Starring: Michael Citriniti, Alli Kinzel, Lane Compton, Leslie Jordan, Selene Luna and Elizabeth Bell
Director: William Butler
Producers: William Butler and Charles Band
Rating: Four of Ten Stars
A wealthy collector of oddities (Citriniti) and his entourage travel to a deserted Italian castle to acquire a legendary mechanical dolls known as Devoletto. Once there, however, demonic spirits that have been lurking in the castle for centuries possess other grotesque toys he has collected and a bloodbath begins.
The tagline for this movie reads, "Playtime is over." I fear I must agree.
With not only the promise of the legendary Demonic Toys returning to action, but also the presence of Dr. Lorca from Charles Band's spectacular film "Hideous!" (review here) and the film being shot in the same castle as "Castle Freak" and "The Pit and the Pendulum" this should and could have been a nostalgic return to the Old Days of Full Moon's Golden Age of the 1990s. It's a direct appeal to fans of all those classic Full Moon pictures. Unfortunately, the film falls short of its promise.
The cast gives a performance of typical Full Moon caliber, with Michael Citriniti as Dr. Lorca and Elizabeth Bell as his unfaithful, gold-digging wife being especially fun to watch. The rest of the cast is also pretty good, but they are let down by a script that feels as if it needed another draft or two, and by shoddily done special effects.
First, the puppetry is weak, as has been the tendency in most recent Full Moon efforts--it's not as bad as that featured in "Skull Heads" or "Decadent Evil," but it's also not as good as what we saw in "Doll Graveyard" and it can't hold a candle to the original "Demonic Toys."
Second, the gore effects are also weak and vastly inferior to the original "Demonic Toys." As mentioned above, this film should have been a return to the 1990s since it is built around evoking films from those days. The gore effects should have been Old School--red corn syrup, fake guts... the works. Instead, we're treated to not-very-convincing computer-generated effects (with a supposedly severed head and blood spray from the neck being especially pathetic). Maybe the new generation of Bad Movie Lovers are satisfied with such cartoony gore, but us Grognards need a little more to be happy, especially when it comes to a movie that plays on nostalgia. (On a positive note, the CGI-created muzzle-flashes on the gun that Lorca fires in a couple of different scenes is very well done. Not all the computer effects are poorly done.)
And, finally, there are the demonic toys. Like everything else that invites comparison to previous Full Moon efforts, they come up short. The reason for them being animated is vague and the reason for them starting to kill is nonsensical in the greater context of what's going on in the story. Jack Attack, due to the crew's limited ability to engage in actual puppeteering is ineffectual dramatically because they are completely unconvincing. Worse, the "Baby Ooopsie" in this version is voiced in such a way that most of its lines are incomprehensible. Sure, it's great that it speaks like a baby... but an actor with strong enough ability to enunciate words should have been hired so he could speak like a baby AND still deliver lines that could be understood.
I sat down wating to like this movie. I wish I could give it a better review than I am. I think I might have been able to, if just a little more money and time had been spent on making this movie. Charles Band has always made cheap movies, but they didn't use to look and feel cheap... and with the computer generated gore effects and the substandard puppetry, this film both looks and feels cheap.
In the final analysis, the only truly good things I can about the film is that Alli Kinzel makes an appealing female lead and I hope to see her in more Full Moon pictures in the future, and that I feel Dr. Lorca may not be dead and that he might be back for another misadventure in the future. (The rating I'm giving the film is about as low a 4 as I can give.)