Friday, November 14, 2014

Worth Mentioning - Playtime Is Over

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Cody is attacked by puppets and toys.


The late '90s and early '00s were a rough time for Full Moon, and for a couple years Full Moon even went dormant while founder Charles Band ran a company called Shadow Films or Shadow Entertainment. Puppet Master: The Legacy was released during the short-lived Shadow Entertainment era, a new installment in the Puppet Master franchise that consists primarily of clips from the seven previously produced Puppet Masters. This was part of a flood of "clip show" DVDs put out in the mid-'00s that looked back at popular Full Moon releases, clip collections with titles like Tomb of Terror, Urban Evil, When Puppets and Dolls Attack!, Monsters Gone Wild!, Aliens Gone Wild!, etc.

It would be easier to write The Legacy off if it were simply an assemblage of the best moments from the other movies. Unfortunately, the clips are intercut with newly shot footage.

At the familiar setting of the Bodega Bay Inn, a gun-wielding woman named Maclain is snooping around, searching for the secret of the formula Andre Toulon used to give his puppets life. Analyzing the formula gives no answers, there's a missing element no one can figure out.

Maclain's search leads her into the basement, where she finds a man named Eric Weiss in a workshop with the barely animated puppets Blade, Six Shooter, Pinhead, Tunneler, and Jester nearby.

By interrogating Weiss, Maclain learns the history of Toulon's puppets, from the events of Retro Puppet Master through those of Curse of the Puppet Master and each movie chronologically in between. Oddly, most of part 1 is skipped over.

During their interaction, the true identity of Eric Weiss is revealed - he is a grown-up Peter Hertz, the boy Toulon fled Germany with during World War II in Puppet Master III. We also learn that Maclain is very willing to kill to get what she's looking for. Before coming to Bodega Bay she stole Toulon's diary from and executed former puppet master Rick Myers. A disappointing end for the character we followed through Puppet Master 4 and 5.

If a throwaway reference to the murder of a character I liked wasn't enough to sour me on The Legacy, the movie also paints Toulon as a complete villain, treating a one movie anomaly (part 2) as if it were a glimpse into his true character. It even goes so far as to say that Maclain is working for creatures Toulon left behind, immortals trapped in wooden bodies who want nothing more than to finally be able to die. Who or what these creatures are isn't clear. Blade and company have never seemed upset about their situation.

Puppet Master: The Legacy was made as a sort of celebration of the franchise, but the story told in the new footage (which takes up just over 10 minutes of the 72 minute running time) somehow gets it all wrong.


Despite the fact that this 2010 release was the third Demonic Toys movie to come from Full Moon Features and the fourth Demonic Toys movie overall, it ignores the crossovers its title characters were involved with (Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys) and calls itself a part 2.

The movie begins with the slimy, scattered body parts of baby doll Baby Oopsie-Daisy (listed in the credits as Baby Whoopsie) and razor-toothed clown Jack Attack being collected and sewn back together, a sequence reminiscent of their fellow killer toy Chucky being pieced together at the start of Bride of Chucky.

Once they're whole again, Whoopsie and Jack Attack end up in the possession of a collector of odd items, Doctor Emilio Lorca. Lorca previously appeared in the 1997 Full Moon film Hideous!, and he has the acid scars to prove it.

After he hears a demonic-looking doll that has the mysterious ability to move on its own has been unearthed from beneath a dungeon in an Italian castle, Lorca begins planning to add this doll to his collection. Lorca travels to the castle with his duplicitous trophy wife-to-be Lauraline, her college age stepson from a previous relationship, their personal assistant, and Lilith, a woman with "the ability to see into the unknown". Among the items Lorca brought along on the trip is a crate containing Whoopsie and Jack Attack.

Lorca's group is met at the castle by a man named Butterfield, who is an antiquities specialist, and a young woman named Caitlin, who has been preparing the castle to be sold to the government and opened to the public as a historical landmark. It was Caitlin who dug up the doll, which is called Divoletto. Welcoming the group into the castle, she tells them some of the castle's history; it was built over top of a Temple of Jupiter in the 13th century at the behest of an empress named Fiora Borisoff, who practiced black magic and was obsessed with her "personal demons". One of the castle's many oddities is a well in the cellar that's actually a portal to Hell.

When Lilith touches Divoletto, her mind is flooded with visions of horrific events to come, and soon after the group finds that they are trapped in the castle. While the characters are focused on their predicament, the unattended Divoletto comes to life and begins walking around the castle on his own. When he comes across Whoopsie and Jack Attack, he brings them to life as well.

The revived demonic toys immediately fall back into their murderous ways. With Divoletto by their side, they begin picking off the people in the castle one-by-one, and as the night goes on the spirit of Fiona Borisoff also gets in on the action.

Demonic Toys 2 was written and directed by William Butler, who also made Full Moon's Gingerdead Man sequels under a pseudonym and in his acting days went up against the likes of Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, the Ghoulies, and Romero zombies.

The story Butler came up with has, aside from the presence of Jack Attack and the baby doll, no connection at all to the story of the original Demonic Toys. In fact, this movie easily could exist without them in it, telling just the story of Divoletto and Fiona Borisoff. Whoopsie and Jack Attack have simply been dropped into a movie that has nothing to do with them, they have no personal objective, they're just there to help Divoletto kill people.

The cast members, which include Selene Luna of My Bloody Valentine 2009 and Leslie Jordan of Jason Goes to Hell, all do well in their roles, and it was a pleasant surprise to see Michael Citriniti back as his Hideous! character Lorca.

The voice of Baby Oopsie-Daisy/Baby Whoopsie has been provided by a different actor in every movie, the doll has been voiced by both women and men, and this time around Butler got Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos to give the doll its most girlish and babyish voice yet.

There's slashing (enhanced by some terrible CGI blood), in-fighting, supernatural shenanigans, and possession, and even though the toys' lack of relevancy to the overall plot makes it somewhat disappointing as a Demonic Toys entry, it is a decent genre movie, shot in a great location, and thanks to cinematographer Terrance Ryker it's actually a wonderful looking film. There are definitely worse ways to spend 80 minutes, even within the killer toy sub-genre.

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