Studio: Full Moon Features
Director: Charles Band
Writer: August White, Craig Hamann
Producer: Charles Band
Stars: Robin Sydney, Jessica Morris, Meredith McClain, Tim Thomerson, Tracy Scoggins, Phil Fondacaro, Frank Welker
A doll-centric horror anthology featuring tales about legendary Italian Skull Heads that protect their guardians, Worry Dolls that can take away a person’s troubles, and Demonic Toys forced to fight interplanetary police officer Dollman.
Remember the heyday of Blockbuster Video, when a new Full Moon release meant hands that eagerly clutched a VHS tape with excited anticipation to see not only the movie, but the ahead-of-their-time Videozone segments that played after the film? Those days are over.
They have been over for several years, in fact. The exact beginning of Full Moon’s decline is difficult to pinpoint. One top candidate for that dubious honor may be their predilection for filming two movies at the same time when in actuality they were splitting one cohesive story into two separate films (see Trancers 4 and 5 for an example). Now, like “Devildolls” before it, Charles Band attains a new low in fan exploitation by presenting an “anthology” that is actually three truncated versions of previous Full Moon films cobbled together into one semi-coherent disappointment.
“The Protectors” is roughly 39% of the 2009 Full Moon feature “Skull Heads.” Finding points in the story where the other 61% was pulled is easy. A trio of filmmakers wants to use an Italian castle for a location shoot. After making it perfectly clear that under no circumstances does he want the filmmakers anywhere near his house, Mr. Arkoff tears up a business card and angrily dismisses the group. The next time we see the trio is just under two minutes later, when they are eating dinner over candlelight with the Arkoff family inside their home. In addition to a housekeeper who suffers two assaults and is then never seen or heard from again, a physical confrontation between two men ensues during the climax. There is a scene change while the fight is ongoing and then the next time either character is seen, they are suddenly each in a completely different location. It should also be mentioned that the dolls this story centers on have a collective screen time of somewhere around one minute.
“Worry Dolls” fares the same. The first scene introduces Eva, the new inmate at a women’s prison, and two guards who factor into the story. The second scene shows Eva receiving a box of worry dolls from a little girl. Maybe why this little girl is in the warden’s office of a women’s prison is a question answered in “Dangerous Worry Dolls,” the full movie that this was culled from. Maybe that film also explains why there are four worry dolls, yet we only ever see one. Just do not expect to find those answers here. Almost as baffling is when Eva uses the worry dolls by whispering names of characters that have not even been introduced yet. Similarly jarring jumps accompany every other scene change. It’s obvious that pieces are missing, and this story was not meant to fit into the shortened runtime.
With a running time of 64 minutes, the original “Dollman vs. Demonic Toys” was barely feature length to begin with. More than half of that one-hour movie must have been filler, because Band found a way to trim that down to just 30 minutes for the final segment, “Demonic Toys.” As if half of a movie is not enough of a cheat, “Dollman vs. Demonic Toys” is a sequel to both “Dollman” and “Demonic Toys,” with a character from “Bad Channels” tossed in for good measure. Anyone who has not seen those movies is already three films behind when this abbreviated story begins.
Whatever entertainment value there may be in the actual content of this collection is automatically negated by the very nature of its patchwork cash grab. Frankensteining three full features into three short stories is already indefensible. Couple that with the fact that these stories do not even work together. “Worry Dolls” features strap-on sex toys, a transgender person, and prison rape. Those elements have context in their own segment. But this plays before a story about a foot-high cop from another planet spouting one-liners while shooting wisecracking demon puppets. The juxtaposition of these two stories alone creates an extremely unbalanced tone. The original release dates for these films further separate the segments by 15 years, and that age difference shows.
“Skull Heads” and “Dangerous Worry Dolls” were unfamiliar to me before I watched “The Haunted Dollhouse.” I suspect that may be true for a number of Full Moon fans. I am perplexed why Band did not just re-release those two titles as some sort of double-feature DVD instead of shrinking them down and packaging a “new” movie. I would have seen those films on their own and would probably not be left shaking my head at the ever-diminishing value of the Full Moon brand.
Review Score: 10