Traveling in the trunk during a long trip, the Toy Story gang amuses themselves by watching a vampire movie. Although Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Mr. Potato Head (voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and Don Rickles) are excited about this entertainment option, Rex (voice of Wallace Shawn) seems a bit frightened by the action. So Mr. Pricklepants (voice of Timothy Dalton), the plush hedgehog introduced in Toy Story 3, takes it upon himself to defuse the suspense by pointing out the predictable plot elements of the film. His stuffy lecture might have worked too, had not the same sorts of scary things started happening to the toys themselves…
First of all, it’s a dark and stormy night. Then the car gets a flat tire forcing Bonnie and her Mom (voice of Emily Hahn and Lori Alan) to take refuge at a strange dwelling. (Okay, the roadside inn doesn’t look that creepy, but you get the idea.) Once inside their assigned room and with the humans asleep, the toys decide to venture beyond of the safety of the suitcase and explore their dimly lit surroundings—even though Mr. Pricklepants reminds them that characters who do likewise in horror movies always start disappearing one by one.
Of course the lederhosen-wearing doomsayer proves right. But it is not until each of the separately captured pals is reunited in the same prison that they begin to unravel the mystery behind the Sleep-Well Hotel.
Despite a storyline reminiscent of Toy Story 2, it is very likely the spooky depictions in this made-for-TV animation will make many young viewers as nervous as the neurotic Rex. That’s because this spoof really isn’t intended for children, or anyone else who isn’t already very familiar with thriller movies (the screenplay even contains a nod to the ominous shower scene in Psycho). But tweens and high school students old enough to be studying the rules of storytelling in their English or Drama classes may really appreciate the running commentary by the thespian wannabe Mr. Pricklepants, and the way the script builds humor by mocking the conventions of the horror genre.
If you fear the audience at your house may not be old enough to appreciate the main feature, then you might want to check out some of the bonus extras included with the home video release of Toy Story of Terror. The most entertaining of these will be three short films: Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex. These also star the Toy Story characters and show them helping Barbie and Ken enjoy a tropical holiday, participating in a group therapy session for discarded trinkets given away in kid’s fast food meals, and making a big splash (especially the usually timid Rex) at a bathtime bash.
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Violence: Typical horror movie elements are prevalent in this movie, including a bat, vampire, scary sound track, exploring in the dark, traveling through ventilation systems, glimpses of suspicious movements/creatures and characters disappearing one by one. A character with a past history of claustrophobia is trapped in a box. A lone character hides in a bathtub until an unknown hand rips open the shower curtain. An animal captures toys (sometimes swallowing their parts), and then takes them to his master who locks them in a cabinet. Friends are threatened with separation. A character flees from police. A large sign falls on a car.
Sexual Content: In Hawaiian Vacation characters kiss.
Language: Some mild name-calling occurs in Partysaurus Rex.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
What stereotypical horror movie images and plot devices did you notice in this story? Does it help to defuse the tension of the script by analyzing them? Why do you think some people are attracted to films that are intended to make them scared?
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: Toy Story of Terror
Release Date: 19 August 2014
Toy Story of Terror releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras.
- Toy Story Toons Shorts (Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex)
- Audio Commentaries
- Team of Specialists (Director Angus MacLane introduces the team of specialists required to make this adventure)
- Vintage Toy Commercials (Old Timer, Combat Carl, Transitron)
- Deleted Scenes (Pencil Topper Trilogy, Travel Brochures, Road Trip Roulette)