The Dolls (1987) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
120 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Creepy Fairy Tale
spacemonkey_fg27 October 2005
Title: Dolls (1987)

Director: Stuart Gordon

Cast: Carolyne Purdy Gordon, Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason, Stephen Lee and Carrie Lorraine


Stuart Gordon. The name is synonymous with gruesome acts of myrth, gore, violence and other on screen mayhem. Normally his films are loaded with buckets of blood and gore, yet somehow in the middle of all the gory mayhem he manages to maintain a nice level of drama and character development. Here he decided (along with writer Ed Naha) to go a different rout. Something more along the lines of a fairytale.

The story is about these two rich snobs who go on vacation with their daughter. Along the road they are encountered by a storm that makes their car sink in the mud. So they decide to try and see if they could stay for the night at a nearby old mansion that they see from the road. A few minutes later three other people wonder into the house, Ralph a man who is a child at heart and the two punk rock girls who he gave a lift to. Unbeknownst to them, this is a spooky old mansion that has dolls that come to life. And kill.

Dolls came out around the time in which killer doll movies were extremely hot. Dolls appeared in 1987, one whole year before Childs Play did in 1988. After that in 1989 the Puppet Master series from Full Moon began. Dolls is a worthy addition to this list of killer doll movies because even though it is a low budget production, it doesn't feel like it. Gordon somehow managed to make the film look more expensive then it really was. So kudos for that to Gordon.

Right off the bat this movie got some things right. First off we get a real nice setting, perfect for this sort of horror film. We get a nice storm that never stops. We get the thunder and the lightning through out 90% of the film and we get a huge mansion with dark hallways filled with antiques. To top all that we also get two kooky and weird old folks who are the owners of the mansion and also happen to be doll makers. So as you can see, we get a nice setting for a spooky old fashion film, which in my opinion Dolls is. An old fashion dark fairy tale.

Thats one of the things I liked about this movie. How it emphasized the fact that it was a fairy tale. At one point the old man starts talking about magical nights that go on forever and never stop. That whole conversation right there kind of like gets you in the mood. You know your in for a spooky old time. Since the movie is about toys that come to like and kill, well its only fitting that we see most of the film through the eyes of Judy, the little girl. And since its told from her point of view, its only fitting that the movie is told in the fairy tale atmosphere that I've been talking about.

What we have here is a nice movie to get your little brothers, cousins, nephews etc. all scared with. Id put in the same category as films like Monster Squad, Invaders from Mars, Troll and The Gate. You know, kiddie horror. And that doesn't lessen to the coolness of the movie for me. Since it does manage to be a creepy flick in spite of its child like atmosphere. In fact the movie does manage to squeeze in a gory scene or two in there, just so you don't forget that this is a Stuart Gordon film you are watching.

The special effects are pretty good. Its a mixture between stop motion animation (like the one seen on the Puppet Master movies) and the use of puppets. I think it was very well achieved for a low budget horror flick. The dolls end up looking really creepy, specially in one scene where they all suddenly come to life and turn their heads. That scene was priceless for me.

All in all, this isn't the type of film you'd normally expect from Gordon since it does have a certain innocent charm to it. Its sort of a big departure from his previous films like Re-animator and From Beyond. Those films were drenched in blood and gore. Dolls is not as gory or violent but its creepiness still makes it quite effective. Good thing it is finally out on DVD with a couple of cool extras like a commentary with Stuart Gordon and storyboard to film comparisons. Now if they only released Stuart Gordons other lost film From Beyond (wich I hear MGM is getting ready to release) I could die happy.

Rating: 4 out of 5
27 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Once Upon A Time..."
cchase16 November 2000
If Sam Raimi had channeled the Brothers Grimm to write a story about dolls in the present day, this is about what they would've come up with. By turns charming, eerie and cringe-inducing, it allowed director Stuart Gordon to rein in the outrageousness he got to indulge in with "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond". There are shocks, there is gore and there is that pitch-black sense of humor, but everything is tempered by the wonderfully pleasant presences of Carrie Lorraine and Stephen Lee, as the only two decent souls in the midst of one of the most unpleasant casts of rotters I've seen in my recent if faulty memory; all of whom come to equally unpleasant, if not deserving ends. Just like in fairy tales...

The Bands and Gordon must've been avid fans of the old William Castle spooker "Mr. Sardonicus," because they find casting perfection in Guy Rolfe as the kindly old dollmaker, who sort of extends the role (and his career) in the "Puppet Master" series. Distinguished character actor Hilary Mason plays off him well, and the two have a wonderfully morbid benevolence about them; like Gomez and Morticia Adams in their twilight years.

Working the other end of the spectrum are Ian Patrick Williams and the always excellent Carolyn Purdy-Gordon as the little girl's abusive and shallow father and "wicked" stepmother. Rounding it off are Bunty Bailey and Cassie Stuart as the brassy, blowsy punkettes who learn all about the virtues of etiquette...the hard way.

Anybody who thinks Chucky is state-of-the-art when it comes to walking, talking, murderous toys needs to check out the effects created by Giancarlo Del Brocco and John and Vivian Brunner. A lot of stop-motion combined with mechanics, (courtesy of the legendary David Allen) but you gotta appreciate the subtleties. Got creeps? Less is definitely more.

A nifty little rental if you can get hold of it.
24 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Entertaining Little Horror
Big Movie Fan17 May 2002
The Dolls was truly an enjoyable little horror film which never got the recognition it deserved unlike the evil Chucky from the Childs Play movies. The Dolls were around before Chucky!

It's an entertaining horror film which I won't give many details about because it will spoil it. There's certainly a few little twists in the story and nothing is quite what it seems.

The dolls themselves were quite creepy. Being a male, I've never had a doll obviously but after watching this film I have to wonder how women could ever keep dolls when they were kids. Dolls are so evil looking (some of them anyway).

This was a great film. I won't spoil the ending but wait till you see what fate befalls one of the main characters.
22 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Under-appreciated gem
fertilecelluloid5 December 2005
Under-appreciated gem from director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter Ed Naha, who in a previous incarnation wrote film review books such as 'Horrors - From Screen To Scream'. Ed may have learned a thing or two from the turkeys he encountered in his reviewing days because his script for "Dolls" is rich in homage and character. The film borrows its structure from "The Old Dark House" and realizes its ambitions with a cast and crew of highly talented individuals.

Gordon, who directed the entertaining "Re-animator" and perverse "From Beyond" brings a deliciously eerie and playful tone to this novel story of a group of adults who are sentenced to death for losing the child-like aspects of their personalities. The "dolls" of the title are the executioners and they love their bloody work, which is depicted in fine, crimson detail.

The special effects sequences featuring the dolls are realized with stop motion animation and puppetry. For the most part, they are extraordinarily convincing. A scene in which various doll characters huddle together to discreetly discuss the fate of a human character is priceless.

Mac Ahlberg's cinematography is moody and beautiful, perfectly capturing a toyland ambiance within a house of horror; and Lee Percy, who cut the Americanization of the "Baby Cart" films, "Shogun Assassin", delivers another tight, intuitive piece of work here.

Hats must come off to Gordon for the casting of Mr. Sardonicus himself, Guy Rolfe, as Gabriel Hartwicke, the eccentric, twisted toymaker and owner of the film's pivotal location where the nasty events transpire.

Producer Charles Band has made dozens of horror films, but none are as classy as the three above that he made with the talented Stuart Gordon.
21 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore
TonyDood31 October 2007
This movie came out in the wake of Stuart Gordon's ground-breaking "Re-Animator." It was pitched as yet another low-budget 80's "pseudo-horror" video-rental, along the lines of the PuppetMaster series; not scary, NOT ground-breaking but generally entertaining. As such I resisted it for years even though I like Gordon's work. The cover looked cheesy and the premise too silly. Pre-CGI effects, you couldn't expect much from a low-budget movie about dolls, certainly nothing more than a diluted rip-off of Gremlins or its host of copycats ("Munchies" "Ghoulies" "Critters" etc). You have to be in the right mood to watch a movie where the entire budget probably went to B-movie creature effects you'll only see fleetingly, at the end of the film. I'm not saying there's no value in such movies, you just have to be in the right frame of mind.

Just saw "Dolls" and it's great fun. It's fun from frame one. Remember when horror movies used to be fun? When it wasn't just about pouring as much fake blood and prosthetics and torture and quick-cutting in as possible? Remember when monster movies were cool because, pre-CGI, you didn't really know exactly HOW they'd done it? This movie delivers on those levels, but more too.

It starts out great with a hateful, abusive couple driving in the rain with the adenoidal-voiced daughter of a mean-spirited father in an un-named remote locale somewhere in England. You know you are in good hands the first time the bitch step-mother spews invective. The dialog is consistently fun throughout, the whole thing is consistent. A fun "macguffin" (Hitchcock term for a misleading plot turn) happens next and then the plot kicks in. It's nothing new--a play on "The Old Dark House," but there's comfort in familiarity. The setting isn't important, it's what happens.

Remember horror movies that had a "moral code?" Where lots of nasty things happen but ultimately the good guys, the people who demonstrate courage and honor, "win," and those who are rude, unpleasant and nasty, "lose?" You don't see that much anymore, even Gordon's films aren't usually so "moral," for want of a better word. It's refreshing now and then--"Dolls" is even inspirational in a way. I won't spoil the message but there is one, and it's not a bad one.

The acting is over-the-top, generally--everyone is doing "Herbert West," and it's a flaw--yes, but the nasty "Madonna-in-the-80's" girls are deliciously horrible and the little girl, though she verges on being insufferable, is actually pretty good. It's difficult to ride the line between cartoony and straight horror. "Re-Animator" did the combo of cartoony/serious so well, but then, that's a very unique film. The puppets are, by today's standards, ridiculously unconvincing, but there's some neat work here all the same. There are some wonderful bits of grue and gleeful violence, all the moreso because people get what's coming to them. And the performances by the spooky old dollmaker and his wife are beautiful, they remind you how satisfying it is to watch a good actor at his or her craft, even in an exploitation film.

I don't know that this film gets looked at anymore or that it even needs to be, but I'm glad I finally saw it, it was worth a quick rental. And it proves what anyone who saw and liked "Re- Animator" already knows, that Stuart Gordon hit the ground a genius and has been running as one ever since.
21 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A fairy tale, a mix of horror and humour,scary and cute!
filip.roose4 August 2000
"Dolls" is a children's fantasy horror movie with a scary atmosphere, black humour, and great effects. But the real star in this movie was the young girl Carrie Lorraine, nominated as "Best Young Actress in a Horror Motion Picture", an award that she really deserved! She was an absolute delight. A lovable kid surrounded by some nasty characters, who are all killed. Her innocence (and that of the other protagonist - a young man) are a big contrast of the rest of the evil visitors. The only disappointing thing in this movie was the two punk/new-wave chicks, 2 unwatchable characters, but luckily they have not a main role in this movie. "Dolls" is a really splendid horror-fantasy, sometimes hilarious comic, sometimes really horrifying and sometimes really cute. Another interesting character was the dollmaker:grandfatherly and mysterious. I really loved this movie. If you still have the child in you, "Dolls" is an unforgettable experience. This gem is definitely the best work of Stuart Gordon!!! (rating **** excellent)
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terror movie with awful murders by a malevolent creatures attacking unsuspecting people
ma-cortes30 July 2009
A motley group formed by six people (Patrick Williams,, Cassie Stuart, Carolyn Purdy, Lorraine among others) are stranded during a fierce storm and drawn to mysterious place located in an old mansion. In the shelter meet a kindly old doll-maker (Guy Rolfe) and his spouse (Hilary Mason), owners of the creepy ancient house. One by one they are attacked by hundred of stalking living dolls. The obnoxious and antique little dolls in elegant outfits have killing instincts.

The picture packs suspenseful horror, thrills, chills, graphic violence tongue-in cheek and grisly killings. The real stars are the dolls that are magnificently made by John Carl Buechler as supervisor on Mechanical and Make up Imageries and the master Dave Allen as expert on Stop-motion. Frightening and moving musical score by Richard Band. Produced by Charles Band and Brian Yuzna for their production company called ¨Empire¨ that was posteriorly locked and creating a new called ¨Full Moon¨. Later on, Full moon produced a same type of film, though a little tamer, the ¨Puppetmaster¨ series a ¨ Dolls¨-lookalike . The motion picture is professionally directed by Stuart Gordon who also made the successful ¨Reanimator¨and ¨From Beyond¨. Recommended for gore buffs and terror lovers, though isn't for the squeamish.
16 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Better than Chucky or Puppetmaster
eric-1449 April 1999
I first saw this as a kid and it was instantly one of my favorite movies. even to this day it is still very good. The acting direction and script is very good, not to mention the score. The scenes with the dolls attacking are top notch. My only problem with the film years later is it is too short. And you would think they would have made a sequel to it by now. they made a million puppetmasters. Dolls was 10 times far better then puppetmaster you would have thought they'd make a sequel. I give it a 10 out of 10. Recommended.
30 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good fun!
Jugurtha1128 November 2003
Wow, I remember watching this movie as a has to be one of my all time favorites. If you're looking for a great scary-doll movie, before the whole "Chucky" thing came about, this is for you. It's fun with great effects (for the time mind you) and blends together the right amount of gore and laughs...a must see in my book!
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Longest Night in the World
claudio_carvalho28 February 2015
While driving in a stormy night, the car of Rosemary Bower (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon), her husband David Bower (Ian Patrick Williams) and his seven year-old daughter Judy (Carrie Lorraine) get stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere. The family is traveling on vacation and Judy, who lives in Boston with her mother, daydreams many times irritating her stepmother. They break in an old house and the owner, the toy maker Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his wife Hilary (Hilary Mason), welcome the invaders. While they are having soup, the driver Ralph Morris (Stephen Lee) and the hitchhikers Isabel (Bunty Bailey) and Enid (Cassie Stuart) also get stuck and come to the house.

The old couple invites the guests to spend the night in the house. Isabel decides to steal the couple and Judy sees Leprechauns taking her to the attic. She tries to tell to her father, but he believes that she is daydreaming. Ralph, who has the heart of a kid, is the only adult that gives attention to the little girl. Along the longest night in the world, the toys get rid off those that are evil persons and only those with pure heart will survive.

"Dolls" is a highly entertaining horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon. The story alternates creepy and funny moments with witty dialogs, such as when the little girl explains that she is not afraid of the dark, but what is in the dark. The special effects with stop motion animation are great and the sets with the dolls and toys that change positions and faces are scary. This movie is better and better than the recent "Annabelle". My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Dolls"
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Delicious little movie by Stuart Gordon
Coventry31 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This may be a personal opinion, but director Stuart Gordon is one of the finest directors in the field of horror. He's responsible for some of the best horror flicks from the 80's like Re-animator and From Beyond, but he also made this small, but adorable movie. Not the usual H.P Lovecraft story as a base, not the usual actors he like to work with and not the violent, brutal gore he usually likes to put in his movies. No, a touching and entertaining little story that comes with a valuable lesson...: Never let go of the child inside you !! And if you don't behave like you're supposed to...the "little people" come to get you ! ...And they show no mercy if your heart and conscience isn't as pure and innocent as it should be. This film contains all elements to be a modern and very morbid fairy tale. The wicked stepmother, the old dark house, the friendly and smart old people and the macabre atmosphere...It's all there, the happy ending included. A movie like this is the excellent proof that you don't need famous actors or a big budget to tell a fascinating story. All you need is a good plot and spend the rest of the money to the make-up effects. Because, the true horror fans don't have to worry a single bit. It still is HORROR ! Although a lot less bloody than From Beyond or Re-Animator, the murdering dolls are pretty creepy and those who deserve it die in very gruesome ways... Highly Recommended !!!
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
If you want to see a really short horror movie that is rather good this could be it.
Aaron137513 February 2004
It isn't super great mind you, but it is rather interesting from what I remember. A group of people stranded in a rain storm come upon a house and seek refuge there. Like many other movies that have this premise, things are a bit odd, as the house is the home of a man and his wife who are very avid doll makers. You can see where this is going, this is a killer doll story sort of like "The Puppet Master" and "Demonic Toys" only this one is better than those. Though it still has humor in it like those two as well. Still though it is an okay horror movie and it does have one memorable scene that was rather funny...the one where the little girl imagines her stuffed bear getting big and killing her step parents (I don't remember if either parent was her natural one). Also stuck in the house some guy and a couple of hitchhikers (at least I think there was two). As you can tell it has been awhile since I saw it. I do remember it ended okay. Like I said nothing to great, but worth checking out.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Generally entertaining
gridoon25 December 2001
This movie is too minor and too short (runs only 75 minutes) to escape the two-star rating category, but it's still recommended to any casual horror fan. Entertaining, well-made and well-written (especially regarding the ultimate fate of all the victims), it's filled with characters that are (intentionally) so dislikable you can't wait to see them killed, and yet the dolls are so vicious that you won't be rooting for them, either. Only problem is that the stop-motion animation is a little clumsy at times, and the dolls' movements aren't always as smooth as they should've been.
14 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
decent film
angemon_200115 October 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I saw it and it wasn't that bad. the dolls sometimes looked like they were made of clay but otherwise it was pretty neat **SPOILER** the dolls gang up on a horrid mean lady by hammering nails into her,stabbing her with little sharp knifes,and biting her. this is a film you should see.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
very creepy
georgesturdy25 October 2005
i first seen this film back in 1988 when i was 12 and it really scared the hell out of me so much so that i threw all my teddies out of my bedroom i swear it really freaked me out, i think what makes this film so scary is that it uses something as innocent as dolls and teddie bears and turns them into such evil incarnations in much the same way as the 2 little girls in the shining or the kid in the omen are used to scare us we assume anything childlike or innocent looking wont harm us and when that is turned on its head its very unnerving.i don't usually like horror films as they are usually full of teenagers and are very boring and to be honest quite silly yet i really liked this as it was so well filmed in this gloomy old mansion it put me in mind of the shinning with its sense of entrapment in a big old building and the acting was really very good especially by the little girl she was very convincing.i really recommend this film and i am always trying to come across it to purchase as it seems to have just vanished off the face of the earth but i keep my fingers crossed that they will release it on DVD soon.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Quintessential Killer Doll Movie
aok778410 August 2009
I consider myself a killer toy connoisseur. As a horror fan, it is by and large my favorite sub-genre, and I've gone out of my way to see every movie that explores this sub-genre. There aren't many and most of them were made by Charles Band, but it's still a very important theme. Of all of them (Even though I am a HUGE Puppet Master fan) I consider Dolls to be the quintessential evil doll movie. After all, the movie is just called DOLLS! It is the very essence of the killer doll phobia put on film, without any other elements to the plot. The dolls are alive and they kill people. Pure and simple.

I won't go into spoilers or details of the plot. I will just say that although Child's Play may have been scarier, and Puppet Master may have been more creative, Dolls is by no means "just another killer toy movie." You will not find another film out there that delivers hundreds of evil, porcelain-faced Victorian dolls...the scariest kind!

The clever, semi-dark humor is a real treat, the story and characters are classic, the doll effects (Though low-budget and often revealing) still hold up today and are a thousand times better and creepier than anything a computer could dream up. Though a killer doll movie, the atmosphere is totally cut from the classic horror cloth; a haunted house, a raging thunderstorm, creaking stairs, doors that open and close by themselves, candelabras, and whistling wind.

All of this coupled with the fact that the dolls are like no force that's ever been assembled in a killer toy movie. In Child's Play there's one doll. In Puppet Master, there are five puppets. In Demonic Toys there are four toys. This movie is loaded with dolls. Hundreds of them, and the sheer number makes them a force to be reckoned with.

Most movies in this sub-genre are extremely creepy at the beginning. The doll is seen sitting complacently in one scene and is gone in the next. Footsteps are heard and little shadows are seen fleeting across the background. However, once you see the doll moving in full view and you come to understand how it works, the mystery fades away. Dolly Dearest was one such movie. It was so creepy that, when the moment finally came that she was going to be revealed, I shut my eyes. It had a perfect build-up. But after you see her for the first time, 17 minutes into the movie, she never really scares you again. In Dolls, that moment never really comes because there are so many dolls and each one is a little different. Every animation trick in the book is employed to bring them to life; hand puppetry, rod puppetry, string puppetry, animatronics, stop-motion, etc. and there's always something new to see.

My only gripe with the movie is one of the death scenes (I won't mention which, but it was a huge cop-out in my opinion) and the fact that the movie's just too short. It's perfect for what it is, but I would have liked to see so much more. I heard that Stuart Gordon wanted to do a sequel, which I would have loved, but it also seems kind of impossible to do a sequel. All in all, I can't understand why nobody's at least tried to make a movie like this. To the untrained eye, all killer toy movies may seem the same, but they're all distinct and there's no movie even remotely like this one in the whole genre.

It's not for nothing that this is one of my favorite movies of all time.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Silly, but enjoyable horror fairytale
The_Void13 June 2006
Stuart Gordon must have been bored with HP Lovecraft films by 1987, and so he directed this bizarre little film. Dolls is kind of like a modern fairytale, as we have a house full of wonders, a young kid at the centre and, of course, a wicked stepmother. Gordon manages to keep the tale firmly within the bounds of horror thanks to some nice gore and plenty of actually quite frightening scenes, but the film has the distinct backbone of a kids' film, and that is what gives Dolls its unique edge. My favourite aspect of the movie is the way that Gordon uses his location, as the house at the centre of tale is every bit as important as the maniacal dolls themselves and Gordon ensures that the atmosphere is always fitting to the action. The plot follows a young girl named Judy, her dad and her stepmother after they are forced to stop at a strange old house, inhabited by a couple of strange old people, during a storm. They are joined by an amiable man and two hitchhikers that he has picked up, and all the guests find that they are in for a night of mayhem as the dolls that the old man makes are alive!

The special effects are one of the standout elements of this movie, and the way that the dolls move gives the film it's most creepy edge. A film about killer dolls really shouldn't work; but it does, and that's mostly thanks to the special effects department. The film has a very short running time, and it's not surprising given the amount of time and effort it must have took to get those dolls to move! The fact that the central plot idea is never really explained loses the film credibility, as a really good idea could have been implanted there; making the whole piece better. The central theme of the movie - that of 'not losing your inner child' - is well used, but more than a little bit silly; and the ending especially piles the sentiment on too much for my liking. Furthermore, I don't think it's a particularly credible idea. There is some good humour, however, and Gordon does well in creating a sense of urgency; which almost offsets the sentiment at the end. Overall, I can't say that this film is entirely successful; but it's a unique movie and Stuart Gordon should be praised for having the balls to take it on. Besides, the transformation scene towards the end is worth the admission alone!
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Moderate horror film.
poolandrews10 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I dug my old VHS tape released by Vestron Video (anyone remember them!?) out last night and decided to give it a watch. David and Rosemary Bower (Ian Patrick Williams and Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) and his daughter from a previous marriage Judy (Carrie Lorraine) are on holiday. Traveling along what looks like a dirt track their car becomes stuck in the mud. The sky clouds over, thunder starts to rumble and lightening starts to strike. Through the trees in the distance they notice a large mansion, they decide to seek shelter there. The house is owned by a creepy elderly couple, Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe and Hilary Mason) who appear to spend their time fashioning beautiful dolls of every type. After David convinces them they aren't burglars, Gabriel and Hilary invite the family to stay for the night. As they eat some hot broth the kitchen door bursts open and two slutty hitchhikers who look like rejects from a rock concert called Enid (Cassie Stuart) and Isabel (Bunty Bailey) burst in soaking wet, plus a kind hearted guy named Ralph (Stephen Lee) who stopped to give them a lift, but it turns out his car became stuck in the mud too, and they also decided to seek shelter from the now raging thunderstorm outside in the Hartwicke's mansion. They are all invited to stay the night. However strange unexplained things begin to happen, and people start to disappear. Could it possibly be the 'little people' Judy keeps talking about? Or is it just her imagination? As the night draws on the visitors begin to realise that these are no ordinary dolls, something in the house is alive and it's not human!

Directed by Stuart Gordon for Charles and Albert Bands Empire pictures, before they set up Full Moon productions that itself went on to produce the puppet master films, as well as numerous other killer toy films. I still thought it was a good horror film, just not brilliant. The dolls them selves are brought to life via a mix of puppetry and stop motion animation, the effects team does a reasonable job. The special make up effects are better with a couple of impressive gore scenes here and there, and Ian Patrick Williams transformation at the end is well done and becomes a little unnerving and freaky. The script by Ed Naha could have used a little more work, nothing is really explained properly, who are Gabriel and Hilary? How can they turn people into dolls? Why does Rosemary throw herself out of a window? All she needs to do is jump over the dolls and run away, I don't understand why she jumps over them and out the nearest window to her death! And that ending feels very rushed and comes across as rather ludicrous. But there are some great ideas in there too, I loved Judy's dream sequence in which Rosemary her mean stepmother throws her teddy bear into a bush, a giant teddy then emerges and transforms into a vicious monster, sharp claws and razor teeth ripping through teddy's soft exterior. It then goes on to bite Rosemary's arm off and kill her dad, afterwards it turns to Judy and opens its arms as if to try and cuddle her, Judy looks at it and says "oh teddy!". Another great sequence is where Isabel is confronted by toy soldiers. One of the soldiers starts to play the bugle and another starts a drum roll, while the rest raise their guns towards Isabel. Once the music stops the soldiers shoot Isabel, an extremely memorable sequence. The acting is variable, Carrie Lorraine as Judy isn't anywhere nears as annoying as a lot of child actors, Cassie Stuart and Bunty Bailey as the hitchhikers are terrible, those accents are awful, where are they supposed to be from? Everyone else is OK. I should also mention the score by Richard Band, it's wonderful. Really atmospheric and creepy and I love the opening theme music, fantastic eerie undertones. At 76 odd minutes it's short, and too be fair needs to be. A decent time waster, but I much prefer the puppet master films, the dolls themselves while being a bit creepy aren't scary or fun. Not bad, just not brilliant either, OK if you've got nothing else to watch and can find a copy to rent, or if it's showing on TV.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not as good as "Re-Animator" or "From Beyond",but still pretty enjoyable.
HumanoidOfFlesh1 June 2003
"Dolls" is an enjoyable horror film made by Stuart Gordon("Castle Freak","Re-Animator").Gordon mixes the fairytale atmosphere with splatter effects.The child-like score by Richard Band is effectively creepy,especially during the opening credits.The acting is rather good and the atmosphere is pretty creepy and uncanny.The gore effects are well-done and the dolls look amazing.The film surely isn't as memorable as Gordon's cult hit "Re-Animator",but it's worth checking out for horror fans.My rating:8 out of 10.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent prequel to the Puppetmaster series
Katatonia29 November 2002
Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon once again made a low budget masterpiece with Dolls. It was released by Empire which was Charles Band's film company before the Full Moon days.

The casting of the film is perfect, all of the actors really did a fantastic job and it shows in their performances. Guy Rolfe as Gabriel turns in an especially noteworthy acting job, who also went on to play Andre Toulon in the later Puppetmaster series.

The Doll effects are mid-1980's, so they're not going to look like CGI effects these days. I think the effects are very good however and hold a certain magic of their own...perhaps since David Allen did most of the work, and later went on to the Puppetmaster series of films. The people who will say "this film sucks" are those who expect CGI quality in all old films, or expect all enjoyable films to cost 100 million to produce.

The Mansion in which most of the film takes place is particularly magical looking on film. It reminds me much of a large older house i spent my early childhood in.

To those interested there is a DVD version of Dolls out. It is an official licensed version from Hong Kong. The good thing is that it can play on any Region 1 players! The picture and sound quality are quite good and it has optional subtitles which you can turn off.

I just wish they still made lighter edged horror films as good as this, with a well written plot, good characters, creepy musical score, etc...
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A little horror gem
ladymidath24 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I saw Dolls many years ago when movies were still on VHS tapes rather than DVD. Dolls was fun from the get-go, it had the perfect atmosphere, a creepy elderly couple that live in a spooky old mansion. Then there are the unwary travelers, some people that get stuck and seek shelter from a thunderstorm. The storm lends even more atmosphere to the spooky old house where our intrepid group ended up. But as good as the actors were, the real scares came from the dolls themselves. The scenes where the dolls actually start coming to life are really quite frightening. There are a couple of very intense scenes, especially one with a teddy bear. This would be a great film to watch late at night with the lights turned low. It is a pity that they don't make these kind of films anymore, scary and fun to watch with good solid acting and storyline. There have been an effort to make film with a similar theme such as Chucky, Dolly Dearest, Puppet Master and Dead Silence but films such as Saw and Hostel seem to be the more popular in the horror genre today.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
This movie was FAR better then I had anticipated!
tom_koopa2 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Oh my, Dolls blew me away!

I was expecting a cheesy, below zero-budget, crappy story, 1 hour flick...

It was NOTHING of the sort!

Dolls is a very entertaining horror movie. The story is about a family of three getting stuck in the middle of nowhere while they are on their way to their vacation spot. Just so it happens, they stumble across an old house. (how convenient). The parents aren't too fond of their only child, Judy. Judy has a very active imagination and loves toys and stuffed animals. Inside the house, the threesome meets with the old couple who lives there. Not long after that, three more people come into the house and they are all invited to spend the night. The couple's... occupation (if you could call it that) is making toys and dolls. As the night gets darker, so do the toys...

From start to finish, I was glued to this movie. The story is moving, well-written and solid. I didn't find any plot holes or contradictions.

The acting in this movie is above par. There really are 8 different characters in this story. They all play their roll extremely well. No one is boring. You are really going to HATE the parents of Judy and wish they die right away. Patience, my friends...

An excellent, wonderful music score. The title theme is catchy and fits the film perfectly.

The effects on the toys are well-done. You don't care that it's somewhat low-budget. The way the dolls move and change facial expressions works for this movie. There are some scary moments, in fact. And they're just TOYS! A real accomplishment...

In overall, I have to say that Dolls is one of the best 'when toys attack' movies I have seen so far.

A solid 9 out of 10 stars!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Overlooked little horror movie
kgrinde7 March 2008
Dolls is an absolutely wonderful movie that I never get tired of watching. The reason that I enjoy it so much is that it combines, horror, heart & humor beautifully. There are some scenes of violence that are quite graphic, & you will then find yourself laughing immediately afterward. And as for the heart, the relationship that develops between Ralph & Judy is very sweet. Stephen Lee & Carrie Lorraine work wonderfully together. I have the DVD, which has two commentary tracks, one with the actors & one with the director & writer. They are both very entertaining as well. The bottom line: Dolls is a little gem that I hope more people discover.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
clever, pretty good scary flick
wolfson-071411 December 2006
the whole situation/plot is ludicrous. the acting is also bad but the magical/killer doll theme is funny. recommended for a slight scare and a laugh or two. it is worse than child's play 1 and 2 but in no means a copy. it is better than child's play 3 and the remainder of the series. this interested me because of the killer doll picture on the cover which always freaks me out. you will like this a lot if you are accepting the bad parts and you like killer doll flicks.

in the story a bunch of different people become stranded and stay in a mansion that is owned by two seniors that are doll makers. but they hold a secret about the dolls. the victims serve surprisingly different fates. its like a haunted fairy tale.

Rated R for Horror Violence and Some Language
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Once I saw this movie I got hook on killer dolls.
freakyteenager66630 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The idea of seeing these childhood playthings killing off the sins of adulthood really is a creepy thing lets say your toys might kill your mother and father then. When I saw DOLLS it made me change the way how I am with dolls and I thank that to Charles Band and his evil doll movies and the living dead dolls. The plot of DOLLS is a group of people shelter them inside a mansion with an old couple and their collection of murderous dolls. And the ending has a fairy tale like ending with twist the victims turned into dolls as well. The stop motion animation was well done for a low budget movie.

DOLLS A fairy tale of childhood killing off adulthood.

Kick ass movie!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed