I DVR'd this movie because I knew it was an 80's horror flick that I'd never seen. I was pleasantly surprised when Stuart Gordon's name popped up as the director. Despite him being one of the better horror filmmakers of the last 20 years, it had escaped me that he made this film. My expectations went up a bit; thankfully they were met.
The film starts with a dysfunctional family driving into a nasty storm. When the car breaks down, the abusive-father and wicked-stepmother drag their little girl to a scary looking mansion hidden in the woods. There's a wonderful scene here where the stepmother throws the girl's teddy away when she's being scared and slowing them down, the girl imagines teddy coming back to life, huge and nasty looking, then tearing her parents to pieces. A delicious piece of dark comedy!
From there it gets weirder. When they get into the house they find an eccentric old couple with rooms full of creepy looking ceramic dolls, which the mad-scientisty-husband has made. Soon a couple of 80's English punk-rock chicks show up with a chubby American guy. More fodder for the dolls.
Once night falls everyone retires to their own rooms. Strange things start to go bump-in-the-night and the little girl witnesses one of the punk-rock chicks being attacked by a few nasty looking dolls, with sharp teeth. Waking them up, her horrible parents force her to go back to bed. Ignoring their order, she finds an ally in the chubby guy and wanders the house looking for the punk's remains.
More people get bumped off all in the right order and in satisfying ways. The dolls are genuinely creepy. Gordon and team did a wonderful job mixing stop-motion, puppetry and actors thrashing about with dolls on them. The film is purposely funny in many scenes; because how can you take a film about killer dolls seriously? But also gory and creepy. Just my kind of film.
I'm sorry that I didn't find this film when I was a kid, because it probably would have left a large impression on me. And I'm happy, because it also probably would have also scared the shit out of me.
- Teddy rips the parents a new one.