A Pandora's Box of Freudian depravity
"Uncle" is a beefy, bug-eyed buffoon who gives various members of the New Christie Minstrels pirate booty to play pervert for him. Supposedly, it satisfies some sick inner urge. Either that, or those hardboiled egg orbs in his head have completely lost their rods and cones. Anyway, Ralph and Donna are two of the zeppelin sized zombie's best "toys," performing all manner of debauched acts on the promise of some greenbacks and a complete loss of personal respect. But on a special night in his overblown L.A. mansion, the randy rotund relative announces he is dead (?) and asks his sex actors to put on the ultimate tour de fornication in his loving memory. So, in between vice filled vignettes about picnic porking and linen molestation, the San Fernando swingers orgy up the place. Every once in a while, a couple or two show up to turn a trick and take a huge Hamilton handout from their bilious benefactor's Toy Box. Oh yeah, and there is something about extraterrestrials and their drinking problem involved here too.
Toys Are Not For Children, on the other hand, is a bad touch nightmare about a young woman who's emotionally stunted for the rest of her life when her gift-giving father leaves home. Immediately upon hitting puberty, she gets a job in a toy store. She also performs lewd acts with her Strawberry Shortcake collection. She marries her co-worker, Charlie, in a desperate attempt to free herself from the human hound dog barking anti-paternal patter at her, otherwise known as her mother. But Jamie turns out to be as frigid as a January jamboree in upper Wisconsin in the marital bed, and soon Charlie is eyeing some non-infantile infidelity. Jamie takes the lack of spousal sexual advances the wrong way and moves in with Pearl, a well-worn lady of the evening who lives with a slimy lothario named Eddie. Through a series of sequences that even Freud, B.F. Skinner, and Dr. Phil would have difficulty figuring out, Jamie decides that being a whore will solve all her problems. So she signs up on the S.T.D. line and begins to service local Rotarians. But no matter how warped the sex game may be, Jamie is ever longing for her Papa. And Pearl may just help her "meet" him, if you catch the drift (pray you don't…).
The Toy Box starts out like a typical Harry Novak sexploitation flick. It has the trademark barebones plotline just vague enough (some half-assed idea about aliens needing the brain juice of depraved sex fiends to get drunk on) to hang its numerous erotic scenes upon. And the standard miscast group of indigent flower children is here, flopping about like a decidedly unwashed road company of Godspell doing the non-musical version of I Am Curious (Yellow). There are even some familiar faces, kind of like Novak's own miscreant Mercury Theater. But unlike his other pulchritude pandering, The Toy Box is one sick and sexy Novak flick. Where else would you get to see a bed pleasuring a tanned, buxom knockout like Uschi Digart? Director Ron Garcia understands that, when it comes to scenes of sexual congress, the more footage filibustering the better. It's as if Garcia was rationed celluloid and needs to make the most of his intimate acts before he runs out of raw stock. His moments of moaning and groaning really pack a pelvis punch since he keeps them to a crotch throbbing minimum. It also helps to sell the otherwise ridiculous interstellar premise of the movie. Bloated Uncle looks like he fell asleep in his Denny's Grand Slam breakfast, so it's hard to believe he is really from another planet (unless it's in the Blimp galaxy). After all, the whole extraterrestrial angle is just an excuse to lavish some really lame lighting effects and high school production props onto and at the screen. It only momentarily breaks up the seemingly endless onscreen skin and sex. Still, The Toy Box is a great Novak sexploitation film, the kind of sensual silliness the majority of his product strives for, but never seems to achieve.
Everything that The Toy Box is, however, Toys Are Not For Children (or as the e.e. cummings of the marketing department would have it typed, toys are not for children) is definitely not. The story of a troubled young girl whose craving for fatherly love turns borderline incestual is a moody, depressing look at mothers and daughters, lovers and losers at society's wits end. Painting a more and more painful portrait of arrested adolescence and psychotic delirium in a young, damaged woman, this movie is just no fun at all. Looking like a cross between Marlo Thomas and a potato bug, Marcia Forbes (call her That IRRITATING Girl!) turns her Jamie character into the ultimate dysfunctional blowup Betsy Wetsy. She sleeps, eats, whines, and wets the screen with all manner of her mind numbing nauseating naïveté. After hearing her lament her long lost pop for 88 minutes, and turning to hooking as a way of suppressing her repressed memories, you'll be willing to take a paternity test just to quiet her wounded whimper. Everything about toys are not for children is sleazy and grimy. Evelyn Kingsley's Pearl Valdi, the working girl catalyst for Jamie's decent into prostitution, is a decidedly matronly mattress jockey, wearing the workout from every john on her puffy, harsh face. Luis Arroyo's Eddie is a banana-oiled oaf, sporting a pompadour of hair so greasy that jealous carnies marvel at its viscosity levels. Add to this crash menagerie the warthog as mother figure Edna and it's no wonder that Pater Godard hit the bricks. It's one thing to be married to an old ball and chain. It's quite another to have it look like a monkey's spastic sphincter when it bellows its marital epithets. toys are not for children is like an off-kilter Something About Amelia with a skid row reject in the Ted Danson role (come to think of it, is there really a difference?). It wants to break controversial ground. All it does is break offensive exploitative wind.
Leave it to Something Weird Video to balance the uproariously bizarre with the mentally disturbed to create a wonderfully schizoid DVD package. About the only place this digital delight falls short is in the presentation and additions department. Both of these Toy stories are offered in full frame prints that have seen better days. Box is superior in that it avoids the emulsion scratches and obvious age defects of Children, if only by a micron or two. Still, this is always offset by the rarity of the titles themselves. While the advertised Kink-O-Rama trailers are indeed lascivious enough (may we please have The Exquisite Cadaver and Sextet on DVD now!), the short subjects pole vault into disappointment territory. Sure, the story of little Joey's Toy Telephone Truck seems like interesting educational fodder, until you remember that mentally you would have been about four when you first saw it, and at that age, mold growing on Wonder bread was epic storytelling. The Christmas Eves is not much better, featuring actual Daughters of the American Revolution in various stages of Yuletide undress (Noel? NO MORE!). Still, the gallery of exploitation art is always welcome, if not a little repetitive 80 times down the road. The Toy Box / Toys Are Not For Children is a demented double feature of diametrically opposed delights. While Uncle and his band of bawdy buggers make for a Cola and cake filled fiesta at the local Shakey's pizza parlor, Jamie and her reverse Oedipus complex is like a graduation day pair of Toughskins or a gift certificate to Buster Brown shoes; practical, but not very amusing. But it's the thought that counts, right?
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