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Gingerclown is a Hungarian/American co-production shot in Eastern Europe under the direction of Balázs Hatvani, who makes his feature film directorial debut with this picture. The movie begins in the Los Angeles of the early eighties where we hear, through a newscast, of Reagan's thoughts on the arms race while a tough guy jock named Biff (Michael Cannell-Griffiths) takes the piss out of the requisite school dork, Sam (Ashley Lloyd). Biff is quite obviously enjoying himself but his kindly girlfriend Jenny (Erin Hayes) thinks he is going too far and has no problem saying so. Biff eases up a bit but to prove that Sam is as manly a man as he, Biff double toucan dares him to head to the creepy old amusement park under cover of the night. Sam, in hopes of impressing Jenny, agrees this foolish dare and Jenny (again, she is kind of heart) doesn't want to see the poor guy hurt himself so she decides she'll go with him.
So off our three teenage characters go, intent on exploring what is admittedly a really effective location in which to stage a horror movie. As they make their way through the labyrinthine layout, pretty much everything that you'd expect to happen happens: lights start turning on for no discernable reason, they hear unusual noises and eventually they start to think they're seeing people or shadows or… something that inevitably tips them off to the fact that while this place may be abandoned, it is definitely not empty. As you'd guess, they inevitably meet up with the titular Ginger Clown (Tim Curry) but not before they run into such colorful characters as The Teakettle (Andrew Montesi), The Braineater (Lance Henriksen), Stomachcrumble (Michael Winslow), Nelly The Spiderwoman (Sean Young) and a Worm Creature (Brad Dourif)!
There's not much to the story, really, there's just that basic set up and then we, by way of the three main characters, start exploring the theme park. The park itself is great, it's authentic in how run down and creepy it is and it has about it a distinct feeling of seediness. It's a wafer-thin story at best. That means that pretty much everything depends on the performances and the set pieces. The performances are unconvincing at best but frequently far worse than that, bordering on terrible. The genre pros who are cast as the denizens of the theme park are fine but they really only have supporting roles and their screen time doesn't amount to a whole lot. That leaves the heavy lifting to Cannell-Griffith, Lloyd and Hayes and they're not really quite up to the task. They don't do anything memorable with their characters and they're pretty much instantly forgettable.
Much of the proposed appeal to this movie is going to hinge on the presence of Tim Curry, once again playing a clown (we probably don't have to remind you just how damn good he was as Pennywise in the made for TV min-series adaptation of Stephen King's It those many years ago) and it's true that he does very fine voice work here, but it's just that, voice work. The same goes for Dourif, Young, Henrisken and Winslow: voice work only. Don't expect to see Curry's leering face peering out from behind a creepy makeup job, he doesn't physically appear in the picture at all. As great as Curry's voice work is, however, when he's delivering dialogue as poorly written and completely riddled with clichés as the dialogue he and everyone else deliver in this picture, it's a waste of great talent. On top of that the movie was obviously shot to be shown in 3D but the presentation here is 2D only, so expect things to move towards the camera in an attempt to take advantage of a format you don't get to watch the movie in.Video:
Gingerclown arrives on DVD in a nice 2.35.1 anamorphic transfer. The movie is pretty dark in spots and there is some crush and some minor compression artifacts in those really dark scenes but otherwise you get the impression that the movie looks like it should look. Shot digitally there are obviously no print damage issues here and the image is pretty clean. Color reproduction is fine, there are moments where it's actually pretty impressive, while blacks stay deep. Skin tones look decent enough as well and there are no problems with contrast. Detail is pretty much as good as DVD will allow for, this isn't a bad transfer at all.Sound:
The only audio option provided is a well-mixed English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track with optional subtitles available in English and Spanish. The 5.1 track uses the rear channels quite well to build atmosphere and add some punch to the more dramatic scenes in the film. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout and the removable subs are easy to read. There are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion, the movie sounds just fine here.Extras:
Aside from a trailer or the feature, static menus and a few promos for other Lionsgate properties, the only extra on the disc is a short (five minute) and fairly inconsequential behind the scenes featurette containing some promotional talking head style sound bites with Sean Young and Lance Henriksenin which they talk about their characters and doing voice work in the movie. A download code for a Digital HD version of the movie is also included inside the keepcase alongside the DVD.Final Thoughts:
Gingerclown was a chore to get through. The DVD presentation is fine even if it is light on extras but the movie itself, despite the presence of some genuine genre stars, isn't funny nor is it frightening. There are moments where its ‘eighties throwback style' is legitimately effective but vein attempts at playing to nostalgia can't make a bad movie better than it is. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.