After recently revisiting the 1987 killer doll flick “Dolls” I had the urge to check out some other similar movies and while deciding which one to go for I came across this new Blu-ray release from 88 Films of the 1992 cult classic, Demonic Toys.
Written by Stephen S. Goyer, who would go on to write the stories for the massively successful Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises and based on an original idea from Charles Band who was also a producer here. Band is well known for writing the Puppet Master movies as well as directing low budget cult fare like Evil Bong, Doll Graveyard, The Gingerdead Man and Trancers. Peter Manoogian (Arena, Enemy Territory) was behind the camera as director, and the trifecta of these three minds would create a horror film that has become a cult classic in the twenty two years since its release.
Taking a great amount of inspiration and ideas from Puppet Master, which even plays on a television in the background of a scene in the film, Demonic Toys is a simple premise that is effective enough to drive its point home and provide an entertaining, though thoroughly clichéd, romp of bloody 90’s silliness. The film opens with four characters meeting in a dark parking lot to buy and sell some illegal firearms, but two of the characters turn out to be undercover police officers and the deal turns sour, with one police officer being shot dead as the criminals escape into a nearby warehouse and the second police officer, Judith Gray (Tracy Scoggins), giving chase. The warehouse is where we spend most of the movie, which is pretty convenient considering the warehouse in question houses evil spirits and a butt-load of creepy looking toys. We are soon joined by some other characters in our story of malevolent plastic organisms. The lazy warehouse security guard, Charnetski (Peter Schrum), a fast-food delivery guy called Mark (Bently Mitchum) and a homeless runaway called Anne (Ellen Dunning). With one of the fleeing criminals wounded, and the other, Lincoln (Michael Russo) finally caught and handcuffed by Judith, the insanity finally begins. With possession, a creepy kid with a male adult voice, a sharp toothed bear doll and a Jack-in-a-box who will eat your face off while laughing, Demonic Toys isn’t afraid to be absurd, and that’s why it is still charming to watch.
It isn’t a ground breaking film, and it can be a little banal at times, but it is charming and the scenes in which the toys are attacking their human victims are fun, gory and humorous. They don’t make films like this nowadays and so it is fun to go back and watch them. The music, drenched in synthesized keyboard sounds, is what you’d expect from a film like this at the time it was made, and the special effects, though fine, are nothing special and could have benefited from being crazier and more extreme. I didn’t mind the fact that the film takes place, all but for a couple of scenes, in one place, but it would have been nice if there had been some diversity to the areas of the warehouse as a way to make it more interesting to look at. Still, Demonic Toys is what it is, a low budget and pedestrian horror film that, through its fun puppetry and stop-frame animation and silly scenes of evil doll attacks, is memorable and enjoyable.
The look of the film on this specific Blu-ray edition from 88 Films is very nice. It’s clear and the sound, though not perfect, is fine. The colours are as vibrant as they can be considering the black and grey setting and the cover-art, though not necessarily relevant to the film quality, is nice and eye catching, which should help it sell some copies to people who are unfamiliar with it. The special features are pretty damn poor, with only an original trailer and a featurette from the old VHS release being the only Demonic Toys specific features on the disc. A retrospective, a commentary or even an introduction from Band, or someone who worked on the film, would have been nice. Still, the film was enjoyable, but then again I do like these sorts of b-movies from the 80’s and 90’s. For those who aren’t familiar with the genre and are expecting something fantastically exciting, perhaps this might not tick their boxes.
Demonic Toys is available on Blu-ray, from 88 Films, now.