Just because Halloween is over that doesn’t mean that our friends from Scream Factory have let the spirit of the season fade away. No, they still have more than a few treats in their overflowing bag of classic cult horror films to give us fans this year. Take their latest Blu-Ray offering for example, Dolls, which was originally released in 1987 and directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Dagon).
I had not had the pleasure of seeing this film before until our friends from Scream Factory were kind enough to send me a review copy. I certainly knew of it thanks to working at my local video store, it was hard to not stare at the cover of the VHS tape as I was straightening the shelves every night…
…though my fear of ventriloquist dummies and porcelain dolls kept me from ever renting the film, I mean I love to be scared but I also like to have the luxury of sleep without those tiny beasts invading my dreams.
So before setting down to write this review I pulled out my beef jerky bowl, wrapped my favorite blanket around my shoulders and prepared myself for the shocks that Charles Band (Puppet Master, Subspecies), Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator, From Beyond) and Stuart Gordon had in store for me.
Do not let that trailer fool you, friends. I was surprised by this film, not the fact that it’s fantastic, which it most certainly is but while it contains horror elements the film IS essentially a dark and modern fairy tale. Those that are evil or spiteful are punished by the creations of Gabriel (Guy Rolfe) and Hilary Hartwicke (Hilary Mason)…or in the cases when they have to protect themselves.
The synopsis for Dolls involves a group of strangers as they find themselves taking refuge from a violent storm at the Hartwicke estate. The strangers include a broken family, you have the evil stepmother Rosemary Bower (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon), David Bower (Ian Patrick Williams), and the innocent and abused Judy Bower (Carrie Lorraine). You also have two British lasses, Isabel Prange (Bunty Bailey) and Enid (Cassie Stuart), who are all about having a good time and not above larceny and vandalism. Then there is Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee) who is just a business man and as we quickly learn is basically a big kid at heart. Before the night is over each of these strangers will be judged by the Dolls, those found wanting will have a fate worse than death awaiting them.
As usual with a Scream Factory release they pack it with extras:
Toys Of Terror: The Making Of Dolls – An All-New Retrospective Featuring Interviews With Director Stuart Gordon, Producer Brian Yuzna, Stars Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Ian Patrick Williams, Executive Producer Charles Band And More!
Audio Commentary With Director Stuart Gordon And Writer Ed Naha
Audio Commentary With Cast Members Stephen Lee, Ian Patrick Wiliams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon And Carrie Lorraine
After I was finished watching the film I felt really bad that I hadn’t given it a shot back when I worked at the video store, it truly is a great little slice of 1980s horror. The cast are top notch, especially the performances by the late great Guy Rolfe (Mr. Sardonicus), Hilary Mason (Don’t Look Now), and Stephen Lee (Wargames). The effects are handled mostly by practical means but you also have some great stop motion animation by the late great David Allen (Willow, Ghostbusters II).
Dolls is being release this upcoming Tuesday so you still have time to hop on over to the Scream Factory site and Pre-Order your copy today.