There are some amazing cinematic adaptations of Stephen King’s writing. There are also some… less impressive examples. This 1986 animated short, “Battle,” is not only a fine example of the former, it has the distinction of being the only Stephen King adaptation produced in the famously dark genre of Soviet animation. Based on King’s short story, “Battleground” (first published in a magazine in 1972, then compiled in his 1978 Night Shift anthology), the story is a classic revenge tale with a supernatural twist. A hitman is hired to kill a toymaker, and toy soldiers come to life in the murderer’s home to avenge their father’s death. Their artillery is tiny, but their warfare is relentless, and the hitman meets a brutal end.
“Battle” touches on the fear of the small, and “golem terror”—a sort of childlike anxiety around anthropomorphic objects and the irrational fear that they will become both animate and malevolent. You can see thematic similarities in both the third installment of King’s 1985 trilogy, Cat’s Eye, (where the titular cat protects a young Drew Barrymore from a tiny troll), and the brilliant “Amelia” tale from the 1975 TV movie Trilogy of Terror, where Karen Black is terrorized in her home by a Zuni fetish doll come to life. (A 2006 adaptation of “Battleground,” (starring William Hurt, and also quite good/intense), actually shows the Zuni fetish doll in the background of Hurt’s apartment multiple times as a sort of Hidden Mickey.)
The cartoon itself is a beautiful horror-noir, much of it done via rotoscoping, which gives it the fast-action fear it needs without sacrificing great animation. At any rate, you could definitely use it to scare children into putting their toys away, right?