Willy’s Wonderland is a 2021 comedy horror film directed by Kevin Lewis (The Third Nail, The Drop, Dark Heart, and The Method). It’s based on the 2016 short film Wally’s Wonderland. It was written by actor G.O. Parsons (Shark Week, The Roommate, Pure Love, and 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover). It was produced by lead actor Nicolas Cage (Vengeance: A Love Story, A Score to Settle, Bangkok Dangerous, Next, The Wicker Man, Lord of War, and Shadow of the Vampire) and 17 others for Saturn Films. It was originally supposed to have a wide theatrical release but due to Covid-19 it was changed to a limited run with mainly Video on Demand as it’s main focus. The budget was $5 million and it grossed $418,286 at the box office.
A quiet drifter (played by: Nicolas Cage from Grand Isle, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Kick-Ass, The Rock, Con Air, Face/Off, Wild at Heart, Ghostrider 1/2, 8MM, and The CottonClub) ends up stranded in remote Hayesville, Nevada, when his vehicle breaks down after running over a spike strip. He is picked up by mechanic Jed Love (played by: Chris Warner from The Life of David Gale, Sin City, No Country for Old Men, and Machete). When he gets to his shop, Jeb demands $1,000 to fix the car and will only take cash and the there are no working ATMs because the town does not have internet but offers a job in exchange. They arrive at Willy’s Wonderland, a once-successful abandoned FEC to meet the owner Texas “Tex” Macadoo (played by: Ric Reitz from The Founder, Sleepless, The Loft, and Broken City) who offers the drifter to work as a night-shift janitor.
Teenager Liv Hawthorne (played by: Emily Tosta from Mayans M.C., Party of Five, and Vikes) is handcuffed by her caretaker plus Hayesville’s sheriff Eloise Lund (played by: Beth Grant from Donnie Darko, Speed, No Country for Old Men, and Little Miss Sunshine) due to her previous attempts to set the place on fire. When Lund leaves, Liv’s friends which includes Chris Muley (played by: Kai Kadlec from Two Sides), Kathy Barnes (played by: Caylee Cowan from Incision and Lethal Weapon), Aaron Powers (played by: Christian Delgrosso from School Spirits), Bob McDaniel (played by: Terayle Hill from Judas and the Black Messiah, House of Payne, and Cobra Kai), and Dan Lorraine (played by: Jonathan Mercedes from Cobra Kai) come to release her. While the Janitor begins his cleaning duties, Willy’s Wonderland’s eight animatronic mascots which includes Willy Weasel, Arty Alligator, Cammy Chameleon, Ozzie Ostrich, Tito Turtle, Knighty Knight, Gus Gorilla, and Siren Sara are actually alive and very aggressive to intruders. Liv and her friends arrive at Willy’s Wonderland, dousing the perimeter with gasoline until Liv decides to enter through the vents to get the Janitor out. The Janitor and the kids are forced to fight for lives as the killer robots hunt them down one by one. Can these strangers survive this entertainment gone evil environment for the night????
Willy’s Wonderland is very similar to 2019’s The Banana Splits Movie but it’s actually better than that one. It has a little Five Nights at Freddy’s influence to it also. Willy’s Wonderland is pure entertainment that you don’t really take serious at all. It’s just a fun killer robots flick with a wild Nicolas Cage performance. The script knew exactly what it was doing here, it had a nice balance of horror and comedy in it. I loved The Janiter’s OCD moments even when madness is happening around him. Every time his watch goes off, he drinks and pays some pinball which is hilarious. It would make an excellent drinking game with friends, just saying. Oscar winner Nicolas Cage gives one of his most interesting performances here as the mysterious Janitor. He is mute in this and he doesn’t have a single bit of dialogue in Willy’s Wonderland. His performance is completely physical in this. He is a bad ass in this and he has some funny moments here. This is one of the best Cage movies in a long time besides the obvious ones like Mom and Dad, Mandy, Color Out of Space, and Running with the Devil. It kinda feels like a Western in a horror movue setting. All of the teenagers here are actually solid rather than annoying. It has a strong small supporting cast that includes Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Beth Grant, Emily Tosta, and Grant Cramer (Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Hardbodies, and New Year’s Evil). This one is pretty brutal and gruesome at times. It has slasher tendencies with lots of gore during it’s kills. The fx were done by the legendary Kenneth J. Hall (Evil Spawn, Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout, Ghoulies 1/2, Critters, PuppetMaster4/5, Jack Frost, and Spellcaster). It’s one of the better horror movies of this year and one of my personal favorites so far, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Screen Media! This 1080p (2.38:1) transfer looks fantastic on blu ray. It has a crazy atmosphere with high quality production design. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English: Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are better than expected. It has a real nice boost during the bloodshed here. All of the dialogue is crystal clear and the music is elevated here. It has English SDH subtitles.Let’s discuss the special features from Screen Media! “Inside the Fun: Making of Willy’s Wonderland” is almost 8 minutes. It has interviews with director Kevin Lewis, producer Grant Cramer, fx artist Kenneth J. Hall, lead actor Nicolas Cage, and various members of the production. They chat about the story and concept. They bring up the satanic cult subplot here. They talk about the production design and fx. Cage gives one of his best interviews that I’ve ever seen here. He goes into full detail about this crazy project and what attracted him to it. He mentions horror and some of the influences when it came to playing a silent character. He goes over his experience and working with the director here. I love his description of this movie. It’s “Pale Rider meets Killer Klowns from Outer Space”. That alone should make you instantly interested in this horror flick. It also has behind the scenes footage. “Set tour with Christian Del Grosso” is a little over 2 minutes. The actor that plays Aaron in the movie gives a quick tour of the set. “Colorful Darkness and The Demon-Atrons: The Production Design of Willy’s Wonderland” is almost 2 minutes. It’s a brief inside look into the animatronics for the feature. “Fresh Meat (The Cast)” is a little over a minute. It has interviews with the main cast and they quickly chat about their characters in this. It has various promo materials like the “Trailer”, “Teaser Character Artwork Gallery”, “Character Posters Graphics Gallery” and “Production Design Gallery”. This needs to be in your horror collection ASAP. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!