Demonic Toys: The Addendum
Although Demonic Toys is not a nuanced or sophisticated film on the surface, it deals with issues involving anxieties about child rearing and sexuality that add depth to the film.
The anxieties about child rearing introduce the film. The first images are from Judith’s nightmare involving her blonde child and the dark-haired demon boy playing cards. This scene foregrounds the question of how her son will turn out. She is worried about whether she will end up with a good or evil child, an anxiety that will play itself out in a real battle in the factory. After the dream scene, Matt and Judith are discussing the idea of marriage. Matt is uncomfortable with the idea of marriage, but when Judith reveals to him that she’s pregnant, he seems excited by the idea of fatherhood. However, he soon dies and Judith is suddenly put in a vulnerable position. Her child will be fatherless and she will be taking care of the child alone. The rest of the movie enacts the drama of those anxieties.
Judith and the other protagonists are menaced by children and children’s playthings throughout the film. The unnamed demon child possesses people and threatens the protagonists. A trio of young girls wearing gas masks and riding tricycles, like the creepy twins in The Shining, chase Mark and Anne; the girls are just one of the demon’s illusions. Things associated with children, such as the dolls and a doll house take on a sinister side when the dolls come to life and murder people and the doll house serves as the setting for an eerie meeting between the demonic child and Judith. Most notably, the one doll that is a model of a child, Baby Oopsie Daisy, is foul-mouthed and homicidal. I imagine that the demonic child and Baby Oopsie Daisy are sinister visions of what her child could turn out like. Furthermore, we see the affects of parental negligence and abuse in the film. The demon child was miscarried 66 years ago, a big enough fear for pregnant mothers as it is, but to further add to the horror his body is callously dumped in the ground, not even given a proper burial by the parents that bore it. Anne runs away to the factory to escape abuse from her father. Perhaps Judith is afraid that a new husband, a stepfather would be negligent or abusive to her new child; if Anne’s abusive father was a stepfather, this connection would be solidified.
There are also evident anxieties about sexuality in this film. First and foremost is a strange form of Oedipal drama. The demon child is trying to insinuate himself into the role of father, except it’s a purely sexual/procreative role to engender himself; this also smacks of narcissism, but I’m not sure how that would fit in with the rest of the analysis. This is disturbing enough as it is, but the demon child ties Judith down to forcefully have his way with her and tells her that she will die in the process of giving birth to him. There are also elements of deviant sexuality relating to age. The demon child does change into his adult form when preparing to have sex with Judith, but since he’s in the form of a child when he first says he will “do the nasty” with her, there is the distressing sense that this is a child’s inappropriate lust. Furthermore, there is a scene where a little girl in a blue dress, one of the little girls riding on tricycles earlier, turns into a woman wearing the same blue dress. The woman is then nude with an American flag draped around her shoulders, like the centerfold in Charnetski’s magazine. However, the woman then turns into the deceased Anne with nails in her eyes; Mark is understandably freaked out. This scene with little girl turning into a naked woman and then into a dead teen creates a conflation of the inappropriately young with sexual adult and then sexual life with death.
Demonic Toys doesn’t do anything with these anxieties. They are present in the film, but they are incidental rather than thematic or narrative. I point them out because they make the film more interesting. Sadly, I have no conclusions as to what they mean. That would either require a smarter movie or a smarter reviewer.