Ho ho ho! The Christmas spirit is in the air again and it’s once again time to check out some crazy holiday movies! Last night I watched a pretty ridiculous one to say the least, the final installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, part 5: ‘The Toymaker’ from 1991! Now if you’re in the mood for some totally idiotic yet entertaining holiday movie mayhem I’d say this here is definitely worth a watch this year. As with the 4th installment of the ‘Silent Night Deadly Night’ franchise, this one has got absolutely zilch to do with the original, clearly a sequel only in name and I’m quite fine with that becuz really now, how many damn movies do we need with a killer in a Santa Suit?
So “The Toymaker” goes a way different direction with a totally absurd plot directed by Martin Kitrosser & co-written by horror icon Brian Yuzna (Night of the Living Dead 3, Bride of Re-Aminator, Society), which finds a little kid whose family is “terrorized” by killer presents..ahem “toys” made by a weird ass old dude toymaker named ‘Joe Petto’ played by the one and only Mickey Rooney! How the hell they got Rooney to do this flick is a bit of a wonder. First he’s clearly got the star power here, though in 1991 he must have been in dire need of acting work and even more bizarre is that Rooney wrote a protest letter against the first Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). Claiming the “scum” who made it should be “run out of town” for having fucked with the sacred holiday. Oddly then six years later he joined the damn franchise!! He must have just loved the damn script so much he couldn’t resist! The world may never know..
Anyway Rooney runs his own creepy toy shop in town called “Petto’s” which is probably the WORST name you could pick for a toy store, oh and he’s got his socially awkward son working the shop too and yeah…..his name is ‘Pino’. I recognized this kid actor Brian Bremer from Pumpkinhead as well as starring in Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion & Yuzna’s ‘Society’. So are you catching on here to the brilliance of this story here yet? Well Joe Petto makes toys that kill people and his weirdo son who lives in the dank cellar helps him out and also gets yelled at a lot by Petto after he’s been drinkin’ on the job during shop hours.
The meat of the plot here revolves around Joe Petto’s evil toy’s stalking a single mom and her child for some “unknown reason” right around Christmas. We get some pretty ridiculous bullshit going on here when the toys viciously attack and we even got Screamin’ Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 3) doing his best with the budget on special fx duty. Killer toy army men, toy centipede larva, heck even some killer roller blades! The movie’s filled with crazy ass plot twists too, the kind that are so stupid you can’t help but find idioticlly endearing.
The Toymaker goes for the jugular with a “shocking” finale too, that kinda just has to be seen to be believed as it’s about as stupidly awesome things come. There’s plenty to enjoy here for the holiday as the story somehow operates nicely within the Christmas season. It’s likely the second best installment of the ‘Silent Night’ franchise and the perfect holiday party flick as it’s got a lean, just over 80 minute run time that moves at a nice brisk pace. If you want a full on holiday party flick this one’s got the goods, just make sure you’ve got your sense of humor intact, plenty of weed and boozy egg nog there to wash this one down with…you’ll be needing it!
Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.
This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it? Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.
The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!
Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!! They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….
Here’s something totally awesome for anyone who’s a fan of movies like ‘The Dark Crystal’ & ‘Meet The Feebles’. Check out the ‘We R Animals’ trailer, a new movie you can fully support on Kickstarter. This project looks totally bonkers and like ‘Meet The Feebles’ boasts an R rating as well. All the characters are played by animatronic puppets bringing to mind a bit of a Gremlins feel as well to the whole thing. This project has been in the making now since 2010 but now seems to be looking like it’s gearing up to get very serious soon.
Here’s the crazy synopsis:
“We R Animals is the story about a bunny who’s never experienced love, who lives in a shady old circus but wants to get out. One day her dream comes true when she manages to escape and meets an old sweet lady called Alice. But her happy new life won’t last long. A criminal cat who runs a business where he shoots cute animal videos for the web now wants the bunny in one of his videos and therefore kidnaps her. It’s a nasty business where he earns big money on ads, while treating his actors like shit, often drugging them and doesn’t care if they die.
What happens next is a fun twisted r-rated ride with violence, ninja cats, soviet collie cyborgs, vicious dogs, vampire bats, revenge and magic.”
Sounds like a trip huh? I’m pretty excited to see the final product here. So many movies these days simply resort to CGI which is totally cool but it’s also really nice to see an inspiring “hands on approach” being utilized for a project as unique as this. The puppets look absolutely stunning & the sets look mindbending. The Sweden based writer and director also got the dude from “Kung Fury” involved recently as a producer on the project. Support this one if you can!
I love that people these days are using online avenues to make cool movies. Nothing satisfies me more than knowing people are getting things done with the help of true fans. In the end it means that most often times people are really getting what they want rather than a big studio pushing its influence on directors and turning a good idea into a load of bullshit. So we’ve got to take some time out from covering the glossy, over hyped, fully bloated flicks that Marvel & DC are cranking out and give some smaller projects some hype here. One such project is called “The Void” which you can help fund directly on Indiegogo if you’re a fan of old school monster movies, the kind we used to get back in the 1980’s back when life was a little more simplistic and the movies were a bit more of an art form. It’s pretty clear just by this amazing poster for the project that these guys are on to something awesome!
Here’s a little more info on the pitch:
“Cult indie directors Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie (Manborg, “W Is for WISH” from ABCs of Death 2) and producer Casey Walker of Cave Painting Pictures (A Little Bit Zombie) have launched an Indiegogo campaign to get a head start on pre-production for THE VOID, an original horror film that pits a small-town police officer against all manner of otherworldly creatures in a derelict, rural hospital.
“We’re launching this campaign early in order ensure that the film’s special effects are achieved practically. It’s important to start building our film’s creatures immediately to ensure we can realize them on set and in-camera,” said Kostanski and Gillespie.”
This sounds like my kinda movie, the type I’m always hunting down, whether it be a lost 80’s flick or a new one this is the kind of stuff I want to talking about here at Universal Dork. This trailer looks like a damn fine time and the effects look quite impressive already-so imagine what could be done with a little more funding. Check this shit out and if you have a few bucks to spare throw it their way! I’ll be watching out for this one!
It seems the Critters back! There’s rumors going around that Warner Bros is getting ready to revive the 1980’s classic flick with a reboot or sorts. Well we all know that this new version of critters will most likely be nothing like the original movies, but a fan took matters into his own hands and came up with this awesome short film, Critters: Bounty Hunter.
This is pretty rad and it feels just like the 80’s Critters franchise we have grown to love over the years. Jordan Downey put this cool little six minute film together and if Warner wants to get the spirit of the original they should really be taking notes on this sweet little short! This is the type of Critters that we want. I’m starting to feel like the fan made movies are better than what Hollywood is coming up with these days- Check this shit out!
Let’s face it, puppets totally rule. Period. They are making a big time comeback too. So now that we’ve got that out of the way take a minute to check out this awesome upcoming all puppet horror movie “The Mill at Calder’s End”! Pulling inspiration from HP Lovecraft & Edgar Allen Poe we get something truly unique to feast our eyes upon. This one was funded on Kickstarter and made twice it’s projected goal. Knowing that stuff like this is getting made without the help of major movie studios really make me happy and thankful that Kickstarter exists and has changed the game for film makers and fans alike.
Here’s a brief synopsis of film:
“The Mill at Calder’s End is a gothic ghost story in the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft that will be told with 30 inch tall bunraku puppets and old fashioned in-camera special effects.Featuring the voices of Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,X-Men:First Class) and horror legend Barbara Steele (Black Sunday,The Pit and the Pendulum) , this film celebrates two of my great loves: the art of puppetry and gothic horror.”
“From my experience working as a special effects artist in Hollywood for over twenty years and now collaborating with some of the most talented creature effects artists,concept artists, and puppeteers in the industry, The Mill at Calder’s End will be unlike any puppet film you have ever seen before.”
Check out this epic gothic puppet trailer! Hopefully the full movie will drop soon!
A little behind the scenes too:
I am thoroughly bummed out that “Lessons Learned“, the short film by Toby Froud somehow slipped through my radar here undetected! Being a huge fan of Both Labyrinth & The Dark Crystal this film is on my must see list and Mr. Froud I find also lives right here in Portland, Oregon! Now that’s not even the most interesting part, Toby is kind of a legendary guy, his parents created the puppets and landscapes of The Dark Crystal & Labyrinth, but get this, he also starred in Labyrinth as the legendary baby that David Bowie kidnaps!!
So these days he lives in Pdx and works on puppets at Laika Studios on movies like Paranorman and the upcoming Box Trolls. Most recently however he’s completed his epic puppet short film, “Lessons Learned”, which was funded on Kickstarter. Now the film is complete and screenings are popping up. The movie looks pretty awesome & it really looks like it takes place in the same universe as The Dark Crystal!
So check out this trailer for the film which he teamed with Heather Henson (Jim Henson’s Daughter)! I think if he could follow this up with a feature length film, in the same vein it would excite legions of people all over the world. Lessons Learned will screen again as part of the Portland Film Festival in August. For those not in Portland, it has been selected as part of FilmQuest in Salt Lake in July, and will possibly play at festivals elsewhere pending acceptance.