Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A review of "Pinocchio's Revenge"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Pinocchio’s Revenge”

By: Brian Cotnoir

I know what you’re probably already thinking; that I am here once again to write an article about a straight to video horror film that I watched that I thought totally sucked, right? Just by the title alone, you’re probably thinking to yourself “oh God, this sounds like some awful ‘Child’s Play’ rip-off written by some schmuck screenwriter and made by some “nobody” director?  Well you would be wrong to assume that this week. I typically find that when it comes to reviewing straight to DVD (or Video) horror films the further you go back the worst they are; not always, but most of the time.  However, I was shocked at how well put together and done the 1996 straight-to-video horror film “Pinocchio’s Revenge” was.  In fact, I’d say that this probably one of the better straight-to-video horror films that I’ve ever seen.                                        
'dah hell is that thang?
    The film is the story of a Public Defender named Jennifer who has a lot to deal with; she was divorced over a year ago, her young daughter is having anxiety and abandonment issues, and one of her clients is on death row waiting to be executed for murdering his son.  Jennifer feels that her client—an expert carpenter—was wrongly convicted of the murders, but he claims the murders were his own work and he is ultimately, put to death for the murder.  The film flashes forward to the night of her daughter Zoe’s birthday.  Jennifer’s new boyfriend accidentally mistakes, a wooden Pinocchio puppet made by her deceased client for Zoe’s birthday gift and gives it to her.  Zoe loves the wooden Pinocchio puppet, and the mother decides to let her temporarily borrow it, but then many unfortunate begin to surround Jennifer’s life.  Her boyfriend dies in a horrible accident, her nanny is killed, and her daughter is accused of pushing one of her classmates in front of a moving bus.   When Jennifer confronts Zoe about these horrific incidents, Zoe claims that it was Pinocchio who is responsible for the injuries and death.  Now Jennifer must struggle with the choice of whether or not to believe her daughter.                           
Such a good young Actress.
The film does a great job of making you question parts of the plot.  For most of the film I was trying to figure out whether or not it really was the puppet who was the evil one, or if perhaps it was actually Zoe.  We get some scenes of Zoe meeting with a child therapist, and from these scenes we learn that Zoe has abandonment issues, which is understandable because her parents are recently divorced and her father is no longer in her life, and her mother is very busy at work.  Zoe confides a lot of her personal secrets in Pinocchio.  Sometimes she shares more of her fears and concerns with Pinocchio more than she does with her mother, nanny, or therapist.  The child actress who plays Zoe is Brittany Alyse Smith, and she does a fantastic job in this role.  I personally feel her performance was a tamer version of Patty McCormack’s, Rhoda from “The Bad Seed”.  I was actually upset to find out that she ended her acting career a few short years after appearing in this film, because I think she could have had a lot of potential to be like an actress similar to someone like Jodelle Ferdland.  Though, I did find out that she is now a singer—going by the stage name “Matisse”—and she actually had a #1 hit in 2010 with the song entitled “Better Than Her”.                                             
Some Public Defender you are!
Then there is Zoe’s mother, Jennifer.  I actually was impressed with how complex and interesting Jennifer was as a character.  She’s a Public Defender who deals with murderers and criminals on a daily basis and claims that she “stares into the eyes of evil”, but she is still a loving mother, and you really get the sense that she is using a blind ignorance to ignore the possible signs of evil that her daughter displays.  Let’s be perfectly honest for a minute; if you’re child told you that it was their doll, puppet, teddy bear, etc. that did something—whether it be something small like breaking a window or something big like homicide—would you actually believe them or think for even a split second that they might be telling the truth and that their toy might be sinister?  I’d certainly hope not.  The only negative thing I have to say about actress Rosalind Allen’s performance is that she and the actor playing her boyfriend have one of the worst sex scenes in a film I’ve ever seen.  It’s so bad, that is up there with the sex scene from “Troll 2” and “The Room”.  Other than that I thought she was fine.     
I'm having flashbacks to "Poltergeist"

    Then there’s Pinocchio who is voiced by actor Dick Beals, but is played in live action by Verne “Mini Me” Troyer!  The Pinocchio doll is pretty nice looking, and is somewhat reminiscent of the clown doll from “Poltergeist”.  Every time the camera focuses on him, you get the sense that something bad is going to happen involving him.  Now, as for the voice, I really didn’t like that they made Pinocchio talk.  Dick Beals voice acting specialty is doing roles of characters who are younger boys, but his voice sounds more like a woman trying to impersonate Mickey Mouse.  His lips don’t move when he talks, so it leaves it up to interpretation of whether or not the doll can actually talk, or maybe Zoe is making up the voices in her head.  There is, however, one scene where we actually see Pinocchio’s lips move while he talks, and I didn’t like that idea either.  I mean it was one thing to give him a voice, but to show his lips move only once seems kind of pointless and unnecessary.  
He's not that bad
This film isn’t one of the Greatest Horror films of All-Time, but I still thought it was well made and very enjoyable.  I would describe it as “The Bad Seed” meets “Child’s Play”, only it’s 100 times better than any of the “Child’s Play” films.  I think the films writer & director, Kevin Tenney, put a lot of thought and hard work into this film, and it shows.  If by chance you manage to find a copy of this film or watch it on Netflix, I will definitely recommend it to you.  Even if you think you’re probably hate it, you’ll still get to see the actress who plays the Hot Italian nanny completely nude on screen in a two-minute shower scene, so there is some incentive for you.  “Pinocchio’s Revenge” is probably going to be one of the Best Straight to Video/DVD Horror films you will ever see in your life time.

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