"Evil Laugh" is the perfect example of a no-budget mid-80's slasher. By this time (1986), slasher films were getting really old. Even the popular franchises like "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" were running out of steam. But this flick rises above the rest just because it's so damn fun. It's cheap, cheerful, and cheesy . . . and that, my friends, is one great combo!
The basic plot goes like this: A group of perky med students arrive at a deserted California house where they will help their doctor-friend set it up into an orphanage. But when they get there, the doctor is mysteriously gone. Unbeknownst to them, he was killed off in a pre-credits sequence by someone wearing blue rubber dishwashing gloves and wielding a knife!
Still, the friends go ahead with their plan. They clean up the house (in a hilariously bad dance number where they sweep the floors and moonwalk to some crappy 80's soft rawk!), have sex, and in one sick twist unknowingly eat their doctor-friend's heart for dinner! Grossss! But anyways, the blue-gloved killer is still prowling the grounds and begins killing the teens off one-by-one in a variety of gory ways.
It is revealed (and note that this is NOT a spoiler of any kind) that the orphanage once burned down when the caretaker, Martin, was accused of molesting the children . . . has Martin returned from the grave? Or is someone else, stabbing, slashing and microwaving (!) their way through the cast? Watch it to find out!
As I said earlier, and numerous other reviewers said before me, "Evil Laugh" is a really cheap production. The film was shot in 9 days (yikes!) on 16 mm but blown up for its theatrical release, and as you could imagine, the picture quality is terrible (even on the DVD). Not only that, but the acting is pretty weak at times and actor-turned-director Dominick Brascia is less-than-marvelous behind the camera.
But there's still plenty here to sink your teeth into. Any horror fan will defintely get a kick out of comparing this to Kevin Williamson's seminal (but slightly overrated) "Scream" (1996). In both films there is a horror movie-loving nerd who warns his friends of impeding danger, here it's a guy named Barney (played likeably by Jerold Pearson), who seems to be the only one that's the least bit worried that the orphanage was once the place for a brutal murder spree. Not only that, but throughout the movie Barney continuously makes references to films like "Friday the 13th" (1980) -- In once scene he says to his friends, "I just hope a guy with a hockey mask named Jason doesn't show up!" You can't help but wonder if Williamson saw this flick before he wrote "Scream" (1996). Maybe it's a bit farfetched, but who knows . . . it's no secret that he was a huge fan of 80's slasher movies.
Also of interest are the constant homoerotic undertones. Normally they would be rather bothersome (especially in a slasher movie), but here they are so obvious and blatant that they're hilarious. The guys just seem way too "touchie-feelie" with eachother (was it me or did Barney and that blonde jock come across as a bit more than just friends?), and you know something's wrong when there is more male nudity than female nudity. In fact, the most memorable scene in "Evil Laugh" basically brings this theory home.
In this scene, two teenagers are making love in one of the bedrooms. Unbeknowst to them, someone has cut a whole in the mattress and is hiding underneath it. In a demented parody of that classic scene in "The Haunting," the hand reaches out from underneath the mattress and begins fondling the guy's butt. At first the guy thinks that it's his girlfriend, but then he realizes that his girlfriend COULDN'T be fondling his butt . . . naturally it all turns out to be a false scare, an unintentionally hilarious one at that, where it is rather disturbingly revealed to be Barney playing another one of his jokes. (And btw, the guy getting his butt fondled was the blonde jock -- see what I mean now?) Now, Barney DOES say to the jock "I was aiming for Tina, honest!" but that just doesn't seem like a reasonable enough excuse to put the scene in the film in the first place. You're not fooling me, Brascia!
Overall, "Evil Laugh" is a really fun, really demented low-budget effort that will be very entertaining if you go into it with an open mind. I gave it a B-.