These two films sound much better when you combine the titles. If you’re wondering how you missed a Halloween alien comedy and a Christmas slasher, don’t wonder, because these are pretty obscure films that don’t exactly do their holidays justice…or their horror, for that matter.
FROM VENUS (2005)
This low budget film is so shrouded in mystery on the Internet even the official imdb description is just filler about it being a sci-fi horror spoof/tribute.
It’s on one of those really cheap 6-movie DVDs, and there are dozens of “reviews” of it on the imdb page – the only place anyone seems to have written about it. None of these reviewers manages to say anything about the plot either, but they all seem to draw two conclusions: a) this is the worst movie ever, and b) all the women are actually big, ugly drag queens.
I’ll start by saying this. We live in a world in which Ed Wood and John Waters films are considered cult classics, so we as a society don’t deserve the privilege of calling anything “the worst movie ever.” I’ll also say that the losers who’ve seen this movie (all the losers other than this loser) have clearly never seen a drag queen before…or a woman. The women in this movie are women. Big, blonde, buxom women. Jeez. You need a fag to tell you that?
From Venus doesn’t try to pretend it’s not a z-grade movie. An intro calls out that the special effects we’re about to see are 80s awesome/awful. Turns out, so is the plot. It’s definitely a little confusing, but basically a dude reading a scary comic book on Halloween night serves as the wraparound for our main story…
The main movie is about two butch army guys that come to a small town in search of the missing niece of one of the guys.
These two come across as a quirky gay couple, and they even turn down numerous advances of the dominatrix cult that has the town under its spell.
Basically, that’s the plot. A cult of dominatrix aliens is overrunning the town and seducing and killing the men.
With a budget this low, it should be much funnier, sexier, and campier than it is. And shorter, of course. MUCH shorter. It’s 87 minutes long! And there’s NO nudity! On the bright side, our two heroes show off the beefcake.
But honestly, they should have been revealed to be a gay couple when all was said and done. From Venus simply doesn’t take any edgy, comic risks despite its plot.
Interestingly enough, the wraparound shows a few signs of establishing real Halloween horror atmosphere! We return to it every now and then, and the dude reading the comic becomes increasingly paranoid because he’s getting spooked by the story (even though it’s not at all scary…and doesn’t take place on Halloween).
THE TOYBOX (2005)
This is definitely an odd film, but it may be just a little more complex than I was prepared for. The opening scene has a brother and sister playing a very bizarre game with a pet mouse/hamster.
When it doesn’t go well, the sister seems to use magic to make it all better.
Years later, the sister brings her hot boyfriend to spend Christmas with her family.
But soon after they arrive, the boyfriend wants to leave. It doesn’t exactly feel much like Christmas. A festive tree in the corner of the living room is overshadowed by things like a mannequin that just stands in the middle of a hall, a freaky toy box in the room in which he’s staying, and an unexplained guy posed silently as a clown in another room.
Plus, the boyfriend has a bloody premonition about something awful happening in the house.
Not to mention, the family is fricking weird. In fact, a majority of the film is not horror, but merely about just how fucked up the family is. The brother is jealous of the boyfriend and still thinks the sister has magic powers.
The sister humors him and delves into folklore beliefs with him (complete with animated sequences). Flashbacks further make it appear she really does have magic powers. Oh my aching head.
The parents are neurotic, no one seems to have a loving relationship in the family, a porn past is exposed, and a really icky sexual encounter takes place (but I’m not sure if it actually happened or if it was a dream). It’s all trippy and weird, but it’s kind of like a whole family of red herring (or school of them) considering no one is getting killed.
Eventually, someone goes around hacking up family members with a hook. It’s an enjoyable “slasher” segment while it lasts, but clearly the intention here wasn’t to make a slasher.
The Toybox is definitely a curiosity, but not exactly your usual holiday horror classic. I’d need to watch it again from a more sophisticated perspective. If I ever become sophisticated, I will (the folklore is probably where this shit lost me).