Fungicide (2002) – By Duane L. Martin

Well, Dave Wascavage has done it again. He’s taken his wife, his parents and his buddies and put them all together in a movie full of killer mushrooms that’ll most likely make you feel like you’ve been eating some funny little mushrooms of a different sort…if you know what I mean?

Fungicide is a story about a deranged botanical scientist named Silas (Dave Weldon) whose parents send him on a little vacation so he can have some time to get away from his research and relax a little. Unfortunately, Silas had already completed his research and he takes a vial of his newly created botanical goo with him on the trip.

The vacation spot Silas’ parents (played by Dave Wascavage’s real life parents Ed and Loretta Wascavage) arranged for him was located out in the remote woods of Pennsylvania. This particular vacation hideaway was actually nothing more than a house in the woods run by a “nature girl” named Jade Moon (Mary Wascavage) who comes off as one of those “new age bond with nature eat some yogurt snort some wheat germ” types. Silas isn’t the only person on vacation at the time though. There ends up being three other guests at this little woodsy hideaway. There’s the wrestler, Tony “Titus” Ignitus (Dave Bonavita) who’s on medication for a little problem he has with spontaneous combustion, a real estate agent (Dave Wascavage) who wants to buy the whole area and turn it into strip malls, and a reject from a military style reality television show named Major Wang (Wes Miller) who joins them after the cameraman that’s assigned to follow him around is killed in the woods.

When Silas arrives at the house, he trips and the briefcase he was carrying his experiment in hit the deck and the vial of goo came rolling out. The vial somehow magically opened after that and the magical, botanical goo ran down through the crack between the boards in the deck and dumped all over some mushrooms that were growing underneath. Naturally Silas was bummed about this, but he never told anyone what happened. It was only a little while later when the first of several attacks took place. First a guy who came out to spray some environmentally safe pesticide on some carpenter ants stuck his head under the deck to look around and ended up getting munched. Then as the movie progressed, the attacks started coming more often as the mushrooms started breeding at an exponential rate. Our heroes had a fight on their hands, and it was one they had to win if they wanted to stay alive.

Ok, so that’s the story. Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of how it was played out. The cast in this movie was basically made up of exactly the same people from Dave’s earlier film, Revenge of the Earth Chomping Space Marauder, and as with the first film, most everyone in it had line deliveries that sounded like they came straight off a cue card. There were some exceptions to this though, the most notable of which is Dave Weldon’s portrayal of the insane scientist, which he did brilliantly. If Weldon ever acted that way around a cop, I don’t think we’d be seeing him in any more films until he got out of rehab, if you get my drift. The stiff, “read” dialogue in these films actually adds to the fun of watching them. It’s one of those things that makes you smile and adds a lot to the enjoyment factor of the movie, so in a movie like this that’s intended to be goofy and fun, it’s not a detriment at all. Each of the characters had their own personality and their own quirks, and generally the dialogue and the way it was delivered just kinda locks you into the story somehow in a way I can’t really explain. I think my only real problem with this film on a story level is that there were some parts that seemed to drag on longer than they needed to, but it really wasn’t that major of an issue.

The effects in the movie are similar to that of the first movie, although Dave does manage some better interaction with the 3D animations in this film than he achieved with his animated bits in the previous one. The 3D effects are pretty much the same as in the other film (Revenge of the Earth Chomping Space Marauder) as well, complete with the now familiar, and even somewhat expected, triangle explosions. Aside from the computer effects though, there’s some full size “manshroom” kinda mushrooms running around that are actually done by a real guy in a mushroom outfit. It’s totally cheesy looking, but that’s what makes it funny. There’s even a part where the guy in the mushroom outfit falls over and you can see his foot with a shoe on it sticking out of the bottom of the costume. There was another part where the manshroom smacked the wrestler with a chair and started beating on him with wrestling moves that was absolutely hilarious. Oh, and when fighting a manshroom, be sure to watch out for their silly string attack. It won’t kill you, but if you’ve ever been shot with that stuff, you know how annoying it is. The highlight of the film for me though was the hand puppet mushroom. Basically it was like a 1/4 size musroom puppet with a mouth full of teeth that was so utterly goofy looking that it totally became the coolest and the funniest thing in the whole movie. There’s an awesome dream sequence where the scientist has deluded himself into thinking that he’s the mushroom’s father, and while he’s tied in a chair, he drifts off into fantasy land for a while, dreaming about how he would raise this musroom puppet as a son. There were scenes of him reading it a bedtime story and spoon feeding it at the kitchen table, but the scene that really killed me was the one where he was laying on the floor playing video games with it. The puppet was funny as hell by itself, but what they did with it made it even funnier, and there’s some scenes during the end credits of bloopers and what not where they were messing around with the puppet that are even funnier than what was in the movie.

The DVD itself is the same as the previous film. It comes on a DVD-R and has some extra features. This one actually has some way better stuff on it than the first movie though, including an outtake reel, a trailer, a couple of deleted scenes, and a slideshow. The menu’s are done nicely, and the only thing I can really complain about there is the lack of chapter stops and a chapter menu. There are no chapter stops on this DVD at all, so basically unless you manually punch in a time to jump to, you’ll have to fast forward or rewind to get where you want to go in the movie if you plan on navigating around. It’s really not that big of an issue, although I would encourage Mr. Wascavage to think about adding in chapter stops and a chapter menu on his future releases. Subtitles would be cool too just because some of the dialogue can be hard to hear or understand at times. Not just in this film, but in any film. Subtitles help you catch certain things that you might not ordinarily have been able to pick up on, which in most cases is a good thing.

So who’s going to enjoy this film? Well, much like his previous film, this one will be enjoyed by anyone who can appreciate goofy humor. It’s not for the art house types, so if you’re one of those kind of people then you’d be better off avoiding this film entirely because I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be able to appreciate it for what it is. Don’t come into this film expecting great acting or superb effects because you will end up being disappointed. If however you go into it with a good sense of humor, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of it. I had a lot of fun watching this film, and I think you will too.

If you want to pick up a copy of the film, you can get it from Cult Classic DVDs who are currently distributing the film for Troubled Moon. You can also purchase Dave Wascavage’s films through his Troubled Moon Films website.