Toy Story of Terror is Pixar’s first animated show made for television, and what a debut!
Horror movie clichés ran amok all through the Toy Story character’s eyes. The show opens in black and white as a young woman is running away from an unseen terror. What is the terror? A vampire is chasing her.
The camera pans and the audience sees a mother and a daughter driving though a dark and stormy night and in the trunk are some of the favorite Toy Story characters including Woody, Jessie, Buzz Light Year, Mr. Potato Head, Trixie, Mr. Prickle Pants and Rex. The toys are talking through the movie, just like anyone watching a horror film at home would do. However, the toys are watching the horror film on a portable DVD player in the trunk.
Mr. Prickle Pants plays the role of the horror film expert – talking through the steps a horror film goes through. Meanwhile, the car they are in hits a rough patch of road. When the car hits a big pump it sends Jessie flying, opening the tool box and throwing her in the box. The worst part is Jessie gets locked in the tool box setting off her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – as she spent years locked in a box. Who knew toys could get PTSD?
Buzz Lightyear and the gang get Jessie out and all is well. But all is not well with the car – it suffers a flat tire. The mother and daughter pull into a place to get help with the tire and shelter from the storm. Of course, they pull into a roadside motel and a tow truck can’t arrive until morning – meaning the mother, daughter and the toys will be spending the night at the hotel.
Mr. Pricklepants uses this time to recount the many horror film scenarios that can play out on a stormy night at a roadside motel. Mr. Potato Head of course can’t just hang out in the luggage – he wants to go in search of any complimentary items. This leads to all the toys leaving the luggage except for Jessie, who stays there until her fear of an enclosed space takes over, forcing her to leave as well. Can I just pause and say Jessie’s fear of being locked in a box is a huge moment of foreshadowing?
Just like any good horror flick, the group begins losing members one by one with Mr. Potato Head being the first to go. The rest go in search of him and each disappears until Jessie is left alone in a hotel bathroom.
Jessie runs into Combat Carl who tells her about a nefarious figure taking toys away. As they try to escape, Combat Carl is taken away and Jessie is left alone again. As the shadowy figure finally corners Jessie it is revealed the figure is an iguana named Mr. Jones who thinks he is a dog.
Here is where the very cute show kind of turns redundant. See, what is really going on is the motel manager is using his dog-like iguana to steal toys and sell them on the internet. Didn’t Toy Story 3 have that almost exact same storyline? The stealing of the toys and selling them part at least.
In the end, it is up to Jessie to save the group – especially when Woody gets sealed up in a box after he is sold on the internet by the motel manager. Jessie has to overcome her fear of being locked in a box so she can rescue Woody. As Jessie is struggling with Mr. Jones, she pulls back the curtain behind the check-in desk to reveal all the toys locked in a cabinet just as mother and daughter, to whom the Toy Story toys belong to, are checking out. The little girl recovers her toys and the other toys are set free. Combat Carl and the rest of the toys go off to find their owners and the cops arrive to arrest the motel manager.
Is Toy Story of Terror an instant classic? It probably will be because it has enough cuteness and near laugh out loud moments for children and adults alike to enjoy it. I just wish the story line would have been different. It would’ve been more fun if it was just the iguana capturing the toys and some of the toys having to go on a Raiders of the Lost Ark type adventure to save their other friends.