The sequel to Full Moon’s other killer dolls!
So when word came out that they’d be blowing off the dust of two of their most popular franchises, Demonic Toys and Puppet Master with brand new entries, a swell of nostalgia and excitement took me over. Sure, those particular series might not be held in such high esteem by genre fans as some of the other horror heavies, but damned if they aren’t entertaining as all hell.
For part one of our two part Full Moon coverage, Shock tracked down writer/director William Butler for a candid chat about his latest film and the next anticipated movie in Full Moon’s upcoming slate, Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons.
Robg. When does Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons take place? Because weâve got the first movie, then weâve got Dollman Vs Demonic Toys, and a few years ago there was the made-of-TV Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys (which I donât think should count).
William Butler: Well, mine is a direct sequel (to the original) but itâs funny because the trend now with horror films and sequels is that they donât really number them so much anymore. Itâs always such and such, then subtitle. So on this, the project was going to be Demonic Toys: Personal Demons. But then for some reason Time Warner wanted it to be Demonic Toys 2, so it got changed to that at the last minute. It is a sequel and the film opens up with the vibe that itâs taking off from the end of the original film. The other two I didnât really pay attention too, because I considered them the mini-adventures of the Demonic Toys. I actually really like the first one!
Robg.: I know you already have a long history with Charlie Band and Full Moon, so when he approached you to do this, was there any criteria that he set up for you? Or were you able to take it in whatever direction you wanted to?
William: Demonic Toys is honestly not one of my favorite Full Moon titles, so when he asked me if I would write and direct the project, I said Iâd do it because Iâll always feel in debt to him for all he did for me when I first moved here to LA and started in the business 22 years ago. So Iâll always do projects for him, but I was skeptical about doing this project. The stipulation was heâd let me do whatever I wanted to do. We filmed it in Italy, which was amazing because thatâs where I got my start!
Robg.: Was it at the castle he owns in Italy? I know he has a castle heâs used for a bunch of his Full Moon features.
William: Yeah, at his castle, which is a real castle. We actually shot there and lived there. Thereâs 600 rooms, so there was a lot to choose from. It was an amazing experience. I couldnât pass up the opportunity to say that I slept in a castle. And I told him Iâd do it if heâd allow me a little bit more money then he usually does. He likes to do these movies on a particular budget. So I asked for a little bit more money to create a project that was really reflective of the old way that he used to make movies. There in the late 90âs and early 2000âs, he took a turn down what I consider maybe not the wisest road when it came to low budget filmmaking. Itâs getting harder and harder these days and even then to sell independent movies, so I think he was trying to keep the movies cost effective. Therefore in my opinion, watering down a bit his own genre that he created. I said “If we could go back to the 80âs Charlie Band/Full Moon style, then Iâm all for it, Iâll do it, and Iâll bring in some heavy hitters to work on the project.” So he said yes. I wrote a story that took place here in LA, but we decided it was too hard to do something that took place in America. Everything is so different in Italy, so we decided weâd shoot in his castle. I rewrote the story, and Charlie had this great idea to include the lead character from a film he did that was pretty popular called Hideous. Michael Citriniti played this character named Dr. Lorca who travels the world collecting things and we used that character as one of the motivations for the storyline and it worked really well. Michaelâs a great actor and also a really great guyâ¦
Robg.: But that character died in Hideous, didnât he? [Laughs]
William: He died! [Laughs] Well, he fell into a vat of boiling acid, but maybe he got out of there. He is covered in scars in our movie.
Robg.: Well, if Dr. Loomis can survive an explosion and come back in Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers with a few burn scars, so can Dr. Lorca!
William: He couldâve crawled out!
Robg.: I always loved how the Full Moon movies would use characters from their various other movies. For example, in Dollman Vs Demonic Toys, Dollmanâs girlfriend is actually a character from Bad Channels. So I always thought that was cool how they did that. It makes Full Moon its own little universe of characters.
William: I like that too! It has a neat feeling to it, because they do make reference to their other movies, so itâs interesting to see these characters hop from movie to movie. Leave it to Charlie Band to figure that out. Itâs certainly not easy writing an entire story and then having someone say “No, I donât want to do that angle. Take this character and run with it.” So I went back to the old Charlie Band format of using one really great, spooky location. As you know, Iâm a huge fan of haunted house movies. I love films like The Legend of Hell House and The Innocents and Susperia â that kind of stuff, so since weâre in a castle, I thought letâs go back to a cast of six or seven people that are drawn to a location for some reason, and then the place is haunted. I created for this what I consider to be a pretty cool B storyline, just when the dolls start to get a little kooky, itâs still got a serious vibe to it. I think we did a pretty cool job of combining both.
Robg.: How about casting on this? Did you call upon people youâve worked with before?
William: Weâve got a really phenomenal cast including Alli Kinzel, itâs her first movie and sheâs really beautiful. Weâve got Elizabeth Bell whoâs done some genre projects and Selene Luna from My Bloody Valentine 3D is in the movie. Leslie Jordan from Will & Grace is in the movie. As I said before, Michael Citriniti from Hideous. Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Goâs does the voice for Baby Oopsy Daisy in the film. Itâs really funny to see this really beautiful, dominative woman standing in the recording booth screaming and cursing at the top of her lungs! [Laughs] She really added a nice element to the film.
Robg.: Can you talk a bit about the look of the dolls? Because it seems like you almost went in the Bride Of Chucky direction with the stitched together doll look, which I love.
William: Yeah, well, theyâre pretty much blown to smithereens in the last movie, so it was like “How the hell do we bring them back?” So, we figured we had to put them back together. We have a mysterious stranger that puts them back together at the beginning of the film. They had to come back together somehow! Thatâs just the way it is. They do have a Chucky vibe to them I guess. Itâs unavoidable at this point.
Robg.: The one comment Iâve seen from fans so far is the use of CG in this. How much practical and how much CG do you use?
William: Thereâs CG in the movie, but let me make clear thereâs only maybe six shots of CG involving the dolls, the rest is all puppets. Thereâs tons of CG involving ghosts and weird smoky tendrils coming out of this painting. Itâs mainly for stuff like that. Most of it you wonât notice, but itâs the most CG weâve done in a Charlie Band movie. People are going to be surprised how much quality, not just by my own doing, but by the team that worked on this put in. It definitely is going to be one of the better projects from Full Moon, in terms of the quality of the performers and everything else. I think itâs pretty good. Look, itâs Demonic Toys. It is what it is. I think itâs pretty cool, but if you donât want to watch it, you donât have to watch it. These movies are for a very specific crowd and I know I would like it and I would watch it!
Robg.: Howâd you shoot this, film or digital? Because from what youâve shown me, it really has the look and feel of the old-school Full Moon movies.
William: Digitally. Tom Callaway is one of the best go-to guys to shoot films of this size. He did an incredible job the way that he lit it and it looks like the old Full Moon movies, which I love.
Robg.: Anything that stands out for you about the movie? A scene or moment on set?
William: Oh the finale for sure! I wanted to do Indiana Jones for $1.98. [Laughs] So what we did, we shot 90 percent of the film in Italy. When we came back to the States, the tunnels and caves that they used on the show Weeds, they were available and they were about to tear it down, so I rewrote the finale to take place in this big underground cavern with this demon in it that comes out of this well. Iâm really proud of that and it turned out really well. Thereâs a really great sÃ©ance scene in the film. I put all the cool stuff that I love about haunted house movies in the film. A sÃ©ance scene, an underground tunnel, bats in a cave.
Robg.: Whenâs this getting released? And is there anything we can expect from the DVD in terms of special features? Any behind the scenes stuff?
William: I think it comes out on video on demand first in late December, Time Warner Video On Demand. And then I think in January itâll be released on DVD as well. I think itâll also run on SyFy channel at some point. I didnât personally work on the DVD, but I think there will be some interviews with the actors. There will be audio commentary with all of us. There should be a lot of cool stuff in the special features about our journey shooting this in a castle. Even though itâs a beautiful castle thatâs 900 years old, itâs still a castle and hence freezing! There was no hot water, so if you got in the bathtub, you were lucky to get two inches of hot water. On the upside, the food for every meal was remarkable. Imagine eating Italian cuisine every night!
Robg.: Are you still doing Gingerdead Man 3?
William: Itâs going to happen but I donât know if itâs going to happen with me. Charlie keeps saying itâs going to happen with me, but ya know, I like to do one of these a year for him. Iâve got other stuff going on and I know there are plenty of other guys that can take turns doing these movies with him. As many of the filmmakers out there reading this know, itâs very difficult to make a movie for no money these days. Itâs really, really hard and it takes a lot out of you. Itâs a very volatile playground. For me, Iâm fortunate enough to have my TV series and the larger movies that I do, but itâs really hard on my team to do these because itâs smaller. In order to make money on movies of this size, you have to keep them so cost effective that itâs exhausting. Iâm proud of this movie and how it turned out, but I donât know if Iâm going to do Gingerdead Man 3 yet. Iâd love to because I loved Gingerdead Man 2 so much. It makes me laugh a lot. I was just watching it the other day. The very idea makes me howl that we got to make fun of Charlie in one of his own movies. I feel it was an accomplishment that I should be commended for! [Laughs] For me to be able to sit in a screening room with Charlie Band and making a movie about Charlie Band thatâs making fun of Charlie Band and have him say “Yeah, I like this”, thatâs an accomplishment.
Robg.: Thatâs how you know youâve made it. [Laughs]
You can check out the trailer to Demonic Toys 2: Personal Demons at our previous news post here. Enjoy some exclusive stills from the movie below!