October 21, 2011

Horror-A-Day: Pinocchio's Revenge

I have once again sunk into the doldrums of lame horror films, well, maybe not entirely lame, but shamefully lazy copycat horror. In any case I still have no one to blame but myself, and I am still pretty much all right with that. This time around I was just looking for some lowly b-movie to whittle away some time and fulfill my horror movie a day commitment for this month. I should be going for quality but being my first shot at this, it is a learning experience. The bottom line is that I am still having a blast. It is horror after all.

As I perused my extensive watch instant queue I came across this little movie that have not seen since the days hat VHS ruled the shelves. The movie is none other than Pinocchio's Revenge. Yes, it is probably as bad as you are thinking it is right about now. Well, perhaps not. It certainly is a low budget outing with issues of execution, acting, writing, and effects, but it is not a complete disaster. It's true.

The movie was directed by Kevin Tenney and it is not his strongest outing, he seems to be on cruise control here. It is a shame as he has proven his worth in the past with Witchboard and the always fun low-level classic Night of the Demons.

The movie opens a few years before the present (not our present, the present of 1996 when the movie came out). There is a heavy rainstorm and a man is burying something in the woods. His work is cut short by the arrival of a cop. It turns out he was burying the body of his dead son, whom he had killed, and a wooden Pinocchio doll. Skip ahead a few years, he is on death row for the murder of his son, and presumably a number of other kids.

The young DA, Jennifer (Rosalind Allen) is trying to save him, but he is intent on dying and does get his wish. The doll, meanwhile, lands in her possession, and in lieu of an actual birthday gift winds up in the hands her daughter, Zoe. The young girl bonds with the doll almost immediately.

What follows is very Child's Play-like as some bad things begin to happen whenever Zoe and the puppet are around. The tale plays up the mystery of the doll's living status, making everyone think that Zoe is behind it. What helps make this work is that we see Zoe has a bit of the bully bug already in her prior to the doll's influence as we see her get into a scuffle and pull a Mike Tyson on a classmate.

The movie moves along at a sluggish pace and there were times I forgot I was watching a horror movie. Except for the one bit of gratuitous nudity the common horror movie elements don't show up until later on, and even then they feel a bit watered down.

What I did like about the movie was the little girl. Brittany Alyse Smith is quite entertaining as Zoe. She is spunky, bratty, and above all an actual child. I mean, it looks like she is acting, but at the same time she is just what I want out of the character.

The story does have some strange and creepy undertones, such as her exchange with the doll after hearing her mom and boyfriend having sex a room over. Plus there is the bit where the doll is found peeping on the naked live in babysitter where Zoe explains it as "Pinocchio is curious about ladies' bodies." What? There is some real creepy stuff going on under the surface.

Not a good movie, but not a disaster. It falls just a touch to the watchable side but it is not something I would go out of my way for.

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