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Charles Band Movies
All of the Charles Band productions have horror elements, even if it's sci-fi or fantasy.  Some of these movies are quite passable; others not so good, but all of them are entertaining in one way or another.

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"Demonic Toys" (1992)
"Dollman" (1993)


Demonic Toys (1992):  This first "Demonic Toys" film is pretty decent.  I generally avoid "killer toy" type movies like the plague.  Killer toy movies are usually pretty stupid.  Although this movie isn't as brilliantly crafted as a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, it does have a certain charm and is fairly well-conceived.  An evil spirit resides in a toy warehouse, waiting for someone's blood to give him physical power.  Enter policewoman Judith Gray (Tracy Scoggins) and a weapons bust that goes horribly wrong.  Once the demon gets his first taste of blood, he has his toy-like minions kill more people to gain more power.  His ultimate mission is to become strong enough to take over the body of Gray's unborn child.  Will he succeed?

The evil spirit prefers to take the form of a child.  It would seem his "demonic toy" minions are demon underlings merely inhabiting the toys.  In that regard, the killer toy concept makes some sense.

Tracy Scoggins is cool and a pretty dependable actress.  I also like it that they made the child demon sound like a grown man.  He's a bit scarier that way.  Plus, the child actor who plays the demon gives a good performance.  The heroic toy soldier character is really cool and one of the film's highlights.  I also like the Chunky Chicken car with the giant chicken on top...funny visual.  The Baby Oopsie-Daisy toy is easily the best of the evil toy characters.  In this first film, Linda O. Cook provides the voice and is much funnier than in the second film, where it was done by Frank Welker.  Kristine Rose as Miss July is (understandably) another highlight.

"Demonic Toys" had a pretty good saga started, but the next film ruined it.  "Dollman vs. the Demonic Toys" (1993) was a crossover film as well as a sequel to both "Dollman" (1991) and "Demonic Toys" (1992).  The events of the next film do not make any sense in relationship to the first movie.  We see Judith Gray again, but her character is quickly killed off.  The heart of the whole "Demonic Toys" saga was gone!  "Dollman vs. the Demonic Toys" is not unwatchable.  It's even kind of likable, but it wasn't a good follow-up to "Demonic Toys".  It's more of a straight-comedy sequel to "Dollman" than anything else.

The next film in the series was "Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys" (2004), originally shown on the Scifi Channel.  "Demonic Toys 2" (2010) ignored the events of the "vs." movies and picked up after the events of the original film.



Dollman (1991):  The first "Dollman" movie is more of a "real" film than its sequel.  It is straight sci-fi action with comedy elements.  Dollman could easily be considered a superhero, but this film isn't for kids.  Brick Bardo (Tim Thomerson) is a cop from the alien planet Arturos, which is like Earth in many ways.  While in pursuit of a dangerous criminal, Bardo and his enemy become stranded on Earth and in, of all places, the Bronx.  What Bardo discovers is that he is only 13" tall on this planet, and that Earth is made up of giants!  He soon earns the nickname "Dollman" and is armed with an extremely deadly handgun.  The floating criminal head, Sprug, allies himself with the criminal thugs of the Bronx led by Braxton Red (Jackie Earle Haley).  Bardo comes to the aid of community leader Debi Alejandro (Kamala Lopez) and takes out all the evil-doers.

Kamala Lopez gives a great dramatic performance.  The fact that she is not in the next film is a loss to the series.  Thomerson is always good with offbeat characters.

The next film in the series is "Dollman vs. Demonic Toys" (1993).  Although it isn't unwatchable, it's not as good as the first.  Where "Dollman" wasn't purposely set out to be corny, "Dollman vs. Demonic Toys" is about as over-the-top as you can get.  The movie combined the franchises of "Dollman", "Demonic Toys", and "Bad Channels".  Dollman was given a female companion, Nurse Ginger from "Bad Channels".  That was cool and Melissa Behr is the best thing from that film.



Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt (2011):  The girls are hot, and some of the dialogue is amusing.  That's about it.  This is pretty schlocky and feels mostly like a commercial for the first film, "Killer Eye" (1999).  This is worth watching if you get it in a set, but I don't advise paying top dollar.  A giant eyeball stalks five girls in a house on Halloween night.



Skull Heads (2009):  Before I watched this, I was expecting the worst.  Actually, it's pretty decent in its own weird way.  The Americanized Arkhoff family lives in an Italian castle.  They're a much closer family than they ought to be, and determined to shut off their teenage daughter from the outside world.  Daughter Naomi invites three L.A. filmmakers into the mansion who turn out to be art thieves.  Soon the Arkhoffs are in for the fight of their lives.  Enter the Skull Heads, ancient demonic protectors of the castle.  An odd, but intriguing story with more than its share of twists and turns.  Worth watching.

Subspecies (1991):  Although a Charles Band production, this film series is directed by Ted Nicolaou.  These vampire movies are pretty decent and close to mainstream quality.  Nicolaou did a very good job.  Filming the series on location in Romania was a nice touch.  The setting of these movies is as important as Radu, himself.  "Subspecies" is the first American film to be shot in Romania since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Two American students, Michelle and Lillian, join their Romanian friend Mara.  Their mission is to study vampire culture in the small town of Prejnar.  When they start probing around Castle Vladislas, the girls get more of an education than they bargained for.  Radu is a monstrous vampire who kills his father and takes over command.  His prized possession is the all-powerful Bloodstone, said to drip the blood of the saints.  Stefan is Radu's younger, more human, vampire half-brother who, like his father, wants vampires to live a peaceful coexistence with the human world.  When Radu terrorizes the three girls, Stefan comes to their aid.  Michelle and Stefan fall in love.

Michelle is bitten by Radu, who wants to turn her into a monstrous vampire like himself.  Afterwards, Michelle has Stefan bite her so she can be a regular vampire.  Radu is killed and our heroic vampire couple turn in for the day.