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 1987|
|Running time||77 min|
Dolls is a horror film directed by Stuart Gordon, shot in Italy in 1985 and released in 1987.
A violent thunderstorm strands six people in the gothic English countryside including Judy, who's traveling with her father and her cold, self-centered, stepmother. 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.
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. Judy's father and stepmother end up being punished by the dolls for their lack of love towards their daughter (the stepmother ends up being tortured by the toys before leaping to her death out of the window into a mutilating mess while the father was transformed into a doll to replace the one he destroyed in self-defense for attacking him), while the two female punks are also punished for trying to steal antiques from the house. One of the punks is brutally beaten by the dolls, smashing her into the bottom of the wall before dragging her into the attic to become one of them, the other is killed by a group of toy soldiers. However, since the dolls like those who are pure at heart (like Judy) or young at heart (like Ralph), they are spared, although Ralph was almost also killed by the dolls for trying to prove the dolls are not alive out of fear, but was saved by Judy's pleading for his life.
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, like Ralph, 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 the others, like Judy's father & stepmother and the 2 girls, 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 movie ends with Ralph and Judy, who were knocked out by Judy's father during a brawl at the climax of the movie, receive a letter saying that Judy's father 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, knowing they show respect to the childhood world and its mysteries. Judy 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 her(Judy's) new father. Though, Ralph doesn't answer, he seems interested in the idea. Judy's father & stepmother and the 2 girls are now 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, seemingly stuck in the mud, 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.
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.