Two of my favourite Full Moon flicks, Dollman and Demonic Toys, have been given the Blu-ray treatment by the folks at 88 Films. Already owning the pair on DVD we take a look at these new releases to see how they compare and if the new Blus are worthy of an upgrade…
Stars: Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley, Kamala Lopez, Humberto Ortiz, Nicholas Guest, Judd Omen, Frank Collison | Written by Chris Roghair | Directed by Albert Pyun
Former funnyman, turned TV stalwart, turned action star, Tim Thomerson had already made a name for himself in the Empire Pictures/Full Moon franchise Trancers before spoofing the very same character and his take no crap persona in Dollman for one of my favourite directors, Albert Pyun.
Brick Bardo (Thomerson) is a traveller from outer space who is forced to land on Earth. Though regular sized on his home planet, he is doll-sized here on Earth, as are the enemy forces who have landed as well. While Brick enlists the help of an impoverished girl and her son, the bad guys enlist the help of a local gang. When word leaks out as to his location all hell breaks loose. Brick is besieged by an onslaught of curious kids, angry gang members, and his own doll-sized enemies. Now he must protect the family who has helped him and get off the planet alive.
Even now, 23 years after its release, I’m still amazed at just how Albert Pyun pulled off Dollman on such a small budget. Opening with locations that look like they stepped out of the future, echoing the desolate appearance of the likes of Cyborg (another Pyun-lensed classic) and featuring some superb model work and special effects that include a robotic floating head, exploding bodies and much more, the film is still one of the best looking sci-fi flicks Full Moon ever released.
There’s still two questions I have after all these years though… Just how much input did an uncredited Ed Naha (Dolls, Troll, Honey I Shrunk the Kids) have on the Dollman screenplay? And why weren’t there more sequels?
Stars: Tracy Scoggins, Bentley Mitchum, Daniel Cerny, Michael Russo, Barry Lynch, Ellen Dunning, Jeff Celentano, Richard Speight Jr., Larry Cedar | Written by David S. Goyer | Directed by Peter Manoogian
A botched bust on a pair of arms dealers inadvertently leads to the raising of a sixty year old demon with the power to bring toys to life as his personal minions. The demon is looking for a body to inhabit so he can increase his powers, and it just happens that one of the police officers, Judith Gray (Scoggins) is pregnant with the ideal host. As the murderous toys close in on their victims, the officer must not only fight for her life, but for the soul of her unborn child.
Beginning another killer-doll franchise for Full Moon, Demonic Toys wears the influence of both PuppetMaster and Childs Play on its sleeve – it’s also notable for being only the third screenplay from the man who is now often considered THE go-to guy for comic book movie scripts, David S. Goyer. Having penned two kick-ass, literally, action flicks (Death Warrant and Kickboxer 2), Goyer turned his hand to two horror screenplays for Full Moon: Demonic Toys and Arcade.
The film also sees the re-teaming of producer Charles Band with director Peter Manoogian, who previously helmed Eliminators for Band’s Empire Pictures and went on to direct Enemy Territory the buddy-cop action flick starring Ray Parker Jr. and the awesome intergalactic fight flick Arena. But the best thing about Demonic Toys? The superb puppetry of the films titular villains! If there’s one thing you could guarantee about the early 90s Full Moon flicks and that’s the quality of the model work and puppetry – even considering the low budget nature of Band’s productions.
Both Dollman and Demonic Toys look amazing on 88 Films’ new Blu-rays and this undoubtedly the best the films have ever looked. Yes there are still some examples of print damage, most noticeably during Dollman, and the restoration shows up the low-budget nature of the special effects on numerous occasions, but both new transfers are eye-opening – for someone who grew up watching these films on VHS and having suffered through a number of sub-par UK DVD releases it’s a joy to see them in their high-def glory.
If you’ve got the DVDs, be it the pre-88 Films releases or the not-quite-legit US DVD releases, Dollman and Demonic Toys are both well worth the upgrade to Blu-ray. Both films are out now.