Monday, April 23, 2012

Evil Toons (Fred Olen Ray, 1992)

A normal person, someone who doesn't live their life a quarter mile at a time, will look at the lack of animated monsters in Evil Toons (a.k.a. Qui a peur du diable?) and declare it to be a dismal failure. Others, however, those who approach obstacles with a decidedly different brand of gusto, will see the film's animation deficiency as a blessing in disguise. Whoa, wait a minute. What kind of freak would view this mess as a blessing, disguised or otherwise? I mean, the film has the word "toons" in its title. In other words, where are the fucking toons? First off, this film, written and directed by Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) and photographed by the late great Gary Carver (Private Teacher), was made, judging by the quality of the special effects and the skimpiness of the sets, for practically no money. Using more otherworldly words, what did you expect, Cool World? (If you're not familiar with that particular film, think: Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Space Jam.) Secondly, why would anyone bother to insert cartoon characters into a live action movie, a process that's probably expensive and quite time consuming, when you have the luminous Madison (Party Doll A Go-Go!) at your disposal? Who the fuck is Madison, you ask? Well, if you must know, she the fuck is only one of the finest actresses ever to grace the silver screen. And if that wasn't enough, she also happens to possess the temperament of a living, breathing cartoon character. In fact, you could, if you were so inclined, rename the film Evil Madison, or Evil Roxanne (the name of the character she plays), and it wouldn't lose a single ounce of its tawdry appeal.

Four young-ish women: Jan (Barbara Dare credited as Stacey Nix), black bicycle shorts/micromanaged big hair; Terry (Suzanne Ager), cut-off jean shorts/micromanaged big hair; Megan (Monique Gabrielle), glasses/braided ponytail; and Roxanne (Madison), neon green tank top/black hair affixed with a neon green scrunchie, are dropped off in a white van in front of a large house by a guy in a pink work shirt named Burt (Dick Miller). Told that they need to...I'm sorry to interrupt you, but did you just say that Burt was being played by the ubiquitous Dick Miller? Yeah. I thought you did. Anyway, instructed to clean the spacious residence as some sort of punishment, the ladies have to stay in the house for the entire weekend.    

Starting off in the basement, two of the gals come across a mysterious trunk containing an old shawl and a weird-looking dagger.

It's was a minor shame that Roxanne had to relinquish her neon green tank top during an impromptu striptease performed for the benefit of her three friends, because the sight of her constantly adjusting her brightly-coloured garment's wayward arm straps (they kept falling off her lusty shoulders) was my favourite aspect of the movie up until this point. Even though the purpose of her fireside burlesque show was primarily titillation-based, the reason she starts to undress seductively to rock music was to accelerate the loosing up process within a certain member of their shapely party. You see, Megan, the girl in the glasses, she's a tad on the reserved side, and all Roxanne wanted to accomplish by shaking her thong-affixed undercarriage was to show her that the female body is something to be revered, not feared. 

Suddenly, there's a knock at the door. Why, it's David Carradine, and judging by the perturbed expression on his face, he's here to collect his paycheck. Unfortunately, there is no paycheck to be collected. Apparently, his character, Gideon Fisk, a mysterious man who hung himself in the seventeenth century against the wishes of a talking book, has to lurk ominously in the shadows a little while longer before he can get paid.
At any rate, back to the knock at the door, delivering a book to the ladies, yeah, that's right, the very book Gideon was holding when he committed suicide three hundred or so years ago, three of the girls reluctantly decided to open it. Puzzled by the language used in the book and horrified by the pornographic illustrations, the ladies call on Megan (who is currently ruminating over the largeness of her nipples in the mirror) to help translate the strange text; after all, she wears glasses, and, as most people know, shy girls with large breasts, who, of course, wear glasses, are experts when it comes to deciphering obscure languages.

After reading aloud the section that clearly states that this section should not be read aloud, Megan and the others grow bored of the sinister-looking book and agree that it's time to go to sleep.

Good riddance, I say, as we're treated to the stellar facial work of Madison. Stellar facial work?!? Oh, haven't you heard? Her face is alive. I know, we all have faces that are technically "alive." But Madison's face is different. She uses it to convey a wide range of emotions by squinting, smirking, rolling her eyes, and, of course, by scrunching her nose. While most actors stare blankly into space, reciting lines of dialogue when it's their turn to speak, Madison is always expressing herself.

Now, you might be surprised to learn that film's most entertaining scene has nothing to do with evil toons or naked breasts. Hold on, sister. What could possibly be more entertaining than those things? Have you ever watched Madison try to open a difficult to open bottle of wine? 'Nuff said.

As she's waiting for her boyfriend Biff to arrive in a man's shirt (don't worry, she has frilly purple lingerie on underneath it) with a freshly opened bottle of wine, Madison flips her hair, rolls her eyes, and scrunches the fuck out of her face. Instead of Biff, however, Madison is confronted by a cartoon; in fact, you could say it's an evil toon. Even though she screams for help (the cartoon beast is straddling her on the floor), her friends upstairs think it's just her having rough sex with Biff on the sofa.

While Madison is coming to grips with her new personality (less flippant hair flipping, more sinister glaring), we're treated to a long (and I mean, long) clip from Bucket of Blood and a cameo by Michelle Bauer (Café Flesh) and a Seattle Seahawks trashcan. (You know a movie is floundering when I take the time to point out a trashcan.)

Comfortable in the knowledge that I have, up until now, done an okay job extolling the virtues of Madison in Evil Toons, I still feel as if her many virtues could be extolled in further. Unfortunately, no-one else in the film's cast or crew comes close to the level of awesomeness Madison repeatedly puts out there in this cinematic atrocity. Actually, composer Chuck Cirino (Chopping Mall and Weird TV) does an excellent job with the music, as his synths at the top of their game, so it's not completely one-sided. But for all intents and purposes, Evil Toons is the Madison show. There's a reason writer-director Fred Olen Ray chose her to be the one who gets possessed by an evil toon. And, no, not just because she was the only one willing to get her top licked off by an animated demon hound. It was because she was the only one with anything close to resembling a functioning personality.
The first time I became aware of Madison wasn't in Party Doll A Go-Go! or its sequel Party Doll A Go-Go! Part 2, but in The Last Resort, a XXX feature from 1990. While the exact details of the plot escape me at the moment, I do recall a scene where she talks incessantly throughout a kitchen set sex scene with Joey Silvera (who is wearing a chef's hat). And, at the time, I remember thinking, damn, this is chick is funny.

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  1. I'm blushing at Madison's filmography. 'Buttwoman 2: Behind Bars' sounds like something you might like. :P

    RIP, Billy Bryans from the Parachute Club. I've been listening to "Rise Up" today.

    So, none of the Jeopardy! contestants knew Stephen Harper. Dafuq? (lol)

    I was watching the latest Undercover Boss: Canada--the TTC. Spadina Bus!

  2. Apparently Tianna from Party Doll A Go-Go! and Party Doll A Go-Go! Part 2 plays the titular "Buttwoman" in the Buttwoman movies. (I agree, that's almost interesting.)

    Note to self: Watch Edward Penishands 2 and Edward Penishands 3.

    I think I've mentioned this several times before, but their debut album (The Parachute Club) was one of the first records I ever bought. :(

    Even though I missed that episode, the fact no-one got the Harper clue actually made the news. :D

    Spadina is currently my favourite street to wander up and down these days (screw you, Yonge St.)

    Anything grab you from the recent EW Summer Movie Preview issue? Have you been following the Alberta election? ;)

  3. I need to see this one... not only for Madison (who is torrid in Hot on Her Tail with Patricia Kennedy) but cause I have been wanting to see more Fred Olen Ray stuff as of late...

    and speaking of Party Doll A Go-Go! and Party Doll A Go-Go! Part 2 , I recently saw the low budget cyberpunky Narcosys -- which has a hint of the kind of beatnick dialog that made the Party Doll films fun to watch-- and thought why hasn't this been covered on House of Self-Indulgence yet?

    lastly, dont know if you are into the podcast scene but the Projection Booth recently did and ep on Night Dreams which you might dig....

  4. That's funny, I've been meaning to see less Fred Olen Ray stuff as of late. ;)

    I'm all for beatnik dialogue, but I don't know. I just came back from skimming some reviews for Narcosys, and man, were they harsh ("One of the worst Sci-Fi movies ever"). Nevertheless, I'll keep an eye out for it, as I'm a gluten for cinematic punishment.

    Yeah, I'm familiar with them, they did a piece on Crime Wave; thanks for the heads up.

  5. There's an A.V. Club for Toronto! The more you know.

    Alberta elections? Something about Wildrose? Danielle Smith?

    You know, almost nothing stood out to me in the Summer Movie Preview. (What the hell is that Dark Shadows mess?) I did, however, get a kick out of that Prometheus teaser with Michael Fassbender.

    The latest Undercover Boss: Second Cup. I had never heard of it (sorry!), but I guess that some Quebec nationalist firebombed some locations?

  6. I just picked up the Onion/A.V. Club print version last night (on Spadina, naturally); read it on the subway, yo.

    Dark Shadows? Apparently it's something Johnny Deep and Tim Burton used to masturbate to back in the '70s.

    Michael Fassbender is looking suave in May's Vogue. (The same issue features an article on South Carolina's new governor.)

    The Second Cup was featured in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Aurbrey Plaza's character worked there). But then again, despite its Toronto-centric temperament, I can't really picture you watching that flick (it's like a filmed headache - I loved Alison Pill as Kim Pine).

  7. You know me too well, Yummers: I could not get through Scott Pilgrim. (dissent LOVES that movie.) But I was tempted to buy Michael Cera's CBC shirt when I saw it on sale recently. By the way, Alison Pill and Jay Baruchel make a cute couple. Jian G. interviewed them a while back.

    Nikki Haley and Michael Fassbender in the same issue of Vogue? HA HA HA.

  8. Assuming you wouldn't be able to get through the Scott Pilgrim movie was one of the easiest assumptions I've made in years. :)

    Oh, and when I said, "Toronto-centric temperament," what I meant to say was "Bathurst and Bloor temperament," as the film doesn't really venture too far from that particular intersection, which is technically apart of "The Annex."

    Even though Jay Baruchel's obsession with the Montreal Canadians is a tad off-putting, I like how he's sticking it with the mohawk, as I would have thought that some publicist or agent would have forced him to get a "real haircut" by now.

    So what you're saying is Nikki Haley and Michael Fassbender don't really go together. (I haven't read the article yet, but I take it that Governor Haley is no Jack Layton. ;))