Toy Story Of TERROR!
Tonight Disney•Pixar debuted their very first television special, Toy Story of TERROR!, bringing back the beloved characters from the Toy Story films into a Halloween-themed tale. Woody, Buzz, and Jessie, along with the rest of the Toy Story gang and some new friends they find along the way, take us on a spooky adventure through a roadside motel after an unfortunate flat tire on a family road trip.
While this is the first television special from Disney•Pixar, Toy Story of TERROR! falls in a line of Toy Story Toons which are typically shown before feature releases in theaters, including Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, and Partysauraus Rex.
Classic Horror References
Leading up to the debut of Toy Story of TERROR!, Disney•Pixar mentioned that throughout the TV special there would be nods to classic horror films. Pixar finds a way to hide easter eggs into all of its films, like the Pizza Planet truck appearing in every Pixar movie or the Totoro doll in Bonnie’s room in Toy Story 3. Pixar even made reference to a horror film in the first Toy Story by basing the carpet in Sid’s house off of the carpet of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The most obvious reference to a “thriller” in the new special would be the addition of Combat Carl (voiced by Carl Weathers) playing a role very similar to the one Weathers played in Predator.
When the toys are first seen in the car, they are all watching a vampire film when the sound clip, “I’m coming to get you, Betsy” can be overheard which is a reference to, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara” from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. After an incident, Bonnie and Mrs. Anderson have to stop off at the roadside motel (which is very similar to Psycho) and the key they are given to their room is a replica of the key for Room 237 in The Shining. A sequence in the bathroom of their room gives way for a Psycho shower-scene reference. One could even argue that Mr. Pricklepants explaining every single thing that was happening in relation to a horror film could be based off of Jamie Kennedy’s character in Scream.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’ll be honest, when I heard that Pixar was making a television special I was more than a little leery, even if it was going to be based on the Toy Story characters. Pixar has always had such a high standard for their feature and short films (yes, I’m politely overlooking Cars 2), and I just wasn’t sure how that would match up when tailoring their process for prime time. I am extremely happy to say that my doubts were proven unnecessary and Toy Story of TERROR is a welcome addition to the Pixar catalog.
All of the charm and humor that we associate with the Toy Story franchise and its characters fit really well in a slightly spooky, horror movie-esque storyline. While not actually scary, the plot was a perfect mix of cute, jumpy moments and a well referenced knowledge of traditional horror movies. In fact, Mr. Pricklepants served as the resident scary movie expert and guided the characters in what was to be expected next if they were truly in a horror movie.
The references to classic scary movies were very clever and there were several laugh-out-loud moments, including a scene involving a cat PEZ dispenser, one of the new toys found in the motel. I think the new characters in the story were a great addition, even if their on-screen time was short, and they interacted well with the existing characters that everyone knows, like Mr. Potato Head, Rex, and Trixie.
Between the horror movie references and the clever humor, Toy Story of TERROR! will become a Halloween classic for not just families and kids, but for anyone that is a Disney•Pixar and Toy Story fan.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Until a few years ago, I would have never said that I was a fan of the horror genre. I would watch some movies like The Shining, but if it wasn’t considered a “classic” I wouldn’t give it a chance. I have broadened my horizons and now I look forward to sitting down every Halloween and watching scary movies. Although Toy Story of TERROR! wasn’t scary by any means (which I didn’t expect it to be) it didn’t need to be in order to be successful.
Toy Story of TERROR! is a triumph to me for a few reasons. First, it was another solid story from the creative minds at Pixar and most of the key characters that appeared were voiced by the same cast as the rest of the Toy Story movies and shorts. Second, the Halloween special captured many different aspects of the horror genre in such a short time without making the story seem all over the place. The thriller aspect was shown through the unknown “monster” that was causing the characters to disappear. Another side of fear was shown through Jessie being afraid to be boxed away (with the accompanying tell-tale heartbeat sounds). The commercial cuts were perfectly timed out to the biggest cliffhanger moments. All the plot aspects meshed together seamlessly.
Third and finally, it is nice to see a Halloween special return to television. I can remember all sorts of holiday specials when I was growing up, whether they were old (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown) or more recent at the time (Garfield’s Halloween Adventure). It seems like they just stopped appearing at some point in time and the only way to see them was old VHS tapes until they started appearing on YouTube. If other specials like this have popped up in recent years, I must have missed them, but I’m glad I did because it made Toy Story of Terror even better. I for one cannot wait to watch it again to see what classic references I missed the first time around and I’m sure that it will become a yearly television tradition.
Where To Watch
Disney will be showing Toy Story of TERROR! multiple times leading up to Halloween (and once close to Thanksgiving) so there are plenty of chances to watch it or DVR it. Check out the list below for times and which Disney-owned channel will be showing it.
- October 19th, 8pm EDT - ABC Family
- October 20th, 7:30pm EDT - ABC Family
- October 25th, 8pm EDT - Disney Channel
- October 26th, 11am EDT - Disney Channel
- October 28th, 7:30pm EDT - Disney XD
- October 29th, 7pm EDT - Disney XD
- October 30th, 7:30pm EDT - Disney Junior
- October 31st, 5pm EDT - Disney Junior
- November 27th, 9:45pm EDT - Disney Channel