16th Feb2023

‘Teddy Told Me To’ Review

by Jim Morazzini

Stars: Topher Hansson, Kamarra Cole, Lisa Wilcox, C.J. Graham, Michael Shields, Trent Haaga, Felissa Rose, Warrington Gillette | Written by Vincent Cusimano, Lola Devlin | Directed by Tom Devlin

Teddy Told Me To, the directorial debut of effects artist Tom Devlin (Camp Twilight, Evil Bong 777) is based on a character he created for an episode of SyFy’s makeup show Face Off back in 2011. Teddy was designed to be the villain for a slasher film, and now eleven years later, he’s just that.

The film opens with a YouTuber sneaking into an old haunted attraction, “abandoned since all the way back in the 90s!”, only to meet a bloody end. That video is being watched by Danny (Topher Hansson; Ice Patrol, Memento Mortis) and Zoe (Kamarra Cole; Time’s Up, Balboa Blvd) who are meeting a realtor (Lisa Wilcox; Dark Ritual, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) about that very property.

Of course, they buy it and renovate it with visions of making a killing in the spooky season. When their groundskeeper Ron (C.J. Graham; Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Highway to Hell) tells them somebody made a literal killing there years ago they couldn’t be more excited. What could be better publicity for a haunted house?

Writers Vincent Cusimano (Stiff, Creepfest) and Lola Devlin give Teddy (Michael Shields) a wonderfully if improbably, bloody backstory that involves him killing his abusive father (Trent Haaga; American Muscle, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus) after he attacked his mother (Felissa Rose; Terrifier 2, Sleepaway Camp). And being the only survivor of a mysterious fire that burnt down the asylum he was committed to after killing his late father’s mistress in the haunt itself.

With a cast that’s so full of genre favourites, it’s obvious that Teddy Told Me To was made by horror fans, for horror fans. Well, maybe not just horror fans as several porn stars and pro wrestlers make appearances as well. Paired up with a plot that’s been a fan favourite from the days of Mystery in the Wax Museum and the original House of Wax through Candy Corn and Hell Fest it’s pretty clear that it doesn’t aim to be anything but a bloody good time.

And from the half-hour mark on Teddy Told Me To delivers plenty of blood, first in the flashbacks to Teddy’s past and then in The Scare House itself as Teddy commences his rampage starting, ironically enough with Steve, played by Warrington Gillette who played Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2. How many films can say they have two Jasons in the cast and neither of them is Kane Hodder or Ari Lehman?

Throat slitting, disembowelment, decapitation, and death by yo-yo are just a few of the ways Teddy dispatches his victims. The makeup effects by Chris Arredondo (Killer Popcorn), Walid Atshe (Reed’s Point, The Macabre), and Tara McDade (Alien Planet, Time’s Up) are excellent, practical and the real stars of Teddy Told Me To.

The gore is ably backed up by a score from John Massari (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Cherokee Creek) and several bouncy songs by a band called Chainsaw Fight, who may have taken their name from another of the film’s set pieces.

Fast-paced, outrageously bloody, and lots of fun, right down to its mid-credits sequence, Teddy Told Me To is the kind of film that deserves to be seen with an audience; and thankfully Devlin has screened the film in a few cities already!

**** 4/5

Teddy Told Me To is currently looking for distribution and hopefully, Tom Devlin can get it into some festivals to help that process along.

Review originally posted on Voices From the Balcony

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