Horrortoberfest Day 8 – Dolly Dearest (1991)


Going into an evil doll film, you can generally guess what you are getting into. There will be a doll that a little kid is overly attached to while increasingly terrible things happen around them. The doll turns out to be possessed by something (devil, ghost, evil spirits, whatever) and it will take a daring parental intervention to save the kid. Ever since Child’s Play, that formula has been pretty well established and damned if Dolly Dearest is going to stray too far from that.

This time around the story takes place in Mexico where Tasha Yar and discount Steve Guttenberg have bought a factory to make dolls that is somehow also right next to an archeological dig. Wouldn’t you know it, digging into the tomb has released some ancient spirit that is evil and also can possess dolls. What are the odds? Anyway, the plot generally unfolds as outlined above though there seems to be an actual, spiritual connection between the kid and the doll such that, for example, she cries out in terror when a priest begins to bless the house. Thankfully, between the White entrepreneurs and the White archaeologist (Oh shit, it’s Rip Torn!), the threat of Mexican evil is forever vanquished with explosions.

The one thing that I will definitely give this movie is that they didn’t fall into the standard “creepy kid says creepy shit in a monotone” that I was just bitching about in Dark Skies. Instead, the daughter seems to have a much firmer grasp on the idea that if she acts sweet when she’s in trouble, it’s more likely that she will get to keep hanging out with her evil, Satan doll. The other kid is a young boy that just screams douchebag every time he is on screen since half the time he is in a damn button down shirt and tie and the rest of the time he is smugly telling everyone how smart he is and how they should let him do whatever stupid thing it is he is currently on about.

The movie at least doesn’t try to do that “Is the doll evil or is it all in the parent’s mind” thing that happens in almost all of these. The first scene is a spirit getting released and then the doll moves on its own right away once they take it home. There are also some pretty decent effects on the doll itself. As it starts to get more and more evil, the face becomes more grotesque and snarling. Unfortunately, for all of this, I still can’t get through the movie without being bombarded by the fact that this movie has a severe case of the White Saviors. The only Mexican people that get any real screen time at all are a superstitious housekeeper, a night guard with some machismo issues, and the obsequious guy that sold the factory by copying American sales documents. Two out of those three people will also be killed. Hooray!

In all, the movie wasn’t bad. It suffers a bit from a pacing problem since, as mentioned, the doll starts off being blatantly evil and the movie can only ramp it up by making it so that all the dolls are possessed instead of just the one. From an entertainment value, it would be a 3 out of 5 but man, I seriously can’t get over the White Savior shit. Probably knocks it down to a 2 out of 5 since it is at least not like blatantly racist or anything.

Favorite thing in the movie: “Oh shit, is that Tasha Yar? Nice!”

Least favorite thing: Another dad in a horror movie that will listen to nobody about supernatural things despite mounting evidence.

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