Directed by Stuart Gordon
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray at Amazon
After their car gets stuck in the mud during a storm, little Judy, her father David and her wicked step-mother Rosemary take shelter in a nearby mansion in the woods. Joined by two female punk rocker hitchikers and friendly adult big-kid Ralph, the group are greeted by the mansion’s owners, dollmaker Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke. The couple allow the stranded guests to stay for the night until the storm passes and show their guests to their rooms. Little do they know that Gabriel’s dolls, that sit upon the shelves in most of the rooms in the house, don’t take too kindly to bad and ungrateful guests…
Directed by Re-Animator’s Stuart Gordon, DOLLS is a classic feel-good horror film that focuses on a house of dangerous dolls that come alive at night. From the offset, we’re introduced to the cute little girl Judy who has her best friend, plush toy Teddy for company, and has to spend her summer with her father (IAn Patrick Williams) and his new wife, the wicked Rosemary (played terrifically by Carolyn Purdy-Gordon). Neither her dad nor Rosemary want her around and see Judy as a pain in their sides. Judy talks about her mother back in Boston and clearly she is loved by her mother, but her father would rather forget about his past life and Judy and go on to live a new one with Rosemary. From this introduction, we can already predict who’ll be on the hit list and who won’t be, but as predictable as it may be, the film is tons of fun.
To match Judy is Ralph – an adult who’s obviously still a big kid at heart. Taken in by a pair of punk rockers who are after robbing him of his wallet, Ralph finds himself alone, just like Judy. The two strike up a wonderful friendship as he is the only adult, out of the guests, to listen to her and treat her with care and respect and believes her about the ‘little people’ in the house.
Now, the dolls. I’ve never been a fan of of killer doll Chucky, but I must say, the dolls in DOLLS are quite creepy! Ever seen those dolls with porcelain faces? Well, imagine those coming to life. It’s not that hard to imagine as I find them quite frightening in reality. Using stop motion animation, the dolls are brought to life and are fantastic as the so called ‘villains’ of the piece. As a matter of fact, it’s not the dolls but the guests that are the villains, and the dolls do a great job of getting rid of them. You’ll find it hard not to raise a smile when the attacks happen and a scene involving Rosemary, some dolls and a hacksaw will surely make you laugh.
We can’t mention the dolls in this movie without mentioning the characters, who are brilliant in this film. They’re quite stereotypical in a way, but they ooze personality, for good or bad, as does the old house and toys that occupy it. Guy Rolfe, who stars as dollmaker Gabriel, is perfectly cast, with such a gothic, haunted appearance, as does Hilary Mason as his loving wife. Stephen Lee is charming as the likable, bumbling Ralph who seems to get himself into trouble with all the adults in house, and who’s the only one to take Judy seriously. Bunty Bailey and Cassie Stuart seem to revel as punk rock thieves Isabel and Enid, who’s only goal in the house is to steal whatever they can and flee before morning. That’s presuming they’ll live til then. Bunty Bailey was already known to the world as the girl from the A-ha ‘Take On Me’ video prior to the making of DOLLS, which only makes the film that much cooler!
DOLLS is one of those cult favourites that everyone can enjoy. It’s got the horror, even if it’s not exactly terrifying, and it has buckets of subtle humour that will make any horror fan’s day. Even a daydreaming scene with Judy’s teddy on the rampage at the beginning of the movie proves to be a frightening ribtickler.
DOLLS is a warm, cuddly horror movie that has been treated with love and care. Just make sure to do the same when you watch it else you might find yourself stalked whilst you sleep!