Starring Monique Gabrielle, Barbara Dare, Madison, David Carradine
"You little bitch! I'll get you in the sequel for this!"
Any Fred Olen Ray film offers up a good amount of what-the-fuck, but Evil Toons seriously pours the weirdness on. It's possible that Mr. Ray was inspired by the then-startling cartoon-human interaction in Who Killed Roger Rabbit? (1988), and decided he could do pretty much the same job - and with way more tits - for peanuts. Of course, he could not, and the result is so laughable, so piss-poor in design and execution, that you really do question your sanity - or Ray's - when you first see the evil toon in question. I don't know how or why it happened, but the animated ghoulie was designed by none other than Chas Balun, the beloved, weird-bearded hippy horror-journalist responsible for seminal 80's splatter movie guide Gore Score and the influential horror-mag Deep Red. That's just the first of many cult-figure appearances here, but it's definitely the most left-field addition to this motley crew. I don't know much about Balun's artistic background, but one thing is for sure: you probably drew a better monster on the cover of your notebook in seventh grade.
So, forget the monster. It's barely in the film anyway. The real draw here is the crazy cast: Kung Fu's David Carradine, long before his Tarantino resurrection, Laugh In's own Tyrone F Hornheigh himself, Arte Johnson, Corman's go-to bit actor, Dick Miller, scrumptious scream queen Michelle Bauer, Penthouse Pet and 80's b-queen Monique Gabrielle, and two of the 90's bigger porn starlets, Barbara Dare and Madison, are all on deck for this goofy haunted house romp. With a cast like that, you hardly need a story. Which is good, because you hardly get one.
In the typically senseless prologue, the awesomely named Gideon Fisk (Carradine) receives helpful advice from Evil Dead-esque monster-faced book and then walks into a stately mansion and promptly hangs himself. Fast-forward several hundred years.
Sleazeball Burt (Miller) runs a cleaning service staffed by four floozies (well, three floozies and a nerd-girl), and snags a pearly gig spiffing up the long-abandoned mansion where Fisk offed himself. In one of the worst day labor deals I've ever heard, Burt drops the girls off on a Friday afternoon. They're instructed to clean the house - and live in it while they're doing so - and when he returns on Monday morning, he'll pay them all $100 each.
Roxanne (Madison) is the gum-snapping wiseacre. Megan (Gabrielle), is the four-eyed geek. Jan (Dare) is the bossy leader of the group, and Terry (Suzanne Ager) is the...other blonde one, I guess. Besides Megan, who dresses in sweatpants and oversized shirts, the girls report for duty wearing halter-tops and cut-off shorts.
They load up on essentials (Wonder Bread and Budweiser), and head into the spooky house for long their weekend of sweeping, dusting, and demon-slaying. Mr. Hinchlow (Johnson) the creepy next-door neighbor, shows up to get the this-house-is-cursed ball rolling ("I just wanted to see your faces, in case I have to identify your bodies for the cops later," he tells them), and after he splits, the girls head down to the basement to start cleaning.
Maybe they're miffed about the low wages, but it should be noted that the girls never actually do any cleaning. They do snoop a lot, though, and when they're down in the basement, they find a ceremonial dagger. This seems like a satisfying enough turn of events for them, so they quit work early and go upstairs to dance.
Well, Roxanne dances, at least, eventually doffing her top and showing the girls her not-so-subtle powers of seduction. She attempts to get mousy Megan to join in the fun, but Meg flips out and runs upstairs, wherein she strips and fondles herself in the mirror for awhile.
While Meg self-explores upstairs, the other girls are visited by Carradine, who hands them the skin-mask book. They cannot read it, but seem to enjoy the ridiculously adolescent demon-sex drawings. When Megan finally comes downstairs, they show her the book, and being the intellectual of the bunch, she's able to decipher the weird writing. Turns out it's one of those 'invocation of demonic evil' type tomes, but Meg figures this out too late, and after everyone else has gone to sleep, Roxanne not only unleashes a cartoon demon, but gets raped and then possessed by it.
If this film is remembered for anything, it's for Madison's lingerie modeling display right before she's confronted by the wolf-monster cartoon thing. You may have heard about it at some point. Well, I am happy to confirm that it is, indeed, as fucking awesome as you imagine.
Right, so Roxanne is possessed, and she spends the next hour or so chasing the girls around the house with an axe. Amazingly, though, the girls still find the time to pose topless every ten or so minutes.
Various slasher movie hiijinks ensue and then the girls call up Mr. Hinchlow, who, thankfully, knows exactly how to combat cartoon evil.
The everybody-wins climax is so sugary that is could put you into diabetic shock, but how could Ray finish this delirious mess, really, except in a puff of smoke and a retarded happy ending that neatly erases everything that happened before? I suppose you could cite the Wizard of Oz as an inspiration for the what-the-fuck finale. Why not?
Evil Toons was made relatively early in Fred Olen Ray's long and winding career in bimbosploitation, and you can feel the heat of his momentum here. The VHS market was blazing away, Ray finally had the budget to snag well-known actors (if only for a day), and the porn star crossover assured him maximum skin for minimum effort. He was clearly firing on all cylinders at this point, and along with a few other seminal titles like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) and Bikini Drive-in (1995), Evil Toons is a mandatory watch for potential and confirmed F.O.R. fans. It's not as (intentionally) funny as some of his other films, but it's delightfully loony, and many boners will surely be popped.
Interestingly, this was the only non-sex appearance for both Barbara Dare and Madison. A bit of shame, really, since both of them show considerable acting potential. Ok, so neither of them were destined for Oscars, but surely, scream queendom was easily within their grasp. Considering Olen Ray's frugality, I imagine porn was just more lucrative. It appears that Arte Johnson enjoyed slumming it with B-movie auteur, because he also shot the oddly titled Munchies sequel 'Munchie' with Jim Wynorski in 1992. Then again, maybe he just had a boner for Monique Gabrielle, since she co-starred with him in that deathless epic. All four girls seem to have finally sputtered out at this point, but they leave long and boner-popping resumes full of juicy B, Z, and XXX films behind them. And Fred, well, odds are you'll quit whatever it is you do long before Fred ever stops making trashy movies.
Availability: Evil Toons is available on DVD.
Clip: Evil Toons trailer!
- Ken McIntyre