[Review] Tiny Terrors: Stuart Gordon’s Dolls

Director: Stuart Gordon | Writer: Ed Naha | Date: 29 May 1987 | Run Time: 1h17min

I really didn’t know what to expect going into this film. It was surprisingly good. Really good, actually. A family of three slide off the road during a terrible thunderstorm. They seek refuge in an old mansion out in the middle of nowhere. Thinking the place is abandoned, they find a way inside only to run into the owners of the mansion. Not long after, a businessman shows up with two hitchhikers, trying to shelter from the storm. The owners welcome their unexpected guests with open arms.

Judy Bower and her vivid imagination goes unwanted by her father and stepmother. In fact, they go so far as to want to put her in a boarding school simply because her imagination is too wild for their liking. As the night progresses, Judy tries to warn her parents about the evil dolls. But it’s no use, her parents think she’s making stuff up again. One by one, the new occupants become victims of the evil dolls. Maybe it was the loud music, or maybe it was the parent’s terrible parenting skills that set the dolls off. Whatever it was, the dolls were ready to play with their new friends.

Stuart Gordon and his crew did a great job with the special effects. It didn’t take much money to make a big splash with the blood. The dolls were great given the budget restraints. I like the camera angles and the placement of the dolls. But what Stuart Gordon did well was the lack of doll movement. Sometimes you couldn’t see the dolls, but you knew they were in the room. The laughs and murmurs crawl over your skin and burrow deep in your flesh.

The acting was solid. Some actors were stronger than others. The dialogue felt a bit choppy at times. There were some parts of the film that fell flat. The jump scares were great. Some of the jump scares were predictable, though. I think the predictability is what makes 1980s horror so much fun. You know the scares are coming, but they still manage to frighten you.

With any great director, you have to have a few laughs along with the frights. And Stuart Gordon delivers the laughs. Dolls is a good time. If you like evil dolls out to kill terrible people, then you should watch this film. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A group of motorists, including young Judy Bower (Carrie Lorraine), her horrible father (Ian Patrick Williams), her evil queen of a stepmother (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) and a meek businessman named Ralph (Stephen Lee), become stranded at a spooky mansion during a nighttime thunderstorm. The house’s strange owners (Guy Rolfe, Hilary Mason) offer overnight lodgings, but with the dastardly intentions of making their visitors the playthings of their murderous toy dolls.

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