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When did Full Moon Features become so shamelessly focused on
merchandising? Charles Band has always been conscious of enfranchising his
guilty pleasure B-pictures, and his late-‘80s/early-’90s productions provided a
fun alternative to the era’s endless direct-to-video horror sequels (and
perhaps certain 10-year-olds found a crossover of PUPPETMASTER and DEMONIC TOYS
as exciting a prospect as Transformers fighting G.I. Joe…though not nearly as cool
as the possibility of ALIEN VS. PREDATOR).
That was then, this is the DVD for EVIL BONG 3D: THE WRATH
OF BONG, which, when viewed through a haze of cynicism, plays out like a
feature-length commercial for cartoonish pot paraphernalia. The esteemed Mr. Band
would clearly rather you watch the film through a different kind of haze, but
he also stuck a commercial for Hauntedcasinos.com ahead of the DVD menu that
attempts to sell you on collector playing cards, T-shirts, cigarette lighters
and shot glasses before mentioning that, oh yeah, THE HAUNTED CASINO is a movie
starring Sid Haig and Michael Berryman.
Then again, like many of Full Moon’s creature designs, the
Alien Bong would look really cool as a collectible, with its snaky horns,
Boglin grin and black-light-ready eyes. It sucks as a movie monster, but Band’s
film makes a running gag out of acknowledging that. EVIL BONG 3D takes the plot
of a ’50s sci-fi potboiler and cross-pollinates it with winking post-High Times
pot humor. When a spaceship carrying a fussy-voiced extraterrestrial water-pipe
crashes in Southern California, it’s mistaken for a meteor, THE BLOB-style, and
winds up in the head shop run by stoners Brett (Brian Lloyd) and Bachmann
(Mitch Eakins). From there, the Alien Bong begins to plot world domination,
despite the efforts of UFO enthusiast Alistair (Peter Stickles) and martial
arts expert Larnell (John Patrick Jordan).
Apparently, the evil bong plans to whisk potheads to its
home world to propagate with an alien species, represented by half-nude women
in body paint standing in a smoky room full of black-out curtains. The story
eventually spins into developments that would confuse a straight-edge audience
paying sharp attention; the movie challenges PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE for number
of scenes in which an incomprehensible alien conspiracy is discussed endlessly
by actors stranded on cheap sets.
Those actors are basically the best part of EVIL BONG 3D.
Stickles, Jordan, Lloyd and Jacob Witkin aren’t brilliant enough to transform
dumb weed puns into an entertaining movie, but they are all charming and game
for a task that they must all be aware falls well below their talent (special
mention must be made of Christina DeRosa as the silent Nurse Hookah, whose
shameless pantomime and mugging doesn’t detract from the simple fact that she’s
really, really hot). Any chuckles earned by the film come solely from the
cast’s comic timing, such as when Stickles is approached by a topless woman and
deadpans, “I seem to have encountered an alien being.”
Stickles is the third actor to play Alistair, but most of
the cast returns from the first two EVIL BONG movies. If you missed the first
two, the backstories are the one element of this film that isn’t confusing;
each character’s entrance is accompanied by dialogue recapping their role in
the previous adventure. For example, the always appealing Robin Sydney shows
up, and the others go to great lengths to explain to the audience what made her
character an irredeemable harpy. Also returning: Eebee, the talking bong with a
stereotypical sassy-black-lady voice, whose cliché-ridden dialogue can’t even
muster the energy to be offensive. That the puppeteered mouths on both talking
bongs can’t even remotely approximate the spoken dialogue just reeks of the
laziness that soaks this production.
So EVIL BONG 3D isn’t much fun and doesn’t make much sense,
but how’s the 3D? Answer: a complete failure. Band goes with the blue-and-red
lenses and then doesn’t even do anything to exploit the effect. There are a few
MIND’S EYE-style CGI kaleidoscopes and exactly one joke in which an object is
shoved into the lens (a pipe being passed, predictably), but otherwise, the 3D
contributes little more than a headache. Unfortunately, the DVD does not
include an option to watch in two dimensions (though a 2-D disc is available
What is included are “Sniff-O-Rama” scratch-and-smell cards
that follow the model of John Waters’ Odorama from POLYESTER: A number appears
on screen, you scratch the corresponding circle…and get a nosefull of the most
nauseating chemical approximations of marijuana funk conceivable. Inhale too
closely, and you’ll end up with an exceedingly unpleasant taste in your mouth
to go with the sudden desperate need to scrub your fingernails. The nauseating
smell is repeated until finally, some variety toward the end, in the form of
artificial rose scent (contributing the movie’s one truly clever gag) and
oregano standing in for an onscreen pizza.
EVIL BONG 3D may fall short of entertaining via either the
lame film or poorly executed gimmicks, but it’s not for lack of trying. The
“Ultimate Stoner Edition” DVD comes with a special feature composed of six
videos created by Full Moon fans to advertise EVIL BONG 3D (also featuring
Puppet Master and The Gingerdead Man) and a four-minute video featuring Band
working the crowd at EVIL BONG 3D’s Chicago premiere, followed by a few
charitable fan testimonials. Shameless as he is, Band is one of the rare
low-budget film producers attempting to package value and fun into his products.
Though he’s unlikely to capture a fan base with this lame excuse for a movie,
no one could accuse him of skimping on the extra features.
DVD/ Blu-ray Reviews
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