Dollman vs. Demonic Toys (1993)

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It’s a rare film that manages to be the sequel to three different films – in fact, “Dollman v. Demonic Toys” is probably unique in that regard. But what isn’t unique is recycling footage and the truly insane Full Moon dedication to deliberately ignoring their own continuity, and we fans of that particular cinematic subset get plenty to chew on in this.

This is made up of significant portions (in flashback) of “Dollman”, “Demonic Toys” and “Bad Channels”. Dollman, who we saw briefly after the end credits of “Bad Channels”, is hitch-hiking to the town that film took place in, because he wants to make the woman who was left shrunk feel better about herself – an admirable and noble endeavour, no doubt. We then get caught up with Judith (Tracy Scoggins)from “Demonic Toys”, who relives the events of the first film in a dream while waiting outside that same toy warehouse. Now, if you’re thinking a toy warehouse that suffered significant damage and was the location of several murders would be unlikely to carry on in the same line of work, you’d be right – and if you think it’d be unlikely they’d still be carrying the same shitty toys they were before, well, double rightness for you. Anyway, some dead hobo’s blood is enough to kickstart the demonic toys this time, and Judith (already on suspension) is arrested and loses her badge for going into the warehouse, finding the toys again and opening fire.

The last of the three is Nurse Ginger, the remaining shrunken person from “Bad Channels”, living her life in a surprisingly well-made set and making her bed in a kitchen drawer. Only, there’s a slight problem here – she was alive, well and of normal size at the end of that movie, and it was Bunny who was left inside the glass tube. Now, every other dumb error in a Full Moon film I can chalk up to laziness or incompetence, but they actually show a clip of the end of “Bad Channels!! Given this is only 64 minutes long, they had plenty of time to explain why Nurse Ginger agreed to come back for a sequel and Bunny didn’t. It’s yet another perplexing chapter to Full Moon’s story.

"I don't understand why you're back for the sequel either"

“I don’t understand why you’re back for the sequel either”

Anyway, Dollman and Nurse Ginger almost immediately fall for each other, then for reasons which – again – aren’t terribly well developed, Judith turns up asking for Dollman’s help in kicking the demonic toys’ asses, and he agrees. As well as the three main toys from the first one, we get Zombietoid, who’s a Duke Nukem-looking fellow – but like before, only Baby Oopsy Daisy gets dialogue.

I thought they were going to handwave away the first Demonic Toys as a dream sequence until Scoggins made a brief mention of the kid she was pregnant with during that film, and while you have to admire their balls in cobbling together three unrelated franchises, shooting a few days worth of new footage and calling it a new thing, you don’t have to be terribly entertained by it. Tim Thomerson is always good value, though, and his comedy roots can’t help but show through – he seems like he’s in on the joke in a way that the filmmakers probably didn’t intend – but the strong smell of pointlessness permeates every bit of this film.

There’s a “Demonic Toys 2” from 2010 which features characters from a 1997 film called “Hideous!”, so look forward to reviews of both of them soon.

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Bad Channels (1992)

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No matter how many Full Moon films I see, it feels like there’ll always be more. After reading about “Demonic Toys” earlier, I realise this film is billed as the connecting tissue between it and “Dollman”, so before I review “Dollman vs. Demonic Toys”, being the completist that I am, I really ought to review this too.

A tiny AM radio polka station in the US discovers that it has a national licence to broadcast, thanks to there being no other stations operating in the 66 band frequency (superstition, apparently), and installs a super-powered transmitter to take advantage of this – as well as hiring Dangerous Dan O’Dare, a shock-jock who’s coming off a 6-month ban by the FCC. There’s a cable news station there to cover it, and we get the rest of the cast sketched in quickly – field reporter Lisa Cummings (played by MTV VJ Martha Quinn, in what must have been stunt casting 20 years ago); the station manager and the tech guy; plus groups of radio-listening fans at the local truck stop and hospital.

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Unfortunately, a couple of aliens decide to pop up and…their motivation is never made clear. They take over the radio station but let Dan carry on broadcasting as they transform the tiny building into a goo-covered mess – his calls for help, coming just after the end of his first on-air stunt, are seen as a joke by everyone listening.

There’s a decent sense of humour at work here, one of the common features in Full Moon’s early output. Peanut, the owner of the truck stop, made me laugh, and Dan’s antics are frequently laugh-with, rather than laugh-at-the-awfulness-of, funny. Lisa’s transformation into a one-woman band, as her cameraman is an early victim of the aliens, is a great visual too. They really go all-out, though, when the aliens start using the airwaves to capture and miniaturise women. My wife’s explanation was for repopulating their homeworld, but they really look very different and I’m not sure the parts would match (if you know what I mean).

Anyway, the aliens broadcast special signals to the women they want to capture, briefly turning their lives into a music video (apart from the real-life MTV VJ, who gets nothing, presumably a little joke on their part), while the people around them just see someone start to act crazy and then pop out of existence. The girl from the diner gets some truly hideous cock-rock, the high school band member gets a Nirvana clone (complete with a video so close to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I’m surprised no-one got sued) and the Nurse gets some sort of Primus-alikes. And boy, do they get them – at minute 3 of the last music video, I was unable to shake the idea that this was a little padding from the Full Moon boys, expert cannibalisers of their own work.

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Yes, that’s a miniaturised hospital trolley

Dan and his engineer try to save the day, but the aliens smack them around…sometimes. Other times, they’re allowed to just wander around the studio, and they’re also allowed to say whatever they want on the air – including Dan’s increasingly hysterical request for everyone to turn their radios off. This is all a bit odd, to be honest.

Are relationships formed and will the aliens get away with their (presumably diabolical) plan? Was the link to “Dollman” planned beforehand or did someone go “hey, we have miniaturised people in this film, fancy a crossover?” All these questions I will leave to you to discover for yourselves. But, like so much of Full Moon’s output when they were still getting funding from Paramount, this is a decent little film. They can make a little go a long way, and my bad memories of those later Puppet Master films are already as a distant dream.

As an aside, Blue Oyster Cult did the soundtrack for this film, but not any of the songs performed by the bands inside the film (go figure). There’s a brilliant review of their soundtrack from Classic Rock magazine, a beauty of language I couldn’t hope to compare to, as they call it “a grotesque mistake”.

Rating: thumbs up