Studio: Full Moon Features
Director: Charles Band
Writer: Kent Roudebush
Producer: Charles Band
Stars: Stacey Keach, Karen Black, Ciarra Carter, Gregory Niebel, Wade Forrest Wilson, Chance A. Rearden
After being gunned down by a racist cop, the spirit of a young med school graduate takes revenge by inhabiting the body of a tribal bushman doll.
Is “Ooga Booga” a movie that needs a review? The title alone is a perfect two-word descriptor of the film’s value. For proof, just ask a friend if s/he wants to see a movie called “Ooga Booga.” 2-to-1 odds that the person’s face scrunches up as if smelling a dirty diaper as s/he asks, “what’s that?” If you make it that far, be sure to show your friend the DVD cover for one of two possible reactions: either a quick chortle accompanied by a polite “no,” or that dirty diaper look thrown in your direction as you are mentally fitted for a straight jacket.
“Ooga Booga” is a Full Moon Features production about a killer doll. If you know what that means, then you have probably already decided whether or not you are willing to watch the movie. Let’s face it, no review is going to convince anyone to see it or not to see it. It is not as though someone is waffling on what the likely quality of the film might be.
Charles Band has previously repurposed a half dozen of Full Moon’s earlier productions by truncating them into 30-minute segments for the doll-centric anthologies “Haunted Dollhouse” and “Devil Dolls.” Knowing this, one justifiably wonders if he now intentionally loads up his feature length doll films with easily excised filler so that a half hour version will still make sense down the road. How else to explain the plethora of unnecessary scenes and characters?
Putting Ooga Booga into the hands of Devin, the character whose soul ultimately inhabits the doll, takes nearly 18 minutes. The film opens with “Hambo the Ranch Hand,” a washed up children’s show host whose gimmick consists of wearing a pig nose and employing a buxom farm girl as his sidekick. In his dressing room, Hambo tosses back liquor and masturbates to Playpen, filmdom’s favorite nondescript men’s magazine. After being fired mid-taping, Hambo calls med school graduate Devin for consolation. Devin is a lifelong Hambo fan and one of the TV personality’s only friends.
After 14 minutes of exposition spent wondering if this is indeed a movie about a killer doll, the premise finally rears up when Hambo unveils his plan to foil unemployment. The answer is “Badass Dolls,” a line of politically incorrect and racially insensitive figures. In return for his continued loyalty, Hambo gives an enlarged Ooga Booga prototype to Devin as a gift.
On his way home, Devin witnesses a convenience store robbery that results in a dead clerk. When racist Officer White (yes, that is his name) arrives on scene, he assumes Devin is the shooter because he is Black. It is not long before Officer White’s bullets find their way into Devin. But when a malfunctioning Slurpee machine electrifies the puddle of blood and slush on the floor between man and doll, Devin’s spirit is transferred into Ooga Booga.
No, seriously. That really is the setup for the movie.
By comparison, it took Charles Lee Ray less than the first five minutes of “Child’s Play” to put himself inside a Good Guy doll. “Ooga Booga” takes nearly a half hour, so I am pretty sure I know where Band will start cutting when he makes the abbreviated version for his next anthology.
In a strange way, “Ooga Booga” actually possesses some guts and gumption for centering its story on taboo themes for comedy-horror. Considering its subject matter, the film runs a huge risk of being seen as frightfully insensitive for a variety of reasons. Although aside from Hambo, every character in the film that utters a derogatory slur eventually finds the pointy end of Ooga Booga’s spear, usually with his eyeball.
Racism is not the only eyebrow raising aspect of “Ooga Booga.” Stealing a page from Hambo’s playbook, Ooga Booga takes a moment to handle himself as he watches his girlfriend Donna take a shower. Masturbating puppets are usually good for a laugh, but the scene is oddly timed as it comes directly after Donna was just gang raped in an alleyway by the same three thugs that murdered the store clerk.
How does a filmmaker convince someone to star in a movie about a masturbating doll brought to life by a Slurpee machine for revenge against drug dealing rapists and racist cops? By promising every actor a title card. There are 16 actors credited in “Ooga Booga” and every one of them receives his/her own name card in the opening sequence. When the name Siri appeared in the title credits, I wondered if they had gone so far as to credit the Apple app for a scene that might use an iPhone. Siri, it turns out, is an adult film star. Even though she has just one line and her character is unnamed (Siri is billed only as “Skank”), she still has her own title card.
Having famously combated a spear wielding fetish doll in the past, Karen Black tries her hand again by squaring off against Ooga Booga. Hers is another set of scenes that change nothing about the film if they are removed, which is the case for two-thirds of the movie. “Ooga Booga” is a strange assemblage of loosely related scenes that are as dull as they are unnecessary. But they are so oddly bad that the film is watchable in that “I can’t believe they actually made this” sense of wonderment.
Masturbating kid’s show host. Masturbating puppet. Racist cops. Gang raping drug dealers. Did I mention that Ooga Booga also smokes pot? Depending on your tastes, those phrases are all you really need to know to determine whether or not this film might be your cup of tea.
“Ooga Booga” is one of the strangest killer doll movies to come from director Charles Band, which may or may not be a compliment. If you do watch “Ooga Booga” and end up hating it, who do you have to blame, really? Charles Band and Full Moon Features for making it, or yourself for expecting something better from a film about a foot high bushman doll with a bone through its nose and a blunt in its mouth?
Review Score: 30