Dave Wain’s essential breakdown of this week’s cavalcade of straight-to-disc treats. Step inside the DTV Junkyard…

It’s less than a thousand days since the first Robert movie entered the home entertainment world (937 to be exact), and here we are already with the UK release of the third sequel. Surely this is the fastest franchise to hit a fourth movie so soon? In any case it’s an astonishing success story, with director Andrew Jones tweeting recently how pleased he was with the first week sales in America. Indeed, the series’ success is largely down to those fine folks across the pond, who are seemingly lapping up the adventures of this tiny terror.

In THE REVENGE OF ROBERT, we’re reacquainted with the Toymaker who’s attempting to board a train in the hope of evading the SS and fleeing the country. However, he’s far from in the clear, as a group of high-ranking Nazi officers are rapidly closing in on his cabin. As always though, the Toymaker has his trusty vintage doll Robert to rely on, and this little chap will stop at nothing to protect his master.

There’s a degree of poetic licence here in the official synopsis, as the picture actually starts out in 1939 – two years before the Toymaker boards the aforementioned locomotive. It’s a slightly dialogue heavy prologue which takes up almost half the picture, but it’s a well-crafted one at that. If there’s one aspect to Jones’ style that’s moved forward most markedly over the last few years, it’s his scripting ability, so not only does this section of the movie fly by, it serves to broaden the origins of the murderous marionette and it succeeds handsomely.  It’s not just Robert whose early years are elaborated upon either, with The Toymaker’s backstory making for fascinating, if rather bleak scrutiny.

All this exposition provides The Revenge of Robert with a rather unique place in this foursome of fear, as it’s virtually the glossary for all four movies. Where that places the casual newcomer is cause for consternation, as this chapter may perhaps be best suited to those that have been along for the ride since day one; and if you have, then you’re in for a treat with questions answered, timelines strengthened and a coda set in 2012 that will raise a broad and satisfying grin.

Clocking in at a brisk seventy-seven minutes, Jones’ latest could well be the most satisfying entry in the quadrilogy. Lee Bane has mastered the role of the Toymaker now, providing a real human edge to someone who could initially have been shrugged off as a one-dimensional caricature, while a deserved fist bump goes to Gareth Lawrence who practically steals the movie as the evil Frederick Voller.

As expected the end credits tease us that Robert will one day return again, but if you’re sat waiting patiently for that title card, have a listen to that cheeky riff on One, Two, Buckle My Shoe accompanying the closing acknowledgments. I’m sure I’ve heard that interpreted for a movie before…

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While DTV Junkyard provides me with the opportunity to belt out somewhere in the region of four hundred words on interesting direct-to-video movies that would otherwise slip under the radar, there occasionally comes a movie to which I struggle to hit forty.

ALONE is one such film.

In a post-apocalyptic plague-ridden world, a man and woman face unimaginable horrors when he suddenly becomes infected, and the only possible cure slowly drives him mad.

I mean, it doesn’t sound too awful, and to be honest from a technical point of view it’s not a bad film by any stretch, it’s just an utter chore to get through. I can’t fathom what this fascination is at the moment with survivalist drama either; the French-based Fever came out last week, with Walking Out preceding it in February, while 6 Below landed in January. In any case, it’s clear that UK distro’s are sporting a boner for this ubiquitous trend.

Alone is just a really tough sell. Directed by brothers Craig and Pete DiFolco with a budget of a hundred thousand dollars, the initial set up does create a degree of intrigue as our fateful couple Hannah (Kathleen Wise) and Matthew (Michael Izquierdo) hunker down in the basement of a seemingly abandoned lodge. From thereon in however, it fails to capture even a modicum of interest as Matthew’s condition gets progressively worse (there is a good level of goo though), while Hannah – a character who’s practically a hologram in terms of substance, stares pensively at him presumably awaiting the end credits, which thankfully do arrive after seventy two minutes.

Note also the lazy key art from 101 Films with the bogus quote adapted from another of their films, which despite its similarity is no relation.

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‘The Walking Dead meets Fortitude’
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‘The Thing meets Fortitude’

The Revenge of Robert the Doll and Alone were released on UK DVD w/c 19th March.


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