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Even “Rocky” Had A Montage
1986. The citizens of the US of A were able to sleep soundly at night. They knew that even as they slept, they would by kept safe. For they were all under the dedicated, unflinching watch of one man. A man of integrity. A man of honor. A man who could be counted on to step up when the moment needed him. A man in charge. A man named “Charles”.
Actually, none of that is true. Charles In Charge was cancelled by CBS in 1985. It was not until it’s relaunch into syndication in 1987 that the show became a hit. None of this matters, though. This isn’t about Charles In Charge. This isn’t even about Scott Baio. No, this is actually about Scott’s less successful brother, Steven, and a little mid 80’s slasher/comedy that he wrote, produced, and starred in called Evil Laugh.
I’ll be honest, folks. I had never even heard of this movie till a few years ago or so. I had stumbled across a mini-review and was sold on the idea of watching some low-budget, 80’s cheese starring the never-was sibling of someone I mostly remember as one of my older sister’s “obsessions” from when we were growing up. Where was Don Swayze when this was being made?
“Evil Laugh” is directed by Dominick Brascia. Brascia also directed the movie Hard Rock Nightmare (not to be confused with one of my personal favorites, Rock N’ Roll Nightmare, starring Jon Mikl Thor), but horror fans will most likely remember him as “Joey”, the candy-loving helmet-head that gets hacked to pieces at the beginning of Friday The 13th Part V – A New Beginning. Joey’s death then sets off what will be arguably one of the worst entries in that series. Thanks, Dominick. Jerk.
Damn you, Joey!!!
Our movie opens on an abandoned house. A “For Sale” sign is planted in the yard, the words “stay out” scrawled upon it. The real estate agent walks to the front door and knocks. If he is the agent in charge of this house, shouldn’t he know that no one is home? As he knocks, his shoulder is grabbed from behind. It’s a delivery boy for a nearby grocery store. The realtor directs him to the kitchen to put away the order. The person renting the house has just arrived, so the real estate agent leaves the delivery boy and goes outside to meet the new owner.
The buyer is a young pediatrician named Jerry. Jerry is buying the house to use as his future office. His friends, young medical interns themselves, will be joining him this weekend to help him get the place cleaned up. After a quick chat and getting the keys, the realtor leaves and Jerry heads into the house. He enters the kitchen. Our killer is in the kitchen. Believing this to be the grocery boy, Jerry scolds him for the bull hearts and monkey brains missing from the grocery order. Yes, you read that correctly. The killer stabs Jerry in the back a few times, then cuts Jerry’s heart out and places it in a bowl on the counter.
The credits roll as a generic 80’s pop song kicks in. You’ll be tempted to laugh or maybe even cringe, but don’t. Not yet. Things are about to get much worse for your eyes and ears. Especially your ears.
The film picks back up to find 3 of Jerry’s med school buddies hitting the road to spend the weekend helping their friend start a new life. Oh, and to get drunk and laid. That’s pretty important too. We have Mark, the “tough guy” of the group. He’s only concerned with nailing his friend’s girlfriend. Barney is into horror movies. When we first meet him, he is reading a Fangoria magazine with Friday the 13th: A New Beginning on the cover. (The director making a little nod to his “known” role.) Barney is also a whiny lil bitch. Then there is Johnny, played by Baio. Johnny fills no discernible stereotype, but this does not stop Baio from making sure that his character gets a bulk of the screen time; screen time that consist of 50% of his brother Scott’s charisma and 200% of David Payter’s hairline.
Next, we meet 2 young women traveling in a Jeep. There is Connie, Jerry’s fiance. She tends to be the most grounded and mature member of the cast. “Connie” is played by actress Kim McKamy. We will have a little more to say about Kim later in this review, but for this moment, our focus is on the braless, blonde bimbo sitting in the Jeep with her. This is Tina, Johnny’s on-again/off-again girlfriend. The role of “Tina” is played by Jody Gibson. Jody, also known as “Babydoll”, did not have a very successful acting career. However, she was much more successful in her following career as the “Hollywood Super Madam”. You see, under the name of “Sasha”, Gibson ran one of the most successful escort services in the world during the mid/late 90’s, featuring more than 30 girls under her employ and servicing (ahem) more than 1,000 clients in North America & Europe. Way to achieve your goals, Jody!!!!
Also joining in is Sammy and his girlfriend, Betty. These two are snobby “rich kid” friends of Jerry’s. They don’t really add much to the film other than a brief scene of tension between Sammy and Johnny. They are really just there to pad out the kill total.
The 3 guys are the first to arrive at the house and from there the film quickly displays its self awareness that this is a horror spoof. While searching the house, a lamp is knocked over (presumably on its own) and breaks, which causes Johnny to say that he “hopes this place isn’t haunted”. Barney then replies that he hopes that “a guy in a hockey mask named Jason doesn’t show up”. In another slightly humorous scene just a few moments later, we see Barney with his face in a state of shock as he finds Jerry’s still warm heart in the bowl on the kitchen counter. When asked what is the problem, his shock quickly becomes a wide grin as he states, “Look at how fresh this heart is! I’m going to start cooking before it goes bad!”. That’s right, friends! Jerry has just become the first meal served at his own housewarming. And I was content when my new neighbors left me an ashtray.
The next morning, Jerry has not returned from wherever his friends think he’s disappeared to. By this point, Jerry is somewhere in their lower intestines. Maybe even in the colon area. There are a lot of excuses as to where he could be, but there is never any thought to calling and notifying the police. And this is probably a good thing as just a few minutes earlier we watched the local sheriff getting his throat slit in the driveway of the house while looking for the now missing delivery boy. Odd that no other members of the local or county police force think to question what has happened to the sheriff when he is not heard from again.
It’s not as odd as the very next scene where Jerry’s disappearance is quickly dismissed once Mark pops an already queued up tape into a cassette player and the cast begins a montage of them dancing as they clean up and organize the house. You will quickly miss the song that played during the opening credits as the song played here just might be the single worst song that you have ever heard. You know the song from The Poseidon Adventure? Let’s just say that I have a whole new appreciation for it after this hellish tune. Seriously, folks, if this movie were made today, I would be proclaiming this scene as one of the most brilliant parodies that I’ve ever seen. The choice to have a close-up shot of each cast member shaking their ass may be the pinnacle of this kind of 80’s excess. At least they were smart enough to keep Barney out of this scene.
I’d like to point out that maybe the characters should have done more cleaning and a little less ass shakin’ because when they finish with their dancing, the house is in the exact same condition as when they started. Charles would have had that house spotless by now and still would have had time to go cruising for chicks with Buddy Lembeck or to explaining dating to Jaime Powell.
From this point on, the film becomes your average slasher with the killer picking off the cast members one by one. The kills are amazingly gore free (most likely due to budget restraints) until the next to last kill of the film. I won’t say much, but it’s pretty damn bloody and just downright laughable, but not as laughable as when the same kill was used many years later in the remake of The Last House On The Left. Barney, with all the horror films that he’s watched, is the only character to figure out that things just aren’t right and tries to persuade the others to leave. See? Horror movies are good for you after all!
Fun Fact: In a tacked-on scene at the very end of the film, Kim McKamy’s character (Connie) is supposed to get naked for a shower scene. McKamy adamantly refused to do the nude scene, so a body double was used in her place. McKamy obviously lost her aversion to on-screen nudity as years later she would do HUNDREDS of nude scenes as part of her next career as porn star “Ashlyn Gere”. She apparently also got over her aversion to sodomy and having guys ejaculate on her.
I’ll be honest here. I truly expected this movie to be all kinds of awful. Instead, it is actually a fairly decent slasher spoof made by people who obviously have some fondness for the genre. No, not all the jokes work and, yes, the music and acting are atrocious (more so the music). However, fans of slasher movies and of 80’s teen flicks may just find enough here to entertain them.
In what was surely a move that they later regretted, Dominick and Steven were offered a 3 picture deal by Vestron in exchange for distribution rights to Evil Laugh. The duo rejected.