This Full Moon Fever entry comes via request by Dennis Atherton (@denzbeanz). Thanks, Dennis!
Though made during Full Moon's golden age -- when the company's partnership deal with Paramount afforded them bigger budgets, bigger distribution and, often, better movies -- 1992's Demonic Toys more than any other effort of the period feels like the one that wrote the template for most modern Full Moon films. It's got a small cast (about 10 or fewer speaking parts), a single warehouse location and, of course, tiny puppets trying to kill people. It might as well have been made by Full Moon in 2012.
The puppet thing I get. After Puppet Master became a big hit as the studio's first film, it made sense to try to strike oil twice (and, if you look up Full Moon's filmography, a seventh, eighth, ninth and 15th time, too). There is an attempt to give each of the Demonic Toys an individual personality or memorable gimmick, just as there was the pint-sized monsters of Puppet Master. It sometimes works, like when Baby Oopsie Daisy opens its mouth and makes a wisecrack or when Grizzly Teddy grows six feet tall. It works less well when the toys just keep picking up guns and shooting people.
Demonic Toys is, for me, among the weakest of the early Full Moon movies, though it's difficult to pin down exactly why. I suspect I'm in the minority on this, as the film (and its sequel and spin-offs) has a devoted fan base and was instrumental in building the company brand in its beginnings. There's nothing necessarily wrong with it that couldn't be said about other Full Moon titles I like better, and yet very little of it adds up to a movie I feel like revisiting. The characters aren't very compelling, probably because most of them pop up briefly only to be killed off. The world it sets up isn't interesting. The toys themselves are just ok; Jack Attack is a neat design and Baby Oopsie Daisy is an amusing personality, but it's hard to believe any of them caught on as fan favorites even among the Full Moon community.
It's at its best when it embraces weirdness, like a scene in which characters hallucinate two girls riding around the warehouse on bikes wearing gas masks. It goes nowhere and is really the only moment like it in the movie, but it hints at a kind of creativity that might have transcended the four walls of the generic warehouse set. By the time we reach the climax and a little stop motion toy soldier turns into Judith's unborn son (still wearing a toy soldier costume!) so that he can fight a demon that is also taking the form of a little boy, Demonic Toys has finally gone crazy enough to excite me. It's not uncommon for Full Moon movies -- or any exploitation movie, really -- to only work in fits and starts, creating memorable sequences bookended by filler (it's one of the things Tarantino got so right in Death Proof). I don't hold that against Demonic Toys. I just wish the filler was less frequent and that the memorable sequences were more memorable.
The movie's biggest claim to fame is probably that it was written by David S. Goyer, who also wrote the Albert Pyun-directed Arcade for Full Moon and would go on to write all three Blade movies (and direct the third) as well as Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel. Despite having seen a lot of movies he has written, I have no real sense of who Goyer is as a writer except that he writes a lot of superhero shit and doesn't always handle exposition dumps well. I guess that's on display here, too, since most of the exposition comes courtesy of "dream" scenes with imaginary future babies and demon souls looking to be born into the world via Judith's vagina. To be fair to Goyer, I don't know how to convey that information better.
Evil Bong. It's a real chicken/egg situation, because I don't know if their longevity is a testament to their popularity with fans or if the fans eventually embraced them after being worn down by having them forced upon them in movie after movie. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. I like that Full Moon has created its own interconnected universe even if I don't love every element of that universe.
The real upside is this: now that I've written about both Dollman and Demonic Toys, I can finally do a FMF piece on the crossover Dollman vs. Demonic Toys! Or do I need to do Bad Channels first? My life is so hard.
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