There are not too many movies that can do absolutely cheesy and yet still be genuinely involving and scary, but this is one of them! My friend taped this more me, and I was not that interested, until I saw that this was directed by the same guy who did Re-Animator! And like that one, this one balances being scary and freaky with being quite amusingly off-the-wall.
The very first thing we see is these two punk chicks dancing by the side of the road. always an excellent harbinger of good to come. So this guy David and his daughter Judy and her wicked stepmother Rosemary are all driving through the country for some reason when this storm whips up in like 15 seconds and they get stuck in the mud. Rosemary, who is an OUT OF CONTROL RAVING BITCH [in the MOST endearing way!] throughout the entire film takes little Judy's teddy bear away and throws it into the woods. Then Judy says "I'm gonna get you," and we see a GIANT TEDDY BEAR come out of the woods and rip her stepmother's arm off! With that, this movie HAD ME. It's gonna be hard to lose me after a giant rampaging teddy bear rips a woman's arm off. Sadly, this turns out to be just a fantasy of Judy's, but it still sets the tone! Turns out the stepmother is still very much alive and fully armed. With arms, I mean.
At this point I thought [and was kind of hoping] that this movie would be about how Judy's evil thoughts become manifested and killing the people who are mean to her. But alas no. It seems that Judy is always seeing things and daydreaming, and her parents are upbraiding her for it. Actually, her real mother let's her indulge her fantasies, but her father and especially her stepmother hate her for it. Turns out the stepmother is the one with the money, and the father wishes he could get rid of the little brat so he could go off and have anal sex on the Riviera with Rosemary. So the trio stop into the only house around, which has this creepy old couple and a ton of dolls. At this movie the movie has so successfully moved between Judy's fantasies and reality so often, that when the old man threw the door open, I wasn't sure whether it was supposed to be real or not.
Soon enough this pudgy guy and the two punk chicks arrive. The two punk chicks are a HOOT! One is totally dressed as first-album Madonna, the other is generic punk chick, and they act in such obnoxiously "punk" ways that I just couldn't get enough. The guy is Ralph, big sweet slightly-creepy pudgeball who gets this alarming big goofy smile on his face when he is confronted with dolls, then he remembers that he has to grow up and forget about all that. Can you guess who is going to live?
Spookiness begins to ensue, as the dolls come to life and start a'killin. My favorite was when the stepmother gets it, attacked by a bunch of dolls with little mini-weapons, and she looks down to see that a doll is sawing off her arm! Then later she sees that two dolls have one of those two-man saws and are trying to saw off her leg! I just love the maliciousness of these little dolls, and the image of a woman's leg looking like a huge tree trunk being sawed off is fun and surreal.
Anyway, after the only person who's been killed is the Madonna chick, the other punk girl accuses Ralph of raping and killing her, and Judy's father accuses him of molesting Judy. Both of these allegations are ludicrous, but there is something a little on the strange side going on between Judy and Ralph, and the way the story ends will not dispel this feeling. I found Ralph to be a total hoot. He is the main comic relief here, and he is such the chubby schlub with dialogue that is so completely from another movie [i.e. accuser: "So why didn't the dolls kill you, too?" Ralph: "I'm young at heart, I guess?"], that it kind of works. I found him sweet and hilarious.
There is a good scene where the husband gets into bed with the corpse of the wife, and there's a good touch when the white sheet she's under starts to have this spreading blood stain on it. If the husband's pajama's look somewhat like a certain kind of doll's clothes, well, all I'll say is that it's not by accident. And there is an interesting bit of subtext at the end. after you see what happens to the father, remind yourself that the daughter's name is JUDY.
That's it. I loved it! It was funny and slightly scary and surreal and ludicrous all at once. And some of the sights and ideas were genuinely creepy. And there are stop-motion animation sequences! Man, this movie has everything and more.
Yes! It was DELIGHTFUL!!