Published on March 19th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
Summary: Blood, gore, and creepy toys combine for a formulaic but fun morality tale!
R | 77 min.
Director: Stuart Gordon | Screenplay: Ed Naha
Starring: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy Gordon, Carrie Lorraine
Studio: Empire Pictures
With a running time of 1 hour 17 minutes, Dolls barely qualifies as a feature film–there are episodes of HBO’s The Wire that are longer and have more plot…but I’ll be damned if this movie isn’t fun!
Like the classic Child’s Play, this movie is part of the 1980’s sub-genre of killer doll horror. A young girl named Judy (Carrie Lorraine) is on vacation in England with her neglectful father and his mean girlfriend, when their car gets stuck in the mud outside of a spooky old mansion on a stormy night (yes, it is that formulaic). The family decides to stop in and stay the night, as do a pair of punky delinquent girls and a soft-spoken guy who also need a place to stay.
The house is owned by an elderly couple who appear to have gotten rich by making and selling dolls at a workshop inside their home. Eventually, the hundreds of dolls in this house start to eliminate each visitor one-by-one unless they are deemed “young at heart”.
Like many 1980’s slasher films, Dolls can be viewed as a morality tale because it rewards characters that believe in being kind to others while punishing characters that don’t. Whereas A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th can be viewed as warnings against pre-marital sex among HIV-conscious teens, Dolls seems to simply ask its audience to not neglect their children or steal from welcoming elderly people.
The movie’s special effects are pretty dated when you look back now and the acting is downright criminal, but Dolls would fit perfectly in a B-horror film night with gems like Troll 2 and Maximum Overdrive. There are enough laughs and gruesome death scenes to keep it entertaining and it’s so short that you won’t feel like you’re wasting much of your time.
Side note: the cover of this movie used to scare the hell out of me when I was a kid walking around the video store!