EVIL TOONS (1992) Blu-ray
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Retromedia Entertainment Group

What do you get when you combine a former Kung-Fu action star, some former adult video actresses and Dick “That Guy” Miller? EVIL TOONS!

The film opens a hundred years ago with Gideon Fisk (David Carradine, KUNG-FU, BOUND FOR GLORY) returning to his home with a strange leather-bound spell book, similar to The Necronomicon from THE EVIL DEAD (1982). He ropes a noose around his neck and tells the talking book that he has cheated it and hangs himself. Fast-forward to present day and Burt (Dick Miller, WAR OF THE SATELLITES, THE HOWLILNG) hires four college girls to clean up an old house (Fisk’s). Later that night, Fisk shows up at the front door in a swirling mist and hands them the spell book and the girls begin flipping through the pages. On one specific page, there is a cartoon drawing of a green-brown monster which escapes from the book as an animated cartoon figure. It attacks and eats Roxanne (Madison Stone, NAKED OBSESSION) and uses her physical form with some hilarious yellow fangs in her mouth to terrorize the other girls in the house.

Who are the other girls? Megan (Monique Gabrielle, BACHELOR PARTY), Jan (Barbara Dare, FOR HER PLEASURE ONLY) and Susan Ager (FATAL JUSTICE). All of these actresses worked in the adult video industry or close to the genre’s edge. Throughout the film, they are removing their tops, dressing and redressing. Of the four, Susan Ager brings a contrast to her co-stars as she understands this film is a horror/comedy B-movie while the other three just say their lines. Her eye-rolls and snarky comments (scripted or not) are the best bits of the movie. Scream Queen Michelle Bauer (HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS) and comedy legend Arte Johnson (LOVE AT FIRST BITE) also appear in the film.

EVIL TOONS was shot in only six days. Director Fred Olen Ray’s commentary reveals interesting facts including that the voice of the possessed Roxanne is by Robert Quarry (COUNT YORGA VAMPIRE). Dick Miller has a scene where he is watching TV showing himself in another film. (“Why didn’t that guy ever win an Oscar?” he asks himself.) Ray mentions that he never likes to film scenes of people doing drugs or men beating women which is very commendable. Ray lived within blocks of most of the actors in the film so he dropped by or called them and asked if they wanted to be in a new cheesy B-film. EVIL TOONS, as Ray puts it, is a film that you gather up your friends, a case of beer and watch this disc and have fun. This is an extremely low-budget production but Ray and cinematographer Gary Graver pull out every old trick in the book to make EVIL TOONS look much bigger. There are some “Easter Eggs” and the color-work is almost on par with Mario Bava. (I know, I can’t believe I wrote that, either.)

Retromedia Entertainment Group presents the 25th Silver Anniversary Edition of EVIL TOONS which was written, produced and directed by Fred Olen Ray in 1992. It is presented in 1080p HD widescreen (1:85:1) format with mono sound. It was struck from a new 2K HD transfer from the original 35mm camera negatives. Considering this film is 25 year old, it looks stellar. There are many special features which include a new director commentary, the original wide-screen trailer, blooper reel (with only one blooper), original “Nite Owl Theatre” episode, editor’s work-print, rotoscope EFX test and animation background plates.

Personally, I didn’t find the film very funny or engaging. I applaud the cast and crew for creating something out of literally nothing and the animation of the creature is crude at best, pre-dating any kind of digital animation. It appears to be a bunch of friends having a good time making a silly movie. It’s not a bad film nor is it a good film because it doesn’t go anywhere. If you’re looking for a creepy haunted-house movie or a bunch of former adult actresses doing what they do for the camera or even something to laugh out loud at, EVIL TOONS isn’t any of those. It is “Not Rated” but clearly an R-rated film. For Fred Olen Ray fans, this disc is a must-have. (Jim Flack)