Directed by Jeff Broadstreet, as Roy G. Biv., Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge is the latest killer puppet flick to hit the horror-scene. The director listed under a pseudonym should have been a red flag for what I was about to see, but I went in with bloody-colored glasses.
Watching low-budget horror movies you expect it to lack some level of quality in its production. If you’re anything like me, you may even learn to love and enjoy B-level quality entertainment. Its quirkiness can be fun and entertaining. There’s always something redeeming within the mess that is low-budget. It’s rare that a movie gets so much wrong that there’s no atonement, but Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge managed to do just that.
After leaving the theatre, Steffen Crane (Jake Red) leads his entourage of friends to a building his father, Richard Crane (Bill Mosely), recently purchased. The building was a TV studio where a 60’s kid’s show about a man and his puppets called “Mister Jolly and Handy Dandy Show” was taped. We know this because it’s unnecessarily mentioned more than once. While at the studio, Crane and crew discover brand new looking ventriloquist dummies that eventually start attacking and whacking with Mister Jolly (Bill Oberst Jr.). Jolly turns out to be a 200-year-old dark magician with a who has returned to complete a ritual on the eve of this Super Blood Moon, presumably, to keep extending his life.
We have a cast of typical stereotypes including pretty playboy Rick (Arthur Marroquin), his model date Abby (Cody Renee Cameron), the nerdy girl Doc (Danni Spring), the jock Rosie (Kyle Anderson), and the lesbian Josie (KateLynn E. Newberry). The story is way too ambitious and clearly wants to hit as many horror-movie notes as possible. There’s Masonic artifacts, bonded jewels, a traveler’s power, magical daggers, long-lost fathers, a clown, and killer puppets.
The writers, Donald Borza II (story) and J.S. Brinkley, have clearly never heard of “show, don’t tell.” The entire backstory is force-fed to us in one expository scene. Writing in conversational language has also seemed to elude them because none of the lines feel authentic in nature. The most credit I can give them is for a few lines from the puppets that actually made me chuckle.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if an improved script would make a difference since I can’t tell what’s more painful, the script or the acting. The relationships between the group of friends feel incredibly forced and fake. The overacting is obvious in many scenes and just comes across as sad. The ridiculous voices and personalities of puppets are sometimes hard to watch. A rework might have been able to save this because there’s something compelling about their style and the fact that there are a ton of them. Clearly, the two Bills (Moseley and Oberst, Jr.) are the superior casting choices here, both delivering solid performances as usual. However, they can’t save this turd.
Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge contains both practical and computer-generated SFX. Both are equally horrible. Honestly, I’ve seen low-budget 80’s movies with much better effects. Even blood dripping down the chest of Abby in her torture scene looks like glossy paint. A scene where a character gets cut in half is completely laughable and silly. Luckily for us, some of the other effects were just blips on the screen.
When making a low-budget movie the filmmakers must do at least one thing well to make it worth anyone’s time. Unfortunately, this movie did not entertain nor strike fear in my cold dead heart. It only left me with disgust. To save you some suffering, I say give Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge a hard pass.
Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge has a limited release on October 18 and is out on DVD November 8.
- Crystal Cleveland, Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge