Director: Charles Band
Year of release: 2005
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 70 minutes (DVD says 85 minutes but I don't recall it being that long)
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Taglines: "Evil never tasted so good" and "Something's in the oven..."
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: A teenage girl is caught up in a diner robbery which ends in bloodshed with both her father and brother being murdered by the dastardly perpetrator Millard Findlemeyer (played by Gary Busey). We then jump forward in time to a point where after being caught Findlemeyer has been sentenced to death in the electric chair. We also learn it was the statement of diner survivor Sarah which ultimately enabled the authorities to go ahead with the execution.
Since the murder of her brother and father Sarah has taken over the running of the family bakery business, a company which is on the verge of going under due to the arrival of a big brand eatery across the street. Business troubles are soon to become a secondary concern for Sarah when a gingerbread man she bakes at works somehow becomes animated with the restless spirit of the vengeful Findlemeyer. In his new miniature guise the blood thirsty killer sets about extending his body count from beyond the grave with Sarah very much at the top of his list.
Good points: *As silly and as impossible to take seriously as it is I enjoyed the gimmick of the killer being a gingerbreads man. It’s very unique and something so very different even to other slashers that have gone down a similar path like Child’s Play, Robert The Doll etc. Whereas these films choose to utilise an already creepy looking doll here we have something vastly different in an edible food item but also something commonly given to children to link it in a little bit to the dolls of other films. It took some thinking outside the box to come up with the idea and though it’s much more silly and comical than scary it at least makes the film instantly recognisable with its own identity.
I thought the appearance of the creature was okay, perhaps a bit too small and he’d have been more menacing had he have grown in size a bit when aggravated but he just about cuts the mustard for me. I also liked how he was shown in human form at the beginning in a similar way to Child’s Play and then again in another form at the end. For a very low budget film it could be said to be something of a coup as well to secure Gary Busey to appear on screen at the beginning and then later to provide the voice for the little monster.
*The bakery makes for a novel setting and reminds me quite a bit of the ice cream parlour from Hot Blood Sundae. Like with the aforementioned evil gingerbread man it’s something different which helps the film distinguish itself from the pack. They try and put the kitchen area to good use as well with the freezer and ovens utilised. A popular bakery treat is used in a fight between two female characters and the old rats in the kitchen chestnut is also wheeled out.
*Plot-wise there is an extra layer to this which I’m not used to seeing in slashers with a similar minimal budget. As well as the main business of Findlemeyer returning for revenge from beyond the grave there are also a couple of sub plots in the romance which slowly builds up between final girl Sarah and Amos and the whole affair of the bakery shop on the verge of being swallowed up by a big corporation.
Bad Points: *The kills are of a very lacklustre humdrum quality with Lorna’s death being the best of a very bad bunch. Not only are they really unimpressive looking but there’s just not enough of them either. On paper the body count doesn’t look that bad but it’s buoyed by the situation in the diner at the very start which are all over in the blink of an eye anyway. It would have been much improved I think had a couple more kills been included prior to things heading to the climax. They could have thrown a couple more victims into the mix by including say a cleaner or a homeless person rifling through the bins outside. Killing off cannon fodder type characters like that would have added a bit more excitement/entertainment. Maybe the budget just didn’t stretch to include any more actors but without it comes across as uninspired and even boring in places.
*Like I said earlier some effort has been made to provide some extra facets to the story which is good but at the same time the script feels very lazy and stupid at times. It was clear for example that the Brick character bleeds into the food mix after cutting himself but neither he nor Sarah comment on it or do anything about it despite it obviously being unsanitary for bodily fluids to come into contact with the bakery goods. They could have easily remedied it with having it mentioned but then the pair ultimately decide to ignore the issue on account of the mix being too expensive to just throw away. To not mention it at all when the guy at least must have noticed what he’d done didn’t make any sense.
The character of Sarah’s mother also came across as overblown and unrealistic like a cartoon caricature of the stereotypical drunk person. It was too heavy handed and lacked any of the charm of a character like say the house mother from the original Black Christmas with a similar vice. Speaking of realism things would have seemed more authentic had Sarah herself had a slight limp or something seeing that she herself did actually get shot as well I believe in the beginning.
Story-wise I also felt the film was missing something near the start as I didn’t like how it didn’t show us snippets of Findlemeyer’s trial, Sarah giving evidence and thus essentially condemning him and indeed the execution itself. It would have helped with the pacing to at least see brief fragments of this as well as Findlemeyer ranting towards Sarah or swearing vengeance as the guilty verdict came in and he was dragged away. It just seems like the obvious way to play it right? Nothing like this is included though and instead we have to make do with a brief voiceover I could barely hear and basic conversation about the incident once its already happened. It’s maybe down to the budget but it’s not like they had to film it in a real court room so that’s not much of an excuse and as it was things come across as very rushed.
While I’m moaning about the script I’ll go on to say that it was very cringeworthy and lame in places as well such as Sarah constantly mentioning how her brother wanted to go to the “titty bar” (“strip club” would have sounded better) and Brick’s wrestling promo was an embarrassment.
*The Gingerdead man himself wasn’t as quick witted or as entertaining as I was expecting in his quips when attacking or taunting his victims. As a killer in the Chucky or Leprechaun mould I was expecting plenty of clever one liners but things never really get going here and I actually found him quite forgettable in terms of his personality.
Verdict: This bargain basement Child’s Play clone though not terrible never rises above mediocre at best and as such its very tough to recommend to any but the most devoted fans of the genre. It’s nice that we’re given something different in a walking talking gingerbread man and the plot had a bit more depth to it than I anticipated but it’s all let down by a lack of funds and quality as well as a lame script in places. Making things worse is a low body count which I definitely felt spoilt things and hurt the pacing. Overall it’s not the worst of its kind and there’s a tiny amount of fun to be had but not as much as the zany premise would promise.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Female diner employee: Shot with handgun.
2)Sarah’s dad: Shot in the chest with hand gun.
3)Sarah’s brother: Stabbed with switchblade.
4)Findlemeyer: Executed with electric chair (off camera).
5)Jimmy: Hit by car and pinned up against brick wall.
6)Lorna: Walks into a trap which results in her being stabbed in the head with a knife.
7)Brick: Burned to death in a large oven after being possessed by Findlemeyer’s spirit.