Playtime Gone Bad: My Top 5 Animatronic Nightmares

Built with the best of intentions, but something’s gone wrong, uncanny valley has nothing on the creepiness of these murderous playthings.

1 – Willy’s Wonderland

Synopsis – A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the condemned Willy’s Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.

Director – Kevin Lewis

Starring – Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant

Released – 2021

You’d think having Nic Cage not speak for the majority of the movie would make this a slog, but strangely it works. It’s violent and goofy all in perfect balance and doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but I appreciate it for not trying to. There’s something to be said for a movie that knows exactly what it is Nic Cage fighting robots for an hour and a half, what’s not to love.

2 – The Banana Splits Movie

Synopsis – A family attends a live taping of The Banana Splits television series, but are forced to survive as soon as the characters go haywire and start a killing spree around the studio.

Director – Danishka Esterhazy

Starring – Dani Kind, Finley Wojtak-Hissong, Naledi Majola

Released – 2019

Beautiful set design, Acting that’s just good enough to work and lots of bloody violence. Just like Willy’s Wonderland, this is a movie that is stupid but knows it’s kind of stupid. I never knew what was gonna happen next, who was going to die and just how it was going to happen. But what sets this film apart is the addition of children, their love of these characters and their trust in creatures you have just seen violently murder someone, truly ramps up the tension in a film I wasn’t expecting to have much at all.

3 – Child’s Play

Synopsis – A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.

Director – Lars Klevberg

Starring – Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Brian Tyree Henry

Released – 2019

The first Child’s play movie was something truly special. Part 2 was okay and part 3 was passable, but much the same as other horror franchises, the more films they produce, the lower the quality and sometimes you just need a break/reboot. By making fundamental changes to its source material Child’s Play was always likely to annoy some fans, however, I can appreciate this film as a separate entity that doesn’t even try to replace the original, instead it nearly takes inspiration from its 1988 predecessor. 

Full Review Coming Soon

4 – Christmas Bloody Christmas

Synopsis – It’s Christmas Eve and Tori just wants to get drunk and party, but when a robotic Santa Claus at a nearby toy store goes haywire and begins a rampant killing spree through her small town, she’s forced into a battle for survival.

Director – Joe Begos

Starring – Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Jonah Ray Rodrigues

Released – 2022

Christmas Bloody Christmas was a huge surprise as it not only the concept of a robot Santa wandering around killing people and just how often the characters talk about cunnilingus but also the likeability of the main characters, violent kills, and a third act that can only be described as bonkers.

5 – M3GAN

Synopsis – A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a lifelike doll that begins to take on a life of its own.

Director – Gerard Johnstone

Starring – Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng

Released – 2023

The hype around this film started long before the movie came out, which meant people would either call it a huge disappointment or the breakout horror film of the year. In the end, M3GAN is somewhere in between, There really isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the quality or acting. The plot flowed well and it keeps to entertained throughout if a little predictable and the PG rating held it back in places. Maybe the rumoured R-rated version might push this film higher up the list.

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