Director – Maria Lease
Cast – Denise Crosby, Sam Bottoms, Chris Demetral, Candace Hutson, Rip Torn, Lupe Ontiveros, Enrique Renaldo, Will Gotay
Release Year – 1991
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have always loved horror films involving inanimate objects coming to life as antagonists, especially dolls. After hearing some pretty bad buzz about this low-budget 90s flick given to us by a no-name FEMALE director, I finally decided to give this one a shot…and I am glad that I did. I went into this with fairly low expectations, just expecting to enjoy the doll action, but was given more than I expected. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
Dolly Dearest follows a suburban family from LA who relocate to Mexico so that the husband/father can build up his doll-making factory. Little do they know, a recent archeological dig next to the factory has released an evil spirit from a long buried tomb. The spirit has manifested itself inside the dolls of the family’s doll factory, and when the youngest daughter takes a liking to one of the dolls…all hell breaks loose.
What can I say, I enjoyed this one! This is definitely a cheezy no-brainer film, yet it managed to provide some fairly creepy scenes thanks to excellent execution of the “Dolly” dolls. Most dolls are creepy in their own right, but these came off almost as creepy as “Chucky” himself, and I liked that. Another thing I enjoyed about these dolls was that they really aimed to terrorize and “play” with the victim before killing them. Other killer dolls in films have toyed with their victims, but it was always just a single doll, not multiple ones coming up with schemes to terrorize the victim like in this film. I must give great applause to writer/director Maria Lease for executing these scenes very well. To this day, Dolly Dearest remains Ms. Lease’s only directing job outside of a few episodes from an unknown show, and it is sad to see she did not take on more directing jobs in the horror realm.
The writing and acting can be a bit cheesy at times, but when does that not make a film even more fun granted it is executed properly? I think this film has suffered an unfair amount of criticism due to its low budget and lack of big-screen talent and that naysayers have overlooked one very important element…the HORROR! The fact that these dolls were not taken over by some vengeful killer but in fact a Satan-esque demon provides even more chills than usual, especially when “Dolly” speaks…which is in that ever-awesome demon fashion. Heh.
Overall, this is a fun watch that I recommend to fans of such killer-doll films and to those who would like to see a low-budget horror film done right. Expect some cheezy writing and acting, but keep in mind it comes along with some creepy doll action and other elements(the demon) that we do not normally get in these types of horror films.