Starring: Mel Johnson Jr, Michael Citriniti, Jacqueline Lovell, Rhonda Griffin, Tracie May
“You’re fired! You’re fired from everywhere! You’re fired from the fucking universe!” (Belinda, Hideous!)
What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever found in a sewer? What’s that? You don’t do raking around in sewers? Oh. Right. Um, me neither.
But if I did, chances are I probably wouldn’t come across odd little mutant baby things. That’s what one sewage treatment worker finds at the start of Hideous!, another low-budget grotfest from indie horror studio Full Moon.
The man hands over said mutation to Belinda Yost, a woman who specialises in selling mutations to collectors. Which is one hell of a niche market, but let’s go with it for the sake of the film. Continue reading “Hideous! (1997) review”→
Starring: Rhonda Griffin, Justin Lauer, Bill Moynihan, Jon Simanton
“You’re history, you little pervert! No, you’re archaeology, as in old garbage!” (Anna, The Creeps)
Full Moon Pictures is one of my favourite B-movie horror studios. Established in the 1980s, it was well-known among horror fans for its cheesy low-budget efforts.
Some, like Puppet Master and Subspecies, were so popular they went on to spawn their own multi-sequel franchises. Others, like Dollman – in which an intergalactic bounty hunter crashlands on space only to realise he’s ten inches tall – weren’t.
Full Moon continues to this day, and while most of its recent output retains all of the cheese, it leaves out most of the charm. Titles like The Gingerdead Man and Dangerous Worry Dolls sound like they should be superb slices of low-budget larks (well, they do to me at least) but ultimately they end up in the TWABM Hall Of Shame.
Starring: Jessica Morris, Meredith McClain, Deb Snyder
Also known as: Dangerous Chucky Dolls (UK DVD)
“Worry dolls. You gotta be fuckin’ kidding me.” (Alexis, Dangerous Worry Dolls)
Full Moon Features are known for their incredibly low-budget horror movies and, as spoofed in Gingerdead Man 2, many of these involve dolls. The likes of Puppet Master and Demonic Toys were very successful for Full Moon, so it’s no surprise that they’d want to continue trying their hand at something similar. Despite its name, Dangerous Worry Dolls isn’t really that sort of film. At least, not at first.
It’s set in a young women’s reform institute (essentially a very low-security prison), where Eva (Jessica Morris) has been sent for killing someone. Eva just wants to serve her sentence without any hassle so she can get out quick and be with her young daughter again, but she”s getting hassle from Killa Kim, a drug smuggler who wants her to be her mule. Even worse, the militant cow who runs the institute isn’t listening to Eva’s complaints because she “knows her type” and doesn’t think she’s capable of turning over a new leaf.
Eva’s luck changes when her daughter comes to visit and gives her some worry dolls, tiny little voodoo-like skeleton dolls who come in a dinky coffin-shaped box. Her daughter explains that if she puts the worry dolls under her pillow as she sleeps, all her worries will go away. After being sexually assaulted by one of the guards (off-camera, thankfully), Eva reaches the end of her tether and lays the worry dolls under her pillow, hoping they’ll help. As she sleeps they come alive and crawl inside her ear, and that’s where it starts getting a bit odd.
The worry dolls give Eva renewed confidence, so she starts dishing out kickings and the odd murder to the other girls and staff in the facility. She also grows a spot in the middle of her forehead, a spot that continues to grow until eventually a tiny skull comes out of her forehead, squealing like a pig. Incredibly, thanks to the poor acting on display, hardly any of her fellow inmates pay any attention to this screaming forehead-skull, seemingly unimpressed by it and completely undermining the impact of the film.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Dangerous Worry Dolls is that its sole great performance is the lead role, played by Jessica Morris, an actress I once described as “consistently wooden” in my review of the shitefest that was Scream Bloody Murder. She’s greatly improved in the years since that abomination, and she delivers her lines just right. It’s just a shame that, this time around, it’s the rest of the cast letting her down.
Dangerous Worry Dolls is dull. Its deaths mainly happen off-screen, its characters (with the exception of the lead) are more or less universally hateable, the “twist” scene involving one of the guards is just a complete cringe for all involved and the titular dolls are about as terrifying as dropping 5p. Despite its dramatic title, this is one film you really shouldn’t worry about.
“Rise, Haunted Dildo! RIIIIIISE!” (Lord Astroth, Gingerdead Man 2)
We all know the vast majority of sequels are worse than their predecessors, but when the original film in question is The Gingerdead Man then there isn’t much needed to break that rule. Sure enough, while Gingerdead Man 2 isn’t exactly a great movie, it still manages to do enough to surpass the first movie in the entertainment stakes.
Ironically, the best bits in Gingerdead Man 2 are the ones that don’t feature the titular brutal biscuit at all. The majority of the film has little to do with the tiny killer (no longer played by Gary Busey, who seemingly got his mind back), instead focusing on the story of Cheatum, a film studio losing money as it continues to churn out crap horror sequels.
As a film created by Full Moon, a studio notorious for creating many atrocious horror franchises like Killjoy, Puppet Master and, of course, Gingerdead Man, this movie is essentially Full Moon’s attempt to make fun of itself and say “look, we know we make shitty movies, but that’s why people love us”. The most obvious example of this is the Tiny Terrors, a bunch of crappy puppets starring in a zero-budget horror film the studio is shooting, which are clearly a nod to the countless puppet-related films Full Moon have made in the past – Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, Dollman, Dangerous Worry Dolls and so forth. The Tiny Terrors are hilariously bad creations, though in this way the likes of Shit-For-Brains (a baby doll with poo dripping down its head) and Haunted Dildo (a big floppy penis wearing a suit) have won my heart.
The rest of the film is filled with little in-jokes and cameos from past cult horror stars (special effects guru Greg Nicotero and Michelle Bauer, one of the original scream queens, make appearances, and directors John Carl Buechler and David DeCoteau also have self-deprecating cameos) that will please Full Moon fans, but they’re subtle enough that others won’t notice them and feel left out.
The acting, as expected, is horrible. There’s some primary school play level stuff going on here at times however it does add to the film’s deliberately cheesy atmosphere. The only highlights are the hideously-named K-Von as the studio’s owner and Kelsey Sanders as a volunteer with a Make-A-Wish-type charity. Joseph Porter, who plays a wheelchair-bound Cheatum devotee with a curious secret, is above and beyond the worst of a bad bunch, but while the film’s dodgy twist ending goes some way to explaining this it’s not really an excuse.
And then, of course, there’s the Gingerdead Man himself. For the first part of the film he does very little, generally fannying about while swearing at things and not being noticed by anyone. He does get his hands dirty once or twice during the film with some ropey murder scenes, but for the most part he’s the least interesting thing about the film. The final fifteen minutes more or less confirms that the filmmakers felt the same way, since a different enemy takes centre stage and the crazed cookie is more or less ignored. It’s only in his death scene, which is more than a little blasphemous, that he actually feels like the star of the movie.
There’s no need to see the original Gingerdead Man, but if you fancy a self-aware film that’s deliberately cheap and nasty and makes fun of itself for being so, then give this a go. It’s certainly not great, but fair play to Full Moon for managing to polish a turd a little.