February 7, 2011

Movie Review: Dolls (1987)

Following a pair of classic horror films in Re-Animator and The Beyond director Stuart Gordon has turned his eyes on a slightly less bloody project. Dolls sidetracks us into a child's flight of fancy before turning to a tongue in cheek horror of elegant construction in which dolls prove to be the undoing of those who have outgrown childish things.

It is far from a perfect film, but it is one that appeals to the child in all of us. The idea of having to outgrow toys is one that you need not abide, particularly if you want to live through the night. With Dolls Stuart Gordon crafts a concoction of elegance and sincerity with healthy dose of horror and scares of things that go bump in the night. There is something inherently frightening about dolls, like Mr. Punch in this movie. There are hordes of porcelain faced creepies laying abut the house and if you look carefully, you may catch a slight movement out of the corner of your eye.

The story follows Judy, a young girl on vacation with her father and and step-mother, neither of whom seem to care about her all that much. Their car gets stuck and they seek refuge in a creepy old house inhabited by an old doll maker named Gabriel and his wife. They are definitely a little on the creepy side, but seem nice enough offering to put them up for the night. They are joined by a couple of other storm refugees in the form of a man who still has a love of toys and a couple of punker chicks.

As day turns to night, Judy is convinced that there is something else going on in the house. One of the punker chicks is attacked, and Judy is left trying to convince the others of what she saw. What follows is a night of trying to figure out the secrets of the doll maker and the old house as the dolls take to the halls to defend their home from the invading toy haters.

If you stop to think about it, the movie does not make a heck of a lot of sense, nor do they take the time to explain much about what is going or why. Instead, Dolls revels in a campy/creepy atmosphere and lets that do the heavy lifting. It is not a movie for everybody, but it certainly has an audience.

I quite enjoyed this low budget excursion into killer doll land. I liked how it plays as a defense of the child in all of us and how it is that joy, wonder, and imagination that proves to save us. To be sure, this is far from Gordon's best work, but it should not be discounted.


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