JULY 17, 2011
If not for the mild decency of Dangerous Worry Dolls, this DVD set wouldn’t even be worth the effort of bringing it to Amoeba or Second Spin for trade-in (maybe I’ll give it away at the next HMAD screening). Demonic Toys 2 might even be worse than Doll Graveyard, because it is longer and yet somehow even more boring, plus brings down the already low value of the Demonic Toys franchise name. It took almost 20 years for them to deliver a real sequel and this is the best they could do?
Hell, it doesn’t even bring back all of the toys! There’s a fairly stylish intro showing some black gloved guy putting the dolls back together (shades of Child’s Play 2), but he doesn’t bother with Grizzly or the robot (forget his name), I guess. So we just get Baby Whoopsie and the Jack in the Box clown thing, plus a new toy named Evilettro or some stupid shit like that. Band went out of his way to dismiss Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys as “non-canon” (yeah, you gotta respect the deep continuity here), but at least whoever made that piece of crap took the time to bring back Grizzly! Worse, the animation has actually devolved over the years, I guess – instead of animatronics, stop motion or even basic puppetry tricks to make the dolls “come to life”, we just get close-ups of their heads as they are jiggled around by someone off camera most of the time, with only some basic facial movement (eyes blinking, mouth moving up and down) tossed in for good measure (sometimes). Hell even CGI would be better than this.
The pacing is also a nightmare, though not in the good horror movie sense. After the “rebuilding” intro, we are treated to an endless “welcome to the castle” scene, where we meet our largely unlikable characters and how they relate to each other and why they are at the castle and blah blah blah. It’s simple, Mr. Band (and writer/director William Butler) – people show up to the castle and get killed by toys. No one is here for anything more than that. If you can add a little meat on the backstory, fine, but give us a death scene early on as an appetizer before you start boring us to tears. I think we’re well past the half hour mark before we get our first death, which is far too long for ANY movie of this sort, more so for a sequel. Later, we get cinema’s longest séance scene, which goes on for so long it actually takes up the bulk of the third act, even though it’s largely-toy free and thus, again, most likely not particularly interesting to people who are taking their time to watch a movie called Demonic Toys 2.
And it just gets more convoluted as it goes, with magic paintings and curses and a little person psychic getting possessed and even a friggin bat attack... where the fuck are the goddamn toys? I mean, they obviously know that hearing a little baby swear is funny, because Baby Whoopsie never shuts up when he (she?) is actually on screen, but there is precious little time spent with it interacting with the humans. Most of the time it’s just standing around talking to the other toys, which has its minor charms but gets a bit dull. Worse, the kill scenes are hardly worth waiting for – one has some of the worst CG splatter I’ve ever seen for a kill, and the others are so drawn out that by the time they occur it feels like you’re watching a recap.
Hilariously, another major issue is a relatively new one for Full Moon – it’s too dark! Usually their movies are too over-lit, but this one is sub-Hyams dark at times, making it hard to make out characters from their backgrounds and such (though this could just be the transfer on the DVD). To be fair, Butler is otherwise a better director than Charles Band (or at least has a better DP), as the camera moves, shadows are used non-accidentally, etc. And he actually filmed establishing shots instead of using a Photoshopped still frame, so there’s something. It’s a terribly written movie (and features yet another horrible Richard Band score - can't they find someone even cheaper that might actually TRY?), but with a few extra lights it would at least LOOK like a good one.
But the main problem is that they just don’t use the toys enough and/or in satisfying ways. The original is one of the better Full Moon killer toy movies (possibly even my favorite, by default), but this is just like most of their recent offerings: lazy and dull, without any inventiveness or charm. I don’t know why it took them so long to make a true sequel after two or three spinoffs, but it certainly wasn’t worth the wait.
Final note - had I known that the Wikipedia entry for the film was so over-written, I might have just skipped watching the movie. It takes almost as long to read the synopsis as it does to watch the flick anyway, and at least with reading you can imagine far more exciting animation on the toys and better actors in the roles. Hilariously, there’s a little alert at the top of the synopsis that derides the following as being “too long or excessively detailed”. I’ve seen a lot of similar warnings for a synopsis that was too short or vague, but this is the first time I’ve seen them more or less complain that a page was too detailed, as if to say “Look, no one needs to know this much about the plot of Demonic Toys 2.”
What say you?