Great Bad Movies: "Demonic Toys" (1992)
Demonic Toys (1992)
Starring: Tracy Scoggins, Bentley Mitchum, Daniel Cerny, Peter Schrum
Directed by: Peter Manoogian
When Full Moon Studios' Puppet Master series became a surprise hit in the late '80s direct-to-video market (it was already on its third installment by the turn of the decade), producer Charles Band decided that there was room for more than one franchise featuring deadly playthings on the nation's video store shelves. Armed with little more than a cool title and some concept art, Band handed the project (originally titled "Dangerous Toys") over to a young screenwriter named David S. Goyer, who (legend has it) turned around a complete script in just over a week's time. The resulting film, Demonic Toys, turned out to be one of Full Moon's best - an entertaining, action packed cheapie best described as a Child's Play flick on steroids, with a heaping helping of added Satanism and a hot leading lady. Demonic Toys was your humble narrator's introduction to the weird, wild world of Charles Band and to this day it's still my favorite Full Moon flick. Does it sound like your kind of fun? Come and play!
Demonic Toys begins with a pair of undercover cops on a stakeout, preparing for the arrival of some suspected arms dealers. While Judith Gray (former "Dynasty" babe Tracy Scoggins) and her partner/lover Matt Cable (Jeff Weston) wait for the bad guys, "Jude" tells Matt that she's expecting his child. Of course, since this is a horror flick, poor Matt won't get to enjoy his impending fatherhood for long. Things go horribly wrong as soon as the gun dealers show up, Matt catches a bullet in the ensuing firefight, and the grief stricken, gun-toting Jude chases two of the suspects into a nearby building -- the warehouse of Arcadia Toys. Jude ends up locked in a storeroom with one of the crooks, while the other bandit, who was also wounded in the gun battle, crawls into a corner that's bathed in a strange, eerie light. A cackling killer Jack-In-The-Box ("Jack Attack") suddenly springs from a carton and has the guy for lunch, causing his blood to seep into the floor below and awaken... something. Before long, evil laughter is echoing throughout the warehouse and a voice is calling "Jooooooooo-diiiiiith....."
Meanwhile, the warehouse's inept security guard, Charnetsky (Peter Schrum), unaware of the goings-on in the cavernous building, places a late night order at the fried chicken place around the corner. When the Chunky Chicken delivery boy, Mark (Bentley Mitchum) arrives with Charnetsky's dinner, things start kicking into high gear. The pair discover Jude and her prisoner trapped in the storeroom, just in time for all the lights to go out, the doors to lock by themselves, and for Charnetsky to be murdered by a tag-team of killer playthings including a knife-wielding, foul mouthed baby doll ("Baby Oopsie Daisy"), a carnivorous Teddy Bear ("Grizzly Teddy"), and a toy robot ("Mr. Static") that fires real missiles. Mark, Jude and the remaining gun dealer spend some time freaking out and screaming "What the @#$% is going on?" for a while, till a homeless girl (Ellen Dunning) who's been living in the warehouse suddenly pops out of a conveniently placed air shaft to informs them, "It's the toys... something's inside the toys..."
From here, things turn into a gory chase film, as the surviving humans try to find a way out of the warehouse before they too become playthings for the Demonic Toys. Glancing into a doll house, Judith eventually meets the demonic child-spirit that controls the Toys, who she's also been seeing in her dreams. Turns out that this demon has been buried beneath the building for the past 66 years, waiting to be reborn into a human body. He lured Judith to the warehouse because he has special plans for her and her unborn child, adding another level of urgency to the supernatural goings-on. Eventually the party gets whittled down to just Jude and Chicken Delivery Guy Mark, who has to save her from the clutches of the demonic child spirit. Will heroic Chunky Chicken Man save Jude and her baby before Demon Boy can "ride shotgun down the birth canal?" As usual, I will leave that for you to discover.
I'm not gonna lie to you, folks... "Demonic Toys" is far from a great movie, but boy is it a fun one! The creature designs (particularly the Jack-in-the-Box and Baby Oopsie Daisy) are disgustingly cool and there's just enough gore and T&A to earn Demonic Toys an "R" rating. I also have to give Tracy Scoggins credit, she plays her role as a tough-as-nails, bad-ass lady cop totally seriously. Even though I'm sure that deep down inside, she must have known how ridiculous this movie was, Tracy totally sells it. Kudos! The movie does start to unravel by the time the Demon Child reveals his master plan to Jude (and the "flashback" sequence that shows us his previous birth attempt 66 years ago feels like it was tacked on at the last minute) but up till then "Demonic Toys" is an absolute hoot. You'll be quoting Baby Oopsie Daisy's profane one liners for days and I guarantee you'll never look at a Jack-in-the-Box the same way again.
"Demonic Toys 2" Trailer:
...Demonic Toys was written by a young David S. Goyer, who would go on to create screenplays for such genre favorites as Dark City and Wesley Snipes' Blade series. Today, of course, he is best known for his work on Christopher Nolan's mega-blockbusters Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, you read that right, folks... the same guy who wrote the freakin' Dark Knight trilogy once wrote a movie about killer teddy bears and baby dolls. Let that be a lesson to you aspiring screenwriters out there - everybody's gotta start someplace!!
...While it may not have become as popular as Full Moon's seemingly endless Puppet Master series, Demonic Toys was a sleeper hit for the studio. The toy characters became cult favorites, crossing over into action figures and comic books, and Full Moon has revived them in several more films, including 1993's crossover film Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys, 2004's Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, and a long-overdue "official" sequel, Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons,which finally appeared in 2009. Unfortunately Demonic Toys 2 was pretty awful aside from the voice work by Jane Wiedlin (of the Go-Go's) as "Baby Oopsie Daisy." In this age of reboots and sequels, I wouldn't be surprised to see them crawl out of the toy box a few more times in the near future.
© 2011 Keith Abt