A Movie A Day: DOLLS (1987)
Toys are very loyal and that is a fact.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next installment of A Movie A Day: Halloween 2010 edition!
[For the entirety of October I will be showcasing one horror film each day. Every film is pulled from my DVD shelf or streamed via Netflix Instant and will be one I haven’t seen. Unlike my A Movie A Day or A Movie A Week columns there won’t necessarily be connectors between each film, but you’ll more than likely see patterns emerge day to day.]
I’d love to think of this movie as an another tale going on in the Toy Story universe. The legends are basically the same: What if dolls came alive at night when you weren’t looking?
And these toys are fiercely loyal, like the toys in Toy Story, so there’s that, too. Very similar… Except instead of Woody scaring Sid at the end of the first Toy Story he would have more likely stabbed him in the back and dragged him screaming around his house.
I was absolutely in the mood to watch this fun movie. As you’ll notice this review is coming in rather late. I’ll spare you the boring details, but let’s just say after two consecutive days of being awake 24-26 hours at a stretch I finally slept for 16 hours straight. I didn’t intend to, but sleep I did. So late in fact that I almost missed a birthday dinner with my mother, which was immediately followed up by a midnight movie with another friend celebrating her own birthday.
I didn’t get home until after 3am and immediately sat down to watch Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS, produced by Mr. Brian Yuzna and Charles Band. I was definitely in the mood for a fun movie and fun this movie is.
Is it ridiculous? Yeah, you bet, but you know what? The characters realize how ridiculous this situation is and comment on it multiple times, so you have no choice but to dive in with them.
Remember when these cheapo horror movies could still have some smart directing, scripting and production value? Now Sy-Fy channel garbage is what we get for low budget schlockers. Where has the attention to quality gone?
I know it’s silly to talk about a Charlie Band movie centered on killer living dolls as a mark of quality, but the flick really is well put together. Remember back to Charles Band’s earlier movies, like Puppet Master. They used to be good. Now Full Moon can take a brilliantly cheesy and fun idea like GINGERDEAD MAN starring Scary Busey and make it an unwatchable movie that looks like it was made by window-licking mongoloids.
With a heavy influence on a fairy tale like quality DOLLS was a pleasant surprise. Knowing that Stuart Gordon directed it led me to believe it was going to be harsher. Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of blood in the flick, but also an odd sense of morality.
Really, the only people that get killed and turned into dolls are people that really, really deserved it.
Basically you have a family with car trouble in a storm that find their way to a creepy old house. An elderly couple meets them and there’s something off about them. The man (Guy Rolfe) is a toymaker and his wife (Hilary Mason) looks very grandmotherly, but something’s off. I think it was lack of any kind of make-up with a hint of insanity in her eyes that make the eerie vibe come alive.
The family is dysfunctional to say the least. Keeping in fairy tale tradition you have a wicked stepmother (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) who is cold as ice and a huge cunt to boot (and I don’t use that word lightly). The father isn’t that much better. In fact he’s kind of worse. He feels stuck with his daughter (Carrie Lorraine) after a nasty divorce and just wants to wine and dine his rich lady-friend.
The little girl has a vivid imagination and even dreams up her teddy coming alive and killing her parents in the early scene that gave me the first impression that I was gonna really like this movie. I mean it’s a giant teddy bear that rips apart to reveal a malicious evil bear monster that eats the wicked stepmother and slashes apart the asshole dad.
Of course that’s all in her head, but her vivid imagination doesn’t dream up what actually happens once they get in the house.
My favorite character, by far, is another traveler who shows up with a pair of annoying British Punk girls. This traveler is an everyman, a chubby dude who is nice and polite isn’t above screaming obscenities when he sees a doll walk on its own. Stephen Lee plays this character and he stole the movie for me.
You always have a secret desire to see people in a horror movie realize they are in a horror movie and want to just fucking leave and that’s this dude. He doesn’t ignore the signs of a horror story starting and just wants to get the fuck out.
But he’s also a child at heart, something that saves him after he freaks out and kicks at a few of these dolls. They begin to kill him, but the little girl, who makes an instant friend out of him, stops them and the dolls have a conference between themselves to figure out if he’s a child at heart or not. If he is a good person they will let them go. If not, murder and eventual transformation into one of them.
Which is pretty fucking creepy, by the way. When one of the punk chicks decides to go on a stealing rampage all throughout the house she is attacked by something off camera, dragged around, rammed into a wall a few times and then pulled, screaming, into the attic. Strong fuckin’ dolls, right?
But that’s not where it ends. A character later goes up to the attic looking for her and we see that she’s beginning to turn into a doll. She’s still human-sized, but has a doll face which is gloriously upsetting.
They execute the dolls as a combination of low-budget animatronics and stop motion. I love the old days and the old ways. So much more convincing than badly comped in Playstation 1 looking CG.
Final Thoughts: DOLLS’ dark fairy tale aspect mixed with some surprising sharp character writing, fun effects and gore make a movie that really stands above the type of film you might expect from this era, with this subject matter. If you haven’t seen it, add it to your Netflix Instant queue and have some fun!
Currently in print on DVD: YES
Currently available on Netflix Instant: YES
Upcoming A Movie A Day Titles:
Saturday, October 23rd: SILENT SCREAM (1980)
Sunday, October 24th: SCREAM OF FEAR (1961)
Monday, October 25th: THE MEPHISTO WALTZ (1971)
Tuesday, October 26th: THE OMEN III: THE FINAL CONFLICT (1981)
Wednesday, October 27th: THE EVIL (1977)
Thursday, October 28th: THE DEVIL DOLL (1936)
Friday, October 29th: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981)
I’m gonna do my best to get caught up and have the next AMAD to you before midnight tonight. The flick is called Silent Scream. See ya’ then!
Follow Me On Twitter
Previous AMAD 2010’s:
- Raw Meat (1972)
- Ghost Story (1981)
- Two on a Guillotine (1965)
- Tentacles (1977)
- Bad Ronald (1974)
- The Entity (1983)
- Doctor X (1932)
- The Return of Doctor X (1939)
- The Tenant (1976)
- Man in the Attic (1953)
- New Year’s Evil (1980)
- Prophecy (1979)
- The Other (1972)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Gorgon (1964)
- Mad Love (1935)
- Repulsion (1965)
- The Church (1989)
- The Black Cat (1981)
- The Black Cat (1934)
- The Comedy of Terrors (1987)
Click here for the full 215 movie run of A Movie A Day!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
+ Expand All
Oct. 23, 2010, 6:59 a.m. CST
remember sleepless nights as a kid
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:01 a.m. CST
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:05 a.m. CST
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:20 a.m. CST
it's like a geekasm... serrrrrrioussssssly
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:20 a.m. CST
it's like a geekasm... serrrrrrioussssssly
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:28 a.m. CST
by Shut the Fuck up Donny
Every aspect of the film that I enjoyed, you articulated. It's really a film that fired on all cylinders, regardless of how preposterous the concept. <p> I would propose that that extra layer of undefinable "quality" in this film(for lack of a better term) would be credited to Yuzna's involvement. I had a chance to meet the man at DragonCon years ago, and he TRULY loves what he does. I think when he had more involvement in these sorta films in the earlier years(a la Reanimator), you got that extra effort...
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:54 a.m. CST
I miss the days when low budget horror films were actually good. Instead of getting quality films like "Re-Animator" or "Evil Dead 2", we get poorly produced garbage. If this was made today, it would be incredibly stupid and unwatchable. It saddens me knowing that true low budget horror films are dead.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:03 a.m. CST
and DOLLS rocks indeed.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:28 a.m. CST
Sure, Sam Niell but guaranteed it's gonna make you feel like you are watching a cable "Movie of the Week".
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:30 a.m. CST
Its one I haven't seen, AND its on Netflix! I know what I'm doing tonight! Thanks, brother!
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:32 a.m. CST
You're doing Dark Night of the Scarecrow??? My buddy and I got thrown out of church when we were 10 because we couldn't stop chanting "Bubba didn't do it" at each other.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:45 a.m. CST
I'm a fan of that movie, but no one else seems to be!
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:52 a.m. CST
by S-Mart shopper
Full Moon had some good titles back in the day. Is there a Full Moon Classics set? Get on that shit Quint!
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:55 a.m. CST
by S-Mart shopper
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:11 a.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
...but it contains one of the most glorious scores Jerry Goldsmith has ever written. Seriously, it makes the entire movie worth sitting through.
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:22 a.m. CST
Omen III or did he just get credit for the awesome theme from Omen I?
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:39 a.m. CST
Maybe it's because I've just been ouy with my brother who has Down Sydrome and saw the abuse he got from some arseholes in the street but that phrase makes you seem like a cunt - and I don't use the world lightly either.
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:40 a.m. CST
because I have big problem with dolls, especially porcelain ones, that are essentially effigies. But the movie is fuckin' solid and damn creepy. It's also really cheap right now on Amazonia.
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:41 a.m. CST
He did the full score - in fact if I remember Ave Satani doesn't appear in the score for Omen III<p>The film is weird in that it's almost an action adventure and it has the shittiest ending ever.<P>The Score is Great though.
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:45 a.m. CST
For me, Dark Night of the Scarecrow was my number one DVD purchase of the year. It is so damn good (especially for being made for tv) and it brings back fond memories of watching it when I was little, only to realize that scarecrows could kill, and kill with wild abandon!<P> It's definitely a headscratcher that you haven't watched it yet, but I certainly do envy you getting to see it for the first time!
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:47 a.m. CST
He means Tea Party People and their demon god Sarah Palin, brood mother of all the window-licking mongoloids.
Oct. 23, 2010, 10:28 a.m. CST
That's the #1 thing I hate about AICN. All these reviews have stupid fucking details I don't care about. And they're usually gross. "Yeahhhh... Harry here.... so before I put the DVD in I took a big shit and it was one of those big-ass shits that just makes you feel like you accomplished something. I'm not a fag but it felt like I imagine a big black dick coming out of my ass feels like in prison. Relief, you know? It's over. So, after I wiped, examined the toilet paper, and flushed, I hit the Netflix queue. Then I thought, fuck, I just touched my Wiimote without washing my hands. Oh well. Suffice it to say, this movie was off to a great start..." Jesus Christ, dude.
Oct. 23, 2010, 10:32 a.m. CST
This movie is a laugh riot. It's creepy as hell, but there's a lot of dark humor throughout(the sounds the dolls make when they come alive to kill are hilarious). Any horror leaning person I ever recommended this to looked at me like I was bugnuts, and then loved it.
Oct. 23, 2010, 10:34 a.m. CST
A bunch of man-children thinking they're the next Peter Jackson. Yep, that's gonna happen, fucker. I'm sure Christopher Nolan also got his start trolling message boards and bitching about the fine details of early 90s direct-to-video films. Every single "regular" on this site is that guy in the South Park "World of Warcraft" episode; fatass slouching in a leather chair snacking on Chickin in a Biscuit and masturbating at 90-minute intervals to asian porn. So unoriginal, guys. Grow up, will you? And stop voting Democrat, you're an embarrassment to your white man heritage.
Oct. 23, 2010, 10:49 a.m. CST
must be pretty easy to judge others sitting in your parents basement surrounded by empty cans of coke, bags of Cheetos, spent Kleenex, and jergens bottles.
Oct. 23, 2010, 11:25 a.m. CST
...just replace it with the "n"-word if you have any balls... Nope, didn't think so.
Oct. 23, 2010, 11:40 a.m. CST
" So much more convincing than badly comped in Playstation 1 looking CG." I guess that's what you thought about Toy Story 3? I can't think of any examples of this poor quality you mention except maybe the devil from Spawn that's actually the ps1 quality American werewolf in Paris werewolf model stretched out.
Oct. 23, 2010, 11:53 a.m. CST
comfort in knowing UltraTron is ripped and gorgeous. I'm looking for a cute girl who digs playing heavy rain and who can tear me away from my iPad for extreme superhero sex at all times.
Oct. 23, 2010, 11:58 a.m. CST
if you don't post here anymore. There is always someone to fill your place. Especially if it's a whiny, cry-baby place.
Oct. 23, 2010, noon CST
The early moment in the movie when he sees his eyes in the scarecrow is classic despite being in such a low budget movie.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:03 p.m. CST
...is our savior. Bow down and respect him.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:06 p.m. CST
An absolute gem. Look, I don't want to convince you of how obnoxious and full of anxieties you are, or how you should work them out...but I would like to tell you that your whole schtick really makes me laugh. AT you though, not with you. You aren't funny, but it really amuses me that a person bothers to stick around a place he hates...that he bothers to read articles he hates...that he bothers to post comments aimed at people he hates. It tells me that as much as you would deny it, and as much as you 'hate' us, that you are dependent upon us for validation. I'm not talking validation in the sense that you want to be liked--you just need to feel we think you matter...at all. You really need to know that we regard you as somehow significant. Well, we do....but only in the sense that you provide amusement for us by engaging in your futile rants. The more you rail against this place and don't leave, the more you affirm this fact. Just keep that in mind. Whatever nasty horrible insult you launch in response...well, the worse the better. It just makes the reality of your sad station more clear. Haha.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:10 p.m. CST
by judge dredds fresh undies
Yeah, it is fucking awful, as is Omen 2. Just buy the scores on CD. Why spoil the music by making your eyes bleed.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:23 p.m. CST
...how much better movie posters and video sleve art used to be, back in the day . Also, i havent seen dolls yet- its one of those films that i would always see on a video shelf as a kid and be creeped out by . I will check it out though.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:50 p.m. CST
TisketMaster has been added to the prestigious list of talkback saviors.
Oct. 23, 2010, 12:58 p.m. CST
That scene scared the crap out of me as a kid. As you look around the dark attic you see something in the dark, in the background and only gradually realize what is as it begins to move and... I won't tell the rest but it's just brilliant. Very creepy.
Oct. 23, 2010, 1:10 p.m. CST
2 cats tied tail to tail and hung over a clothesline that's being fed into a duck press
Oct. 23, 2010, 1:20 p.m. CST
I actually saw this in the theater in NE Philly. My I miss those Full Moon glory days
Oct. 23, 2010, 3:02 p.m. CST
You're right. I ripped off Dolls for The Home and I did it in a really sneaky way. I wrote the script before watching the movie! What a sneak I am!<BR><BR>And see the flick before you call it a crapfest. You say I embarrass myself and you're spouting bile about something you have no knowledge of.<BR><BR>But you're right. Sy-Fy doesn't ever use substandard CGI and I'm just a whining fanboy.
Oct. 23, 2010, 3:49 p.m. CST
the guy that takes the little girl at the end was also on Dark Angel as the guy Max originally pays to get 411 on her transgenic siblings. fyi
Oct. 23, 2010, 7:40 p.m. CST
... tired of mentally handicapped people being used as a punchline. I'm not laughing.
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:55 p.m. CST
I first saw this on tv about 5 years ago or so and I was shocked by how awesome it is, was it a DTV movie? because it feels good enough to be theatrical
Oct. 23, 2010, 8:55 p.m. CST
it's a perfect mix if humor and creepiness, the dolls themselves are creepy as hell
Oct. 23, 2010, 9:04 p.m. CST
That would be THE MEPHISTO WALTZ followed by THE FINAL CONFLICT. Whatever you think of the films, those are two incredible scores right there!
Oct. 24, 2010, 1:27 a.m. CST
Stuart Gordon's underappreciated MASTERPIECE. That movie is amazing...and Stuart Gordon is a fantastic director.
Oct. 24, 2010, 1:28 a.m. CST
Scout's honor this was my first time ever seeing Dolls. Creepy dolls isn't unique to this movie, believe me, but yeah I understand the thought. If the movie were about Killer Dolls I'd be more worried, but that's just a small part of the story and a tiny fraction of the horror inside the walls.<BR><BR>In regards to the Sy-Fy thing, I specify a comparison to Sy-Fy earlier on and in the paragraph mentioning CGI I'm talking specifically about low budget filmmaking. CGI is amazing if you have the budget for it or a brilliant person willing to spend a year locked up in his room making a short film (calling card) look professional. Other than that, low budget CGI is Sharktopus, dude.
Oct. 24, 2010, 2:19 a.m. CST
by Bungion Boy
It's not very good, but there's something about it that I can't get enough of. I find that it's often on cable at like 3:00 in the morning, which is terrible for me because when I stumble across it on tv, I can't help but watch the whole thing.
Oct. 24, 2010, 9:53 a.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
I like you Quint, you're the goods, but c'mon. How about, "They try to kill him..." I mean, killing is pretty final. I don't know, maybe the sentence is correct.
Oct. 24, 2010, 1:39 p.m. CST
by Nice Marmot
Stop explaining yourself to the jealous, unsuccessful mouth breathers!
Oct. 25, 2010, 12:15 a.m. CST
Had a bad weekend--funeral, et al--but your message fuckin' killed the gloom. Thanks, I really needed the laugh. And I agree with you 100%
Oct. 25, 2010, 12:29 a.m. CST
each of Harry's reviews. By the way, DOLLS is a genuine sleeper (Stuart Gordon is a sterling talent and, in real life, a big teddy bear. But fuck Charles Band. What's with his fetish for puppets and oversize heads?).