Horror

Judy, Mr. Punch and… – Dolls (1987)


Directed by Stuart Gordon, Dolls is one of the better ‘doll’ features that Charles Band would be involved with over the years, not really veering too far off from what one might expect from a picture such as this, that being dolls that come to life and murder anyone and everyone that they are bid to do, and delivering pure entertainment in the meantime.

The film finds a family stuck in the middle of nowhere, their car unable to move. Noticing a house in the distance, they head for it before a storm erupts, breaking in when nobody answers and getting caught by the couple that own it, one Gabriel and Hilary. Gabriel is a toymaker much to the delight of Judy, the little girl belonging to the couple, or at least to her father, and Gabriel seems delighted to see her. Not an hour later and another group of people show up and as the night passes, most of those who have arrived begin to get killed off thanks to the denizens of the house – those being the elves Judy believes are present and who look like the dolls to everyone else. In the end, only two remain, Judy and Ralph, both young at heart and free to leave with the blessing of Hilary and Gabriel.

Though the film might not be overly complicated when it comes to the subject matter, it turns out to be a lot of fun, if not a little creepy at times due to the incredible practical effects when it comes to the dolls. A few of them are truly disturbing to look at and one has to give credit to the filmmakers for doing such a good job of it. While the murders are not overly frightening and more than warranted given what happens in the movie, it would have been nice if there were a little more horror to it all, most of that horror coming from the two punk girls who were truly vile. Instead, one could easily guess what was going to happen most of the time with any suspense or tension dissipated thanks to the fairly simplistic plot.  Sometimes though, as in this case, simple is best.

As for those who would star within, Guy Rolfe would stand tall above the rest as the almost fatherly toymaker while Carrie Lorraine as Judy would put a smile on the face with her innocence and belief in the mythical. The real star though, much like any of these types of movies are the dolls who almost always steal the show. Slightly cheesy but weird and ghoulish at the same time, the puppets within were so fascinating that one could not help but pay attention every single time they were on the screen. In the end, Dolls might not have been the best picture about dolls but it is definitely better than most.

3.5 out of 5

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