Yes folks, after a brief hiatus (our winter finale was on December 29th…heh), we bring you the new season of PAUL’S HORROR FLIX! What’s changed this time around? Well, how about a weekly column (every Wednesday) where you get not one, but TWO horror reviews every week! Check in every Wednesday for your weekly dose of horror goodness!
Today’s contenders? Demonic Toys 2, the newest film from Full Moon Studios and the sequel to the original cult classic from the 90’s (with Tracy Scoggins), and Road to L, a mysterious, very hard to find Lovecraftian movie that’s garnered critical acclaim from other sites.
Reviews after the jump!
Demonic Toys 2
I do love Full Moon Studios films, but I’ll be the first to admit that, for every diamond in the rough they put out, there’s a piece of crap. I loved Gingerdead Man, but the sequel was crap. Skull Heads (review) was good, but Evil Bong 1 & 2 were pretty stupid. I recently re-watched the original Demonic Toys, made during the prime of Full Moon Studios, when the films were in a shared universe (Dollman vs. Demonic Toys) and movies were coming out, at least, once every other month. It was kind of the golden age of Full Moon, and the start of a lot of careers.
The original Demonic Toys had Tracy Scoggins as a cop who came across a warehouse where these evil toys were trying to unleash monsters from hell. It was silly, of course, but a lot of fun, and never boring. The same, unfortunately, can’t be said of the sequel. I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to “explore the characters,” or just lack of budget, but Demonic Toys 2 suffers from the same flaws as many recent Full Moon movies – it’s really slow. Not terribly much happens for a good portion of the film’s running time (considering the film is only 70 minutes long or so) and, when stuff finally does happen, it’s limited to the three toys you see on the cover. Gone are some of the memorable faces from the original, including lead Scoggins, and the giant killer teddy bear.
Demonic Toys 2 begins when a collector (who’s character was apparently in another Full Moon film, Hideous!) hears word of an ancient toy found in an old Italian castle. He brings his fiance, son-in-law, a psychic, and his assistant to the castle, where they are met by a couple of historians. They bring the other Demonic Toys with them – why they take them out of the car to begin with is not entirely clear, since the intention was just to stay long enough to get the toy and leave. Well, the evil of the castle awakens not only the original toys (the two that remain, anyway), but the new figure, a little demon guy who pretty much just looks at things and laughs.
The toys do end up killing a couple of people, but the deaths are actually not very well done, sadly, and incorporate too much CG to be believable. It’s funny how, for the most part, practical effects were used to bring the puppets to life, but blood has to be done by computer. Anyway, once again, stuff hits the fan and the film is over before you know it, without any sufficient explanation or a satisfying ending.
I’ve really been looking forward to Demonic Toys 2, and, despite my harshness, there were enjoyable moments – I just wish the film had been filled with more fun and horror than people roaming a castle and talking.
Road to L.
Ah…Road to L. Finally, we meet. Ever since reading Dread Central’s review of this movie, I’ve been curious to see it. I’ve searched far and wide for a copy that wasn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. Finally, I was able to obtain a copy of the film recently, and I popped it in the same night. Getting a copy of the film almost seemed to be an adventure in it’s own, reminding me of those “lost film” movies I’d seen, like Cigarette Burns or The Hills Run Red. Was the movie really as good as everyone said it was? Why was it so hard to find? Would it traumatize me, and shake me to my core?
Well, I believe my experience with this film could best be summed up by the words of my wife. “This film is pissing me off.”
I’m all for a Blair Witch-style horror movie – the type of slow burn that had an ending that’s terrifying, even without you having to see the monster you’ve been waiting to see. I don’t mind a film that takes a while to get going. What I do mind is a film that feels like it’s going nowhere.
Road to L. has some great ideas, and even some decent scenes, that are diminished by the fact that it’s just not done well. Is this a found footage film? By not saying one way or the other (in fact, the narration of the film gives the impression everyone is going to be okay), you cement the film as fiction, while all the while trying to make it seem like it’s a documentary. A group of filmmakers comes across proof that HP Lovecraft, despite being a horrible Xenophobe, may have actually gone to Italy, and come across the city that inspired some of his works. They retrace his steps to discover if there’s truth behind his myths.
The actual elements they find are very chilling (and surprisingly well done) – the fish people, the Cthulu-like grafitti and, most impactful, the creepy abandoned village that has music playing from behind its boarded windows. The problem is that everything inbetween the scares is wholly uninteresting. The group is entirely unlikable, and the acting isn’t terribly great. Some of the scares lose their impact by shoddy acting and camera work – we don’t need to see things, but these people aren’t a couple with a stationary camera set up in their bedroom – they’re documentary filmmakers. They should be able to hold a damn camera.
And again, most of the impact is lost by having a predictable and unsatisfying ending, and the hint that everyone makes it out alive, despite attempts to convince us to the contrary. Unfortunately, the Road to L is not worth taking, and I’m kinda pissed because I spent years looking for it! Oh well.