Killer toys can be creepy. To name a few: the ventriloquist dummy in Dead of Night (1945), the Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror (1975), the animated puppets in Puppet Master (1989). The horror sub-genre is no slouch when it comes to producing scares; in fact, it has seen a resurgence with such films as James Wan’s Dead Silence (2007) and the Child’s Play remake (2019). One of the most recent entries, Devil’s Junction: Handy Dandy’s Revenge, features plenty of slicing-and-dicing, but fails to get the heart racing.
The story follows a group of friends who enter an abandoned television studio. Steffen (Jake Red) explains to them that his father Richard Crane (Bill Moseley) recently bought the property and wants to demolish it. In the 1960s, the studio was home to Mr. Jolly’s (Bill Oberst Jr.) and his dummy Handy Dandy’s (voiced by Jake LaMarca) popular ventriloquist show, which became nefarious for its ties to a number of missing children cases.
Steffen instead wants to convince him to turn the place into an after hours nightclub and asks his friends if they’d like to invest. What they don’t know is that Steffen’s father—who has discovered Mr. Jolly’s plot—has been captured and that they are all easy targets to the ventriloquist’s murderous puppets.
Devil’s Junction contains a ton of cringe worthy dialogue. In one instance, a puppet with a Little Richard hairdo attacks a couple having sex. Before the scene cuts, he says: “Okay, boys. Let’s get this kinky bitch out of here.” The film also has clunky exposition, as in when Mr. Jolly reveals to Richard Crane that he is a 200-year-old magician and that he seeks ancient artifacts to achieve his nefarious plan to reboot his puppet show with a more sinister agenda.
In addition to the poor dialogue, the script is riddled with slasher cliches and random forays into the nonsensical. A Masonic subplot is randomly tied into the main proceedings to contextualize Mr. Jolly’s scheme.
The film solely excels in the level of gore it achieves. Blood splatters liberally and the effects are quite convincing for a low budget flick. In all fairness, the puppet work is quite effective. Viewers who have a fear of dolls or puppets should probably avoid the film. The killer ventriloquist dolls are seen dismembering many of the characters, even though some of those moments inadvertently come across as comedic.
Devil’s Junction is directed by Jeff Broadstreet under the pseudonym Roy G. Biv. He’s the guy responsible for the horrendous Night of the Living Dead 3D reboots that disappointed fans of George A. Romero’s vision of zombies. It’s a mystery how Bill Moseley and Bill Oberst Jr., who have made memorable turns in horror franchises in their own right, became involved in this project. Unfortunately, their presence cannot elevate the material.
The film is currently available to watch on Tubi’s streaming platform. According to IMDb, a sequel, tentatively titled Devil’s Junction: Ripper, has been written by screenwriter J. S. Brinkley is currently in development. Bill Oberst Jr. is set to return and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) is attached to play American serial killer H. H. Holmes.
Sean Woodard serves as the Film Editor for Drunk Monkeys and a Co-Producer of the faith and spirituality podcast, Ordinary Grace. Focusing on a wide variety of interests, Sean’s fiction, film criticism, and other writings have been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, NonBinary Review, Horrorbuzz, Cultured Vultures, and Los Angeles Magazine, among other publications. He is currently a doctoral student at University of Texas at Arlington.