Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, a SciFi Original, marries two of Full Moon Entertainment’s previously straight-to-video properties in what I suppose is a dream match for bad movie lovers. It delivers the bad movie fun in spades, too, starting with the illustrious cast.
Corey Feldman takes over the role of patriarch of the Toulon family, long line of Puppet Masters to those familiar with any of the previous films of the franchise. While Feldman appears to be about 30 years old he also has a teenage daughter from his now defunct marriage. He accomplishes the illusion of advancing his age by growing a wispy goatee and donning a ridiculous wig with slight salt-and-pepper tones to it. His daughter, on the other hand, looks to be about 25, inviting unflattering comparisons to their respective ages. Feldman speaks every line in a rasp so grave and over the top as to put his Frog Brother even to shame. His performance of the terribly scripted lines is so far past over the top as to bring it into the realm of art. I’m not sure that a performance of this nature can be classified as bad when Feldman seems to be trying so desperately to bring this production to life. He gets very little help in the film, though, with its overdubbed Bulgarian extras rounding out most of the cast.
He has one counterpart in the film, though, in Vanessa Angel’s Erica Sharp, the Satanic, corporate, doll making mogul to Toulon’s angelic, independent, puppet making everyman. She wants Toulon’s formula to bring her dolls to life, the oddly named “Christmas Pals,” to do her bidding. Much is made of the countdown to Christmas and a few terrible ads are shown that do nothing to explain why this year’s must-have toys are a snarling bear, an ugly, sneering baby (also the film’s comic relief) and a creepily phallic jack-in-the-box. Angel’s acting in the film seems to serve only one purpose- to make Feldman the second most over the top actor on the set. I guess the director wanted every performance as big as possible and she certainly gives her biggest effort. Not that subtlety was warranted on a movie about puppets fighting demonic toys, you know. I also wonder if the part wasn’t written for someone much older than Angel. The film rarely takes advantage of the one thing for which she is normally cast, her looks. Her costumes cover her from head to toe in a number of scenes, especially her Christmas gown, which looks like something dreamed up by the tailor of Dr. Strange and Endora from Bewitched. You have to see it to come close to understanding. When she finally does try looking sexy, to seduce the ladies’ man Toulon, it gets even worse. The costumers took a weird green dress with tear away sleeves and glued candy canes and cotton balls to it. When a guy like me knows your fashion is bad, it’s beyond salvageable.
The stop motion and animatronics used in the puppets and toys are all hilariously poor. The lack of funds shows in every shot, cheapness in every movement. The toys look absolutely awful, though the charm of the original puppets remains. The design of them is actually quite good in that they are memorable. The classics are back, sadly minus the drill bit guy. I suppose for lack of animation budget he had to be cut.
The plot of the movie is barley worth mention. It’s an absurd demons-conquering-the-world plan revolving around toys, a hole to hell and Barbie’s Dream Iron Maiden, complete with red Plexiglas viewing window. Much is made of Toulon’s family secret formula, though it involves just mixing a drop of blood with a quart of cheap vodka and injecting it into the puppets via a veterinary hypodermic needle. You would think Hell-powered demon toys would be strong enough on their own but Sharp felt she needed that, as well as Toulon’s seed to carry on. She’s not alone. The lady cop that responds to a break in at his home falls for Toulon’s oddball, raspy charms right away as well.
To sum up, this movie is absolutely terrible in every way save one very important one: it is incredibly entertaining. The movie is filled with laughs from the dialogue to the puppets to the wooden and just inexplicable acting. The only thing not funny in it, of course, is Lil’ Baby Fart Gag, but we all know the rule of comic relief in movies such as this one. 1 star, but 4 for bad movie lovers