DOLLS

HOME STUART GORDON REVIEWS FEO'S STORE FEO AMANTE THEATER SCIENCE MOMENT UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
FEO FEED BACK?
NEWS?
SUBMISSIONS?
Read:
SUBMISSION
GUIDELINES

MOVIES
FEO AMANTE THEATER
My Short Films
LAST CALL

THE NIGHT MY MONSTER DIED
SCIENCE MOMENT
TOP TEN SCARY MOVIES
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
RACIAL CLICHÉ RESPONSE
INTERVIEWS

STORY TIME

COMICS

CONS

HORRIBLE NEWS
Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Dolls
SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
DOLLS - 1987
USA Release: May 29, 1987
Empire Pictures / Taryn Productions Inc.
Ratings: Finland: K-18 / Australia: M / UK: 18 / USA: R

I want to clear away some clutter before I begin this review.

DOLLS gets short shrift from some pseudo Horror aficionados. Let me assure you right now that DOLLS isn't a rip-off of the movie CHILD'S PLAY - which came out a year later in 1988. And the reverse is also true: CHILD'S PLAY isn't a rip off of DOLLS any more than DOLLS is a rip-off of 1975's TRILOGY OF TERROR, or 1978's MAGIC, or even 1979's TOURIST TRAP. Stories of toys coming to life at night, including deadly ones, are as old as legend itself.

In 1985, Stuart Gordon was fresh off of his hit, RE-ANIMATOR. Executive Producer, Charles Band, together with Producer, Brian Yuzna, gave Gordon a multi-picture deal, which included making two movies back to back in Italy. The second movie was FROM BEYOND, which Gordon, who loves H.P. Lovecraft, was eager to make, and this one. Shooting started first on DOLLS.

Written by Ed Naha (TROLLS, C.H.U.D. II, SPELLCASTER), DOLLS is the kind of movie that Charles Band would continue to make for the rest of his career. Band loves Horror movies that play to your inner child.

Not that this is a movie for a child. Not with that R rating, buster.

Oh sure, the main star is an 8 year old Carrie Lorraine, who plays the even younger Judy Bower. Judy has, in perfect fairy tale ethos, a wicked stepmother, Rosemary (Carolyn-Purdy Gordon: RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, THE ARRIVAL) as an over-the-top, Cruella DeVille in flesh. As an extra edge, Judy also has a rude and abusive father, David (Ian Patrick Williams: RE-ANIMATOR, TERROR VISION, NOT OF THIS WORLD [TV], BAD CHANNELS, KING OF THE ANTS).

FEO AMANTE INTERVIEWS
DIRECTOR STUART GORDON

Watch Feo Amante Interviews Stuart Gordon in Comedy  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

What's more, Judy, her father, and her father's new wife, are on a road trip through Europe that nobody is enjoying. Judy doesn't like Rosemary and the feeling is more than mutual. Daddy David is wondering why he even bothered with bringing his daughter along since he doesn't want custody anyway. The car breaks down at night and, wouldn't you know it? They are close to a large house out in the middle of nowhere. I hesitate to call it a castle, though maybe it is good enough for a squire. Did they have squires in Italy? I digress!

The adults openly threaten Judy and she clearly wishes they were dead.

Not finding anyone answering the door and calls for help, David breaks in and the three are quickly confronted by an elderly couple consisting of husband, wife, and their gun.

Hurried apologies accepted, dinner is served. The elderly couple of Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolf: UNCLE SILAS, MR. SARDONICUS, AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS, THE DARK ANGEL, PUPPET MASTER III, 4, AND 5, RETRO-PUPPET MASTER) and Hilary (Hilary Mason: DON'T LOOK NOW) are seemingly kindly, and take a particular interest in Judy. At the same time, they easily see through the barely concealed hostility (concealed behind a thin shellac of politese) of their two adult guests.

Punch & JudyTRIVIA
*
In England, the tale of Punch and Judy never changes. Though a child's tale, Punch murders his wife, then murders a cop, and is so unrepenting that he even winds up killing death. Punch kills everyone with wicked glee, much to the centuries of children's delight.

Though shot before FROM BEYOND, DOLLS was released a year after due to time consuming stop-motion effects and a first edit that went horribly wrong.

Visit the
Stuart Gordon
page

RESOURCES

IMDb.com

IMPAwards

babylon baroque

But David and Rosemary are just peaches compared to the two young girls who come breaking in and grabbing food without even so much as a "Hello!"

Isabel Prange (Bunty Bailey: SPELLCASTER) and Enid (Cassie Stuart: SLAYGROUND, ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, HIDDEN CITY, AFRAID OF THE DARK) come bursting in as loud, obnoxious, and rude as they wanna be. So much so in fact, that you are glad this is a Horror movie, because surely these two will gets their just and bitter desserts.

Isabel and Enid thumbed a ride off of the timid and introverted, Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee: WAR GAMES, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, ROBOCOP 2, GHOULIES III, BLACK SCORPION, THE UNINVITED, CARNOSAUR 3, BLACK SCORPION II), who they enjoy humiliating in front of the people they've more or less forced into being their hosts. Strangely, Gabriel and Hilary are quite willing to put them up for the night, having separate room accommodations for everyone.

Gabriel, we discover, is a toy maker, a doll maker to be exact, and gives one to Judy. The doll he gives her is Punch*. Ralph is happily awed by the news, as he can barely contain his childish excitement at having stumbled across the house of a toy maker.

Yes, overall the movie has a certain sweetness and child-like innocent charm, and it could have easily avoided its R rating. If only it wasn't for all of the nasty head smashing, eye-popping, arm ripping, flesh eating, back stabbing, face tearing, fire setting, and gun shooting DOLLS, why t'would be as sweet as being beaten to death with a brick of rock candy.

Stuart Gordon shoots most of DOLLS from the height perspective of a child, or lower. So that even otherwise puny adults loom large and scary as they would to a child of 8.

Dolls

The movie poster should warn you that someone is in for a very nasty time in this house. And if you never saw the movie poster, the DVD cover isn't any more comforting.

DOLLS plays on all of the old European children's stories that were violent, gory cautionary tales. Europe went through incredibly violent, blood thirsty periods throughout its history and shows no sign at all of letting up. From the milder (by comparison) Hans Christian Anderson to the dark and brutal Brother's Grimm (and the original, un-Disney refined tales were, indeed, VERY grim!), and more, the old children's stories were meant to scare the shit out of youngsters. Fear was the form of discipline when a rod wasn't handy, so children would behave and be cautious in dealings with all strangers: Even leery of their own parents!

DOLLS captures this mood perfectly, and speaking of mood, I have to give extra kudos to cinematographer, Mac Ahlberg (NOCTURNA, HELL NIGHT, THE SEDUCTION, PARASITE, GHOULIES, RE-ANIMATOR, HOUSE, FROM BEYOND, HOUSE II, GHOST TOWN, DEEP STAR SIX, THE HORROR SHOW, MERIDIAN, INNOCENT BLOOD, MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK, HORRORVISION, GROOM LAKE, DEATHBED, KING OF THE ANTS) who captured a noir-style of light and shadows in color, in a manner that many film makers feel can only achieve with black and white.

I wouldn't call DOLLS an achievement in story telling or especially acting, but its individual parts add up to a nice and nasty jewel of a tale.

3 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2006 E.C.McMullen Jr.

DOLLS
BLU-RAY
Dolls (1987) on IMDb

Return to Movies

E.C. McMullen Jr. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

FEO AMANTE'S HORROR THRILLER Created by:
E.C.MULLEN JR.
COME FOLLOW ME -
AMAZON
BLOG
DEVIANT ART
ECMJR
FACEBOOK
IMDB
PANDORA
ROTTEN TOMATOES
STAGE32
TWITTER
YOUTUBE
ZAZZLE SHOP

 

LOVE THIS SITE?
Support it when you buy from

E.C. McMullen Jr.
WILLOW BLUE
Willow Blue
"'Willow Blue' will burrow under your skin and stay there long after you've put the book down."
- Jeffrey Reddick, Creator of
FINAL DESTINATION


PERPETUAL BULLET
Perpetual Bullet Paperback
"'Some People' ... may be the standout story in the book."
-
John Grant, Infinityplus

In Other Books
E.C. McMullen Jr.'s
short story
CEDO LOOKED LIKE PEOPLE
in the anthology
FEAR THE REAPER
Fear The Reaper
"This Ray Bradbury-esque is one of the most memorable and one of the more original stories I've read in a long time."
- Amazon Review

HORROR 201: The Silver Scream
PAPERBACK

Horror 201: The Silver Scream
Filmmaker's Guidebook
featuring
RAY BRADBURY,
JOHN CARPENTER,
WES CRAVEN,
TOM HOLLAND,
E.C. McMULLEN Jr.,
GEORGE A. ROMERO,
and many more.

Extensively quoted in
Phantasm Exhumed
PHANTASM EXHUMED
The Unauthorized Companion


Robert S. Rhine's
SATAN'S 3-RING CIRCUS OF HELL
Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell

Forward by
GAHAN WILSON &
FEO AMANTE.
Featuring comics by
ALEX PARDEE,
WILLIAM STOUT,
STEVE BISSETTE,
FRANK DIETZ,
JIM SMITH,
FRANK FORTE,
ERIC PIGORS,
MIKE SOSNOWSKI,
OMAHA PEREZ,
DAVID HARTMAN,
STEVEN MANNION,
and more!

Also
IN CINEMA
E.C. McMullen Jr.
HEAD PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Mine Games
MINE GAMES
(Starring:
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
ALEX MERAZ)

Dept. head
SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP
(SFX MUA) and Michael Madsen's stunt double on the movie

A Sierra Nevada Gunfight
A SIERRA NEVADA GUNFIGHT
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).

PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Universal Dead
UNIVERSAL DEAD
(DOUG JONES,
D.B. SWEENEY,
GARY GRAHAM)

ART DIRECTOR
The Crusader THE CRUSADER
(COLIN CUNNINGHAM,
GARY GRAHAM)

I will take you home...Feo Amante's Horror Home Page, Feo Amante's Horror Thriller, and feoamante.com are owned and
Copyright 1997 - 2018 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
FAIR USE - PRIVACY POLICY - OWNERSHIP - CONTACT
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.