest comprises of endlessly dull corridor shots as one-note characters pace slowly back and forth, exchanging redundant dialogue and musing on the identity of the deranged gingerbread man attacking them. I understand the central draw of this kind of film – lord knows I’ve seen enough of them – but the fact that Busey’s Gingerdead Man barely features is a huge let-down. It’s one of the central problems that plagues my enjoyment of Asylum films; there’s so much time dedicated to the boring conversations of paper-thin idiots that it’s impossible to invest in the schlock when it finally shows up.
Even when Busey is on-screen, doughed-up or not, the camera is so haphazard and flailing, the punny dialogue is so cumbersome and the comedic effect is so overplayed that there’s really nothing to be gained. The acting from all involved is, needless to say, atrocious, and even the sound design received little attention. There’s no variety to the set design, and the plot revolves around competing bakeries amidst the resurrection of Millard via human blood, contaminated dough and an electrified oven.
But you knew this from the title. The Gingerdead Man plays its blatant hand at every turn and comes up with nothing. It is exactly what you would expect and less. There are no laughs to be had here and certainly no scares. There is no creativity to speak of, nor is there any recommendation to be made, in any sense of the term. This is not the kind of thing that can be made wonderful with the addition of friends and beers, and even its minimal runtime of 70 minutes puts paid to that.
Ultimately, the fact that I have so little to say on this slumping, haggard piece of vaguely festive shit speaks volumes in itself. I’d call it half-baked, but that would be giving its puns too much credit and only embarrass me even further. Even if you were to have morbid curiosity for a bad film night, please avoid. Please. Try Band’s The Dungeonmaster, Puppet Master or even Retro Puppet Master for a peak at a young Greg Sestero.
Avoid it, like Busey did for the sequels.