Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Demonic Toys 2 (2010)

Those of you of a certain age with a fondness for cheap horror films will remember the straight-to-video movies produced and directed by Charles Band. During the mid-1980's his production company Empire churned out a plethora of mid-range horror and SF titles to supply the growing movie rental market. Such titles as Trancers (1985), Ghoulies (1985), and Puppetmaster (1989) were very successful. They spawned numerous sequels and a cult following.

With his latest production company Full Moon,Band continues to make movies today and Demonic Toys 2 ( aka
Demonic Toys: Personal Demons) is the, somewhat belated, follow-up to the 1992 original. (It's slightly confusing that there have already been two sequels to the first film, Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys (1993) and Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys (2004). Both are Marvel team-up type movies pitting the toys against other Full Moon franchises).

Shot, and set, in Rome this sees a number of disparate people stranded in a supposedly 13th century castle reputedly haunted by a Bulgarian Empress, Fiora Borisoff. The reason the dolls are there is that Dr. Lorca wants to add a 14th century doll (the devil-like Divoletto) found on the premises, to the two he already has. Unfortunately Divoletto wakes up and revives the other two creatures. Terror and mayhem ensue.

Or rather boredom and ennui ensue, at least to this viewer. I'm quite partial to a creepy doll movie (there's the creepy clown-doll in Poltergeist (1982) and the very scary Zuni fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror (1975)) but these toys are not scary but silly. The baby doll, called Whoopsie Daisy is a foul-mouthed joking brat and Divoletto just giggles a lot and lurks in a non-threatening manner.

Most of the doll movement is achieved by puppetry with many pov shots as they skitter across tables or walk on the floor thus obviating the need for a lot of cgi effects. It's hard to suspend disbelief when you know that your killers are operated in the same manner as Sooty and Sweep!

The acting in the film is variable from awful to mediocre. The two lead characters are American student-types who you're meant to root for but are so bland you wish they would die. There's a middle-aged gay toy dealer played by Leslie Jordan who makes as much as he can of an underwritten part and a midget-medium called Lillith (Selene Luna).

The direction by William Butler (who also wrote the confused script) is pedestrian and staid. My favourite bad scene is the opening one where our characters meet for the first time. Shot outside the castle it's notable for its length and the fact that it was shot on a very windy day. All the actors are constantly battling with flyaway hair whilst trying to deliver exposition. Inside the castle (supposedly abandoned yet it has a well stocked kitchen and working fireplaces), there's little improvement with boring set-ups being the norm. For a horror film there's a distinctive lack of tension. As for the ending, the word anti-climax springs to mind.

My suggestion? Go and watch the earlier Band movies or try The Gingerdead Man (2005). surely you can't go wrong with a title like that?

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