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The simple, on-screen title PINOCCHIO, is an ambitious if not entirely successful attempt to transcend the '90s trend for mini-monsters like Chucky in Child's Play.
© Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved.
A public defender (Rosalind Allen) has taken the case of Vincent Gotto (Lewis Van Bergen), who five years earlier was discovered burying his young son's body next to a large Pinocchio puppet and who was also convicted of several other child murders. Though Gotto says he wants to die, Jennifer is not entirely convinced of his guilt. Circumstances land the puppet in the possession of Jennifer's young daughter Zoe (Brittany Alyse Smith), who has been sullen and resentful ever since her father left her and Jennifer. Zoe becomes instantly attached to Pinocchio, who seems to speak to her--and to contrive "accidents" in which Zoe's school rival (Tara Hartman) and Jennifer's boyfriend (Todd Allen) are badly injured.
Pinocchio appears to come to life; Zoe follows him to the hospital, where David is killed. Zoe's doctor (Aaron Lustig) tells Jennifer that the troubled girl should be committed, while Jennifer comes to believe that Gotto's son, under Pinocchio's influence, was responsible for the child murders. Jennifer's housekeeper Sophia (Candace McKenzie) is murdered, apparently by Pinocchio, who then assaults Jennifer; but when their struggle ends, her attacker proves to be Zoe. The girl is put away, but Jennifer remains unconvinced of her guilt, still believing that Pinocchio was responsible.
Commissioned by Trimark to create a film about a diminutive demon similar to the star of its successful LEPRECHAUN series, writer-director Kevin S. Tenney came up with something a little more challenging--a film in which it's not clear, even by the end, whether the ostensible villain is truly alive and responsible for the ensuing mayhem. Tenney carries this off fairly well for the most part, but the approach is compromised by the producers' insistence that the audience see the puppet running about on its own, talking and pursuing its victims. And the suggestion that Pinocchio carries a malefic influence even if he's not truly "alive" forgoes the disturbing possibility that Zoe is committing the violence entirely of her own will.
Tenney stages his action and horror scenes well, even if it's fairly clear who will fall victim and when, and the movie as a whole has been put together with slick professionalism. The acting is also generally good, with young Smith ably keeping the viewer guessing as to just how disturbed she is. But this is a case where even a little more ambiguity might have helped; as it stands, PINOCCHIO'S REVENGE is better than expected--enough to make one wish it was even better than it is. Rated R for graphic violence, extensive nudity, adult situations, profanity. This isn't your childrens' pinocchio
Production by Blue Rider / Trimark Pictures
Fun fact: the kid who fights an evil troll in the 1980s drive-in movie of the same name with help from the good witch who lives upstairs (June Lockhart/Anne lockhart) is named Harry Potter in the movie and his dad, Harry Potter Sr., is played by Michael Moriarity of It's Alive
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Related MonsterVision movies:
Wes Craven's The Fear starring a lifesize wooden puppet that may or may not be killing people
Puppetmaster (Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie says he prefers Puppetmaster, but we think he was kidding)
Silent Night Deadly Night 5 starring Mickey Rooney as Joe Petto (get it?)
Monster movie description above