Friday, March 9, 2012

Dolly Dearest (1992)

Since the Gentlemen reviewed “Magic” this week, I decided to get in on the doll craze. I chose a film farther from “Magic” and closer to “Child’s Play”. You could say this is almost a knock-off. It’s a film that a few other blogs have reviewed already (such as “Deadly Dollhouse” and “Chuck Norris Ate My Baby”). That being “Dolly Dearest”. What new can I add to the mix? I’ve got a vagina joke!

Okay, it’s not that good of a vagina joke. It’s just that, when one of the workers died, he ripped open his shirt before collapsing for no apparent reason. The only chest hair he had was above his pecs and was in the shape of a vagina. Not much of a joke, more of a keen (and perverted) observation.

Now that my pathetic excuse for humor is out of the way, let’s get to the film. Elliot Wade (Sam Bottoms a.k.a. Steve Guttenberg‘s lost brother) moves his family to Mexico to work at a doll factory. This factory looks more like a crack house, which is probably where the writers came up with this story. The line of dolls he operates are “Dolly Dearest”, which I’m guessing are supposed to resemble Hilary Swank.

His daughter, Jessica (Candy Huston), becomes attached to one that just so happens to be possessed by a demon. How did the demon possess the doll, you ask? Archeologist Karl Resnick (Rip Torn) accidentally unleashed the leader of a satanic cult. Oh, and her minions were released too, as all of the dolls are possessed.

Jessica’s behavior becomes erratic and worries her mother, Marilyn (Denise Crosby). Elliot just thinks she’s paranoid because he’s an idiot who can’t notice the signs that are right in front of him. In one scene, Jessica tells her mother, in a demonic voice, that she’ll kill her if she takes away Dolly. Elliot is right outside of the door when this happens, but brushes it off. Before anybody says he couldn’t have heard her, his son, Jimmy (Chris Demetral), heard it and he was right in front of his father.

Speaking of the demonic voices, they can be hilariously off-putting. When speaking, Dolly sounds like a record player that’s on slow. The voice doesn’t match the face, causing fits of hysteria. When all of them are running around and giggling, they cackle like Gremlins. It’s also hard to tell whether all of the demons are female or if any of them are, for that matter. It does add to the mystique though.

As for the doll animatronics, they’re really good for such a low budget film. They move around nicely and all of the facial movements are done well. They can be a bit shaky at times, but they get the job done. I did get a laugh when Dolly rolled her eyes at the bumbling factory worker. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the strange and random tongue wiggling one of the doll heads did.

“Dolly Dearest” is plagued with a lot of problems. It drags in spots, borrows too heavily from films such as “Child’s Play” and can be unintentionally hilarious at times. It does have it’s upsides, though. The performances are fine (except for Rip Torn, who must’ve been paying off a debt), the animatronics are good and the look of the doll is simple and effective. The film can get pretty boring at times, but it’s good for background fodder that you can occasionally peek up at and enjoy.

MVT: Definitely the doll. The simple look works and can instill fear, especially if you don’t like dolls. The animatronics help in making it chilling.

Make or Break: The first time we see the doll move. I was expecting cheap animatronics, which would have ruined the film. It may have been funny to watch, but painful to sit through after awhile.

Final Score: 5.5/10

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