Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peopletoys (1974)

Taking the evil-child genre a bit too far into the realm of sleazy exploitation, the horror flick Peopletoys features a quintet of murderous preteens attacking the residents of a remote ski lodge. Because few things are more disturbing than mentally ill children going on bloody rampages, the most intense parts of this wildly uneven movie have lurid impact. (At one point, the killer kids plant an adult corpse in the snow transform the dead body into a snowman they can decorate for fun. Yikes!) The problem, aside from bad acting and flat scripting, is that Peopletoys is sensationalistic when it should be provocative. There’s something almost pornographic, for instance, about the scene in which a young boy affixes a scythe to the bottom of a swing—the blade protruding between his legs, phallic symbol-style—and then flies the swing toward a victim so the filmmakers get to present a nasty death-by-penetration image. Notwithstanding the questionable psychology of someone who could conceive of such a scene, wasn’t it outrageously irresponsible to ask children to participate in the shooting of this material? Anyway, larger questions of artistic integrity are probably moot, since artistry is not something Peopletoys possesses in abundance. Quite to the contrary, the picture’s running time is padded with boring scenes of the adults having raunchy adventures before the kids show up to incite mayhem; poor starlet Carolyn Stellar (who vaguely resembles modern-day actress Christina Hendricks) suffers through two different nude scenes and a catfight sequence. Furthermore, the editing is choppy, the music is terrible, and the production values are cheap. Still, all would be forgiven were the acting at least passable. Alas, no. The biggest name in the cast is Leif Garrett, appearing here shortly before his ascension to late-’70s teen-idol status, although the top-billed actor is Sorrell Booke, who later played the villain on awful TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. Those two names should give a sense of the level of talent on display. Had it been executed with any sophistication, Peopletoys could have been a creepfest for the ages; as is, it’s drive-in junk. FYI, the picture is often exhibited under alternate titles including Devil Times Five, The Horrible House on the Hill, and (arguably the best of the batch) Tantrums.

Peopletoys: LAME

1 comment:

Cindylover1969 said...

Carolyn Stellar is Leif Garrett's mother (and the mother of Dawn Lyn, also in this).