The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1993)

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This is another one that I'd been planning to do for some time, and when Emily of Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense came to me for posts featuring miniature baddies for her Vertically Challenged Villains Month, I figured I'd bump this one up and do it now too, like I did with Puppet Master II. I should point out, it's been a long, long time since I've seen Demonic Toys and Bad Channels, two of the three films that this is a sequel of, the third being Dollman, which we did sometime ago. It might mean I missed some things I'd have picked up on if those other two were fresher in my mind.

Dollman vs. Demonic Toys is like a comic book crossover of Full Moon projects, featuring Dollman Brick Bardo (played again by Tim Thomerson), who, after beings stranded on Earth, goes out to California to find Nurse Ginger (Melissa Behr), who herself was shrunk and left shrunk at the end of Bad Channels (actually, in Bad Channels it was Bunny, not Nurse Ginger who was left shrunk, but does it matter?). He makes it to her house and they form a romance, hoping to live happily ever after. Not so fast cowboy. Enter Tracy Scoggins, who has been hunting the Demonic Toys. She hears about Ginger and Brick, and thinks Brick would be perfect to take down the Demonic Toys due to his size. His big gun doesn't hurt either. The Demonic Toys won't know what hit them.

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This is exactly as I described it, a comic book crossover in movie form. That's what it felt like, a cool one-off. Even the length, just over an hour, fits that vibe. As someone that grew up with comics and loved it when one-off issues were released with characters from different books put together, to see something like this that captures that vibe is really cool. Tim Thomerson is his usual awesome self reprising his role as Brick Bardo, and the showdown between him and the Demonic Toys is everything I could've asked for. Scoggins and Behr were also great, as was Phil Fondacaro, who had a small part as a security guard (no pun in tended). Add to that Quiet Riot in the film's soundtrack, and you can't lose. Even though a chunk of the film gives you enough backstory that you can watch this without seeing the previous films first, you should at least take advantage of Dollman and Demonic Toys on Watch Instantly beforehand, because it'll make this one a little more fun.

I guess we start with Tim Thomerson, right? He's so deep into his Brick Bardo character that there's no question about anything being silly with him fighting an over-sized baby doll or duking it out with a Conan O'Brien action figure. He plays it so straight, yet so cool, that it all works and makes it that much better for all of us. In fact, the entire cast plays it pretty straight, which makes all the difference in films like this. Thomerson also has an interesting distinction here at the DTVC: he's one of the few non-Hall of Famers to have more tags than some of the inductees. The question is how to rectify that: get more films for those Hall of Famers, induct Thomerson this fall, or both?

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I want to stay with this shot of Thomerson here, because it's archive footage from Dollman, which was directed by Albert Pyun. I wasn't sure if I should the tag Pyun, because it is his footage that's being used. I mean, I've tagged actors for smaller appearances than the amount of footage from Dollman that we had in this. I wonder how that works as far as Pyun goes for money, or if Band owns the rights. Same with the actors, like Michael Halsey, Vincent Klyn, and Jackie Earle Haley. I don't believe they're credited either. Should I tag them or not too? There's also the character name "Brick Bardo", which Pyun has used a lot. Was there any dispute about who owned the rights to it after the fact? Another interesting Pyun connection here was Anthony Riparetti, who worked on the music. He's worked on a lot of Pyun's films, usually credited as "Tony" Riparetti.

I loved the Conan O'Brien action figure. How is that not awesome? He of course predates Conan's run on Late Night by about a year, but still. It's too bad Conan doesn't have the rights to all his characters, because you could have a great crossover with them and the Demonic Toys. Imagine Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the Reverend Otis K. Dribbles, the Masturbating Bear, Pimp Bot, maybe even the Ear of Corn, all fighting the Demonic Toys, or maybe the Puppets from the Puppet Master series. A guy can dream, right?

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As I mentioned above, this film clocks in at a cool 64 minutes, which isn't much. I always hear the term "feature length" tossed around, and wanted to find out exactly what it was, so I did what anyone would do, I went to Wikipedia (link is to the article). According to them, there are multiple definitions for feature length, some as short as 40 minutes, but the rough standard for an adult feature is 80 to 210 minutes. Do I think this one at 64 minutes should've been longer? No, 64 worked, and I imagine, if Band were forced to make it 80, he'd just add five more minutes of archive footage from each of the three original films, and one more minute of credits, and he'd have his 80. Give me shorter with less padding every time. I always say, anything after 88 minutes is borrowed time and better be damn good.

We are two-for-two this week on Full Moon flicks, the other being Puppet Master II. I daresay I like this one even more. If you like Full Moon, you like Thomerson, and you like the old comic one-off with tons of different characters, this is your flick. Right now it's on Watch Instantly. I can't think of a 64 minutes better spent. (Okay, maybe I can think of a few ways, but not many.)

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106743/

7 comments:

  1. Need to see this one but I've only caught Dollman. Sounds like with all the recapping I'll be okay though.

    Definitely think Thomerson deserves a place in the Hall of Fame - sure he's not your classic muscle bound action hero but he's effortlessly cool and really sells those one-liners.

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  2. Yeah, I keep forgetting that outside the States, you don't get Netflix Watch Instantly. I only mentioned Demonic Toys because it's easily available for people here, but you don't need to see it to enjoy this, I know I didn't.

    Yeah, I agree about Thomerson, and we have other non-muscle bound action heroes in, like Hopper and Kinski, so there's a precedent for him.

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  3. Saw this way back on PPV, when my cable provider had some kind of screw-up that gave us free PPV for a couple days!

    I liked that Band went for a tighter film, running time be damned. The PPV version included the Full Moon Videozone featurette, putting it closer to actual feature-length status, so maybe that's how Band got away with that. I like your idea for padding, though.

    SPOILERS (kinda) BELOW

    Gotta give it some credit too for bringing closure to a particular part of Demonic Toys; without giving anything away, it actually added an extra element of surprise and definitely upped the stakes for the characters. Unless I'm missing something, I'm kinda bummed they didn't do another Dollman -- but then again, given what they did with Trancers, perhaps it's for the best.

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  4. Great review! This is from the days when Full Moon actually release fun movies.

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  5. I loved those old cable company screw ups that got you free PPV or free HBO. Too bad that kind of thing doesn't happen anymore.

    I agree with you both, this was a fun flick and a solid effort from band and Full Moon. I have to think Band stuck with Trancers because the Dollman flicks were probably a logistics nightmare on a small budget.

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  6. Funny, I think I hated this movie because it felt so lazy. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched it a year or so back because I just remember thinking it was almost 90% cut and paste from the other two films, with a tiny dose of new content to tie it together. Am I wrong? It's a shame because I LOVE Demonic Toys and dig Dollman.

    And I agree about not padding a film just to be longer. CHarles Band's films OFTEN run under 70 minutes, and later ones--Dangerous WOrry DOlls, Doll Graveyard--even include slow moving credits to reach that mark.

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  7. It's really more a quick-hitter than a feature length film, and I think if you approach it more like that, it doesn't feel so lazy-- if that makes sense. Again, I go back to the comic book thing, because they'd often do that, throw in a one-off crossover to fill space before a bigger story arc that a book wanted to do over the summer or during bi-weeklies. It just had that feel, a very comic book geek kind of movie.

    And I think we all enjoy those later Band films more for being so short-- though I guess if I were paying $20 for it or wasting a $3 rental, I might not be so excited.

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