Friday, July 16, 2010

'Fungicide': Great intentionally bad movie

Fungicide (2005)
Starring: Dave Bonavita, Wes Miller, Dave Wascavage, Mary Wascavage, and David Weldon
Director: Dave Wascavage
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When Silas Purcell (Weldon), a dorky mad scientist who still lives in his parents' basement, takes his latest project with him on vacation, the audience-expected accident happens, and soon the residents at a budget bed-and-breakfast place are fighting for their lives against a hoard of giant killer mushrooms!

It's not often that a movie described as "so bad its good" actually is so bad it's good, but that is the case with "Fungicide". It's an absolutely horrrible movie that looks like it was shot with a camcorder over a weekend, is performed by amateur actors (who, literally, are the director's family and friends, as well as the director himself), and features "manshrooms" and killer mushroom puppets that are only exceeded in their laughable-ness by the computer graphics effects.

However, the badness, coupled with the unadulturated glee displayed by the cast as they fight badly drawn CGI mushrooms and guys in dressed up in badly done mushroom costumes that shoot silly string at them as a defense, make this a movie that I watched with increasing glee and ausement myself.

Wascavage and his actors brought an energy to this film that is all-too-rarely seen in low-budget pictures. None of the actors had that lethargic quality that is so common among those who are working in front of a camera for the first time, and, while they had plenty of the "Look... I'm ACTING!" quality that is equally common in performers at this level, it is something that complemeented and enhanced the awful special effects and cheezy monster costumes. Wascavage and Friends clearly understood they weren't making the next big monster movie, and they are clearly having fun making the best movie within their reach, and making it intentionally goofy as they go.

The comedy, intentional goofiness, and the sense that the actors and director KNOW they are making a bad movie all combine to give the film its infectious enegy. It also helps that the script has some hilarious moments in it (the dream sequence with Silas spending a happy life with this killer mushroom "children" is truly one of the funniest bits I've seen in a amateurish production like this, ever. The handpuppet mushroom is so goofy that it in-and-of-itself is one of the niftiest and craziest things about this film.

And, to top it off, as silly as this movie is, the final showdown with the killer mushrooms actually managed to be a little scary, partly because I found that I had some invested in the very silly characters that are the films heroes--a reality TV star Major Wang (Miller), a retired pro-wrestler who is secretly suffering from a deadly yet potentially tragi-comic malady (Bonavita), an obnoxious realtor (Dave Wascavage), and the happy hippy who runs the B&B (Mary Wascavage)--and partly because David Weldon does such a fabulous job as Silas the Mad Scientist.

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