Thursday, October 11, 2012

REVIEW: Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)

A film with a title like this at least merits a look. Pinocchio’s Revenge? What’s next? Dumbo’s Godlike Wrath? Ronald McDonald’s Satanic Powers? Nah…neither of those is as catchy as Pinocchio’s Revenge…yeah, I’ll review it. Sure. Why not?

Director: Kevin Tenney
Starring: Rosalind Allen, Brittany Alyse Smith

The movie kicks off “five years earlier,” whatever that means…with some cop who looks more like an orderly in a nursing home, he’s so wimpy, driving along the road at night in the rain when he comes across an abandoned car. He then goes through a DO NOT ENTER sign which the movie makes sure to notify the audience of by doing a lingering close up shot of it. Weird…but then we see that the road was blocked off because some guy was burying a creepy wooden puppet in the ground!

"Man, 12th time this week that we've found a doll at a crime scene! What with that whole Good Guy Doll thing in the next neighborhood's like an epidemic or something."

Then we learn that the guy was arrested for several murders “in the present day,” and was actually burying the body of his own son out there. The prosecutor is arguing for the death sentence, and the defendant, who is also the movie’s main character, says he should get off because he only murdered his son as opposed to the others, which had a different M.O. and variations on the style of killing. Yup, he only killed a child, and his own son at that! What’s the big deal, right?!

The main character’s name is Jennifer, and she has a daughter named Zoe. Their relationship is apparently based around the fact that the father left I guess, because otherwise it’s not very well defined…and really the first half hour of this movie is pretty much just a big courtroom drama where they go back and forth for a while with terrible acting until the guy is sentenced to death. Like all courtrooms, they just haul him right in there after the trial is over and kill him.

Yup, they just take you from the courthouse to the electric chair. True Life.

Jennifer sees it aaaaand I guess that scene was in the movie to show that she saw the execution! The end result? The movie is five minutes longer.

Then we get a scene where she talks to a priest about the nature of evil over a cup of coffee. She goes into this Episcopalian church but then tells the priest that she’s not Catholic anymore because she got divorced. So what, she was just blindly walking around and just went into the first church she found, not paying attention to what type of church it was, but knowing she would just snub whatever she found no matter what? Isn't that kind of like...the most religiously intolerant, bitchy thing a person could possibly do to a church?

The priest’s response to this nonsense is to agree to go out to coffee with her. Did we miss a few lines of the script here? It’s like, “Hi, I’m not a Catholic but I’m willingly using your church anyway, by the way I’m divorced, want to go out and get some coffee?”

"Your religious intolerance amuses me."

And check out the awkward acting on priest guy! Newsflash, guy: when you laugh, try to actually make it sound like HUMAN LAUGHTER. Not…whatever creepy, vaguely pedophilic “I’m covering my ocean of insecurities” sort of expression you’re doing here. Can’t you just see that face on To Catch a Predator in a few years?

So in case you were wondering why the movie is a half-hour in and there is no sign of any revenge or any Pinocchio, the creepy puppet that almost got buried alive is in Jennifer’s office and mysteriously ends up in her car later, too. Does she question this at all, or stop the car to remove it and take it back into the office? Of course not! I personally love having evidence from murder trials in my car, so I guess I can see why she doesn’t seem to care.

Ha! I remember last week when I took home a blood-soaked knife and gave it to my girlfriend to cut up vegetables for dinner. Fun times.

She finds out her daughter’s birthday present, some random doll, won’t be there in time. Most parents would just accept this inconvenience and stop by Wal Mart to pick up some cheap knock-off instead. However, THIS parent decides the best thing to do is to give the daughter the creepy puppet that belonged to a murderer who was just executed that very day as a “substitute” until the real gift arrives…at times like this, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all to have a test you have to pass before you can become a parent. Seriously, IT’S A PIECE OF EVIDENCE FROM A MURDER TRIAL. I don’t think passing it along to the defense attorney’s kid is really in order here!

So Zoe starts to bond with Pinocchio while her mom starts to bond with Mr. Replacement Dad here:

Yes, because when I think erotica, I think Pinocchio's Revenge every time.

And since it’s right next to Zoe’s room, she can hear all the fun next door as she’s trying to go to sleep!

Give the kid some credit, that's some good acting there. The look on her face is so appropriately scarred. And I love that her mom has the gall to have sex with her boyfriend at her house ON HER BIRTHDAY...yup, happy birthday kid! You get to listen to your mother having sex with a man who is not your father, because nobody loves you. Ha ha! Oh the wackiness...

Can you spell ‘psychiatrist for the rest of her childhood life’? Especially since she starts trying to mimick what her parents do except with Pinocchio...eugh, NO! Just NO!

Please hand me the brain-bleach so I can erase the implications of this scene from my mind forever.

As if the movie is apologizing for this scene, we have to have a typical slasher movie ‘naked girl in the shower’ scene, with the babysitter! It’s got no purpose besides gratuitously showing off tits and ass from a woman who clearly doesn’t have her green card yet, so she probably was forced to do this. And we see that Pinocchio is perving out on the bed…well, he’s got his needs too! And no, I’m not going to make a ‘wood’ joke. That is beneath even my standards.

At school, Pinocchio gets thrown over a fence by some mean girls. So in retaliation he pushes one of them in front of a bus…dammit, this movie stole my idea for an anti-bullying campaign: don’t bully other kids, or else a small wooden puppet will push your bike in front of a bus. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GENIUS!

In the middle of all of this nonsense, there is a subplot about how Pinocchio is “killing off” all Zoe’s other toys, including the gruesome stabbing and intense mutilation of a female doll and throwing a plush whale in the garbage. Somehow I don’t really think those two are equal kills. But hey, what do I know? I’m not the kind of numbskull who would make a slasher movie where more toys die than humans.

Well, I am just outraged. I have never seen such outrageous brutality against a toy...I will be contacting the Association for the Protection of Dolls immediately!

So, yeah, after that we see more of the mother’s brilliant career-defining defense attorney work as she tries pathetically to defend a guy who hung a pimp from a hook, burned and tortured him to death and recorded the whole thing “so he could listen to it again and again,” according to the prosecutor. They even play the tape and listen to the screams the whole way through, which are about as subtle as a wrecking ball smashing into your mom’s house. It’s completely ridiculous, over the top and probably also the best part of the movie. It’s just so out of nowhere and is completely hilarious to boot…like the prosecutor’s hilariously over the top smug smile, or just how fake those screams sound. And then the criminal guy starts cracking up while the screams are playing…it’s too much. Just too much!

What is this, a lost member of the Hell's Angels gang?

I also just love this; the guy tells Jennifer that his TV told him to kill the pimp. She’s writing notes on her legal pad and…

Insanity defense QUESTION MARK? Yes, he says his TV told him to do it…maybe he’s crazy! I dunno! Maybe the 2012 election will result in a president that will divide public opinion! Maybe Adolf Hitler wasn’t exactly the best role model for children! ANY OTHER GROUNDBREAKING OBSERVATIONS I NEED TO CLEAR UP HERE?!

Yeah, didn’t think so; anyway, next we see Mr. Replacement Dad-Boyfriend guy get pushed down the stairs. Zoe sees a psychiatrist, but brings Pinocchio with her. When the psychiatrist leaves the room for a second, Pinocchio starts talking to her in a silly voice and questioning what exactly happened to the boyfriend guy when he fell. Did Zoe actually kill him and is just imagining the puppet talking, or is Pinocchio really super-real? Such psychological intrigue is just bending my mind!

So Pinocchio goes and pulls the plug on the boyfriend guy and then we see the psychiatrist telling Jennifer that Zoe is crazy, showing her the tape from before, only now we don’t hear Pinocchio talking, so it just looks like she’s talking to herself. Jennifer feels attacked and starts shouting at the psychiatrist that, despite obviously just looking out for the best interest of his patient’s safety, she will go after his license if he tries to recommend Zoe for further psychiatric treatment. She says there isn’t enough solid evidence to show that Zoe is insane. Okay…where do I start with this?

First, “HOW DARE YOU DO YOUR JOB?! I’LL TRY TO HAVE YOU DISBARRED FROM IT FOR ACCEPTING MY MONEY AND DOING YOUR JOB!” Sheesh. You know, it’s not like he’s insulting your daughter or your parental skills…he’s saying she needs help. Is such a vitriolic response really necessary? I wonder if she treats all work employees that way. Does she scream her lungs out if the guy at McDonalds gets her order wrong?

Second, how the HELL does this woman NOT think that a videotape of her daughter screaming at thin air, or rather at an inanimate puppet, constitutes tangible proof that the daughter needs psychiatric help?! What kind of parent are you, lady? You’re stupid! You’re absolutely retarded! YOU are the WORST DEFENSE ATTORNEY EVER! God! Somebody just take away this woman’s right to be a parent and a lawyer. She doesn’t deserve either one!

Then she sees the priest guy again and they have a contrived conversation about the nature of evil, because yes, when I watch a movie called Pinocchio’s Revenge, I’m really in a contemplative mood about the nature of evil. Jennifer has apparently figured out that it was the crazy guy’s son who was killing all the people and that he killed his son to stop him. That WOULD make sense if this weren’t a movie with an evil, talking puppet in it…but it is, and so you just wonder why the hell the puppet is in the movie anyway. But more on that in a bit, as first we have the climax to contend with!

Yes, apparently Jennifer goes home and finds Zoe scared and hiding from Pinocchio. Jennifer gets attacked by Pinocchio and they stumble around in the dark a bit. Look at this one scene:

This puppet should start a club with the SAW doll, Chucky, Rumplestiltskin and the Puppet Master dolls and call it the Toy Mafia. That would be, what am I even talking about?

Doesn’t it just look like the doll just got thrown on her back by someone off screen? C’mon. At least try a little more than that…and what, how did he jump that high? Was he wearing his Air Jordans?

Anyway, Jennifer finally manages to throw Pinocchio through a glass table, only when the lights come up…

Truly up there with Vertigo or Psycho for an ending twist, huh? But seriously, while I'll give the movie credit for a twist I never saw coming...I didn't see it coming because it makes no sense. So it balances out.

WHAT? PLOT TWIST!? Seriously, that doesn’t even make sense…so what, was the daughter attacking people the whole time, or was this just a trick by the puppet? Was she crazy, or is the mother just seeing things? Was the puppet possessing the daughter the whole time? What about the guy who got executed from before – what was the deal there; did the puppet kill everyone then, too, and make him think his son did it? If so, how did the puppet even get such powers? Or was the entire movie just sort of a mind game and everything was all in the characters’ heads? You can’t have a plot twist if you don’t even know what you’re trying to imply with it, movie!

Well that’s Pinocchio’s Revenge…it’s a silly train wreck, there are so many problems with it I couldn’t cover them in one of these reviews, not by a longshot. The characters are ludicrous, the story is confusingly vague and spends most of its runtime as a courtroom drama rather than a slasher film and the killer is just weak as hell. What 'revenge' was there in this movie, pray tell? Pinocchio had no motive beyond just killing everyone around him so he could be closer to Zoe - where's the revenge? I find this title highly misleading!

And it’s amazingly fun to watch. I mean, this is a terribly incoherent mess of a movie, but man is it hilarious! I laughed so much when I saw this, and it truly is one of those bad movies that becomes golden by virtue of how over the top goofy it is. Give Pinocchio’s Revenge a watch, you guys – you won’t regret it. As an unlicensed professional doctor, though, I will recommend ceasing to view the movie if you start to see visions of a small puppet trying to kill you. In that case, remind yourself that this is only a movie...for real lawyers would never be this stupid or this incompetent, and real killer puppets are a little more considerate of the feelings of other toys. They'd at least ask them to form an alliance first...sheesh, movie, you really got a lot wrong!

Pictures copyright of their original owners, I do not own any of them.