Evil Laugh

Evil Laugh

The Slasher film might be the only film style that if it is working, it is probably one of the most enjoyable forms of film. It is also one of the only types that if it is not working, it is still one of the most enjoyable forms of film! When it is scaring you, you are on the edge of your seat with your stomach in your throat. When it is off, it is a brilliant form of film for a party, or to just watch for cheap thrills.

With that in mind, the new release from Program Power is the 80's Slasher romp "Evil Laugh". We know by now what to expect out of Program Power, a cheap low budget film with a ton of extras that films like "Citizen Kane" should be worthy of! But what type of Slasher is "Evil Laugh"?

The film starts with a Real Estate agent showing the house to a possible buyer. We learn that this buyer is planning on having some friends show up this weekend to clean the place up to get a better idea if he wants to buy the place and turn it into a home for kids, either sick kids or abandoned kids…or some form of kids. The friends are all med students, but this is really a minor point of our story. Surely none of them act like what you would hope a bunch of soon to be doctors would act like.

Anyhow, that really is all you need to know, to tell more would be to ruin the surprises…ahem. A bunch of students are going to clean up the house, then a killer shows up and starts killing. Oh, but you do get a really cool dance number while the wacky students are cleaning the house! This is discussed further in the commentary track. Pretty much 95% of our action takes place in the house. Actually all of our action takes place in the house with the exception of a foot chase in the beginning that starts as a result of an accidental "golden shower"! The story is a standard 80's Slasher story, full of goofy dialogue and pretty silly situations.

One of two very interesting sides of the film though is the inclusion of the character "Barney". Barney is possibly the first character in a film to be aware that he is in a Horror film, ala Randy in "Scream". The furthest back that I could remember of this sort of a character was in the film "The Nothing Out There". But here we are in 1986 with a guy who spends the whole movie telling the other people what not to do, and yet they ignore him and do all the wrong things! The character though is one of the saving graces of this film, that and the enthusiasm that the cast seems to have for this film. Without a doubt, the people involved in this film are enjoying themselves and it shows.

The second interesting side to this story is that we are treated to two nude scenes. Now you say "big deal, it's an 80's Slasher, they all have that!" and you would be correct. But the second of our nude scenes is of Kim McKamy, who later tuned into the Porn star Ashlyn Gere. "So?" you say. Well, she actually uses a body double in this film! Yeah, pretty pathetic to take note of that, but I still find it highly amusing. The kills we are treated to are nothing fantastic, mind you. We get a death by microwave…with the door to the microwave open. We get a fine kill that involves some S&M, and the shot with the blood spraying all over the girls gagged face is actually a very stylish shot. And that is kind of the thing with this film, we get some very basic static shots, but then we get some shots of a highly stylish manner! Obviously this is a film of beginners, but it did show promise in its day. Now though, it is really for the die-hards.

The film was produced and directed by Dominick Brascia and produced by Steven Baio. Dominick you might know from "Friday The 13th Part 5", and if you didn't know he was in that film, by the time you get done watching the film, you will get the idea. The cover of the Fangoria issue that has Part 5 on it is featured through out the film! Then when you get to the commentary track, you will find out there! Steven, if the name didn't give it away, the look will, is the brother of 80's icon Scott Baio. These guys could be twins, though Steven isn't as "cute" as Chachi. This was the first effort by these guys and as I said, it shows, but so does the enjoyment.

The picture quality is pretty good. What we have here is a full frame picture that seems to be accurate. The film did play in theaters, but I would have to guess that if it was widescreen at the time, it was a matted showing. Low budget, I am not figuring this thing was ever in scope. The picture is a bit soft at times, but is relatively clean of any form of grain and it is never hard to see what is happening on screen. For a low budget film, it looks nice and easy to watch.

The commentary track with both Brascia and Baio is lively and active. The two are friends from way back and both have enough stories to tell to keep things moving. The main complaint with their part is that they forget to talk about the movie at times. They get so into talking about how to go about doing an independent film and the problems and joys of such an experience, that they seem to forget that you might want to know about the action taking place on the screen. They also are very proud of the film and talk it up a bit more than it deserves, but that is forgivable. It is a movie they had fun doing. But the commentary track suffers from a horrible problem that should have been corrected. The films soundtrack is playing at the same volume as the commentators some of the time, then louder than the commentators, then finally at times it falls to a perfect volume. But a good portion of what is said by Brascia and Baio gets lost in the action on the screen, which is a huge shame since they do have an really good track rolling when you can hear it! Great on-set stories, great info about getting the film made, great info about all the actors and actresses, just all around very good…except for the volume problem.

For more info on the film there is an interview with Brascia and Baio. Some stuff is repeated, but it is still nice to get the interview. The photo galleries are also very nice. I do have a few problems though with Program Power on their packaging though. First off, they treat every film the same way. The menu screen is always the same "magazine" style layout as is the whole thing. You never get a chapter insert in the case or anything. You just never really feel like it is a DVD! Strange, but that is how it seems. When I got the first one, I thought I had gotten some fancy VCD or CD-Rom game, or something. Picky? Yeah, but there is no excitement with these things, you've seen one Program disc, you've seen them all in regards to packaging. But the main thing is that they pack them to the gills with cool features, and that they do in spades!

Again, you have a very nice DVD from Program Power, aside from the sound issues on the commentary track and the same ol' same ol' in packaging. But if you are a fan of the Slasher genre, you probably need this disc. It is one of the nicest presentations a low budget films gets, as all of Programs films are. Is it goofy? Yeah. Will I watch it again? Yeah, I think so. Stupid stuff from people who had a crap load of fun while making it, fine by me.

Review by Carl Isonhart

Released by Program Power
Region 1 (NTSC)
Ratio - Original Fullscreen
Audio - Dolby Mono
Extras :
Full Length Running Audio Commentary by writer/director Dominick Brascia and writer/producer/star Steven Baio, Exclusive Interview with Dominick Brascia and Steven Baio, Photo Gallery & More