Newest Reviews
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Iron Mask, The
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Butterfly Murders, The
Lady is a Square, The
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
  Dolls Happy Just To Be
Year: 1987
Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Carrie Lorraine, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Bunty Bailey, Cassie Stewart, Stephen Lee
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Little Judy (Carrie Lorraine) is in the back seat of the car driven by her stepmother Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) with her father David (Ian Patrick Williams) in the passenger seat. As they narrowly avoid a pair of hitchhikers out in the English countryside, a storm blows in and soon the vehicle is lashed with wind and rain, causing it to be stuck in the mud of the road. David gets out to push but to no avail and eventually, as the skies clear, the family decide to walk to the nearest building for help, though mean-minded Rosemary grows impatient with Judy and throws her beloved teddy bear into the bushes...

Which results in teddy making a comeback as a giant-sized version of himself, opening his mouth to reveal two rows of fangs, and ripping David and Rosemary to pieces in front of the little girl's eyes. Oh no, not really, as this was only Judy daydreaming, but it does add a dose of gore to a slow build up where the real threat hails from the house up ahead. What this was turned out to resemble the classic thirties chiller The Old Dark House crossed with then-recent hit Gremlins, only with the kind of twist you would get from Empire Pictures, a low budget eighties outfit led by Charles Band, here filming cheaply in Italy as he often did.

The director was Stuart Gordon, who had the year previous to this being made shot the cult hit Re-Animator for Band, raising his and the studio's profile considerably among horror fans, and Dolls was the project he made next. With all the attention paid to achieving the special effects, it ended up released a year after principal shooting, meaning it was the Gordon film unleashed on the world the year after From Beyond, which was a higher profile effort than this, though not necessarily better. This, for all the simplicity of its storyline - lasting barely over an hour and a quarter of screen time - had a pleasing quality to it, keeping such things as morality and narrative to their essentials.

What you had was a collection of folks in the house for the night, and most of them exhibit less than admirable traits, with the fairy tale stylings only underlined by Rosemary's status as Wicked Stepmother to the innocent Judy - the latter even reading Hansel and Gretel as her bedtime story. The father is not much nicer and the impression is of a child who would be better off with her divorcée mother, and to add to the nastiness the hitchhikers show up, sporting broad Cockney accents and having been offered a lift by roly poly nice guy Ralph (Stephen Lee) who is enchanted by the mansion's owners' dolls which adorn the walls of the rooms. So we can see who is potential victim fodder from practically the word go.

Ah, the owners, played by Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason (best known from Don't Look Now), who make the toys and have some strange power over them, seeing everyone to their chambers and the disappearing to allow their creations to get on with the business of weeding out the nasty from the nice. As you will have guessed, the dolls spring to life and begin attacking the residents, starting with the hitcher Isabel (Bunty Bailey) who proves lightfingered and wants to relieve the elderly couple of their "anti-cues", thus paying the price by having her head slammed against the skirting board for her trouble. This was where Band got his liking for very small monsters, and while there wasn't a sequel to this, there was the long-running Puppetmaster franchise which took the mantle of Dolls and ran with it, with a plethora of small rubber figures slicing and dicing various hapless souls. Here the idea was still fresh and although it wasn't going to win any awards for excellence, it wasn't half bad in its rather basic fashion, if a bit silly, though that was no real problem.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1698 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Stuart Gordon  (1947 - 2020)

American director of horror and sci-fi, who made his debut in 1985 with Re-Animator, following 15 years working in theatre in Chicago. This HP Lovecraft adaptation was a spectacular mix of chills, black comedy and inventive splatter, but while it still remains his best film, the likes of From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, Space Truckers and Dagon do have their moments. He followed these with the David Mamet adaptation Edmond and true crime-inspired Stuck. Gordon also wrote the story for the box office smash Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor


Last Updated: