Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust (2008)
COMPANY: Full Moon Entertainment
RUNTIME: 82 mins
PLOT: Continuing his quest to become human again, the evil gingerbread man returns to stalk the cast and crew working at a low budget B-Movie production company.
REVIEW: Full Moon has a habit of making sure their sequels are better then the originals (Puppet Master 2: His Unholy Creations, Trancers 2, Bloodstone: Subspecies 2, The Evil Bong 2: Wrath of Bong, The Killer Eye 2: Halloween Haunt). However, sometimes it just doesn't turn out that way in the end, despite an obvious effort (Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons, Oblivion 2: Backlash). Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust by all rights should have been better then the first Gingerdead Man movie. It had all the right ingredients to make an even better experience, and it tried to go 'bigger' in almost every way possible (bigger cast, more kills, larger location, more reanimated living objects, longer runtime) but somehow, somewhere along the way, it dropped the ball. Don't get me wrong, it's still a decently-enjoyable and cheese-filled campy B-Movie, and not a half-bad return for the deadly pastry, but there's just...something...stopping it from being as good as the first movie was.
Where the first movie took place in a tiny little bakery, this one takes place in a low budget B-Movie studio...not unlike the kind that Full Moon themselves is. And just like such a company, this one is plagued by dozens of problems: they're in the process of filming way too many movies at once on a less-than shoestring budget, while still in the process of writing the scripts for half of them, with no-named actors all thinking they're topshit and not getting along with one another, a well-known actor agreeing to spend a few hours on-set as a favor to the producer but throwing tantrums while there, and one washed-up sex symbol 80's scream queen that's trying to just have people pay attention to her again (and that's only a small sample of the issues plaguing this low budget movie company). All in all, this setting is perfect, and done to perfection by a company that does business exactly like how it's portrayed as in this movie; This is quite the realistic portrayal of how these movies, and studios like Full Moon, operate and this could easily be passed off as a comedy-documentary if it wasn't for the whole killer cookie thing. It's also an excellent setting for a horror movie, as everyone would just assume that the weird going-ons is for one of the movies being filmed, and that any of the cast or crew who disappear is off on a temper tantrum.
When last we left off at the end of the previous movie, we saw that an entire batch of cookies had been made with the gingerbread mix that had been infused with the soul of serial killer Millard Findlemeyer, and they were being sold at a bake fair thanks to the mysterious old lady (that this movie confirms as being Millard Findlemeyer's mother, whom dabbles in witchcraft). After a recap of the first movie, and a pretty fun opening credits sequence set to a parody of Joan Jett's Bad Reputation, this movie starts off with a box of pastries that had been purchased at the bake fair from the end of the first movie being delivered to this low budget horror studio, and among the random pastries inside is one of those Millard Findlemeyer-filled gingerbread cookies, AKA a Gingerdead Man. Suffice to say, it isn't long before he climbs out of the box and starts causing chaos and death in the corridors and various rooms of this movie studio.
Where the first movie fumbled, this one picks up the slack. We have a much larger cast this time around, which means much more death scenes. And unlike the first movie, just about all of them are bloody as hell and each one is totally different then the last, opting to go with variety and uniqueness in the deaths this time around instead of just generic stabbing after generic stabbing. There's even a scene where the Gingerdead Man kills someone by shoving a burning hot curling iron up their ass like a dildo – and no, I'm not joking. The one kind of cheese that the first movie left out was Death-Cheese, and this one delivers that by the baker's dozen. It also takes a page out of the first movie's book by offering plenty of Visual-Cheese - just seeing a tiny living cookie chasing after regular-sized people isn't enough now that we've seen that already in the first movie. No, this time they add so much more to it – including a scene of other living objects (a gang of living movie props dubbed The Tiny Terrors) stringing the Gingerdead Man up on a cross, while wearing a thorny crown, and light him on fire in what I'm sure is quite the controversial scene for religious people. We also get a scene where the Gingerdead Man attacks our main cast in several different movie sets, all with a totally different style to them (Examples include a space station and a mythical castle dungeon), as well as a scene where our little unholy baked good tries to hump one of the non-living female puppet props, not realizing that she's not alive. There is plenty of visual-Cheese to feast our eyes on with this one.
Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the good things end. There are no returning characters from the first movie, which is quite the disappointment as I loved Robin Sydney in the first and hoped she would return for this one. Also, due to the bigger cast we have this time around, we don't get to spend as much time with each person as we did in the first movie and thus we don't get to really come to know any of them. On top of that, every single character is totally and completely unlikable; Everyone in this movie is just an asshole and it makes it impossible to care about any them. Like seriously, this is a movie about a killer cookie – that alone already has us rooting for the cookie! No need to make every single person an asshole in order to get us to root for the little guy. All it does is makes the time where he's not on-screen (which there's plenty of) all the more difficult to watch. The fact that the actors here could make the actors in the first movie look like award-winners in comparison doesn't help either – there's bad acting and then there's bad 'acting'.
Which brings me to my biggest fault with the movie. There's only one great sin that a B-Movie can commit - It already has bad actors, crappy effects, plot holes you can sail a ship through, and plenty of other bad aspects about them that come with the package, but none of that matters as long as the movie is fun. The single greatest sin that a B-Movie can commit, is to be slow and boring, and good lord this is one slow movie. Nothing at all really happens until the final 15 minutes. We might have the scattered two or three death scenes during the movie, but for the most part everything exciting is jammed into the final 15 minutes, which leaves the other hour and ten minutes with not much meat on it's bones. You could almost cut the Gingerdead Man character out of his own movie and it probably wouldn't even affect anything else in the movie until close to the end; this movie focuses too much on the troubled productions of the low budget movie company, regulating the title character to secondary status and even having most of his scattered scenes have no impact on anything else going on in the movie. And as I already mentioned above, absolutely none of these human characters are even interesting or likable so it makes that time away from the Gingerdead Man feel even more excruciating. When the movie does do something of note, it does it really well and full of the kind of camp that I love and look for in these movies, but those moments are so few and far between until that last little stretch, that it in no way makes up for the dull and overly-long lull between them.
Even some of the new things they throw in to try to spice this entry up, just fall completely flat. For example, the above-mentioned Tiny Terrors: The idea for them is pretty good, with some really...unique...designs (among them is a water kettle with machine-gun arms and a dildo wearing a tux – don't ask), and they're all puppeteered really well, but in the end it just doesn't work because the makers of this movie do nothing at all with them. They pop in about 5 minutes from the end after being brought to life, thanks to a voodoo spell book that the Gingerdead Man wanted to use in order to transplant his soul into a human body (but instead ended up putting the soul of the last person he killed into those props), but they only come alive long enough to string the Gingerdead Man up like Christ on the cross and light him on fire. As soon as he burns away to nothing 30 seconds later, they get taken out rather quickly, and that is it. It came across like the producers were sitting around and said 'Hey, people really loved our Gingerdead Man prop in the last movie – let's do that, but times ten!' and thus they created a handful of 'Tiny Terrors' puppets, but they must have come to that decision well into the filming cause really, those little guys have no impact on the movie at all. They certainly don't seem like they were added in during the script stage, otherwise they probably would have had much more to do. It was just a huge missed opportunity, and while I like the idea behind them, if that was all they were planning on doing then I would have rather they just not bothered instead of wasting such a great idea like that and taking even more time away from our title character.
As for the Gingerdead Man himself, he looked a bit different in this one then he did in the first movie. Effects-wise, they still did a pretty good job with him and he moved about well enough, but you can tell it definitely had a slightly different design to it and seemed to look a bit...I don't know...cheaper, I guess. Which is probably a result of having to remake the puppet and wanting to save money in the budget for those useless Tiny Terrors puppets, so they did a rush job on the title character, thus giving us Gingerdead Man-Lite. He's not even voiced by Gary Busey this time, but instead by some no-named actor that doesn't even sound anything like him (though that's partially-understandable, seeing as how in the Behind the Scenes feature on the first movie they talk about how difficult Busey was to work with and how he kept delaying the production of the movie). Although I suppose all of that could be explained away in-continuity by the fact that it technically is a completely separate cookie then the one in the first. Granted, it IS the same soul as the one that occupied the cookie in the first movie, or at least a part of the same soul, but if it works to help make the movie just that tiny bit better for you, then so be it. I'm fully aware though that that's a weak explanation and far more thought then the writers themselves probably gave it.
When all was said and done with this one, it seemed like every step it took to improve on the first movie, it ended up taking two steps back directly afterward. The potential was totally there to be one of the all-time best B-Movies and a really fun cheesefest, but sadly it didn't even come close. Still, it's worth checking out for nothing more then to see a realistic portrayal of how low budget studios do their thing (such as Full Moon and The Asylum).
Plus, a wise-cracking one-liner-spewing killer cookie in a shitty movie is still a wise-cracking one-liner-spewing killer cookie, and thus that movie must be watched, because really, that's just too zany to pass up.
5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward