Dolls (1987)

dolls poster 1987 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good concept

Story doesn't end up developing into anything

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dolls

Studio:  Empire Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  March 1987 (Los Angeles International Film Festival)

MPAA Rating:  R

dolls punch and judy

Punch and Judy

On a dark and stormy night, Judy Bower (Carrie Lorraine) becomes lost with her father David (Ian Patrick Williams) and his stepmother Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy Gordon) and comes upon a strange mansion owned by Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his wife Hilary (Hilary Mason).  When Ralph (Stephen Lee) and two hitchhikers Isabel (Bunty Bailey) and Enid (Cassie Stuart) arrive, things begin happening in the house…and the dolls that are made by Gabriel Hartwicke seem to have a mind of their own.

Directed by Stuart Gordon, Dolls is a supernatural horror movie.  The movie was met with mixed results, but it has gained a small cult following.

I can remember wanting to see Dolls based on its VHS cover.  Killer dolls were always creepy, but for some reason, I never got around to renting it from our video store.  Flash-forward to the time of easy access online viewing, and Dolls is readily available.  With some fun moments, Dolls is both a hit and a miss.

dolls madonna dead girl

I see you

The killer doll motif continues to work in this movie.  The sequences with the dolls actually attacking and killing the characters are fun and creepy, but the movie as a whole has the feel and tone of a very long episode of Tales from the Darkside.  Despite being R-Rated (and by Gordon), the gore of the film is never quite where I expected it to be and it maintains more of a fairytale feel instead…but I kind of wanted more horrific moments.

Apparently Guy Rolfe has a thing for dolls.  Following Dolls, he took a similar role in Puppet Master III:  Toulon’s Revenge as the puppetmaster Andre Toulon and it is a bit weird to see him here as a primer for it.  Rolfe’s wife is played by Hilary Mason who already earned her “creepy” status as the blind seer in Don’t Look Now, but she doesn’t have enough room to grow in this film.  Ian Patrick Williams and Gordon’s wife Carolyn Purdy Gordon play the worst parents ever and I do like Bunty Bailey and Cassie Stuart as the ’80s perceptions of punks (particularly Bunty Baily as the Madonna wannabe)…though most of the film’s acting is pretty poor.

dolls killers

Damn, girl…who you lookin’ at?

As mentioned, the key selling point in this film is the dolls.  The stop motion sequences in the film are the best parts of the movie but there aren’t enough of them to make the movie rise above average, and the gore just isn’t very gory (so I wish they’d just stick to lots and lots of killer dolls).

I’ve seen Dolls a couple times now and always expect a little more from it.  It is quick and easy, but I wish that Gordon had put a bit more of perspective into the film and maybe some more of his love from Lovecraft.  I do like the idea that all the dolls are the souls of people caught by the witch and warlock…and their evil nature continues in their doll form (though this is not really explored).  There was talk of a sequel (with the dolls arriving in Boston), but the film never came to fruition…it might have been fun.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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