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Entries in Evil Bong [2006] (1)

Wednesday
Mar092011

Evil Bong (2006)

C'est ci n'est pas une Pipe

I can't recall a movie that's as strange and as boring as Evil Bong (Rango comes close).  The premise has some life to it--four roommates purchase a demonic bong from a burned-out hippie, which enchants and then murders them, one by one; sort of like Jay and Silent Bob in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

But all of the promise evaporates at the script and budget levels.  Director Charles Band's Full Moon Pictues is famous for churning out decades of low-rent horror movies, but with Evil Bong he hits a new low.  I don't know if the lack of money necessitated changes in August White's screenplay, or if this was always meant to be a laugh-track-free stoner sitcom with only two locations; either way, the film moves at a glacial pace.

I'm not even comfortable calling this a horror movie.  Much of it is an exercise in how many archetypes one screenwriter can bounce around a single set.  A nerd named Alistair (David Weidoff) moves in with three potheads: Brett (Brian Lloyd), the jock; Bachman (Mitch Eakins), the mega-stoner; and Larnell (John Patrick Jordan), who's essentially Vince Vaugh with 98% more "bro's" in his vocabulary.  Alistair is an utter square with dorky glasses, slicked back hair, and pens in his pocket, and he talks like Mr. Spock with self-esteem issues.  Brett has a horny girlfriend named Luann (Robin Sydney), and she has a best friend named Janet (Kristyn Green), who's bitchy and hot, but also really smart.  These Bizarro Saved By the Bell Kids throws parties, gets stoned, and loafs--which is only scary when contemplating how long 84 minutes can really be.

Larnell uses Alistair's share of the rent money to buy a vintage bong he saw advertised in a magazine.  It's listed as being haunted; sure enough, hours after the gang takes their first hit, the bong comes to life and sucks Bachman's life essence into a marijuana dream world.

Don't get too excited: Bachman's fantasy is a small strip club in which bored-looking plastic racks writhe on poles and offer sensuous lap dances.  Bachman gets too close to a girl whose bra is made of two rubber skulls.  The faces come to bad-CG life and devour him, thus capturing his soul inside the bong.  The rest of Evil Bong plays like "Ten Little Indians" in molasses, as Brett and Larnell also succumb to the bong's seductive powers--though it's really disappointing to realize that the sum total of the bong's imagination amounts to that same lame strip club, and that its only means of attack are rotating strippers with different dangerous bras (one is a pair of puffy shark heads, the other, cartoon lips).

Eventually, Alistair must set aside his clean-living ways to save Janet from his friends' fate as he, too, ventures inside the bong.  He's aided by its original owner, Jimbo (Tommy Chong, of course), who shows up to the guys' apartment to retrieve the bong, which is wife sold without permission.  The tension between Jimbo and EeBee (did I forget to mention that the bong gained the ability to speak, and that its voice is that of a sassy black woman?) is truly epic, and I could feel the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.  Or maybe that anxiousness was just my patience wearing thin.

In the end, EeBee is destroyed, and all of the stoners' souls are restored (SPOILER!).

As I said earlier, Evil Bong had potential.  But Band and White either couldn't decide whether to make a comedy or a horror film, or they weren't talented to execute either effectively.  All of the jokes fall flat; they're the most obvious, well-worn bits about stoners, nerds and whores; the only people bound to appreciate anything in this movie--besides those who get baked before watching it--are die-hard Full Moon fans.  Band loads up the strip club scenes with cameos from Gingerdead Man, Trancers, and others, but how much mileage can one get from holding on a shot of a voodoo doll masturbating, really?

As for the "horror" elements, Band leaves suspense and shock behind in favor of cheesy red-food-coloring-spraying-people-in-the-face shots.  It's embarrassing, and I'd be willing to give the director the benefit of the doubt by suggesting all the shoddy effects work was intentional, if I had any confidence he was creative enough to pull that off.

This is the central problem with Evil Bong.  The creators seem to think that merely co-opting pot culture is enough to win over an audience; that may be true for a demographic whose brain cells are disappearing quicker than courteous movie theatre patrons, but for people looking for thrilling, amusing, or at the very least entertaining escapism, it's not enough to just slap Tommy Chong's confused face on a poster and call it a day.

Note #1: I'll credit Evil Bong with showing me something I'd never seen before in a movie: The words "End Credits" kick off the end credits, appearing above the word "Cast".  Again, this might be a joke; but that's way too smart to be associated with anything in the previous 83 minutes.

Note #2: A few seconds into the end credits, I saw something else amazing: A trailer for Evil Bong 2!  It didn't show up to the side of the credits, as you've probably seen in other films where they show crazy outtakes; no, a black box popped up on top of the end credits and showed the sequel's trailer.  I'm probably going to eat these words, but that movie looks like an improvement over the original.

Note #3: It turns out I'm not crazy!  During the film, I couldn't shake the feeling that David Weidoff reminded me of a young John Malkovich, looks-wise.  I was quasi-vindicated after reading on his IMDb page that he won an acting award in school for his portrayal of Valmont in Les Liasions Dangereuses--the same role Malkovich played in the 1988 film version, Dangerous Liaisons.