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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

Evil Laugh Dominic Brascia 1988

It's Not Laughing AT You, It's Laughing IN SPITE OF You.

I wasn’t actually planning on writing a full review of the utterly preposterous late-era slasher Evil Laugh, but after writing my recap of it in the Homo Horror Guide, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. While Evil Laugh is not by any means a good film and not really even in so-bad-it’s-good territory, it’s a testament to the fact that in-betweens can also be perfectly enjoyable, even in spite of themselves. God, that makes absolutely no sense – but then again, neither does this movie.

I’ll almost admit that Evil Laugh is far more interesting as a concept than as an actual move – its backstory and odd synergies are certainly more fascinating than the plot or characters, and if there weren’t all the ridiculous gay subtext stinking up the place, it would be pretty standard throw-away crap (see also: Hide and Shriek, a kissing cousin). For starters, the film is the lovechild of the unholy union between the fat kid from Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (Dominic Brascia) and Chachi’s brother (Steven Baio). That alone merits a viewing in my book – how often do you get to see the contents of the minds such pop culture also-rans spilled out on screen? And this is in no way meant to be an insult – I would kill to be an also-ran (victim in a revered slasher series; brother of a teen heartthrob; publicist). As it is I’m kind of standing on the sidelines, smoking a cigarette and cheering on the runners, waiting for one of them to trip so I can laugh (File Under: Buzz Gets Real).

Anyway, the film starts as a curiosity and pinwheels downhill from there, picking up all sorts of debris on the way down. In the first scene we are introduced to a creepy med student, Jerry (Gary Hays, who has the kind of complexion where his hair, face, and eyes all look the same color – totally beiged out), who is apparently looking at buying an old house and inviting his school friends for the weekend to “try it out” (never having owned property, I can only imagine that this is even remotely possible in the real estate world). Groceries are delivered, hissy-fits are thrown, and a killer who is apparently terrified of dishpan hands kills Jerry and cuts his heart out (the killer is really low-rent: dishwashing gloves, a hoodie, and a ski mask. Wait – dishwashing gloves?!). We don’t see any actual gore (the heart is cheesy – but it is steaming, which is a nice touch), and the intro is not exactly promising.

Cut to pop music and people in cars!!

In the finest of slasher traditions, we then have a sequence where “hot” “kids” drive their cars listening to “cool” “pop music”. There’s the obvious Final Girl, Connie (Kim McKamy – obvious because she’s wearing a rugby shirt and gets under the hood of a car a la Linda Blair in Hell Night) and the bimbo Tina (Jody Gibson – I write these names as if anyone will have any need for them) in a Jeep. Then there’s the Incredibly Straight Trio, Johnny (Baio, contractually obligated to have his tits out in every scene), Mark (Myles O’Brien, who is contractually obligated to wear only the tightest shorts available at the local JC Penney), and Barney (Jerold Pearson, who looks very familiar despite never having appeared in anything that anyone would have ever seen, unless you watch “Matlock”) in a convertible. And then there’s the Preppie Couple, rich-bitch Betty (Karyn O’Bryan, looking oddly like a blonde Heather Langenkamp) and Sammy (Tony Griffin, apparently trying to disinherit himself out of his father Merv’s fortune) in another convertible, although all you’ll really notice is their matching newsboy-caps and the sweaters draped over their shoulders. Subtle.

So the “kids” (okay, they’re supposed to be in medical school, so I can drop that one) arrive at the house as the realtor and his harpy of a wife are leaving, apparently horrified of the place – and not just because it looks like a Chi-Chi’s (for more Homes that Look Like Mexican Restaurants, check out the page in the Movies of the Weak section – there IS something going on here…). They proceed to hang out and talk about how much fun they’re going to have… cleaning the place! Yes, these fun-loving twenty-somethings are here for a weekend of rampant unprotected sex, booze, and serious Swiffing. When Connie lays out the rules of who will sleep where, Barney launches into a totally random diatribe about how her fiancé Jerry (the dead one with the coloring of Bart Simpson) is gay and how he won’t sleep in the same room as a homo. Um, what? First off, you’re the one wearing the ladies’ crop-top sweatshirt, Barney – you shouldn’t exactly be going around calling the kettle “fag”. And considering some of the other odd antics of the character, it is obvious that his forced homophobia is an obvious and pathetic attempt to mask his own gayness.

Check out the way he’s constantly talking about being in a house full of hot women and yet he never hits on any of them. Watch how he engages in an inordinate amount of inappropriate touching with his guy friends. Notice how he has to cook dinner and is locked in the basement for hours by himself, like most homosexuals. Oh… um…
But the Giant Pink Gay Elephant in the middle of the room for Mr. Barney comes in what is easily the best scene of the movie, when Mark (the exceedingly fit, weatherman-haired O’Brien) seduces the air-headed Tina in one of the bedrooms. The scene begins with a man’s hand stabbing up through the mattress with a knife, and pulling back down when the lovebirds enter the room. Ooooh… suspense (well, not really – but what would pass for a “suspense exercise” in remedial film school). The two horny med students get down to business, with Mark lying back on the bed (suspense! Suspense!) in his short-shorts as Tina takes her top off, and then Tina slowly and sensually stripping off his shorts, then his manties (they even go so far as to have her voiceover “Oooh Mark, the rumors are true!”, in atypically male-objectifying fashion). Mark is CLEARLY the object of affection here, not Tina – just look at how the two are shot and lit (Mark is spread across the frame to emphasize his ripped torso and lit lovingly in a warm glow; Tina is stood against a white wall with a set of headlights aimed in her direction and shot in a profile) and the determination to get Mark naked – he’s totally nude, and Tina still has her pants on. It’s actually way too hot for its own good.

Anyway, Mark rolls his nekkid self onto Tina and the two make out, Mark’s smooth, tight buns bared like 2 eggs sunny-side-up. Suddenly, a man’s hand emerges from a hole in the mattress, snakes around the lovers, and begins to gently caress Mark’s bare back. Surely enough, just when you’re saying to yourself, “No, they so will not go there,” the hand coquettishly slides down past the small of Mark’s toned back and breaches the incline of his taut rump – when it crests the hump of his pooper, it settles in and begins to gently squeeze. The moment stretches on for an eternity – nations rise and fall, entire bloodlines are extinguished, and I eat my weight in Eskimo Pies. Eventually, Mark and Tina notice that someone other than her is testing his man-melons for freshness, and they jump out of bed to reveal…

Barney hiding underneath, laughing. Yes, our resident closet-case has been copping a feel of his best friend for the past 10 minutes – he tries to pass it off as “oh, I thought it was Tina’s!”, and while this is entirely possible (O’Brien’s supple, smooth haunches have obviously been exfoliated and moisturized with utmost care), it’s not at all likely. He scurries out of the room, as does Tina, taking with her the sheet that Mark has grabbed to cover hisself. In a flash of OMG-thank-you-for-DVD-frame-by-frame glory, Mark’s pickle is brandished momentarily for all the world to see.

It is truly a high point for the genre.

After that, the idiots get killed and the movie falls to shit. Well, actually – there’s another amusing diversion to keep things fresh and frisky: Sammy and Betty (the preppies) spend nearly the entire movie locked in their room, not having sex. They talk about it a lot, but when it comes down to it they never really… well, come down to it. But one funny tangent involves a failed bout of S&M experimentation that ultimately leads to their demises (you know the drill: it’s vanilla or nothin’ for these folks!): Sammy, in a leather thong (?!) ties Betty to the bed and teases her with a cat-o-nine-tails and a can of whipped cream, which turns out to be empty. Frustrated, he heads to the kitchen to get more, leaving Betty bound and gagged and begging to get fucked, killed, or photographed (or all three). But the kicker is that Sammy heads to the kitchen wearing what is obviously a woman’s cheetah-print “silk” robe (with shoulderpads!), a studded leather collar, and his thong: he looks like a cross between Frank-N-Furter and Dorothy Zbornak. It's really all quite mind-boggling.

Aside from that and a lame last-act twist, not much happens. In fact, this is one of those movies that's more interesting because of what happened around it than because of what's actually in it. For one, there's the whole Chachi connection, which is one of the greatest incidents of Unfamous Siblingism ever. Then there's the fact that the writer/director was the chocolate-coated tubbins who got the axe in his back in Friday 5. Also very interesting, yes? The movie was also apparently shot in seven days or something (leaving me to wonder what they did with the other 4). And my favorite bit of trivia: if Final Girl Kim McKamy looks a wee bit familiar, picture her in a red dye-job getting it up the poopchute by TT Boy, and it may trip your memory: mere years after shooting Evil Laugh, Kim entered the adult movie business and became one of the most famous and beloved porn actresses of the nineties, Ashlyn Gere, making hundreds of videos. Recently Kim has returned to acting in "legit" features (she was the office manager in the Willard remake), but she's certainly blazed her legacy across the tattered libidos of millions of boys with VCRs in their parents' basements. Oddly, Kim keeps it on for almost all of Evil Laugh -- and when she takes a shower in the last scene (which was obviously filmed much later), it looks like a body double was used! Methinks the lady doth protest too much, eh?

In all, good for a handful of laughs and some really odd homoerotic overtones. And buns!

Rating (out of 5):