Pinocchio’s Revenge (1996)


With “Pinocchio’s Revenge,” it feels as if Director and Writer Kevin Tenney concocted an entire script based on a serial killer whose spirit inhabits his beloved Pinocchio doll and begins wreaking havoc on a hot mom and her daughter. And then mid-way he thought that perhaps it’d skirt legal issues, and then he suddenly transformed it in to a dull whodunit dramatic thriller. That’s the only way I can figure the logic for the title, at all. There’s no actual revenge, and in the end there’s not a lot of reasoning for Pinocchio to commit these crimes. But at least there’s still the hot mom.

Rosalind Allen (The hot mom) plays Jennifer, a single mom and attorney whose serial killer client is about to go to death row, but she’s intent on proving his innocence. His creepy wooden doll is discovered buried at his home and is taken to the court to testify as a character witness. I kid. The doll is taken in as evidence to help psycho-analyze her client, and is claimed by Jennifer. By a string of coincidences, Jennifer’s boyfriend gives Pinocchio to her daughter Zoe for her birthday, and Zoe falls for the doll so much she becomes petulant and obnoxious, clinging to it. Soon enough, Zoe and the doll are tight knit and almost eerily close, and the doll begins to murder people.

Or is it Zoe? One thing that’s hinted at but never quite explained is, did Zoe feel some sense of rage and resentment toward her mother for being a working mom? Or did she hide some incestuous emotions for her? In one moment, Zoe listens as her mother has sex with her boyfriend in the room above her. Not to mention the murders are targeted toward people who take Jennifer’s place as mom or guardian. You have to wonder if the doll acts as the outlet for her aggression. I’m obviously putting too much thought in to a movie that never decides what it wants to be. Even in the final scenes, Kevin Tenney just seems to be going through the motions ending it just because there has to be an ending. Even if it answers nothing.

There’s not even a fun ambiguity. Is the doll alive? Why did Jennifer see Zoe as a doll? Did the doll possess Zoe? Did Zoe animate the doll with her anger and hate? Why should we be made wholly aware of Zoe’s bouts of insanity? Is she evil or just mad at her mom? Oh who cares? In either case, while “Pinocchio’s Revenge” is not as awful as it sounds, it suffers from being incredibly boring and middle of the road psuedo-horror. It’s just lackluster and lethargic. Which is sad considering Kevin Tenney is behind the raucous and entertaining “Night of the Demons.” It pretends to be this cerebral thriller and fails, it tries for slasher fodder and fails, and it can never quite figure out what kind of horror film it’s trying to be and who it wants to appeal to.