Get ready for a surprise. Gingerclown has been released!
Wait, what do you mean you’ve never heard of Gingerclown? This is quite upsetting to me.
Gingerclown has been on its way for a good three, four years now and I heard of the film around the same time it was first revealed and to be fair, I got my knickers all kinds of wet from the news. It was multiple things that made me excited about this movie: it was intended to be a throwback to the old drive-in movies and horror flicks of yore. It featured puppets and animatronics rather than CGI. It takes place in an old, run down amusement park. But perhaps the thing that got me the most excited was that it featured three of my favorite horror actors of all times: Tim Curry, Brad Dourif and Lance Henriksen.
And I waited. Then I waited some more. God how I waited. And then… I forgot about it. Seriously, it took that long for this movie to be released even though it was supposedly done back in 2011. Luckily, though, I had told my friend about it and he was more diligent than me, keeping his eyes on Amazon until it was released. So great was his joy when he invited me over under false pretenses that he could barely contain himself, sitting me down in the sofa and going “Guess what movie!” as he played the first few seconds.
In case you’re curious, I guessed right.
Gingerclown takes place in the eighties and follows a trio of teenagers wrapped up in a dare. Biff, the stereotypical jock bully, dares the nerdy, weak Sam to enter the old, abandoned amusement park and bring back something awesome in return for a kiss from his girlfriend, Jenny. However, Jenny will have none of it and tired of Biff’s bullying ways instead joins Sam exploring the amusement park. But little do they know that the park is home to a pack of disgusting monsters just eager to pounce on their next prey. Unwittingly they’ve walked straight into Gingerclown’s trap.
Like I said, on paper it sounded like the most awesome movie in history. Did you read the part about the jock being named BIFF? There was nothing about this movie that wasn’t getting me excited. At least until the actors tried their hand at acting. Now, to be fair, Ashley Lloyd, Erin Hayes and Michael Cannell-Griffiths as Sam, Jenny and Biff respectively are decent in their roles but everyone else is horrible (not counting voice cast but we’ll get to that). There’s bad actors but there’s also an actor whose accent can best be described as a horrible mix of British, German and American and remember, this is supposed to take place in eighties America. I don’t think there were a lot of kids with that accent running around with the cool kid gang. I actually had to do a double take just to make sure I had heard right.
Luckily we mostly follow Sam and Jenny around but this is where the really ugly side of Gingerclown starts rearing its ugly head: there is no plot. The basic premise is there but it feels more like they came up with a bunch of different set pieces and monsters then tried to tie all of it together with the flimsiest of excuses possible. The result is Sam and Jenny aimlessly walking around an old amusement park, most often simply seeing cool stuff rather than being involved in it. There’s an entire scene where two monsters argue without Sam and Jenny even noticing despite the argument being quite loud.
Another scene has Sam and Jenny come across a grotesque form of some kind arguing about modernizing the sound system. And that’s it! That’s all you see of that monster and it’s not even related to anything that happens in the movie.
And that’s where the second biggest problem comes in: wasted voice cast. When you have three horror icons like Tim Curry, Lance Henriksen and Brad Dourif on your cast, you better do the most with them. Add Michael Winslow and Sean Young and you better deliver the greatness.
But the movie has no clue what to do with any of these actors. Both Sean Young and Brad Dourif show up for one measly scene and the Henriksen and Winslow duo is a painful slog of material a ten year old would find juvenile. I admit it was kind of funny hearing Lance Henriksen spouting very un-Lanceish dialog but that only works for so long. The only one who gets any kinds of decent screen time and material is Tim Curry but it was hard to tell it was even supposed to be Tim Curry. It sounded like Tim Curry doing an impression of how people think Tim Curry sounds like.
My best guess is that the director approached these actors merely out of fanboy eagerness rather than having anything in mind for them, fitting them in where he could. Everyone, even Tim Curry, is horribly underutilized and, like I mentioned before, terribly unfunny. Winslow, “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects”, at one point devolves into a minute or more long dialog exchange consisting primarily of burps and farts and changing the pitch of his voice up and down… this is not how you best utilize Larvelle “Motor Mouth” Jones’ talent!
If I didn’t know any better I’d say the voice cast were given no direction and were basically just told to goof off and they’d fit it into the movie later.
Which brings us to the third problem: the production. You can really tell this is the debut because it is shot in an extremely amateurish way and the budget was ridiculously low. They boast about using puppets and animatronics instead of CGI but the effects are so poor they don’t dare showing them on screen. The titular Gingerclown is barely in the movie at all and when he is it’s usually just in quick cutaways or partially off screen.
And the closeups, oh dear lord. The previously mentioned dialog exchange between Henriksen and Winslow is shot close up and never… ever… changes. It is literally the same angle from the same distance the entire time.
That’s not to say there’s no positives in the production at all. There are some genuinely creepy sets and the amusement park environment is sometimes used extremely effectively. There were times when I wondered how they pulled off certain shots and others where I simply had to admit they had done well.
But none of that takes away from the fourth and perhaps biggest flaw of the movie: it’s dull as shit. This movie doesn’t even make it past the ninety minute mark but it felt like it was three or four hours long. Towards the end I was honestly convinced it had a running time over two hours but then we still had twenty minutes to go.
It looks with envy at snails and molasses and glaciers moving at lightning speed compared to its own. I am not even kidding, we were seriously contemplating turning the movie off several times and doing something better with our time. And I sat through “A Scanner Darkly“… WITHOUT drugs!
And the ending leaves so much to be desired… so much.
All things considered, you have to cut this movie some slack because it was made in Hungary and it was the debut of a thirty something. It’s impressive that he did what he did. But with that said, it’s still an awful movie. Just awful…