Friday, May 5, 2017


PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*

I confess one of my main reasons for seeing DOLLMAN VS. THE DEMONIC TOYS-- the last cinematic version of the Dollman character, following the 1991 origin-story-- was to see whether the two "focal presences" featured in the title were equally central to the story. I've often encountered combinations in which two monsters share the spotlight, as with 2004's PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS, or two heroes, as with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. But in none of the films I've reviewed thus far have I found a situation where a hero and a monster (or in this case, a group of monsters with a common origin) were equally important to the story-line.

I had seen DVTDT before, but didn't remember much about it, except that most of the story takes place indoors, principally within a big warehouse which serves as the HQ of the evil Demonic Toys. I had also seen the 1992 DEMONIC TOYS, and they struck me as a poor variation on the earlier PUPPET MASTER franchise. 

However, having re-screened DVTDT, I find that even though the film wears its low production values on its sleeve, the script-- totally by Charles Band this time, who also directed-- is better than that of DOLLMAN, and may well exceed the original DEMONIC TOYS as well.

Band's script wisely dumps the relationship between Brick Bardo-- an alien cop who's only about six inches tall on Earth-- and a "giant" Earth-female named Debi. Instead, as DVTDT opens, Bardo-- who rather unashamedly introduces himself as "Dollman"-- goes looking for a woman who won't make him feel inadequate. This happens to be a character loosely recycled from another 1992 Band production, BAD CHANNELS, which I found unmemorable. The plot of that film dealt with aliens who were shrinking Earth-people for some reason, but by the end of that film, one Earth-woman-- redubbed "Nurse Ginger" for DVTDT-- remained small. The newspapers have publicized Ginger's plight, and so Bardo goes to the small town of Pahoota to make a possible booty-call. The two of them "meet cute"-- or as cute as things get when the guy has to blast a huge spider off of the girl-- and then they relate their respective origins to one another. It's to Band's credit that the recycled footage from DOLLMAN and BAD CHANNELS respectively doesn't slow the film down appreciably.

Meanwhile, a cop named Judith Grey-- played by Tracy Scoggins, giving the most appealing performance in the film-- alienates her superiors by insisting that the Demonic Toys-- with whom she battled in the 1992 flick-- are still around, planning to sacrifice some innocent virgin for their unholy rites. Unfortunately, Judith can't prove that the Toys ever existed-- which makes it surprising that she's not confined to an asylum somewhere. The Toys are actually dormant until a homeless man enters the warehouse, managing to cut himself in the process-- and his fallen blood revives the demon-possessed toys. For some reason the grizzly-bear toy-- who does re-appear in the PUPPET MASTER crossover of 2004-- is absent, and in his place is a slightly more interesting "GI Joe" clone named "Zombietroid." Somehow Judith gets wind of Dollman and enlists his help against the Toys. In contrast to the original DOLLMAN, this time Brick Bardo has to engage with opponents his own size, and he has a couple of good battles with Zombietroid and the evilly laughing jack-in-the-box Jack Attack. To add insult to injury, the Toys' repulsive leader, Baby Oopsy Daisy, decides to use Bardo's new girlfriend Ginger in a ritual of sexual penetration. 

As cheesy as it all is, there are some cute lines, as when Oopsy Daisy, who looks like a demented infant, informs that he wants Ginger to wear a "baby-doll nightie," and there are a few clever uses of the giant-sized surroundings. DOLLMAN VS. THE DEMONIC TOYS is no neglected classic, but it may be a rare case in which two weak concepts worked better with one another than either one did on its own.

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