- "One toy gets left behind."
Toy Story of Terror! is a Halloween TV special that is based on the Toy Story films. It aired on October 16, 2013 on ABC. It was directed by Angus MacLane and produced by Galyn Susman, and is set after the events of Toy Story 3. The score was composed by Michael Giacchino. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, it was premiered on Sky Movies Disney.
When Bonnie brings Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Mr. Pricklepants, Mr. Potato Head, and Trixie with her on vacation, they stop at a motel. However, when Potato Head vanishes, the others must find him before it's too late.
The special opens with a woman named Betsy running for her life through a cemetery from a vampire. The camera then pans out, revealing that it is a movie being watched by Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, Mr. Pricklepants, Mr. Potato Head and Trixie inside the trunk of Bonnie's mother's car while on a road trip. The car hits a bump in the road, which leads to the car getting a flat tire and Jessie to be knocked into the toolbox she was sitting on to watch the movie. The others manage to free her, but this has greatly traumatized her. When asked by Trixie, Mr. Potato Head explains that Jessie spent years abandoned in a box, which resulted in her being immensely afraid of being alone in dark closed spaces. Back in the front of the car, Mrs. Anderson notices the Sleep Well roadside motel. She and Bonnie (who has also brought the bag containing her toys) go into the motel to call the tow truck company, only to learn that the earliest they can get there is by 6:00 the next morning. Ron, the motel manager, hands them the key to Room #7 to spend the night.
Once Bonnie and her mother are asleep, Mr. Potato Head leaves the bag to check out the motel's amenities, soon to be followed by Mr. Pricklepants, Rex and Trixie. Woody and Buzz then leave to get them back in the bag, telling Jessie to stay behind. But Jessie finds herself leaving the bag once her claustrophobia takes over, running over to Buzz while the audience sees the shadow of a strange creature cross the screen. Buzz assures her that she is safe and that they are all here, but is forced to eat his words when Mr. Potato Head is nowhere to be seen.
Mr. Pricklepants states, a la classic horror films (which he, apparently, believes this to be), "And so it begins." The toys then find a strange goo-like substance (which Mr. Pricklepants compares to "slime from the creature's metamorphosis") that Mr. Potato Head managed to step in, leaving behind footprints that lead to a vent heading below the floor of the motel where Trixie is taken by the creature, still not fully seen.
Mr. Pricklepants declares that the vent would be the story's threshold, and that "once the heroes enter, there is no turning back." The toys fall down it, where Mr. Pricklepants states that here is where the characters would get separated and fall victim to the creature one at a time. At that moment, the creature takes him and, seconds later, Rex. Realizing that the creature is close, Woody, Buzz and Jessie run for their lives until they find Mr. Potato Head's arm, which holds up one finger in the air, and Jessie finds a hole back into the motel above them. Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the arm find their way into a bathroom in the motel, but Woody and Buzz argue about which way the hand is pointing.
While fighting, the creature takes them both and the arm. Jessie is then grabbed by an eccentric Combat Carl action figure under the sink who tells her that he has "seen horrible things" that have resulted in his separation from his friends,losing his hand in the process, and the dwindling hope of seeing his owner Billy again, reassuring himself with his iconic phrase: "Combat Carl never gives up. Combat Carl finds a way." He also warns her to turn back now if she ever wants to see her owner again. Jessie says that she needs to find her friends, which Carl quickly silences her on by showing her the lack of his left hand the creature took while he was trying to find his own friends.
At that moment, they hear footsteps belonging to the creature, which then takes Carl. Jessie hides herself in the bathtub, but the creature eventually finds her, and it is revealed to be the manager's pet iguana Mr. Jones. He then takes Jessie to Ron the motel manager, who is stealing toys from his kid guests and selling them on the Internet. Jessie is then placed in a cabinet where she is reunited with Buzz and the others, as well as Combat Carl and the rest of Billy's toys. The reunion is cut short when Ron reenters upon hearing that he has a sale--someone has purchased Woody for $2,000. He then puts Woody in a box that is set to be delivered in the morning. The toys fret over what to do when Ron gets another sale. This time, it is Jessie. He then takes her out of the cabinet. But before she can be put in a box, the tow truck guy enters about the Anderson's flat tire, and the delivery woman takes the box with Woody in it to the truck.
Jessie begins to panic about what to do, knowing that if she does nothing, they will all end up in boxes. Combat Carl gets an idea, telling her that she needs to get into a box and into the truck to save Woody. Jessie protests this, stating she can't get into a box. Combat Carl insists, saying that this is the only way, and teaches her his iconic phrase, "Combat Carl never gives up. Combat Carl finds a way." She then repeats it, substituting her name for his. Jessie finds her way into a box, and then places another on top of it so the delivery woman won't notice that it isn't sealed, but she quickly discovers the ruse and tapes the box shut. In the truck, Jessie repeats to herself that she'll find a way until she discovers a paper clip which she uses to unseal herself and free Woody.
The two of them run back into the motel, where Woody climbs up to get the others, but Jessie hears Bonnie about to check out, and runs to the red curtain that prevents guests behind the check-in table from seeing the stolen toys. But this catches the attention of Mr. Jones, who grabs her by the boot. Just when it looks as if she's iguana chow, Jessie notices Carl's hand and Mr. Potato Head's lost arm inside Mr. Jones' throat. Jessie manages to get them out, and pulls away the curtain with some help from the arm at the last minute revealing the toys to Bonnie and her mother. Ron tries to say they aren't hers and that she's not allowed back there, but is caught when Mr. Jones brings Jessie over and Bonnie in glee points to her. Ron gives all of the toys back as Bonnie hugs Jessie to her, with Jessie content, feeling relief over Bonnie's love for her.
Bonnie puts all of her toys back into the bag as Ron tries to strike a bargain with Bonnie's mom to buy the toys from her, offering 200 for Woody as the other toys in the display case escape and the toys go home when Rex asks if they have seen Potato Head. Pricklepants says that maybe the creature has claimed one last victim when Jessie points out that he is just on the other side of the trunk enjoying a reunion with his lost arm. Then the car starts up, causing his parts to scatter, resulting in him saying, "Nuts!" And the rest of the toys then laugh. Mr. Pricklepants states that laughter is a definite sign that the worst is over and the credits are about to roll.
During the end credits scene, Carl reattches his hand, then he and his friends hop on the back of another package truck, hoping to get to their owner Billy while the police arrive to take Ron (and possibly Mr. Jones) to jail. However, Ron flees, crashing into the motel's sign with the police cruiser before running out. The last line in the special is spoken by one of the cops, who says that they've got a runner.
Despite the fact that Pixar Canada was set up to produce TV specials, this first special was produced by Pixar Animation Studios itself at Emeryville, according to Dylan Brown, who stated in November 2012: "Pixar in California is currently working on the first one [TV special], called Toy Story of Terror."
Classic horror and thriller films were a source of influence for the producers. The first version of the film was deemed too scary by John Lasseter, and several elements had to be removed. Producer Galyn Susman commented this was a good thing as it made edition easier than if it had been said not scary enough.
Toy Story of Terror! is Pixar's first TV special, as such some adaptations had to be made. Commercial breaks gave time constraints they don't have on feature films. In consequence the script was written in 4 acts, rather than 3 like Pixar usually does for features.
The entire short is computer-animated, except for the bat seen in the graveyard, which was actually a rubber bat prop, filmed on green screen. Angus MacLane said attempting to simulate one would have been too expensive.
The special has received generally favorable reviews from critics, with a Metacritic score of 79% based on seven reviews. Matt Roush of TV Guide said, "ABC's Toy Story of Terror! is a delightful half-hour vignette of gags, action and self-empowerment, couching its never-give-up message in terrific non-stop entertainment." Brian Lowry of Variety said, "Toy Story of Terror! is about a quarter the length of the average animated feature, but everything else here could easily be mistaken for the bigscreen version, from the pacing and humor to Michael Giacchino’s score." Rob Owen of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, "It’s a small adventure befitting the 30-minute running time but it’s also clever in the way it ultimately puts the “Toy Story” characters in a recognizable situation, which is similar to the big-screen movies." Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "'Once the annual avalanche of Halloween-themed episodes, specials and movies overtakes TV, you probably don't expect to be using the word "charming" very often. But charming perfectly describes one such entry, Toy Story of Terror!" Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club said, "The Toy Story franchise has always operated best with a note of existential panic, and there’s some of that here, but it feels like the special leans awfully hard on the films that gave rise to it." Robert Lloyd of Los Angeles Times said, "Themes from earlier Toy Story movies are also recycled, which should bother no one. Although Woody and Buzz get their screen time--with Jessie, they are the "Jules et Jim" of computer-animated cartoons about sentient playthings--it is the plucky cowgirl, facing her fears, whose story this is."
All music composed by Michael Giacchino.
- The Suspension Is Killing Me (score)
- Thinking Inside the Box (score)
- Motel Me a Scary Story (score)
- I've Got a Bag Feeling About This (score)
- Why'd It Have to Be Crawl Spaces? (score)
- The Ballad of Combat Carl (score)
- Iguana Be Kidding Me (score)
- Nobody Puts Jessie in the Box (score)
- Rock 'Em Box 'Em Robots (score)
- Pink Peanut Panic (score)
- World's Worst Curtain Call (score)
- FedExit (End Credits) (score)
Toy Story of Terror! was released on Blu Ray and DVD on August 19, 2014. It includes a full list of special features as well as the complete set of current Toy Story Toons (Hawaiian Vacation, Partysaurus Rex and Small Fry). In addtion to audio commentaries, a making-of and deleted scenes, bonus features include mock toy commercials for Combat Carl, Old Timer and Transitron.
- Won: Annie Award for Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production - Daniel Chong
- Won: Annie Award for Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production - Kureha Yokoo
- Won: Annie Award for Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production - Angus MacLane
- Nominated: Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production
- Nominated: Annie Award for Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production - JC Tran Quang Thieu
- Nominated: Annie Award for Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production - David DeVan
- Nominated: Annie Award for Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production - Axel Geddes, Kathy Graves, Chloe Kloezeman
- Nominated: VES Award for Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program - Paul Aichele, Kiki Mei Kee Poh, Andrew Coats
- Nominated: VES Award for Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program - Jane Yen, Rogan Griffin, Amit Baadkar, Keith Daniel Klohn
- Toy Story of Terror! is said to take place about six months after the events of Toy Story 3.
- Unlike the rest of the franchise, the music in this special, along with Toy Story That Time Forgot was composed by Michael Giacchino.
- This is Pixar's first half-hour TV special.
- This is the second time to have a female protagonist. The first is Brave.
- The tombstone on which Betsy falls reads "RIP Simon J. Palladino," a reference to Gazerbeam from The Incredibles. Its epitaph is "A public servant with a unique vision," a subtle reference to both his secret and Super identity.
- The Pizza Planet truck is depicted on a flyer in Ron's office.
- A stamp with the motif of the Luxo Ball is on the sink under which Combat Carl and Jessie hide.
- The paintings hung in the motel room show dinosaurs under a tree, a reference to the upcoming film The Good Dinosaur.
- A sticker on the motel's entrance door indicates Buy N Large cards are supported.
- Bonnie is seen wearing a T-shirt with DJ Blu-Jay from the Toy Story Toons short Small Fry on it. Additionally, she has a DJ Blu-Jay-themed bottle and a box in her suitcase.
- One of the boxes onboard the delivery truck has the Poultry Palace logo on it.
- Mrs. Anderson's car is a Gyoza "Hybird". Gyoza is the make of the Pizza Planet truck.
- There are references to Toy Story 2:
- Jessie's price on eBid is $19.99. This is a reference to the year Toy Story 2 was released in theatres.
- Al (of Al's Toy Barn), one of the Toy Story villains in Toy Story 2 is the winning bidder of Woody in the online auction. Al's name can be seen with an address c/o Al's Toy Barn on the address label affixed to Woody's shipping box.
- The police officers that pursue and arrest Ron the Manager at the end of the special resemble the ones Mike and Sulley scared in the cabin near the end of Monsters University.
- Combat Carl lacking a hand is a possible reference to Carl Weathers' character Dillon from Predator, in which the titular Predator uses an energy blast to sever one of Dillon's arms before killing him. It may also be a reference to Carl Weathers' role as Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore, who has lost his right hand to an alligator.
- Combat Carl’s line “Over here..” is referencing a similar scene in Predator where the line is said to Carl Weathers’ character Dillon by the character Mac.
- Mr. Pricklepants breaks the fourth wall at the special's ending, commenting that if they were in a movie, the credits would roll at that point.
- Combat Carl is based on the toy Sid destroyed in the first Toy Story movie.
- Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head and Rex are the only four characters who were in all three movies to appear in the special; however, Andy and Hamm were mentioned.
- This is the first Toy Story production in which Hamm doesn't appear (not counting the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command intro where he is replaced with an Emperor Zurg toy), which makes Buzz and Rex the only two characters to appear in everything in the franchise.
- This is the first Toy Story production in which Jessie appears without Bullseye.
- This is Trixie's first speaking role since Hawaiian Vacation.
- Commenting on the reduced number of returning toys in the special, Angus Maclane said it made sense story-wise, considering Bonnie had a limited space in her suitcase.
- Specifically about Hamm's absence, he said he was a fairly large toy and commented, "Who takes a piggy bank on a vacation?"
- The tagline is a play on that of Toy Story 3.
- The car that Bonnie's mom has in the special is different than the one she had in Toy Story 3.
- On Ron's billboard of toys and other stolen items up for sale, the photo of Trixie is labeled "STEGOSAURUS", when she's a Triceratops.
- Similarly to the Stegosaurus/Triceratops mix-up, Mr. Pricklepants is labeled a "GERMAN BEAVER" instead of a hedgehog. This suggests both were deliberate.
- Toy Story of Terror! is said to be set six months after the events of Toy Story 3. Since Toy Story 3 was set during the month of August, that would mean Toy Story of Terror! is set during February. However, Ron's calendar is set to October, as it's a Halloween-themed special.
- When Woody, Buzz, and Jessie first encounter Mr. Potato Head's arm, it is clearly his left arm. However, when it is hooked onto the towel ring, it is his right arm. It then changes back to his left arm in the next shot.
- On the shipping label for Woody's package, it says that the SleepWell Motel is in Tempe, Arizona. However, Tempe is a suburban city sandwiched between Phoneix and Mesa, and does not have the rural environment seen in the TV special.
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