APRIL 26, 2009
What is worse? A bad horror movie, or a bad horror movie that SHOULD be "so bad it's good" but is just plain bad? After watching Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys, I have to say the latter. I'd rather just be bored or disappointed with a failed sequel or remake than with a movie that is, at its core, about a bunch of little toys whaling on each other.
Even as a kid I never cared much for the Puppet Master movies that I saw (which would be 1, most of 2, and 4 - which at least had Teresa Hill, an actress I was smitten with in the mid 90s). The concept was interesting, but the traditionally crappy Full Moon approach left little to really enjoy beyond the impressive toy effects. Also, the decision to make them "good guys" somewhere around part III (where they fought off Nazis), and also increasingly pit them against like-sized foes instead of dumb humans, made me lose all interest. It wasn't until I looked up this one on the IMDb that I realized that it was in fact the NINTH film in the series.
I DID, however, enjoy Demonic Toys (in that "so bad it's good" way). There was a guy driving a chicken truck, a foul mouthed baby toy, and a demonic kid saying "I've been imprisoned in that corpse for 66 years...". In fact I would like to watch it again, now that I think about it. I can't remember much about Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, other than that it was only 61 minutes long, half of which was footage from the two title films (as well as Bad Channels), but I am fairly certain that the end of the film saw them more or less destroyed.
So how they ended up in some insane woman's toy company is beyond me. Even though I hadn't seen half of the films in the PM franchise, I at least understood that Corey Feldman's character here is a descendant of the Andre Toulon character from the earlier films. But let's just go with the theory that no one involved in this thing gave a shit about continuity one way or the other.
I'm actually really surprised I didn't like this movie. The plot is more or less ripped from Halloween III, albeit set on Christmas, and again, it SHOULD be about a bunch of toys killing each other, as the title suggests. Unfortunately, the promised battle lasts about two minutes of the movie, and the toys don't really do much else for the rest of the movie. Fighting each other or other foes, I would estimate that less than 15 minutes of the 90 minute movie have the toys even moving, let alone doing anything interesting.
The rest is an over-written, plodding, and simply pathetic tale of "industrial espionage" (a term that gets thrown around more here than, I dunno, the term "killer toy" does). The evil Demonic Toy owner woman wants Toulon's blood to help make her toys kill kids, and she uses ladybug cameras to spy on him. And she has to sacrifice a virgin, and Toulon is going through a divorce, and his daughter used to listen to cheesy death metal, and I dunno, 400 other plot threads that seemingly exist only to keep the movie from being exciting. It's like the filmmakers watched Freddy vs. Jason and figured that it was the plot that people dug, and decided to load their "Vs" movie with as much plot as possible, instead of (expensive) fighting puppets.
And of course, this means we get far more Corey Feldman than any film past 1988 should include. His casting is completely wrong on every level. He's supposed to be old enough to have a 15-17-ish daughter, but I'd have trouble buying him as the father to even a 10 year old. His blessing and curse as an actor is that he looks much younger than he actually is, so to cast him as someone that is presumably OLDER than he really is is just fucking stupid. I can imagine the same girl playing his sister in another movie. Plus, he's using his idiotic scratchy "old" voice again, which grates after about 5 minutes (and again, he's pretty much front and center for the 85 minutes that follow). I won't even begin to address his "hilarious" attempts at physical comedy.
You would think with such limited toy action, that the effects budget would suffice and everything would look really good when it actually appeared, but no. I can't recall how good/bad the Puppet Master effects are with any certainty, but I REMEMBER them being pretty decent. And the Demonic Toys effects were above average for Full Moon as well. But they completely suck here. I don't know why they can't at least look AS GOOD as they did 12 or so years before, if not better, but there it is. Oopsy Daisy in particular is awful; they move the mouth around but the eyes remain stone still. And the Puppets are stop motion animated instead of CGI, so that's good, but the animation is usually poor, and the shots also run at a speed that seems far too fast.
Let's see, what else? There's a devil-demon thing that the sound editor gives a "WHOOOSH" sound every time he moves, even when merely taking a step to the right; a cute female cop that is seemingly charmed by Feldman's batshit puppet-maker; the death of one of the Puppets that is played completely straight... it's a mess through and through. My favorite bit has to be when Feldman uses a laptop. He is typing away furiously on the keyboard, but on-screen, the only thing that happens is the page scrolls down a bit. And yes, it's all supposed to be rather silly (it's not even R rated), but the problem is it's not, it's merely sad.
I wouldn't mind going back and watching the first few Puppet Master films again, but only for HMAD purposes. Otherwise, this movie, which should be a celebration of the two franchises, could conceivably kill interest in them for good, as it couldn't even meet my low expectations. Then again, the movie prominently displays the fact that it's a joint effort between Full Moon and the Sci-Fi Channel, so that's sort of like expecting good things from a poison that mixes cancer and AIDS.
What say you?