Dolls (1987 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stuart Gordon|
|Produced by||Charles Band,
|Written by||Ed Naha|
Ian Patrick Williams
Carolyn Purdy Gordon
|Music by||Fuzzbee Morse
|Editing by||Lee Percy|
|Distributed by||Empire Pictures|
|Release dates||March 6, 1987|
|Running time||77 min|
A violent thunderstorm strands six people in the gothic English countryside including Judy, who's traveling with her father, David Bower, and her cold, self-centered stepmother Rosemary. They are accompanied by a kind, modest, and mild-mannered businessman Ralph, who has picked up two hitchhikers, both British punk rock girls. They all wind up at a mansion inhabited by Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke, charming elderly people who appear to be toy makers; their house literally abounds with dolls, puppets, and other beautifully detailed toys. They give Judy a new doll, Mr. Punch, after she had been forced to give up her old teddy bear by her cruel parents before they arrived at the house.
One by one, the overnight guests are attacked by dolls who turn out to be cursed, immoral people that have been killed and imprisoned in toys to pay for their crimes by the owners of the house, who are actually witches. Gabriel and Hilary see toys as the heart and soul of childhood and believe toys will be around for as long as children want them. They also believe that the bitterness that people feel as adults can turn into love if people surrender to the goodwill that toys bring. People come to the Hartwickle's house every now and then go through the same kind of night. Some people are able to see the love and respect of childhood once again, are saved and leave the house with a new and better perspective on life. The Hartwickles give everyone who comes a sporting chance to save themselves. But those who refuse to show respect to childhood, don't leave the house and have to start over and play a new role in the world of children ... by becoming toys!
The first to suffer the wrath of the dolls are the two female punks, for trying to steal antiques from the house: One of the punks is brutally beaten by the dolls, who smash her into a wall before dragging her into the attic to become one of them; the other is shot by a group of toy soldiers after finding her nearly transformed friend. For her lack of love towards her stepdaughter, Rosemary ends up being ambushed by the toys before leaping to her death out of the window into a mutilated mess. Her body is brought back to the bedroom, where she is found by her husband. Thinking that Ralph murdered her, David prepares to kill him.
In the meantime, Ralph accompanies Judy for her search of the first punk girl after he notices blood on the little girl's slippers. They encounter the dolls, but out of fear Ralph initially refuses to believe that they are really alive and attempts to fight his way through them. He is overwhelmed, but spared from death when Judy pleads for his life. Right afterwards, however, they are both attacked and knocked out by Judy's maddened father, but before a killing blow can be struck, the dolls intervene, dragging the unconscious Ralph and Judy away while Mr. Punch distracts David. Mr. Punch is destroyed by David, who is then confronted by Gabriel and Hilary and transformed into a doll to replace Mr. Punch.
The next morning, Ralph and Judy wake up, being convinced by Gabriel and Hilary that the night's events were just a dream, and receive a letter saying that David is leaving her behind because he never was a good father to her and that she will be much happier living in Boston with her mother. The letter also states that her father and stepmother are moving to another country and changing their names and have taken the two girls with them, but have left enough money behind for Judy and Ralph to buy plane tickets back to Boston. Though the letter was really written by the Hartwickles, in a twisted way, everything in it is the truth. Ralph and Judy then leave the house together after being bid farewell by Gabriel and Hilary, who even invite them to come back whenever they want and even rejoin Judy with her lost teddy. After Judy returns Teddy to the old people as a gift, she and Ralph then drive off for the airport. Judy, who has grown quite fond of Ralph, tells him that he'll really like her mother and hints to him if he'd like to stay with her mom and her and be Judy's new father. Though Ralph doesn't answer, he seems interested in the idea.
The movie ends with the Bowers and the punk girls sitting on a shelf as dolls. Just then, another car with another family with a set of obnoxious parents suddenly arrives and their car breaks down yards from the mansion.
- Ian Patrick Williams as David Bower
- Carolyn Purdy Gordon as Rosemary Bower
- Carrie Lorraine as Judy Bower
- Guy Rolfe as Gabriel Hartwicke
- Hilary Mason as Hilary Hartwicke
- Bunty Bailey as Isabel
- Cassie Stuart as Enid
- Stephen Lee as Ralph Morris
Stuart Gordon was, at one point, very interested in directing a sequel to this film. The initial storyline would have followed Judy and Ralph back to Boston in which Ralph would have indeed married Judy's mother and they would all become a family. Until, one day Judy would receive a box sent from England which would contain the toy makers, Gabriel and Hilary, as dolls. The said sequel never happened.
Critical reception for Dolls has been positive, with the movie holding a 63% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Ain't It Cool News reviewed the DVD, calling it "a movie that really stands above the type of film you might expect from this era, with this subject matter." Roger Ebert panned the film, writing "At some point Dolls remains only an idea, a concept. It doesn't become an engine to shock and involve us." HorrorNews.net's Jeff Colebank listed the toymaking couple as one of the "13 Best Horror Movie Couples", stating that Rolfe was "the creepiest toymaker of them all". Allmovie's review of the film was favorable, calling it "a serious-minded, lovingly-crafted modern fairy tale that only misses classic status by a few clumsy, low-budget moments." From the Mind of Tatlock rated it positive, having this to say "The dolls are creepy and the storyline is barebones and to the point. There are plenty of fun scenes, which are both humorous and creepy (more so humorous, thanks to the acting)."
- A Movie A Day: DOLLS (1987) Toys are very loyal and that is a fact. Ain't It Cool News
- Dolls Roger Ebert
- The 13 Best Horror Movie Couples (serial murder edition) HorrorNews.net
- Robert Firsching. "Dolls (1987)". Allmovie. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- "Dolls Movie Review". mindoftatlock.com. Retrieved February 15, 2013.