Blu-ray Review: Toys Are Not For Children

Raleigh’s infamous Cinema Overdrive film series always presents a title in December that reflects the holiday season and will freak out your Great Aunt Anna who is addicted to Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. For a few years, the selection was considered the obvious legends of holiday exploitation. The films with homicidal Santas and treacherous elves. Then in 2010 we were given Toys Are Not For Children. From what I remember, few hands in the audience went up when asked if anyone there had seen the film. After the movie was over, nobody would forget that this was how they spent their Christmas vacation. While Toys Are Not For Children isn’t a blatant Christmas themed movie, it’s the shocking gift that keeps on giving.

Jamie Godard (Marcia Forbes) seems like a quiet and normal sales girl working at a small toy store. She really likes toys. Part of her attachment to toys is that her father walked out on the family when she was young. But even with him being absent for her life, he sends her dolls and toys. Her mother Edna (Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd‘s Fran Warren) is all about tearing into the legacy of her father and just the general evil of men. Jamie has serious Daddy issues and the toys are helping things get more confusing. She marries Charlie (Taxi Drivers‘ Harlan Cary Poe). He thinks she kind of timid, but he learns that his new wife isn’t into things like consummating the marriage. It drives him to hit the bars and cheat on her. This doesn’t bother her since she gets an idea how to finally find her father which includes hanging out with one of her dad’s old “girlfriends” and a major career change.

When the film came out in the 1972, those fortunate enough to see it in a theater must have kept losing a grip on their popcorn. There are so many outrageous turns in what you think could be a naïve tale. Director Stanley H. Brassloff and screenwriter Macs McAree go to a lot of dark places on the screen. The opening scene shows how Jamie loves the toys her daddy sends her over the years. The father and daughter reunion scene is off the charts in “you went there.” Marcia Forbes never appeared in another film or TV show which is a shame since she keeps things “credible” when her character does really unobvious choices. We can accept that Jamie would do something that will remain a secret until you see the scene. Toys Are Not For Children is a perfect addition to your holiday Blu-ray collection.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks really fine for a movie that has been battered around for nearly half a century. You’ll get a clear view of the toy store. The audio is LCPM mono. The sound is crisp. This is the best presentation perhaps ever given to the movie. The film is subtitled.

Audio Commentary features Heather Drain and Kat Ellinger of the Hells Belles’ podcast. The two really enjoy debating the film as hybrid of arthouse and grindhouse. They give a bit of background and historical references to the release. But they also deal with how they react to elements in the film.

Fragments of Stanley Brasloff (25:03) is writer Stephen Thrower discussing the career of director Stanley Brasloff. He gives the biography of the man who only directed two films after working as a live entertainer for years. His first feature was a roughie called Two Girls For A Madman. There’s clips from the film.

“Dirty” Dolls: Femininity, Perversion and Play (23:00) is a video essay from Alexandra Heller-Nicolas about the link between toys and other things. She links this movie with an Oscar nominated Carol starring Cate Blanchett. Except there’s no awards for Toys Are Not For Children. There’s a great segment on pulp novels with their tawdry covers.

“Lonely Am I” – Theme Song (2:33) is the theme song that sounds like it came from a Perry Como Christmas special.

Stanley H. Brasloff Trailer Gallery includes Behind Locked Doors, Two Girls for a Madman and Toys Are Not For Children.

Arrow Video presents Toys Are Not For Children. Directed by Stanley Brasloff. Screenplay by: Macs McAree. Starring: Marcia Forbes, Harlan Cary Poe, Evelyn Kingsley, Luis Arroyo, Fran Warren & Peter Lightstone. Rated: R. Running Time: 85 minutes. Released: October 8, 2019

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