Sunday, November 25, 2007


Another Holiday weekend treat - bridging the ever-shrinking gap between Halloween and Christmas. Stuart Gordon's DOLLS (1987) opens with two slutty punk rock chicks hitchhiking by the side of the road somewhere in Europe…as a car carrying a family speeds by. The family turns out to be a high-strung dude named David Bower who is on a very ill-concieved vacation with his selfish new wife (and possible transexual) Rosemary (aka Cruela Devil) and his whiny young daughter Judy. They are driving through the country when a sudden freak rainstorm traps their car in the mud. When they have to leave the car, Rosemary, tosses little Judy's teddy bear into the woods so it won't slow them down. Huh? Judy then imagines her teddy bear coming to life and ripping her stepmother's to pieces! If only.

The happy family stumbles upon the only mansion around, and are startled by a kind, but creepy old couple named Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke who live there with their collection of dolls. Are they Satantists? Are they witches? Or are they just old old and crazy? The elderly duo invite the family to join them for dinner and to spend the night. Precocious little Judy quickly makes friends with the old folks, who turn out to be accomplished (and extremely prolific) toymakers! Just like Santa Claus! Before too long a loveable manboy named Ralph arrives at the house along with the two annoyingly rude punk chicks (named Enid and Isabel) who turn out to be British - so they ARE authentic punks - despite the fact that they look like Madonna and Sheena Easton.

Little Judy takes a liking to Ralph, turns out they both like to play with dolls. Gabriel takes Ralph and Judy on a tour of the mansion, and we begin to notice odd camaraderie between the three. The old man gives Judy a Punch doll to play with because her teddy bear is gone. The punk girls make themselves at home by blasting terrible music and hatching a plan to steal some dolls after Hilary tells them that some of the dolls are antiques.

Cruela is relieved that she doesn't have to share a room with her stepdaughter Judy. We can't figure out what bug has crawled up Cruela's ass, but whatever it was causes her to always wear some sort of turban on her manly head.

Later, we learn Judy seems to think that the dolls or "little people" can come to life and nobody seems to believe her- except for her "friend" Ralph. The Madonna wannabee sets out to explore the house (looking for things to steal) while Sheena hangs out in the room dancing and putting on more makeup. Judy decides she needs a glass of water, and eventually the dolls do decide to come to life!!! As the night progresses, Judy convinces Ralph that something's up in the house and soon they discover blood in the hallway. While exploring the attic we see that the Madonna chick has been murdered. One down, one to go.

Sheena then accuses Ralph of raping and killing Madonna and suddenly Judy's father is aware that his prepubescent daughter has been wandering around the spooky house with a grown man - and accuses Ralph of molesting Judy. Are you following this?

Next, Cruela gets attacked by a bunch of dolls with little mini-weapons, and she looks down to see that one of the dolls is sawing off her arm, while two other dolls are trying to saw off her leg! They even yank off her turban! After showering, David gets into bed with Cruela, unaware that she's been killed. The white sheet she's under starts to have this spreading blood stain on it, and then her doll-mangled corpse is revealed. Ewww...

More chaos ensues as Ralph realizes that Judy's right about the living dolls. At first he starts stomping on them, and they launch a full-scale attack on him, but Judy convinces them that he's really a big kid and after a quick meeting, the dolls decide he's okay by them. Whew - that was a close one!

After discovering Cruela's corpse, David is now on the warpath and we see that many of those dolls had little tiny skulls underneath their porcelin heads, possibly indicating that they began their existence as human beings!!! What exactly is Hartwicke up to???

There's a big, final confrontation between all parties involved, which I will not spoil - but I will say that there is a clever twist ending involving Judy, her dad, Ralph and her real mother (who lives in Boston). The next morning, Gabriel and Hilary have lots of cleaning up to do, especially since another car has broken down outside their house...

I loved this movie. The doll effects were cheesy, but effective. The acting, while not great, was always enjoyable. Even little Judy wasn't as annoying as horror movie kids usually are. At times it felt like all the actors were not taking any of this too seriously, and that helped make the whole affair quite fun. I give this one a 9 outta 10 "Huhs?". See it!

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