So I finally got around to seeing this little gem from the 80s, called Dolls, directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and brought to us from the same people that did Puppet Masters (a movie this one has a lot in common with). One of the first things you need to know before watching Dolls, is the acting is awful, just terrible. Stilted line deliveries and a child actress, who the whole movie relies on, is just painful to watch. However, bad acting does not a bad movie make and Dolls is no exception. If you’re interested in finding out more, read on, but fair warning, slight spoilers lay ahead…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A group of people stop by a mansion during a storm and discover two magical toy makers, and their haunted collection of dolls.
The movie starts off introducing us two absolutely awful, despicable people, David and Rosemary Bower, on a trip through the English countryside. These are two people that are just cruel and mean to everyone, especially Rosemary, who is the Stepmother to Judy, also along for the trip. The trio get caught in a bad rainstorm and seek shelter in a nearby mansion. The mansion is home to Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke, played by Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason respectively. Gabriel, who is a toymaker and fashions many dolls, plenty of them creepy as hell, tells David and his family that they can spend the night. As he is doing so, another group of people, who got stuck out in the storm, show up to the house. The new people consist of Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee), a mid 30s boy at heart and Isabel and Enid, two gothic 80s punk hitchhikers, who are just out to steal Ralph’s money. Gabriel insists they all stay the night and everyone agrees to. The two punk chicks decide that Ralph is a no go on the money front, so instead, decide to rob the old couple blind during the night. One of the girls sneaks out and raids a nearby room, which houses a bunch of creeptastic dolls. Before you know it, the girl is being harassed by some unknown force (I’ll give you a hint, it’s small and shaped like a doll). Judy witnesses the attack and seeks the aid of Ralph, to help her investigate the strange happenings. Ralph is hesitant at first, but he isn’t long realizing this place ain’t right. As for David and Rosemary, besides being awful parents, they get wrapped up in the shenanigans as well and trust me, justice rightfully get’s served.
Dolls is most certainly a fun movie, whose one big fault is the acting. The only two actors in the whole film that are fine, are the old married couple and as for everyone else, they’re just poor, especially the punk chicks (I’m not sure if these two are actually British or not, but if they are, they need to get those accents checked out, cause something ain’t right). I will give some props to Ian Patrick Williams, who plays David and Caroline Purdy-Gordon, who plays Rosemary. The acting from these two may be extremely under par, but they sure do a great job of making you hate them. They are so mean to everyone and the stuck up attitude of Rosemary, even though extremely over the top, is fun to watch. As I said earlier, the movie relies on the acting of the child and sadly, Carrie Lorraine just don’t cut it. Any humorous lines the kid is supposed to have, comes off as cringe worthy. This is one movie where the dolls are the main attraction and the thankfully they are just that.
Any scenes with the dolls are fantastic. The special effects, though dated nowadays, are pretty damn impressive and freaky as all hell. Many scenes of the dolls eyes slowly shifting and watching the people is creepy. Plus, the movie is quick, at 77 minutes, so it wastes no time getting into the good stuff and making you have a great time throughout. This is a basic storyline and one that requires you to not have to use your brain (like most 80s horror films, amirite?).
So, in the end what did I think of Dolls? Well, at first I thought I was going to hate it, as the acting from the start was just painful to witness. However, once you get over that initial speed bump, you start to enjoy yourself. The dolls are creepy and the storyline is bare bones and to the point. There are plenty of fun scenes, which are both humorous and creepy (more so humorous, thanks to the acting). The ending is also a lot of fun, with a neat little twist, which I did not seeing coming. So, I say Dolls is worthy of being called an 80s horror gem and one that you shouldn’t pass up watching.