“Shrunken Heads,” a new horror-comedy about revenge and justice in a crime-ridden urban neighborhood, is only mildly entertaining. Pic is neither very scary, very zany nor goofy enough for midnight fare, though it delivers some joyous visual effects for its targeted juvenile audience.
Tommy (Aeryk Egan), a youngster who works at his dad’s grocery store, and his two pals are constantly harassed by the punks who terrorize the working-class neighborhood under the malevolent supervision of Big Moe (Meg Foster), their tough female crime boss. When the trio lose their lives in one of these fights, local news vendor Mr. Sumatra (Julius Harris) decides to take action and draw upon his specialty, which is shrinking severed heads and reanimating them into flying demons.
Pic’s premise is a lame, familiar excuse for a revenge tale — and some diverting special effects. Young viewers may get a kick out of seeing Sumatra, a Haitian witch doctor with a taste for evil, plucking the heroes’ heads and dropping them into a steaming voodoo brew. And they are certain to rejoice at the sight of the tiny heads exercising their magic as avenging angels who watchfully fly above the city.
Helmer Richard Elfman (brother of noted composer/Boingo frontman Danny), whose 1980 flick, “The Forbidden Zone,” was far more bizarre and campy, tries to insert some humor into Bright’s pedestrian script, but his pacing in the first hour is tedious and unmodulated.
The youngsters, particularly Egan as Tommy and Becky Herbst as his love interest, have some charm, though the one actress who seems determined to have fun with her role is Foster, as the lesbian mobster.
The special effects, which involve the intricate use of motion control, digital effects and masterful puppetry, are impressive, and so is Richard Band’s buoyant music. But pic’s earlier sequences, shot on a studio backlot, have no semblance of an authentic urban locale.