JULY 13, 2011
Charles Band’s obsession with pint sized doll/puppet killers is well known, but usually it seems like the movie was designed around them, at least. Dangerous Worry Dolls, on the other hand, is a decent (if slow) prison/supernatural revenge film (on a script level at least), but with the titular dolls shoehorned into the plot in a way that makes little to no sense. Plus they barely appear; even though there are five of them we only see one move around, and if you missed the first few minutes of the movie you’d probably never even know what they had to do with anything.
Basically, the dolls are supposed to ease your worries, but what they really do (I guess) is burr into your head, give you an ugly and ever-expanding zit on your forehead, and give you mild superpowers – improved strength and a high pain tolerance, chiefly. They don’t really do anything, and again, you never really see them, so it doesn’t quite fit into the Full Moon template of stop-motion dolls wandering around and killing idiots. In fact, the heroine does all of the killing herself.
Or, I should say, killing and attacking. This movie must hold the record for most number of characters who survived off-screen. Like, we see a fight or Eva (the lovely Jessica Morris) advancing on someone, seemingly with the intent to kill, and then we just hear later “She’ll be in the infirmary for months after what you did!” or something along those lines. She kills the warden and a guard, and that’s about it – the other prisoners who are just as terrible to her throughout the flick are just as evil, but they get off with a broken arm or whatever. And there’s no showdown with the damn dolls; it’s not even clear how they are taken out of Eva’s head and thus wind up in the possession of another inmate, setting up a sequel that will hopefully never occur.
Though maybe a sequel can explain what said inmate (Mouse) was doing in prison in the first place. Her character is so submissive and weak-willed, it’s not even clear how she managed to survive prison thus far, let alone commit a crime to get in there. Or maybe it can explain this movie’s odd fascination with gender issues; not only does Mouse resemble Paul Reubens, but there’s another female character who looks exactly like a dude in drag, and then halfway through we find out that the sadistic male guard is actually a woman, taping down her breasts. What the fuck? This helps to explain an earlier (off-screen) rape scene, where the guy straps on a dildo and forces Eva to appear in some sort of fetish video where he assaults her, but it’s still a really weird and out of place plot element in the middle of my Full Moon killer doll movie.
Again though, it seems like the doll stuff was added later, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a spec script that Band bought and lazily refashioned to suit his needs. It’s nothing particularly great, but the movie has a three dimensional heroine, and presents a fairly even mix of typical prison drama and supernatural revenge flick (not unlike Prison). In other words, it has a plot and a character worth caring about, unlike pretty much any other movie Band has churned out over the past decade or so. But screenwriter August White has written a whole bunch of Full Moon garbage (including last week’s Doll Graveyard and the godawful Dead Man’s Hand), so I dunno. Maybe he just had one decent story in his head and finally got around to convincing Band to make it as long as he tossed some killer dolls in somewhere.
At least it LOOKS like a Full Moon production, so fans need not panic. The whole movie is shot in the Linda Vista, which does not make for a good prison substitute (dig how none of them have cells; they all sleep in a big room that looks shockingly like a hospital infirmary), and, as always, everything is overlit and ugly. You’d think after directing dozens of flicks that Band would have improved as a director, but he seems content to present everything as blandly as possible. The only things that stick out are not positive ones; the transfer is abysmal (though that could be the fault of the distributor), and he apparently forgot to get an establishing shot of the building, so they just keep using a still frame of the familiar Linda Vista façade with noticeable Photoshop coloring (and even a lens flare!) to make them look a bit different each time. It’s almost sort of charming in its cheapness.
Oh, and slow credits return! Look at these goddamn things:
It’s not as bad as Doll Graveyard, because the movie actually hits around 70 minutes without the titles, so I’m not sure why they opted to run them so slow again here. Though to be fair they speed up in the middle, only to slow down again. Without boringly explaining my theory as to why this is, I will just ask, in case anyone involved in the editing is reading this – did you happen to use Boris Red to do your titles? If so, awesome! I used to work there, and the very thing that seems to be causing this speed issue happened to me all the time. Kind of funny.
Without the doll shit, and with a director who actually cared about making a decent movie, this could have been an above average DTV flick. But it’s too unfocused and too damn ugly to be anything more than a somewhat interesting anomaly for the company, one that lacks enough of their trademarks (there’s almost no humor in the film, another oddity) to satisfy their fans but too unsightly and cheap to appeal to anyone else. Oh well.
What say you?