In truth, I was all but looking forward to reviewing a film that showcased a deadly, serial-killing confection. The cover art alone proudly boasts its distinction of walking the line of possibly being so bad, that it’s good. It’s a tricky line to walk, because it requires a carefully conscious eye to keep things light and fun, and not accidently spiral down into the sub-levels of being “so bad, it’s horrible.”
Luckily, The Gingerdead Man happens to be sporting an immunity to becoming outright awful — the end result of having your titular menace being voiced endearingly by Gary Busey.
Yeah, that’s right. Let that sink in for a moment. Look up at the poster, and think to yourself, “Gary Busey…”
In a few moments of sparkling clarity, suddenly everything makes sense.
The Gingerdead Man synopsis
One day, a hilariously strung-out serial killer by the name of Millard Findlemeyer (Busey), happens across a diner, walks inside, and proceeds to go all Gary Busey on their asses, confusing them with odd, non-sequiturs, and then shooting them in the face. He leaves only two witnesses alive, Sarah (Robin Sydney) and her mother, Betty (Maggie Blye) – both of whom run a bakery together. Findlemeyer is arrested, and sentenced to execution with the help of Sarah’s testimony against him.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Sarah continues about her menial duties at the bakery, until she receives a mysterious box of gingerbread spice mix, which unbeknownst to her, contains the cremated ashes of a deceased Findlemeyer.
After Brick Fields (Jonathan Chase) — a fellow bakery employee — accidentally cuts himself while opening a box, he absent mindedly bleeds into a batch of gingerbread dough. During the baking process, a strange power surge occurs and something odd rises from the eerie red glow of the main oven. Could it be nothing more than a simple health hazard such as a rat or some kind of errant hamster? No, dear reader. I’m afraid that it’s something much more sinister — a deliciously diabolical undead abomination that sees only to spread mayhem and injustice.
Here’s a picture of him.
What The Gingerdead Man really is
What should be painfully obvious here, is that Gingerdead Man is not meant to be scary or unsettling in the least, but serves mainly to parody films like Child’s Play, which are already pseudo-parodies in themselves. Think of it as being in the same boat as say, Jack Frost — a film about a serial killer who returns to life as a slasher snowman — and you’ll have the right idea.
But, as is sometimes the case with films like these, Gingerdead Man suffers from mainly the same problems as its contemporaries. Now, I know it would make no sense to comb over every aspect of a film like this in academic analysis — after all, it is about a giant, latex cookie who curses and goes “MMMmmmm…” a lot.
The main gripe with a film like this is that it ultimately feels boring — just kind of flat. The deaths are mostly uninspired, and the characters are made of cardboard, which of course leads to some pretty lackluster acting. Granted, it’s clear that these things are meant to be seen as secondary to the main draw of the Gingerdead man himself, but when you can sum up a film’s experience as “sitting around in between moments of Gary Busey” then you’ve got yourself a wee bit of a problem. The film drags way more than it should, given the 70 minute running time and the off-color way that it’s presented.
I wonder what will happen.
Bet you can’t smile
But, the good news is that when Gary Busey does show up as that butcher-knife-wielding cookie-man, it can be laugh-out loud hilarious. From the scene wherein he’s introduced, to the tension-ridden climax in which he wields a 6-shooter (which holds roughly 27 shots) you’ll be either stifling laughs or trying to supress a goofy-ass grin. One particular scene had him goading a rat into a fight. This means that you have alternating shots between completely inattentive rodent and close ups of a rubbery hand-puppet growling out gems such as “Gonna kick your rat ass…”
The result may be one of the funniest things you’ll see this year. It comes out of nowhere, has no purpose, and ends as abruptly as it started.
Like I mentioned earlier, though, I found myself drifting off between the fleeting moments of movie magic, such as this. The overuse of dutch angles didn’t help, and might evoke repressed memories from anyone who’s seen Battlefield Earth.
So, in the end, it’s all up to you. If you can find it in yourself to stick it out and wade through a mire of vapidity in waiting for a murderous puppet voiced by Gary Busey, then this might be worth a go. If the stretches of boredom, however, are too high a price to pay for some trifling stabs at comedy, don’t worry — I understand. Here, have some ice cream. It’ll make you feel better.
Best of luck in Gingerdead Man 2, Passion of the Crust.
With all that said, though, given the chance, I’d watch the two sequels that come after it. The Gingerdead Man films are strictly about the self-consciousness that stems from knowing you’re watching a movie with such an absurd premise. If that alone isn’t worth your attention, then just give it a pass. If you need more than the half-decent execution of a silly and novel idea to keep you entertained for about an hour, then Gingerdead Man would not be, as Alton Brown would say, “Good Eats.”