Pinocchio's Revenge (1996) is an indistinguished cliche-driven microbudget horror flick borrowing premises from the Child's Play franchise.
Even so, with minimal forgiveness, there are moments when it just about works. Passably acted with a so-so script (until the silly "twist" ending at least), its limitations are overcome by a well-designed Pinocchio puppet that moving or not oozes menace.
The first act is courtroom drama that never stops feeling like padding for a script that would otherwise have been only an hour's length. But when the court case is over, the film at long last gets started.
The attorney (Rosalind Allen) brings a creepy piece of court evidence home, & it ends up as the birthday present for her daughter Zoe (Brittany Alyse Smith giving a sufficiently convincing performance).
The item in question is a big ugly-ass wooden marionette that belonged to the recently electrocuted serial killer, whom the attorney thought innocent but could not save from the chair.
The spirit of the executed child-killer (Lewis Van Bergen) seemingly now dwells in the marionette, which even unpossessed ought to scare the crap out of most children, but Zoe easily bonds telepathically with Pinocchio.
The little girl is seemingly infected with the doll's evil nature. But as we're not totally certain the serial killer was guilty, we can't be certain his spirit in the puppet is as fearful as he seems.
It's possible the doll is infected by Zoe's nature since they are seemingly mentally connected.
At least, to the child psychologist who assesses her, Zoe certainly looks like a sociopath in the making, though mom refuses to believe it.
[SPOILER ALERT!] Obviously no one really shares Zoe's belief that Pinocchio is alive & does bad things that keep him from becoming a real boy. Eventually Zoe cuts Pinocchio's strings "unleashing" him to go on a knife-weilding rampage, leaving no further doubts.
The kills aren't numerous or over-the-top so gorehounds could well be disappointed. But the doll's face & upraised knife-weilding arm is a lot creepier than cherry syrup anyway. [END SPOILER ALERT]
If not for an unnecessary nudie scene of the babysitter (Candace McKenzie) in the shower, it'd probably pass muster for thirteen year olds, who'll watch it anyway & probably like it better than can mature viewers.
A comedy of horrors, Evil Doll (2004) is a humble microbudget quarter-hour video that's not trying to fool anyone that it's anything more than an extended pokerfaced jest.
It's posted at youtube in two parts. If viewed in the spirit of amateurs' fun, it's more enjoyable than a lot of microbudgeters that do get distribution from barrel-scraping companies like Brain Damage.
If a slightly more professional evil doll movie had this one as an "extra," it'd surely be well enough received.
It promises only a little foolery & delivers it. The odd thing is it has a better music soundtrack than most microbudget films, the acting is definitely not the worst, & the videogrphy though sometimes too dark to see much is better than all too many no-budget horror films that get packaged like real movies & foisted onto a disappointed public.
Edd (played by director Steve Ward) hears a noise in the attic, so up he goes. We see Jason's hocky mask in passing & some other attic junk, but the main thing is the doll.
It's a fairly regular looking baby, nothing overtly scary, except it's alive, & it slips unseen into the main part of the house without Edd realizing. It's first evil deed is to knock over the ladder as he's coming back out of the attic.
The suspense-music is a delight because it's the sort of music that telegraphs "big horror coming!" when the little rubber baby runs out with a butcher knife & sticks it in Edd's lower leg.
He chases it around & it's really not very strong so most of its "damage" couldn't even result in a bump or a scratch. Edd wrestles with it most foolishly, as it's not really an animated puppet at all.
Credibly enough, the police refuse to believe a doll is trying to kill him, so he's on his own in the cat-and-mouse game throughout his house. The doll is so ridiculously not scary that it reminded me of the killer beach ball on Dark Star (1974), so utterly not possible that one wants to believe it just for the dumb fun of believing it.
Yet Edd limps through his apartment with a BB-rifle trying to find the & shoot the doll before someone off-camera throws it at him again. A wrestling moment when the doll gets its arm stuffed down Edd's throat is just one of many absurd bits.
Edd never cracks a smile, seemingly putting up a real fight for his life, taking refuge in the basement as the doll, clearly being swung on a string, comes for him with a butcher knife, & finally with an electric drill that isn't even turned on.
To add to the amusement, there are extra's for Evil Doll including a satiric scary trailer & the ten-minute documentary The Making of "Evil Doll" (2004).
The film of course was pokerfaced comedy, but the documentary is actually completely serious, showing how the special FX (such as they were) were done.
There's a bit of actual advice on ultra-microbudget filmmaking, though with such heavy Scottish accent it's occasionally hard to work out what that advice is. Charming stuff in any case, as our filmmakers giggle & goof off making a movie.
Not enough doll films yet? Continue to:
Puppet Master 1 (1989)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl