Category Archives: Retro Reviews

Forgotten Playthings: 30 Years of “Dolly Dearest”

I was nine years old scouring our local Mom and Pop video rental store with a friend after devouring a Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut next door when I first laid my eyeballs on Dolly Dearest. Of course, I was intrigued right away as killer dolls were certainly high on my personal interests list; yeah I was a twisted kid. The late 80s’ and early 90s’ brought terrifying playthings front and center in the horror genre with films like Stuart Gordon’s DOLLS, Puppet Master, and the massively successful Child’s Play. However, this one looked different from the rest. Not only was the antagonistic toy shown as a female, but it featured mainly a female led-cast as well; also to note it has a female director as well- Maria Lease but of course you’re not looking at these things as a kid. Being a young girl, this hit all the right horror notes for me and I immediately rented this sucker to see what this was all about.

Needless to say, my 3-day rental turned into a week-long bender on this Sanzia devil doll because I couldn’t get enough of this fuckin’ movie.

The story goes, a well-to-do picture-perfect family of four moves from Los Angeles down to Mexico where dear ol’ Dad seizes an opportunity with an empty doll factory in an effort to start up a successful business. Young daughter Jessica (Candice Hutson) is undoubtedly upset about this up and sudden move but has a change of heart when she and her father discover a plethora of “beautiful” (I think they’re rather creepy) dolls inside their families’ newly acquired factory that seemed to be never released to the masses. Father Elliot (Sam Bottoms) allows Jessica to take one and that’s when the fun begins as they leave the factory and stroll right on past an underground Mayan tomb of Sanzia, (Satan on Earth) where prior to the family’s arrival, an archeologist accidentally released the malevolent spirit of Sanzia; a devil child spirit that, SPOILER ALERT, possesses these dolls.

Now we got a movie!

As soon as this creepo doll is brought home Jessica begins acting strangely. Drawing weird demonic pictures, lashing out, all-around acting like a typical spoiled brat-zo. Which wouldn’t really raise any red flags except the kid starts speaking devil language to the housekeeper in a threatening manner- who is by the way very religious. Well, being as how Dolly Dearest is possessed by a Devil spirit, this doesn’t go over too well with the girl who is rapidly being manipulated by this doll, and she doesn’t last long in the movie. Mom Marilyn played by Pet Sematary’s Denise Crosby, notices these changes right away, most especially after an Omen-like incident with Jessica in the car sensing the house is being blessed by a priest. Elliot is about as blind as a bat to any of this shit and chalks all these outbursts up to tantrums so he is of NO HELP at all in this situation. Soon, Jessica is totally consumed by the spirit of Dolly and Sanzia and it’s pretty much up to Marilyn, older brother Jimmy (Christopher Peter Demetral), and Sanzia Expert Archeologist Karl Resnick (played by Rip Torn) to put a stop to Dolly and the rest of the possessed porcelain freaks in the factory from taking over children’s souls all over the world.

On top of some cool casting, there are some really great behind-the-scenes people attached to the movie. Dolly took a lot of hints from Child’s Play, including using Ed Gale as Dolly for a few of the more difficult scenes that required human-like movement. The doll itself was sculpted by Brian Wade (The Thing) and brought to life by puppeteer Vance Hartwell (Army of Darkness). The unsettling score was composed by Mark Snow, who is probably most famous for his television work on shows like “The X-Files” and “Smallville.”

Dolly Dearest hasn’t gotten quite the love I feel like it deserves over the years; possibly due to the overload of killer doll flicks of the time and it came too little, too late. Grant it, it’s not the greatest movie in the world, however, I feel it has so much charm and is a nostalgic blanket for me personally that warms me to the bone anytime I watch it. It sure as hell doesn’t deserve the sweeping under the rug treatment. Vinegar Syndrome recently released a blu-ray that has been long-overdue and if it’s been a while, or have never seen it, give Dolly a watch (click here) and bask in the peak of 90s’ killer doll flicks.

Review: How To Survive A Human Attack- A Guide For Movie Monsters

Are you a werewolf, mummy, or simply a ghost trying to just live your damn life human free? Did you also know that human attacks account for 100% of premature deaths for witches, cyborgs, and other supernatural beings? Well KE Flann’s new book, “How To Survive A Human Attack” is certainly a must have for your conversation starter coffin table in the living-dead room of your home. Or hey, if you’re just a nasty human, you may as well brush up on some basic human behavioral skills here, as you may actually find some helpful hints for yourself.

This handy parody book is a deep dive into how to be on point in your supernatural body; whether you’re a zombie learning how to bite into a skull properly, or an aging vampire not knowing the basics of how to use a computer, the book has an array of picture-filled, and detailed chapters on guiding monsters through these very scenarios.

However, even through the What We Do In The Shadows style of storytelling in this mock book guide, there are some pretty compelling talking points on the psychology of human behavior from the “monsters” point of view. As a matter of fact, after getting through the entire book I felt like a dirty, nasty human that feels the need to apologize on behalf of the entire human race to all the supernatural beings out there.

“How To Survive A Human Attack”, is comedic, compelling, and perfect for any Horror or Science Fiction aficionado. It truly was a fun read and I think anyone who appreciates just about anything monster-related, will as well.

About the Author:

K.E. Flann’s writing has been featured in The North American ReviewShenandoah, and Michigan Quarterly Review, and a collection of short stories won the 2014 George Garrett Award at Texas Review Press. Excerpts from this incredibly important work have appeared or will appear in Word RiotThe Higgs WeldonDefenestration, and Monkeybicycle.

Pick it up on Amazon here!

WTF Review: “Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby”

WTF REVIEW: "LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY"

In 1968, Roman Polanski shocked the cinema world with Rosemary’s Baby, starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, and  Sidney Blackmer. Seeming rather tame to today’s standards, the age-old story of trading eternal damnation of your soul for a bit of luxury was fresh entertainment over 50 years ago and remains a tried and true horror classic to the genre that the movie helped progress into more risky territory. So why not give it a worthy sequel, eh ? What became of little Adrian Woodhouse and his Antichrist fate?

Umm. Hmm.

Now, I hear a lot of shit about The Exorcist II: The Heretic being the worst sequel of all time- but I’d challenge anyone that makes that statement has surely never seen Look What’s Happened To Rosemary’s Baby. I had only found out about this sequel a few years ago, and then compeletly forgot about it’s existence until a conversation with my step-mother who was looking for the film- which understandably, had fallen into obscurity. BUT, when there’s a will, there’s a way and thank goddess for YouTube where I found a full version of the movie to indulge my curiosity.

Man. I wished I hadn’t.

The film made as a special Halloween presentation airing on ABC, premiered on October 29, 1976 continues the story of Rosemary, Guy, and their bastard Antichrist child, Adrian- whom Rosemary refers to as Andrew which is what his name had intended to be before he was reveled to be the spawn of Satan. Rosemary (this time played by Patty Duke) and “Andrew” have been lying low with Minnie and Roman (Ruth Gordon and Ray Milland) as with the rest of the cult for the past eight years. The pair flee to LA in the hopes of finding ex-husband Guy Woodhouse (George Maharis) and demanding help. However, “Andrew” is kidnapped by a curious woman who had promised help to Rosemary and the little satanic spawn while running on the road and we never see Rosemary again during the rest of the film.

Fast-forward a few years where Adrian (Stephen McHattie), as he is now being called, is a party rock star with hair that even 1978 John Travolta would envy and has all the looks of what you would envision a cocaine- fueled disco dickhead would look like. At the very least, they left out the cliché medallion off his half-exposed chest. He is still living with his abductor, Ellen, who he obviously has no clue of who she truly is. Minnie and Roman re-appear on the eve of Adrian’s non-specified-age birthday; where they intend to consecrate Adrian’s birthright and move forward only if he hasn’t been too tainted as they put it and his vessel can fully embody his demonic destiny. Following a few rituals and bizarre dream sequences, this turns into one real drugged-out comatose of a film. Now normally I can appreciate that fuzzy 70s’ B-Grade artistic experimental film, but this is a fucked up mess. It’s almost trying to be like De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, but far less interesting and done very badly . Adrian with white face paint and a black vest strutting across dance floors to a funky disco, and through a crowd of mindless disco-dancing nimrods as the Castevets, Guy, and the cult stare on as though they are mesmerized by his booty shakes and dream-like Pazuzu transformations is really… something.

I suppose the only redeeming quality to the movie is that Guy Woodhouse gets what he finally fucking deserves, but that’s about the best it gets. It truly doesn’t surprise me that a good majority of fans have never even heard of this film, as it seems to be just an embarrassment to the legacy of what is considered, one of the greatest horror films of all time. If you want a real sequel, I suggest picking up Son of Rosemary by Ira Levin.

Or.. If you dare, here’s the movie generously uploaded by Youtuber Ethan Terra. Either way, don’t say I didn’t warn you.