Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Evil Laugh (1986)

Directed by:
Dominick Brascia

Jerry (Gary Hays) purchases a large, secluded house that used to be an orphanage and plans to restore it to use as a children's medical clinic. He calls up some friends, all of whom are in health related studies, and asks them to come up for the weekend to help him straighten the place up. Before everyone gets there, Jerry is killed and has his heart cut out. Delivery boy Donald (Tom Shell) also gets it with a drill. The weekend rolls along and the friends - mature Connie (Kim McKamy aka Ashlyn Gere), bimbo Tina (Jody Gibson, who'd go on to become a real-life "Hollywood Super Madam"), horror movie-loving Barney (Jerold Pearson, who acts exactly like Randy in SCREAM... only 10 years earlier), Scott Baio's lookalike brother Steven Baio (who co-wrote and co-produced with the director), blonde hunk Mark (Myles O'Brien) and snobby couple Sammy (Tony Griffin) and Betty (Karyn O'Bryan) - show up and get to work. Connie relates the sordid history of the home and how years earlier an orderly named Martin was framed for child molestion, which caused his father to commit suicide. Not long after Connie clues everyone in to why they got the place at a discounted rate, the killer starts doing his/her thing until the mask finally comes off.

The title alludes to the killer's penchant for laughter during most of the murder scenes, an idea that would be repeated in DR. GIGGLES (1992) a few years later. Here, the evil laugh sounds more like a silly giggle and it's a rather stupid and pointless way to try to differentiate this otherwise very hokey, run-of-the-mill 80s slasher from others of its type. There's some blood (though not much in the way of actual gore), some skin (though the lead actress - who'd become a porno superstar a few years down the line - amusingly used a body double for her shower scene!), some horror references, some unintended cannibalism (where the leads eat a victims heart, liver and even his - gasp - rocky mountain oysters) and some comedy. Well, a whole lot of comedy. In fact, the filmmakers obviously aren't taking any of this seriously. They couldn't be, could they? I mean, a guy getting his head roasted in a microwave oven with the door wide open? Muahahahahaha! See now, there's an evil laugh for ya. And I didn't even mention the God awful 80s pop tunes about partying the night away or the supremely cheesy music montage complete with close-ups of shaking butts. Where's Jesse Walsh when you need him?

Director/co-writer/co-producer Brascia (who also plays the Evil Laugher here) is best known to us horror geeks as the chubby, chocolate-smeared axe victim Joey in FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING (1985) and, as a inside joke, Mr. Brascia even managed to squeeze an issue of Fangoria dedicated to that film in here. Brascia also played small roles in the Sybil Danning psycho-sexual thriller THEY'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE (1984), the vampire comedy ONCE BITTEN (1985) and the campus slasher RUSH WEEK (1989), and directed the ultra-rare heavy metal werewolf flick HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE (1988), before moving on to a career as a radio host. Hal Shafer (SATAN'S STORYBOOK) and Johnny Venocur (SAVAGE STREETS) play cops.

Filmed in 1986 and not released until 1988. The DVD - a decent quality print - is from Lucky 13.

★1/2

1 comment:

spookyx3 said...

snoozeville script-wise & visually dull, too. as you said, another of the very few straight films lead actress kim mckamy made before heading off to pornland and resurfacing there as 'ashlyn gere' in 1989. contains an early (?) example of the "horror fan" character, who's seen all the movies and knows the rules. he reads FANGORIA (#45, july 1985), which was emphasized in the magazine when the movie came out on tape. elsewhere, there's bacall's famous line from TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, an implausible microwave death, and a cheap practical-joke ending that doesn't work.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...