[Movie Review] Dolls (1987) ★★★★☆

a killer doll in Dolls 1987

Dolls come out to play at night in this over the top fun slasher fairytale. 

Dolls is a fantasy horror comedy film, and as the title suggests, with a lot of killer dolls. It’s a child-like but gruesome fairytale where innocence is spared and cherished and bad people get what they deserve in a rather horrible way. It’s a horror comedy with campy fun, over the top kills and many different dolls who revel in their kills, making it as fun for them as for us. 


When little Judy and her father David and stepmother Rosemary are driving on a deserted road, the car breaks down and a thunder storm breaks loose. They find a house and an old man Gabriel and his wife Hilary let them take shelter for the night. Gabriel is a doll maker and Judy loves dolls.

When three other people arrive at the house, harmless Ralph and two punk girls he picked up, Enid and Isabel, they can stay too. But it is going to be the longest night and who is nice has nothing to fear, but the naughty ones, are going to have a hell of a night.

Why you should watch it

Dolls is pure campy fun. The kills, the setting and set design are beautiful fairytale-like and imaginative. The kills can be quite gruesome, but still, the people deserved it. And it’s not about the graphic kills, although some shots can be a terrifying sight, but it’s all about Judy and Ralph.

Judy loves fairytales and is reading Hansel and Gretel in the car. Gabriel is a mix between a Gepetto and the witch in her gingerbread house, but instead of eating up the children, the naughty adults are getting punished. And in a horrible fantastic way. Each kill is a fun watch on its own. Especially Rosemary gets what she deserved for treating Judy badly and David gets his as well in the end in the most imaginative “kill.”

The punk girls are bad girls, stealing and discarding the rules, and Isabel meets a most gruesome faith, bringing in some body horror. That’s maybe the best part, you can enjoy these kills in a legit way, because they got what they each deserved. 

Judy and Ralph are the innocents, the child-like figures. While Judy is an actual kid, Ralph’s innocence is child-like and he befriends Judy immediately, but soon is seen as a child predator. The dolls leave them alone, but still at one point it gets a little tricky. It’s Judy’s fairytale adventure that she shares with Ralph. 

It all plays out at the wonderful house. It’s old and a little gothic and there’s trinkets and antiques everywhere. It’s a real fairytale house and Gabriel and Hilary play the part looking like ambiguous fairytale figures, not evil not good either. 

The structure and buildup are made with care and slowly the viewer and the guests come to realize something is amiss in this house full of dolls. The story takes the time to let the dolls come to life, like they are waking up from a slumber. But once they are awake, its on, and they are on the loose commencing their killing spree. 

The dolls steal the show. They are amazing. They’re creepy, malicious, vindictive, relentless but aren’t mere killers. They’re punishers. The practical effects to bring the puppets alive are creative and well-done and it shows it was a lot of fun creating the film.

My favoriet part

The discovery of the life-sized doll in the attack is the most gruesome and fantastic one of the bunch. Although we didn’t get to witness the kill, like the very funny demise of Rosemary, the end result, or the proces the doll is going through, is horrortastic. The eyes, the gruesome sight and the idea what becomes of her next is only imaginable, but it can’t be good. 

It shows a new take on Gabriel and his magics and he’s not so innocent and nice as he seems. Although good nice people have nothing to fear of him. He even gives Judy a doll at their goodbye, and what a doll it is. It’s Mr. Punch, a perfect fit for Judy but Mr. Punch is in no way able to treat Judy badly again. I’s a delicious ending of a wonderful film that mixes fantasy, humor, horror and a lot of creativity. 


Rating: ★★★★☆

Fun factor: ★★★★★

Gruesome factor: ★★★☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★★☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

Dolls is directed by Stuart Gordon and written by Ed Naha. It stars Carrie Lorraine (Judy) Stephen Lee (Ralph), Guy Rolfe (Gabriel), Hilary Mason (Hilary), Ian Patrick Williams (David), Carolyn Purdy Gordon (Rosemary), Cassie Stuart (Enid), Bunty Bailey (Isabel) and Carrie Lorraine. 

Duration: 77 minutes. Music: Fuzzbee Morse. Cinematography: Mac Ahlberg. Edited by: Lee Percy. Produced by: Brian Yuzna. Production companies: Empire Pictures, Taryn Productions Inc. Distributed by: Empire Pictures, MGM.

Check the trailer below

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