Friday, October 10, 2014

The Horror Of...Halloween Night, Toy Story of Terror

Come Halloween night, many of us need something for the whole family. Last year I pointed to some good options for this, from the Boogedy movies to Midnight Hour.

It's time for another future classic of kid viewing, which came out last year.

Toy Story of Terror!

The concept of this twenty some minute story has the toys from the movie series off on a trip. (I haven't really watched the movies after the first one, so my knowledge of the overall story and newer characters is shaky.) As they are travelling they've taken out the human's portable DVD player in the trunk, and are watching an old horror movie.

In this show for seconds, and I still have more presence than anyone in
Hotel Transylvania.

And can I say that I really do like the animation style for the old fashion horror movie they are watching, If movies like Hotel Transylvania used this style (not necessarily the black and white coloring part) I would be more inclined to those movies. (They make everything too cutesy.) The look here is creepy, with sunken cheeks and claw like fingers. But it's only taken so far. Couldn't we get an animated Monster Squad remake with this art style?

Sadly this motif doesn't last long.

As they go on watching the vampire chase the young woman into an old castle, the hedgehog toy is commenting. Seems he's the expert on horror movies. (As the story continues he'll keep alluding to how their experiences relate to these movies and their tropes.

While they watch, Jessie (Hey! I know a name from the second movie. Where's my prize?) is sitting on a tool kit when the car gets into to trouble. The sudden jerking of the car causes her to get thrown back and into the tool box, trapping her.

Due to previous experience where she was boxed away for a long time, she's developed claustrophobia. So she's panicking in the box, having a panic attack. (Rest assured she will face down this fear as the story progresses.)

Luckily they get her out quickly. And soon the humans have pulled into a lonely motel along the road.

They get checked in. Luckily it's less Bates Motel than Travelodge.

And after the humans go to sleep, the toys get curious and decide to explore. The first step in a horror movie, after you actually stop at the isolated motel.

But it isn't long until they realize that some of them have gone missing.

And they find a strange residue...

They decide to begin a search to try and recover them, before they are left behind.

It's not a horrible idea for a Halloween story for Disney today. A new dark location. A mystery. And a little atmosphere. I've seen worse put out for kids.

I also feel I should give the show credit as they brought back the movie voice actors (including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cosack, and Don Rickles). They also included Carl Weathers and Kristin Schaal (I know she was in a previous Toy Story movie,'s just an excuse to suggest you check out her work on Gravity Falls.)

For a 20 minute adventure, it is fine. But...

I have to admit, as an adult, I was disappointed with the Terror. It just seems like they could have done something a little more interesting. I know, it's a kid's show. It's also only 20 minutes long.

But, do you remember the first movie?

Remember this kid?

Remember these guys in his house?

Remember this moment?

They managed to create an interesting scenario in the movie where there was a place toys dreaded and feared. It was full of sights that were creepy. We could get worried for the danger Woody was in.

This movie goes a different way. It's actually turns out that their situation is one they've seen before.

What we also get, as a positive, is a situation where Jessie gets to be the hero that needs to save the day, and overcome her fear.

We also get to meet some new toys.

They make for fun additions to the pantheon.

As to the story, what we learn is that the missing toys have been grabbed by...a creature. Rather, an iguana.

And the iguana isn't working alone. He's fetching toys that are lying around rooms in the motel and...

...handing them off to the motel's manager.

Luckily this leads Jessie to be reunited with the rest of her family.

What they learn is that they are all being sold to collectors. (See the similarity.) And Woody is quickly snatched up.

It falls to Jessie to save him, and that will take her facing that fear of being sealed up.

She faces her fears, and comes out the other end, saving Woody and outing the evil manager.

As I said, it is a fine show to put on at Halloween. Kids seem to like it.

I just wished we got something a little more "terrifying". (But I know the length they were limited to makes that hard to do.)

Particularly with that interesting opening where they animated a fun looking horror movie, they could have done some interesting thing.

Imagine. They are on a trip to a relatives. They arrive late at night, so they rush in the house to get some sleep. On the way in one of the toys is dropped in the drive way. The toys see this, and look to help them get back in the strange new house, by a large woods (large to them at least). But they see some shadow get to the lost toy before they get can in the house and drag them into the woods. So they have to send a rescue team into a dark unknown woods late at night. And then get back before the humans wake up.

Or, a stray dog that lives in the abandoned house next door takes the toy. So they have to go into a "haunted house".

The problem with the idea is that it would take an hour or more to really work. At twenty minutes you need to limit scope.

So that's why I am actually pleased with how well this does work. Kids will love it. And if you are an adult who's a fan of the series, you will likely like seeing the characters once again.

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