A group of teenage girls agree to spend the weekend in an empty house tidying it up for new owners and as an excuse to have a party. However, the arrival of a mysterious package containing an ancient skin-bound book soon conjures up an ancient demon and the girls find themselves in more danger than they could have imagined.
Fred Olen Ray. A director whose leery style and non-existent quality control process should strike terror into the hearts of horror loving people everywhere. As prolific as any director working today, Ray has somehow amassed a body of work spanning over forty years. Most fans will know him from ‘Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers’ but his output also includes such works as ‘Attack of the 60 Foot Centrefold’ (1995), ‘Super Shark’ (2011), ‘Alien Dead’ (1980) and the subject of this review, ‘Evil Toons’ (1992). The chances are that you will have seen a Fred Olen Ray movie at some point if you have even a passing interest in the niche market of ultra-low-budget horror.
‘Evil Toons’ is an ambitious production presenting a mixture of live-action and animation somewhat akin to ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ in general concept though certainly not in execution. The plot pays some homage to ‘The Evil Dead’ (amongst other genre classics) referencing an evil force brought into existence by the hasty and unwise translation of a passage from a distinctly dodgy ancient tome. If these two comparisons are painting a positive picture of ‘Evil Toons’, do not be misled; the film is an absolute stinker.
It is difficult to know where to begin. The performances are abject; indeed the four lead actresses would appear to have been employed because of their willingness to be topless than for any actual acting talent. The fleeting attempt to set up an innocent ‘final girl’ is abandoned within fifteen minutes when she, like the rest of the female cast, strips off for no apparent reason. Whilst many decent, fun genre movies fail to create interesting and rounded characters, ‘Evil Toons’ fails to even attempt any kind of characterisation. The cast are clearly reading the from script at various stages and the female leads inhabit a strange unreality that exists entirely in the minds of teenage boys and Fred Olen Ray; where women solely talk about breasts, expose their breasts to each other and to the camera, and parade around in their voluminous 80s-style underwear. Female nudity is an accepted part of the horror genre, especially the slasher sub-division, but in ‘Evil Toons’ I suspect it is the real point of the film; that what we are getting is a glimpse into Ray’s mind via his sleazy objectification of women. The male characters share this leery sensibility, from Dick Miller’s Burt to Arte Johnson’s Mr Hinchlow; both old enough to be the girls’ grandfathers but who still blatantly stare lasciviously at their breasts and behinds in a manner that Ray clearly thinks is comedic rather than creepy. All of this brings me, depressingly, to David Carradine who appears as a shaman / monk style ghost figure to bookend the film. I can only assume that the payday he got for ‘Evil Toons’ was desperately needed at the time as he drifts around the frame looking as uncomfortable as I felt watching this movie. Everyone has some stinkers on their record but his turn as Gideon Fisk makes his performance in Kung-Fu look like an Oscar-winning stuff.
Positives? There is some fun to be had at the laughably bad dialogue and at the zingers that Ray clearly thinks are amusing. It also has the best – worst soundtrack of any film I have ever seen; from the wah-wah-waaaah when someone is disappointed, to the porno-style funky pow-chikka guitar that strikes up whenever one of the girls does literally anything, it really is laugh out loud funny. Some of the effects are reasonably well done although that is relative amid the abject moral poverty that is the rest of the film. It allowed all involved to feed their families which are always good.
‘Evil Toons’ is one of the worst films I have ever seen. I recommend it to you without reservation. It seems that statistically we will all have to suffer at least one Fred Olen Ray film over the course of our lives and ‘Evil Toons’ is the best of his output, with ‘Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers’ a close second; it’s even available to watch on a popular free video streaming website. Get together with some similarly-minded friends and watch it. Accept it for what it is and you’ll laugh your way through it then agree that ‘Evil Toons’ is, without doubt, one of the worst films you’ve ever seen too.
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