What's this? Judge David Johnson found a Troma release witty and engaging? The Lords of Neptune must be smiling upon him from their thrones of zinc!
Wow, this is funny (!)
You say you want more Troma? Well, brother have I got some for ya! This double-feature brings two sketch-comedy-based, feature-length films to you for the price of one: Bacon Head and Viewer Discretion Advised.
Directed by Ray Mahoney, this film is an assemblage of comedy sketches, tied together only by the fact that they're all in black and white. Beyond that, anything goes for this ridiculous and often insane collection of individual bits.
The stuff in Bacon Head definitely leans to the more "experimental" side of sketch comedy. For example, you've got "The Phantom," a crazy short about a strange man shrouded in black who stands on the side of the road throwing fish and jalapeños at oncoming vehicles, all set to his own theme song. It makes zero sense, but damn if I didn't find it funny.
Thankfully, you also have your more base humor, appealing to the lowest common denominator in all of us. "Gerbil Absorbency Test" is pretty self-explanatory, detailing a man and his quest to find the gerbil with the best fluid absorption capabilities, "Land of People Named Chris" is reminiscent of a Monty Python bit, where ah, well, we discover a land populated only by people named Chris, and "Shroud of Turin Car Cover," while bordering on the blasphemous, is about as amusing as it sounds.
Like most sketch comedy-based films, Bacon Head does have its off moments. "The Toast Police," at first look a bout of inanity that's right up my alley, proves to be overlong and pointless and "Tools of Proctology Kitchen Utensils" is too obvious and sophomoric to be funny ("Looks they said rectum! That's great!")
Still, the majority of sketches work, and when they do, they're pretty good.
Viewer Discretion Advised
Another 90 minutes of hit-and-miss sketch comedy, Viewer Discretion Advised, like its companion flick proves to be funnier more often than it isn't. The gimmick is that this guy Ted Smith (Tommy Blaze, co-writer) is trapped inside a television and zips around different genres: infomercials, horror films, psychiatry dramas, and game shows.
Obviously, this strategy allows the filmmakers to run wild with material, and for the most part, they pull out some funny gags. The opening western bit is probably the film's strongest; three cowboys sit around a campfire comparing stories of "pain," and as the severity of their tales grow (one guy was blown up by dynamite, reduced to mist, condensed on a windshield, and eventually got better) so to does the cowboys' determination to showcase their threshold for pain—with bloody results.
Viewer Discretion Advised, similar to Kentucky Fried Movie, is packed with offensive scenes aplenty, loaded with sex and gore (in the aforementioned Western take-off, one guy blows his brains out, another rips his head off with his bare hands, and another saws into his leg with a dull wood-saw).
The final bit, a parody on horror films, is pretty clever, though a bit too long. In it, Ted Smith finds himself in a haunted house with a bunch of idiots, and because he's seen horror movies, he knows what's coming. The writers have fun poking at the conventions of the genre (e.g., Ted concedes his desire to sleep with the attractive girl, though he acknowledges he will certainly be killed, because that's what happens to couples who have sex in horror films) and fans of horror movies will enjoy they jabs at POV shots and stupid, inquisitive girls walking headlong into a dark room.
Again, some stuff doesn't work. A "penis attachment" infomercial and an overwrought sketch on police tasked with prevented venereal diseases are lame (and full of nudity), and a game show parody fails, but still, there's more funny here than not-funny.
So there you go—a Troma release that's actually pretty funny. Fans of sketch comedy will likely get a bigger kick out of this stuff than anyone, but there should be ample material to amuse even the more jaded film buff. The humor doesn't work all the time, but both flicks' hit their necessary laughs-to-suck ratio to win a recommendation from me.
Extras include a "Troma's Edge" TV episode, basically a bite-sized portion of Troma-related gross-out gags and breasts, two minutes worth of bonus sketch comedy, a few spots, and truly disgusting Troma introduction.
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