The Toy Box (1971)
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Honorary members of the swingin' set, big-haired boozy blonde Donna (Ann Myers, from the Don Davis flicks SWAMP GIRL and THE GOLDEN BOX) and her mustachioed man Ralph (Sean Kenney, who was in Bill Levey's endearing SLUMBER PARTY '57, rarely referenced beyond being the skeleton in Debra Winger's closet) are rehearsing the little psycho drama they will perform for the benefit of portly middle-aged peeper "Uncle" at his next gathering of money-grabbing sleaze balls, who receive monetary compensation in accordance to the excellence of their dirty display. Having possibly faked his own death, "Uncle" sits propped up in a chair and still talks in some weird disembodied voice without moving his lips, providing the ultimate thankless role for scuzzy character actor Jack King, who appeared in the man-eating carpet from outer space classic THE CREEPING TERROR as well as Joe Robertson's oddity MRS. STONE'S THING, best remembered for co-starring the incomparable Ed Wood as a decidedly frumpy cross-dresser. Most of the movie consists of little groups of people coming in, performing their brain-fried party piece and getting paid. Swedish sex starlet supreme Uschi Digard takes top honors for the indescribably strange spectacle of being pawed by an overly amorous bed. Yep, you read that right ! The preposterously tasteless necrophilia production number that has a butcher taking liberties with corpse Maria Arnold (a lovely brunette who made the occasional foray into fornication film territory with Lowell Picket's COZY COOL and Mike Weldon's GETTING OFF) surely ranks as a runner-up in the "I can't believe I just saw that" sweepstakes.
And so it goes, with little rhyme or reason. Ostensibly taking place in a locked-up mansion, one sequence occurs in the great outdoors even though characters have already been getting antsy about being trapped inside ! People die inexplicably, sometimes to be "magically" resurrected late in the proceedings, with parts of them (heads, usually) popping up at various places in the house for cheap shock value. Eventually, all is explained in a final revelation so jaw-dropping, pushing the film headlong into science fiction territory, you will find yourself wondering just what substance Garcia was on while concocting this mess, at its most magnificent when it makes no sense whatsoever, and where you might get ahold of some ! He seems to have literally thrown in anything he could think of to make an impression on what was clearly a shoestring budget, whether it made sense or not, well, usually not, as you have surely understood by now. It's exactly that "anything goes" motto that kept me watching, completely at a loss as to what to expect next. This doesn't necessarily make for what's traditionally considered a "good" movie as it's positively riddled with amateur acting and production shortcomings, neither of which should seriously detract from audience enjoyment by the way. Sex scenes are long and reasonably graphic though still on the safe side of simulation with a formidable female cast that further includes such true fan favorites as ravishing redhead Debbie Osborne (from Corey Allen's comparably twisted EROTIC ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO), curvaceous Kathy Hilton (among A.C. Stephen's COCKTAIL HOSTESSES), blond beauty Casey Lorrain (who went all the way in Richard Robinson's ADULTERY FOR FUN AND PROFIT) and a sadly under-employed Marsha Jordan, uncrowned queen of the nudies, making up in acres of skin what the movie lacks in artistry or coherence.
First, about the plot--there is no plot. And that's good. There is nothing more annoying than when a movie like this tries to have plot. Imagine you have an hour and half or so to kill, but every five or ten minutes you have to have sex for five or ten minutes, you probably wouldn't get much done in that time, and you certainly wouldn't develop much as a character (especially if you were being played by your average porn star who couldn't act his or her way out of a crisp paper sack). This movie is ineptly made in some ways. Obviously, the dubbing is terrible (porno movies are dubbed?--who knew). But the best you can hope for in a movie like this is a lot of interesting scenes, and this movie has them in spades. What I enjoyed most about this movie was the cinematography (not surprisingly the director worked mainly as a cinematographer), and the truly unique dream-like atmosphere it creates. This isn't a pedestrian sex fantasy--it's a cross between a warped wet dream and a really, really strange nightmare. It's basically a surrealist soft-core porno movie.
Sure, I like looking at nude women. While I prefer hardcore porn flicks, I'll take softcore exploitation grindhouse junk like this too under the right circumstances. Well, these aren't the right circumstances. These aren't ANY circumstances. There's supposed to be a horrific subplot lurking in here somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can untangle it. This is another of those amateurish steaming piles of badly made manure that bores you to tears rather than stimulates you, despite all the simulated sex going on all over the place. Bah -- if I want to see good sex scenes, I'll watch the real stuff. 0 out of ****
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Donna (Ann Myers) and Ralph (Sean Kenney) attend another one of Uncle's parties where he has people perform weird sex acts in exchange for getting to pick out a prize from "the toy box." At this party however it's quite different because Uncle is dead and the sex acts are going on around his body. Soon party members start to turn up dead.
THE TOY BOX was originally released by Harry Novak and it eventually founds itself on DVD thanks to those great folks at Something Weird Video. I'm not going to sit here and call this a must-see or a masterpiece but if you're a fan of the bizarre then you'll certainly want to check it out. The film has an ultra low-budget but at the same time there's no question that it has a weird atmosphere as well as an early mix of sex, nudity, drugs and various horror elements.
As far as the sexploitation goes, there's plenty of naked people messing around here as well as some really beautiful women. There's a mass orgy going on so you've got a lot of people running around naked and there are some nicely erotic moments throughout. One of the highlights happens early on when the virgin Donna pleases herself with a dildo. As far as the horror elements go, they're not the greatest in the world but we've got that low-budget atmosphere, a meat clever murder as well as plenty of fog to go around.
THE TOY BOX has one major sin and that's the fact that it clocks in at 89-minutes, which is way too long for this type of film. There's really not much of a story so the film drags very badly at spots. Still, the bizarre atmosphere makes it worth sitting through.
My Grade: C-
DVD Extras: Art Gallery;2 short subjects ( the Toy Telephone Truck, & the Christmas Eves); Trailers for Toys are not for Children, the Toybox, The Exquisite Cadaver, Tales of the Bizzare, The Single Girls, Ann and Eve, The Depraved, Sextet, The Naked Countess, and Labrinth of Sex