Judge Clark Douglas wants to go all Judge Doom on this flick.
"I'll get you in the sequel for this!"
I'm going to go ahead and admit something: I requested Evil Toons as a review assignment. No, this was not some nasty punishment inflicted upon me by the powers-that-be. I have only myself to blame. Honestly, it was the description which grabbed me: "It's Who Framed Roger Rabbit meets Evil Dead!" I mean, c'mon. That has to be at least kind of fun, right? Or at least modestly interesting? Or at least watchable? Nope, nope, nope.
Evil Toons is flat-out terrible. It's so bad that I have no idea how they managed to get folks like Dick Miller (Gremlins) and David Carradine (Kill Bill: Volume 1) to appear in it, despite the fact that those guys consistently demonstrated that they were willing to appear in anything. The fact that the film is fully aware of its cheesy awfulness does absolutely nothing to alleviate the situation, as the script's smirking jokes are consistently clunky and obvious. For most of its running time, the movie works hard to stretch a thin story filled with one-note characters out to 82 minutes. Usually, the answer is, "Eh, let one of the actresses take her top off and just kind of walk around onscreen for a while."
Our story revolves around four young women who have been tasked with cleaning an old house over the course of a single weekend. As long as they have the place cleaned up by the time the owners get back, they'll each be paid $100. Things go well enough at first, but midway through the weekend, a mysterious man (Carradine) turns up and gives them a package bearing the words, "OPEN IMMEDIATELY." The ladies do so, and discover that they've been given a very old, mysterious book with a weird-looking cover. It's filled with sinister drawings and a whole bunch of Latin text, but thankfully the smartest member of the quartet (Monique Gabrielle, Bachelor Party) is fluent in Latin. As you might expect, reading from the book causes an ancient evil force (which appears in the form of a cheesy-looking animated monster) to come to life, invade the body of one of the girls and go on a killing spree.
Maybe I'm just being unreasonable, but I don't think it's ridiculous to expect a movie called Evil Toons to have more than three minutes of animated footage over the course of its running time. Alas, the monster (billed in the credits as The Monster) appears very briefly in only two scenes. In the first, he ogles a naked woman and then rapes/possesses her. In the second, he gets his just desserts (while vowing to get revenge in the sequel and quoting lines from The Wizard of Oz). That's the entirety of the evil toon action you're getting over the course of the film (despite the fact that the title clearly promises more than one evil toon). The rest of the time, you're just going to have to accept the fact that the violated girl is possessed by an evil toon and is murdering people on the toon's behalf.
Not that the film devotes much of its running time to something as interesting as murder, mind you. Large portions of the movie are devoted to the four lead actresses showing off their physical assets. "Wanna see how I landed the captain of the football team?" one girl says. "Sure," the others reply. So begins a three-minute striptease. This makes one of the girls feel inferior, so she wanders off to spend a couple of minutes examining her breasts in a mirror. I realize that these actresses were all cast for their willingness to get naked onscreen (their IMDb credits are littered with low-budget softcore titles), but their actual performances are terrible even by softcore cinema standards. In one scene, one of the girls has to pretend that she's choking on a chicken sandwich. This would seem a pretty simple task, but she somehow manages to deliver the world's most unconvincing portrait of a person choking on a chicken sandwich I've ever seen. In another scene, one of the women reads a frightening book. To indicate that it's frightening, she makes loud noises as she turns the pages: "Ooooooohhhh! Ahhh! Oh! Hmmmm. Oooooohhh!" You know, like a normal person.
The girls aren't the only ones asked to provide needless filler. There are four or five scenes in which David Carradine stands outside the house, wearing a black cloak and mugging for the camera in an ominous fashion. He never actually does anything in these scenes, but they are included to remind us that David Carradine signed up to be in this movie. His big dialogue scenes (which appear at the beginning and the end) are awfully clunky, but at least they move the plot forward. Dick Miller has even less to do, so he's granted a scene in which he watches an old movie on TV which just so happens to star…Dick Miller! "This guy should have won an Academy Award," he sighs. This is a five-second joke, but the film stretches it out to two minutes because, hey, this isn't a short film. Arte Johnson (Laugh-In) also shows up for a few minutes, hamming it up and leering at the ladies in his small role as a pervy neighbor.
Evil Toons looks awful, honestly. The image is so blurry and soft that it often seems as if you're watching an old VHS tape (which seems like the appropriate format for this sort of thing). There's a bit more detail during the brief semi-animated sequences, but otherwise things look pretty messy. The Dolby 2.0 stereo track isn't any better, delivering dialogue which often sounds muffled and an enthusiastic musical score which is undone due to being performed on cheap-sounding synthesizers. Supplements include an audio commentary with director Fred Olen Ray, a making-of featurette, a peculiar "Nite Owl Parody" short, a photo gallery, a suite of music from the score and a trailer.
Evil Toons is an intriguing concept, but the finished product is uniformly terrible and terminally dull. The DVD looks awful, too. Stay far, far away.
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