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Dollman / Demonic Toys (1991-2010) Series Review

Dollman / Demonic Toys Series Review

As it is that time of year again, it is time for me to review a series of films (some not as well connected as others) for Halloween and this there ones linked to Full Moon’s Dollman and Demonic Toys.

Starting with…

Dollman (1991)

 

“That’s a Groger Blaster,
the most powerful handgun in the universe!
That’s right, fat boy!”

Directed by Albert Pyun (Dir: Captain America 1990), Dollman stars Tim Thomerson (Trancers 1984 which I need to see) as Brick Bardo, an intergalactic cop from the planet Arturos, 10,000 light-years away.

The film starts with a criminal on the run that is cornered in a laundromat where he has taken hostages.
In comes Brick and what plays out is a surprisingly good low budget, Sci-Fi, homage to Dirty Harry and just as un-PC.
Once home Brick himself, is taken hostage and meets up with an old foe, Sprug, who only has his head remaining after being blasted multiple times in the past by Bricks Grogor Blaster, the most powerful handgun in the universe.
We see why it is the most powerful handgun in the universe as Brick proceeds to blast away Sprugs henchmen in beautiful explosive goodness however Sprug escapes.

Brick gives chase in his spaceship where they both crash land on earth. Sprug teams up with Braxton played by Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen 2009) that runs the gang terrorising the local community and Brick is found by Debi, played by Kamala Lopez, who is part of a local neighbourhood watch and trying to combat the gangs and doing a poor job of it.

What follows is the usual American, gang-controlled, inner-city, and locals (more singular) fighting back to reclaim the streets with a bit of social narrative thrown in.
Predictable but not done poorly at all and it does give Brick plenty of stationary targets for his Grogor blaster to blow up.
Well not so much blow up as inflict a normal bullet sized wound (the reduced damage is an important plot point later one) seeing as both he and Sprug are now only 13″ tall.

Less for Sprug as he only has his head left.

Very late 80’s early 90’s straight-to-video fare and very nicely done. Everyone plays their part well, the settings are perfectly run down and desolate for a crime-ridden shithole and the body count high enough. There is hardly any time wasted on crap like a love story (bonus points for that) and Brick shows no interest in the world around him as he is only focused on getting home or killing scum.

Those were the days.

Demonic Toys (1992)

 

“God has nothing to do with this, Judith.
Actually,
let’s scratch the word ‘God’ from our lexicon altogether.
Let’s talk demons instead.”

Starting off with Judith, played by Tracy Scoggins (Babylon 5) telling her police officer partner (and boyfriend) about a dream sequence where she watches two boys playing a game of cards neither can win as they wait in their car to arrest some illegal gun dealers.
Judith berates her partner, Matt, for (rightfully) not picking up on her incredibly vague and stupid hint that she is pregnant.

This is an important plot point.

The pregnancy I mean and not her inability to give subtle hints.

The ‘sting’ as those in the police biz call it, goes wrong and her partner is killed leaving Judith to give chase as the two criminals flee into an old warehouse storing toys.
The one that was shot by Matt crawls away bleeding whilst Lincoln is cornered and cuffed.

As Lincoln’s partner-in-crime lays there dying he is finished off by some toys that have come to life.

Jack Attack – A Killer Klown look-a-like jack-in-the-box,
Baby Oopsie Daisy – Standard baby doll,
Mr Static – A half-tank, half-robot,
Grizzly Teddy – You can probably work this one out.

Whilst this is happening, Mark, who starts of as a bit of a prick until runaway Anne turns up and takes over that role, delivers chicken to the security guard at the warehouse.

What follows is death by toys. I bet they don’t have their CE Mark.

Nice and bloody with decent make-up effects for the gore and good enough practical effects for the toys. The film manages to fit in enough varying hallucinations of weird gas mask wearing, tricycling, little girls and demonic creatures or dead loved ones.
Think House (1986).

If you are used to Full Moon’s 80’s-90’s stuff then you know what to expect.
Over the top acting, what the fuck plot and stop-motion animation.

I love stop-motion.
Written by David S. Goyer who was a writer for the Nolan Batman trilogy and the underrated Dark City (1998), this is one for those that like something different but be warned!

This is one of those stupid people doing stupid things type of horror.

Bad Channels (1992)

 

“This son of a bitch is crazier than a tree full of owls!”

From the Director of the excellent Subspecies Series, (please don’t mess up the new one) comes this entertaining little oddity.

In typical small town America where so many films like this are set, a local radio station find out they have the right to broadcast nationwide and have hired disgraced shock-jock, Dan O’Dare, to headline the new channel.
Reporting on this is obnoxious reporter, Lisa Cummings, who witnesses a UFO but no-one believes her.

As the night goes on strange things happen with people becoming infected by a slimy substance that continues to cover the body amongst others but still no-one is willing to listen.

This is largely thanks to Dan’s reputation for pranks as when the radio station is taken over by an alien in a spacesuit that has a helmet that resembles shit as Dan, helpfully, points out and his collection of robots, everyone thinks Dan is spinning a yarn instead of desperately trying to warn everyone on the outside.

So what does the alien want?

Attractive women that it shrinks down to Dollman size but the connection to this series is based on a bit more than that.

It is doing this by focusing on to the listeners of the show and first putting them into a trance by placing them in the middle of an impromptu rock performance before teleporting and shrinking them.

The songs aren’t bad. Here’s Ron Keel’s Fair Game performing Blind Faith for the film. It even has Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee’s sister on the drums.

The waitress is played by Charlie Spradling who was in Puppet Master 2 (1990)

A good, fun, odd movie with a short enough runtime that is able to keep throwing enough new lunacy to keep it going before it wears out its welcome; unlike the alien with the people of the town.

The connection to the Dollman series is a cameo by Tim Thomerson at the end that sets up the next film in the series, coming below…

Dollman vs Demonic Toys (1993)

 

“Yeah that’s right I’m a fucking toy!,
and comes midnight that’s exactly what I’ll be doing to doll chick!”

Reprising their roles from the previous three films we have Tracy Scoggins from Demonic Toys as Judith Grey, Melissa Behr as Nurse Ginger from Bad Channels, and the star of this film Tim Thomerson as Brick Bardo.

Judith has gone slightly of the rails and somehow manages to know the Demonic Toys are back, but when trying to stop them is interrupted by some fellow police officers that arrest her.

Meanwhile Brick reads about Nurse Ginger being shrunk to 12″ so decides to go and find her. Struggling to adapt to her new size she is very happy to see someone just like her but not so happy to see Judith arrive to ask Brick to help her fight the toys.
Being their size means he can fight them in the vents inside the toy factory whereas Ginger is more concerned with Judith taking Dollman’s affections.

Almost all the toys return apart from Grizzly Bear who is now replaced by an Action Man\Action Force type soldier toy called Zombietoid only without the fuzzy hair and eagle-eyes ability.

This isn’t so bad. The set designer really deserves a lot of praise because the oversized models and scenery made to make the actors look like they are really only a foot long look great and the effect works very well as do most of the toys ‘life-sized’ costumes with the exception being Baby Oopsy-Daisy, that just looks a mess with its oversized head.

Not without its flaws though (beyond the ones a film made by Full Moon and about a 12″ alien fighting possessed toys would have) as continuity is disregarded like this is part of the Phantasm series.
Starting with Nurse Ginger that was shrank in Bad Channels yet by the end she also had had her size restored. It was Bunny that remained Barbie sized and the end credits of Bad Channels has Brick talking about going to see Bunny.

During a flashback where Ginger tells Brick what happened to her and she reaches the part about everyone having their height restored but her, we see a clip of her full-sized crawling out of the radio station.

When Brick is telling his story he says how he had to leave Maria behind, it shows Debi who was the other lead in that film and Maria was a minor character that never met Dollman.

Other than that this is a fun addition to the series though it does seem to be missing something.

The film is only 60 minutes long and while I don’t mind a short film, (I am fed up with movies that pad out the runtime with pointless fluff like bickering families or unnecessary romantic sub-plots) this does pad the film by including lengthy flashbacks for all three previous entries.

They even add clips from the earlier films in the trailer.

Full Moon do this quite often (see some of the later entries to the Evil Bong series) and this does feel like story is missing that should be there plus it is a tad lazy to take something you have done in the past and splice into what you are doing now just for content.

Puppet Master
vs
Demonic Toys (2004)

 

“Dad, are we weird?
We’re not weird, honey.
Everybody else is.”

I’ve already reviewed this in my Puppet Master series so I’ll paste that review here for you to read as I doubt my feelings have changed.

‘A stand alone made-for-TV movie that combines the puppets and toys from The Puppet Master and Demonic Toys series which succeeds in more areas than some of the main series does.

Starring Cory Feldman who statistically is from at least two of your favourite 80’s films as the Great-Grandnephew of Andrew Toulon complete with talcum powder in his hair as an attempt to make him look old enough to be the father of his screen daughter.

Also starring Vanessa Angel as the bratty evil Erica Sharpe, the owner of a toy manufacturer that has made a deal with a demon known as Bael, and she is a lot of fun to watch as she hams it up.

So Erica wants the Toulon family secret as part of her plan for world domination and it is up to Cory, his daughter and a local police officer to stop her before Christmas Day.

The usual puppets are back but with new models made just for this TV movie which are close enough yet just not as good as the originals.
Directed by Subspecies directer Ted Nicolaou (my review of that series can be read HERE) at least puts more effort into animating the puppets and toys even though the quality also isn’t as good as the earliest films.

The acting is cheesy going to bad and some of the dubbing is simply bad but the fights between the puppets and toys are much better than between the puppets in parts 4&5.

If it wasn’t for how bad 5 up til Legacy were (Retro being the best of a bad bunch) I would’ve been harsher but this for me falls into the so-bad-its-good category.

After all it does star Cory Feldman and the music is better.’

Demonic Toy 2 (2010)

 

“Time to be toyed with”

 

Taking place after the original Demonic Toys (This one ignores Dollman vs Demonic Toys) where a mysterious stranger collects the remains of the dolls and repairs them before selling them on.

Later in Rome we have all round swot, Caitlin, who has been charged with cataloguing an old medieval house waiting with toy expert Butterfield for Dr Lorca to arrive in order to finalise the sale of an old toy she has discovered.

With him is Dr Lorca’s gold-digging fiancee Lauraline that is planning to steal the toy and sell it on with Dr Lorca’s general skivvy, the handsome cowboy, Eric.

This part of the film plays out like you expect.

Accompanying them is psychic Lillith and Lauraline’s step-son from her previous victim, David.

The doll in question is Divoletto, a cloaked, devil looking doll that comes to life when its box is tapped by a wand found with it.

Later, Divoletto escapes and uses its magic to revive the repaired demonic toys of Baby Oopsie-Daisy and Jack Attack. The rest of the film sort of plays out as you expect but I’m you expected that.
This is a modern Full Moon film after-all.

So as this is Full Moon it means this has a very small budget, not that that has stopped FM before.
The difference here is this lacks the higher quality look and feel of their older films, instead coming across more like a SyFy channel film. The music seems to be the same tune only slightly modified playing throughout that rarely matches what is happening on screen.

Something Full Moon has done a lot in their newer movies.

All this isn’t that much of a problem as the film is not as bad as it could’ve been, however, two main aspects do suffer enough to detract.
First is the puppets. Baby Oopsie always did suffer from not having the best animatronics but this seemed to add to the charm unlike here where the only facial movements is a mouth that seems to only slightly move when the doll is shaken.
I can’t recall Jack Attack’s mouth having any sort of movement at all.

The second is crappy CGI when it isn’t needed.
There is cheap CGI for some of the dolls that actually works. Long distance shots of Divoletto running away are surprisingly good for what we get. The real problem is something we’ve seen far too much of.

CGI blood. In one scene a person has a knife stabbed through their hand and it is all crappy CGI when this could be done very cheaply using practical effects. In almost every single instance, bad practical effects will look better and be more effective than bad CGI which this move proves as it has both.

Taking all that into account I still found some enjoyment here. If you have watched the films up to this point and are aware of Full Moons modern offerings then you know what you are getting and this is one of the better ones; but won’t win any new fans to the franchise.

Conclusion

The original films are good fun nonsense from the 90s and even the cross-over has enough charm despite its flaws and recycled footage. Demonic Toys 2 suffers from the usual and widespread problems that plagues cheap horror for the last 10 or so years.

Don’t expect anything serious and you might also be entertained. Sadly, most of the copies I watched have been cut and by several minutes in some. I don’t know why when they came from Full Moon themselves but these seem to be the only copies available.

What I really want is to see is just one proper sequel to Dollman staring Tim Thomerson.

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