Sometime between “Leprechaun” and “Leprechaun 2” it became fashionable, or a smart career move, even, to concoct a horror film that people would label “so bad it’s good.”
It never made much sense, and there’s always been junk cinema that some fans embraced beyond the world of “cult film” and “guilty pleasure.”
“Plan Nine from Outer Space” has become legend.
“The Room” was celebrated to the point it led to “The Disaster Artist,” although any horror fan knows that “Leprechaun 2” is much more worthy of “The worst film ever made” than either that, or Ed Wood’s loony “Plan Nine.”
“Devil’s Junction” went through many contortions between concept and screen, title changes from “Handy Dandy” to “Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge,” a director who wanted to change his name on the credits to the colors in the light spectrum acronym — “Roy G. Biv.”
Seeing “Devil’s Junction” — I think that’s the title they’re hanging onto — one gets it. Alan Smithee’s too good to take the credit.
It’s about a group of friends trapped in an abandoned Detroit TV station — WOMB (Woot!) — by the ventriloquist dummies left behind from a show that was performed, in studio, in an earlier era.
It was plainly, one of the would-be victims notes, “some f—-d up ‘Howdy Doody’ ripoff.”
The “200 year old” ventriloquist is also out to get them. And some nameless hulk in a welding helmet (shades of “Plan Nine”). And an obese “surgeon” in clown makeup.
None of it makes any sense, but when you’re a screenwriter trying to brush off the unexplainable, “Masons” and “Masonic relics” will do.
Steffan (Jake Red) has dreams that his developer dad will let him turn this property into an exclusive club, and he lures five of his 20something friends — a fiesty lesbian (KateLynn E. Newberry), the jock with NFL dreams (Kyle Anderson), the automation lab scientist Doc (Danni Spring), the wealthy-enough womanizer (Arthur Marroquin) and his latest blonde conquest (Cody Renee Cameron) into WOMB after hours.
Jostling the stored dummies, making fun of them, triggers the wooden puppets to life. let the torture porn begin!
I laughed at the first time a dummy sticks its head around a corner, snooping on these young folks joking, smoking a joint, on Rick (Marroquin) and Abby (Cameron) getting naked and getting busy. There are two laughs in this thing, by my count.
An alcoholic businessman (horror veteran Bill Moseley, a mascot in horror films since “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”) isn’t so drunk that he doesn’t remember what used to happen to kids in the neighborhood while “Mr. Jolly & The Handy Dandy Show” was on air.
He’s set to confront the spectral Mr. Jolly (Bill Oberst, Jr of TV’s “Age of the Living Dead”), only to wind up in the villain’s clutches for a session of tied-up trash talking.
“Who’s gonna win? The man, or the monster?”
“Smart money’s always on THE MONSTER!”
The businessman’s threats — “This ends tonight! You will not succeed. You will not survive!” — don’t hold a lot of water.
“I’m a 200 year old magician with a band of killer puppets.” “You don’t scare me,” in other words.
The puppets stalk and talk and crack wise when “the smart one” takes a shot at stopping them — with mace.
There’s no logic to the “story,” no reason for the hulk in the welding helmet, no performance that matches the freak-the-f-out events befalling them all (well, the women get it), no real budget for effects — save for the ones that involve dismemberment and blood.
“Roy G. Biv” & Co. succeeded in making a bad horror picture. They just didn’t make one bad enough to be so bad that it’s good.
MPAA Rating: unrated, graphic violence, torture, nudity, sexual situations, profanity
Cast: Bill Moseley, Bill Oberst, Jr., KateLynn E. Newberry, Jake Red, Kyle Anderson, Danni Spring, Cody Renee Cameron and Arthur Marroquin
Credits: Jeff Broadstreet, aka Roy G. Biv, script by J.S. Brinkley (story by Donald Borza II). An Acort International release.
Running time: 1:22