TOYS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: STANLEY H. BRASSLOFF / SCREENPLAY: STANLEY H. BRASSLOFF, MACS McAREE / STARRING: MARCIA FORBES, HARLAN CARY POE, EVELYN KINGSLEY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Toys Are Not For Children tells the story of a young woman whose severe daddy issues send her down a dark and murky path into prostitution. Psychologically traumatised as a young child and yearning for the love of her absentee father, Jamie inhabits an infantile world surrounded by toys. Obsessed by their presence and having grown increasingly attached to the ones that her father continues to send to her, she’s unable to consummate her new marriage with her love-struck husband. A chance encounter with an ageing sex worker soon blossoms into friendship but, when Jamie’s descent into prostitution allows her to seek out her most disturbing erotic fantasies, things slowly begin to spiral out of control.
From a story by Stanley H. Brassloff and a script by Macs McAree, Toys Are Not For Children is an interesting product from the heyday of American exploitation. It’s bold, crass and full of bizarre moments that you certainly wouldn’t be able to get away with now, which undeniably adds to the peculiar charm of this quirky independent film. There’s an almost camp-like quality to the performances thanks to a script which throws subtlety out of the window in favour of over-dramatic displays of raw emotion. Although the acting can often be wooden and the directing is occasionally clunky, its brisk 85 minute running time benefits the film greatly as it wastes very little time when setting up the action.
With our protagonist being so detached from reality, it’s hard to take the film too seriously, which is probably for the best when considering the subject matter. What could have been a dark, sleazy tale of emotional abuse and trauma instead comes across as so off-kilter that it’s almost verging on comedy. It’s hard not to laugh when events become progressively more absurd, as one does suspect that Brassloff’s direction is purposely trying to have a little fun with such a shocking narrative. By the time the end credits roll, the majority of audiences will be left with their jaws on the floor while others will undoubtedly be in hysterics at what they’ve just witnessed.
A true product of its time, Toys Are Not For Children isn’t anywhere near as dark as one would expect, but that’s not to say it isn’t a deeply twisted tale of sexuality. Whether its main purpose was to shock or to make sweeping statements on femininity hardly even matters as what it ultimately does is entrance all those who watch. A true oddity that has its fair share of admirers, this is the very definition of cult exploitation. With the Blu-ray release containing a host of interesting extras that range from a video essay into femininity, perversion and play to a comprehensive look into the life of director Stanley H. Brasloff, there’s plenty here that’ll give both fans and newcomers alike all the context they need.
Special edition contents: Brand new 2K restoration,brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Heather Drain, newly-filmed appreciation by Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower, ‘Dirty’ Dolls: Femininity, Perversion and Play - a brand new video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, original theme song “Lonely Am I”newly transferred from the original 45-RPM vinyl single, original trailer, reversible sleeve