Blogging the toys in Thunderbirds Are Go got me thinking about toys simply used as toys in films. Not messed with, just placed in the scenery. I suppose I mean toy product placement. As I know horror movies the best here are a few screengrabs of some toys placed in spooky sets.
The old Spears game Word Making and Word Taking turned up in the Amicus horror anthology The House That Dripped Blood pictured above from 1970. In this shot private tutor Nyree Dawn Porter has bought her ward, Chloe Franks, some toys including a doll, a jigsaw and the Spears game, all forbidden by her Father Christoper Lee. They appear in the story called Sweets to the Sweet. Oddly enough I have this game in the attic. If THE game, which featured in the film, came up for sale, would it be classed as a prop, memorabilia or a toy with a film career? The mind boggles! Should any of you decide to watch this film, watch out for Dr. Who's John Pertwee in perhaps the best segment, The Cloak, starring alongside scream queen Ingrid Pitt.
Okay, something a little later now. Here we have grabs from XTRO, a low-budget ALIEN rip-off from 1982, in which a flesh-eating creature lands on Earth disguised as a boy's father. Said father passes some of his alien ESP powers to his son, Tony, who animates a life-size clown to help in the dastardly plot to inseminate everyone on the set. For me though, the pies-de-resistance, is the use of a Palitoy Action Man in the alien plan as Tony brings his 12-inch toy hero to life as a man-sized soldier android as shown above.
I can't name the specific Palitoy uniform used but the sight of Action Man or GI Joe standing at the door is enough to make you watch at least five more minutes of the movie. Briefly flirting with the UK video nasty scandal in the early Eighties, XTRO, with it's lunatic clown, living action man, spooky kid and lots of naked sex, is like watching an episode of the Avengers that's been made by Troma. You have been warned!
Third up is Salem's Lot, the 1979 film/ TV series based on Stephen King's tale of small-town America bloodsucking. Starring the aptly named heartthrob David Soul as the film's hero, the movie features a young horror film buff called Mark Petrie whose bedroom is an Aladdin's cave of aurora monster models and other creepy Seventies stuff, which his Dad hates [sound familiar?]. I've posted three screengrabs above which show you what I mean and I've flagged up the Aurora monsters I recognise. Mark also has a Frankenstein monster puppet in the second shot, which I can't place if anyone knows? The last shot includes what I think would be Don Post monster masks on the shelf and a rubber hand on the wall, which oddly enough, I had as well! The two boys looking on are the Glick brothers who feature in what is possibly the scariest scene in the film. Watch it if you dare!
My final toy placement appears in the modern homage to Seventies childhood, Super 8 released in 2011. Although written and directed by JJ Abrams, it was produced by Steven Speilberg and is full of what I associate with Speilberg's love of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. The title Super 8 says it all. At the centre of the film is Joe, who is also immersed in all things Aurora as you can see from the above screengrab, which is very reminiscent of Mark's modelling desk in Salem's Lot.
In this shot Joe is painting his Aurora Hunchback of Notre Dame. The model instructions are propped up at the back. I don't recognise the red knight or the spy-like chap stood up at the rear. If you know who they are or have any other toys you've spotted in films I'd be pleased to hear about them.