Monday, February 7, 2011

Why I Love: Dolls

Not surprisingly, Stuart Gordon’s Dolls is one of my all-time favorite films. 

You never saw that one coming eh?
But why, you might wonder, aside from the fact that it’s 77 minutes of killer doll action, would I adore such a film? A few reasons:

Judy Bower

Child actors are a risky gamble in any film, particularly when they’re under ten and required to hold a whole lot of screentime. With the wrong little actress, the character of Judy would’ve been an insufferable little cutebag. Thankfully, Carrie Lorraine has a true every-girlness about her, something helped by a terrible haircut (we all have those self-pictures), reliance on a comfy stuffed animal and chubby cheeks. You can’t not like this little girl.

Somewhere in the history of the hit-and-miss series, Tales From the Darkside, is a terrifying 23 minutes about an evil teddy bear. As a child, this concept terrified me more than the one-eyed baby doll that my older sister would chase me around the house with when my parents were out. I KNEW dolls were evil, but the thought of a cuddly and soft stuffed animal hungry for my blood was simply wrong. 
I think Stuart Gordon knows this, which is why Titanic Teddy--at least that’s what I call him--ISN’T actually bad. He’s scary and kind of wrong, but like the spirit that runs throughout Dolls, he’s also ultimately in the right.
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon

The long-time wife of director Stuart Gordon, Carlone Purdy-Gordon is, to be kind, kind of what you’d call a handsome woman. I imagine she can look quite lovely with the right styling, but she also possesses a certain Nicole Kidman-like sharpness that plays perfectly with her evil stepmother incarnation. She’s well-matched with her squirmy weakling husband played by Ian Patrick Williams, but it’s her all-out detestability that gives Dolls such a strong basis for knowing right from wrong.


After seeing Dolls, can you EVER pronounce that word the right way?
Fairy Tale Spirit

I’ve tried in the past to justify why I think Dolls is the perfect horror film for kids. Sure, there are brutal killings and horrific images, but unlike so many movies that share its shelf space, Dolls is innocent. The titular villains don’t kill indiscriminately; they evaluate their potential victims and spare those who display an inner goodness. It’s a fine lesson children should heed!
See, Dolls is essentially a Grimm Brothers fairy tale filled with evil stepmothers, kindly old folks, stormy woods, mysterious mansions, Madonna obsessed punkettes, and--well, it’s not verbatim Grimm, but the spirit is there. 
The Kills

We only see three deaths in all their glory, but boy do they count. Enid’s battle with the tin soldiers is both funny and dark, and Rosemary’s everything-but-the-kitchen sink doll attack makes you wince and cheer. For my own personal taste, it’s David’s doll transformation that wins. Imagine what it must feel like to have your nose stretched into a hook, your spine raised over your head and your cheekbones made to bust out of your face. In a word, I’d say ouch.
Oh yeah, the DOLLS

Cowboys! Clowns! Stylish stabbers with leopard headwraps! The dolls of Dolls are simply extraordinary works of art, and while some modern technowizards might giggle at the stop motion stumbles, I find everything from their tiny snarling lips to their overly wide eyes truly wonderful.
Not to be creepy, but if you haven’t seen Dolls, then I know exactly what you’re doing for the next 77 minutes. Go. 


  1. Been waiting for this...

    and it was so worth it.

    Thank you (xJack Torrance)

  2. My pleasure, as always and forever.

  3. Only watched 5 minutes so far, and already a man sized teddy bear has ripped a woman's arm off and clawed a guys face! Great pick emily

  4. Don't stop now! Just wait till you find out how a Punch doll is made!

  5. Teddy is awesome! He's also the reason that each bear in our house is subject to a mandatory full-body cavity search. Creepy/cute b*stard. :)

  6. Teehee, I cavity search my stuffed animals after having seen The Chipmunk Adventure. Or Night of the Hunter, same thing--wait! Did The Chipmunk Adventure crib a storyline from Night of the Hunter? I just blew my own mind!

  7. I've only seen this once, but I recall it being a lot of fun.

    I will be revisiting it soon, because you've awoken my memory of it. Well done.

  8. You can never see this movie too many times. Get on it.

  9. WAIT!
    I just skimmed this one... because I know it's on instant watch. SO I'M NOT GUNNA READ IT TIL I WATCH IT!
    That may be a lie. I think I'm going to read it now. That doll at the bottom there really piqued my curiosity.

  10. Gasp! It's killing me how many people haven't seen this before. I assumed it was canon! Go and love it now!

  11. DOLLS has always been one of my top ten films. I had this on BETA. I can describe this movie in one word; whimsical. Since I'm a fashion doll collector, this movie is easy to love.

    1. VERY whimsical. There's such an innocence to the film, something you'd never expect from a killer doll horror movie!