Carl the Critic: Talks about "Pinocchio's Revenge" [Caution: Contains Plot Spoilers]
"Pinocchio Revenge" Trailer
Remember the horror 'classic' "Child's Play"? "Child's Play" was the 80's-90's equivalent of the horror film "Saw", a movie that was surprisingly popular, to both film critics and film makers alike. And a lot like the "Saw" series, "Child's Play" was a bad influence on the horror genre, with films that including "The Puppet Master", "Dolly Dearest", and much later "The Gingerdead Man". But perhaps one of the more embarrassing of these "Child's Play" knock-offs was a film from 1996, which actually has the original ending to "Child's Play". It's a film that out of all the "Child's Play knock-offs, is the best to watch more as a reference to making a horror film, and less as an entertaining movie.
After I watched "Pinocchio's Revenge" about 10 times, I began to notice little things about the film that I felt was a little clever, even if it didn't save the film from becoming a total disaster. The majority of the time, the cinematography was well done, creative, and/or original, but in this film it just didn't feel like it belonged. The story, even though it was one of the dumbest stories ever put to screen, has the basic ideas, and clichés that are usually in every horror film, and although the film doesn't use these ideas/clichés very well, they are good references to look at and critique.
Before I go any further, let's talk about the story.
Attorney Jennifer Garrick strongly believes that her client is innocent of the crime of murdering his son whom he had tried to hide from police but he is still found guilty and gets the chair. Among his possessions there is a wooden doll that he made for his son named Pinocchio that Jennifer accidentally takes home (which is just as implausible as accidentally buying a zoo) and gives him to her daughter, Zoe, as a temporary birthday present (now parents tell me this, why would you give your children a temporary birthday present?). However, since Zoe received Pinocchio, strange/crazy things are afoot as a classmate of Zoe is run-over by a bus (and some how lives), Jennifer's boyfriend is murdered along with the nanny, and Zoe's out-burst of rage at the doll with no logic or reasoning. Jennifer however is convinced that Zoe is not crazy, even when there is video evidence to prove otherwise.
This story is crap, but there are elements of the typical psychological horror story that are all here:
- Possibly possessed object (usually a house, but in this case a doll)
- The main people who come into contact with said "possessed" object, and think it's possessed
- The other people who think that the main people are crazy
- Understanding of the main characters' psyche
- Victims (every horror story has this)
- A Cyclical Story structure
- Twist ending that reveals that our main characters are actually crazy
Theses are some of many things that are in the story of "Pinocchio's Revenge" but the film doesn't use them very well. In addition to that "Pinocchio's Revenge" suffers from what I like to call "The Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" disorder, where the title of the movie doesn't make any sense with the actual story. Pinocchio in the film doesn't really seem to be taking revenge, he's just killing people that are in the way of the relationship of Zoe and her mother. In order for this title to make sense, Pinocchio needs to be wronged and then he needs to take revenge, but this film isn't about that, it's about a troubled girl who gets a wooden doll and becomes crazy, while her mother is an attorney who sucks at her job, and is very stubborn, even when she is clearly in the wrong. This should have been called "Pinocchio May or May Not Be On A Killing Spree", or "The World's Worst Attorney/Mother and her Crazy Daughter", either one of those titles makes more sense than "Pinocchio's Revenge" (Even "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" would have been a more accurate title than Pinocchio's Revenge). The story has pointless characters, horrible dialogue, and many plot holes that are just inexcusable.
The way the story is told, you can either assume that the film makers either vaguely know how to make a psychological horror film, or only know what elements a psychological horror film has but have no idea how to use them properly. However, story isn't the only aspect of psychological horror films that this movie screws up with, there are a few other elements of film making in general that we can talk about; the three main elements we are going to look at acting, cinematography, and editing.
This film has so many perfect moments where some of the actors are at there worse. The worst actress in this film by far was Rosalind Allen, who is so focused on making sure that her American accent is accurate that her delivery of each line of dialogue sounded either forced, or emotionless. She plays Jennifer Garrick in the film, and I guess the audience is supposed to like her character, but I for one found her to be bland, stupid, irrational, stupid, stubborn stupid, and did I mention that I THINK SHE'S STUPID! If you ever want to see an example of bad acting, that isn't Tommy Wiseau from "The Room", Rosalind Allen in "Pinocchio's Revenge" is something to check out.
Brittany Alyse Smith's performance as Zoe was 50/50. On occasion she turned out a good, hard working performance which made you truly feel sorry for her, and her problems. However there were times when she was forcing her dialogue. I feel as though Zoe should have been the focus of the film, but for the most part, the focus was on Jennifer which I guess was the film's way of saying "This is what happens when you focus on the wrong character of your movie."
The strongest part of the film was the cinematography. There were a lot of great examples of shots that every cinematographer should know. There were great examples of layering, rack-focus, POV (Point-of-View), Tilts, Pans, Zooms, "Vertigo" (or "Dolly Zoom"), Camera Height, Dramatic Angles, Extreme Close-Up, Tension to Camera, Deep Staging, Planar Staging, "Lead the Eye", Draw In/Out, Dark Voyeur, use of Shadows/Silhouettes, and other techniques. You can tell that a lot of work went into the cinematography, but this had some weak spots as well. For example, there is a scene where the Nanny Sophie is being murdered, and you see a fire poker is being used to club however if you look carefully, when the fire poker is raised, you can see clearly that Zoe is holding it (as if to say "SPOILER ALERT: Zoe is killing everyone not Pinocchio")... But if you really are interested in making your own horror film (or movie in general) feel free to use a shot that you like.
Editing in this film is perfect for textbook movies on movie making. Why? Because there were examples of both good and bad editing (usually seen side-by-side in scenes to show "this is how to edit a movie poorly" and "this is how to edit a movie correctly"). An example that I can think of is when Jennifer is in her office with the Pinocchio doll, just after the execution scene. Her boss Barry comes by and is discussing about how evil comes in all shapes and sizes. This scene shows how to not edit a scene by having some shots hold too long without a cut, and how to edit a scene by cutting back and forth at just the right times.
Mostly the editing was good, but there were moments where it was just awful. If you're an inspiring film editor, you might not really use this so much as a reference, but I recommend checking it out to see what you like/don't like.
What Does This Film Teach About Filmmaking?
These are just some of the few things on can learn from the text book film "Pinocchio's Revenge".
- Different kinds of camera angles to use in horror movies
- How to/how to not act in movies
- Movie editing 101
- Story elements to psychological horror movies
- Critical analysis
- Make sure that the title of the movie has something to do with your movie
- Know who your best character is focus on him/her instead of someone we don't care about.
- The importance of your movie monster (how it can make or break your film).
- Children can be so scary sometimes!
I'll give the film credit, it made me want to read the actual story of "Pinocchio" which is nothing like the Disney film (though that was a good movie).
"Pinocchio's Revenge" is a film that everybody who is interested in making horror films should watch at least once, because there are some good elements of a psychological horror film in here, it's just a bad story, bad acting, bad characters, and I didn't even mention the bad special effects. Because this film is a decent text book film, I give it a 3.7 out of 10. If you plan to watch it, I should warn you that it is not very entertaining, it's dull (like a lot of text books films are).
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Here's Text Book Film, "Pinocchio's Revenge: Psychological Horror Films 101"
Teaser Trailer: "Literally Figurative" coming soon
Carl the Critic © 2012 HubPages.com
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