Some folks just aren't going to buy into the idea of little dolls/action figures coming to life and killing people, even when all the fun comes direct to DVD from the same guys who gave the world The Puppetmaster, but I call it grand entertainment -- as long as the kills are sufficiently gruesome and numerous. Demonic doll fans everywhere should be excited by the news that Fool Moon and Charles Band, the famed low-budget director and MonsterBra inventor who has killed enough characters with dolls over the course of his career to make Chuckie feel like a demonic beginner, are back -- and they're not here to put on any fancy little tea parties.
Doll Graveyard is a far from perfect little horror film, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. It's really all about the dolls, man. What a quartet of doom: a Samurai warrior (with sword); a pre-WWI German soldier (with gun and really pointy helmet) I affectionately call the Kaiser; "Ooga Booga," a spear-wielding African witch doctor; and a cute little china doll with quite a mouth on her. What could inspire this motley crew of toys to animate themselves with a lust for blood, you ask? Well, how about being buried since 1911 alongside their owner, a cute little girl who more than paid the price for breaking one of daddy's vases while playing? If I were buried and forgotten for 94 years, I'd be pretty grouchy, too.
We have the deadly dolls, so all we need now are some horror film staples: hot chicks -- check; a likeable geek who is always being picked on -- check; jerk jocks who all but beg to be killed -- check; a little blood and gore -- check. There's no nudity on the part of the aforementioned hot chicks, but I guess you can't have everything. The story couldn't be any simpler, really. Jared Kusnitz plays Guy, a geeky freshman who's into action figures and irritating his older sister, Deedee (Gabrielle Lynn). Stuck with babysitting Guy while their dad is out on a hot date, Deedee invites girlfriends Olivia (Kristyn Green), a ditzy blonde always in search of a good time, and Terri (Anna Alicia Brock), who's actually quite nice and almost sensible, over to enjoy some alcohol and weed. Naturally, a couple of young jocks show up to paw at the womenfolk and tyrannize young Guy, thus creating the perfect conditions for a devil doll bloodbath.
Earlier that day, Guy had dug up a neat old samurai doll in the backyard. Now, the other buried dolls and the spirit of Sofia, the unfortunate little girl from 1911, emerge from the hole as well. As Sofia begins the process of possessing Guy's body, the dolls seek vengeance on those who would hurt him/her. I thought the death scenes were really quite satisfying in detail and execution -- not as gory as I would have liked, but bloody nonetheless. The special effects guys did a great job with the little killers -- nothing fancy, just some blinking, simple movements and efficient killing strokes. What truly excited me, however, was the fact that the dolls seemed to be taking orders from me. Time and again, they attacked in just the way I wanted them to -- and I was rather specific in some of my requests.
The film whizzes by in little more than an hour (with the last ten of its seventy-two minutes consisting of some extremely slow-moving end credits) -- which has its good and its bad sides. On the good side, it helps distract the viewer from some of the film's inconsistencies -- why, for instance, did no one in the house ever think of actually turning tail and escaping through the door? And why, assuming there's at least one phone in the house, do the girls only scramble for a missing cell phone in the midst of their crisis? On the bad side, the film is just way too freakin' short. By the time the dolls go on the rampage, you've only got a half hour left in the whole movie. Couldn't they have thrown in a couple more teenagers to kill or something? They had a good thing going here, so why stop at just an hour? Additionally, the whole possession thing between Guy and Sofia could have used some more work, and any impact the last shot might have is negated by the viewer's sudden astonishment upon realizing the film is actually over already.
I have a feeling that viewer response to this film will vary considerably -- and you probably already know if you're the type of person who would enjoy watching dolls come to life and start killing people. I really enjoyed Doll Graveyard, but I must admit that the dolls really aren't all that scary, the plot would leak in several places if you filled it with water, and the whole thing really is predictable from start to finish. You don't come to Doll Graveyard to be stimulated intellectually, though; you come to see dolls kill people, and the movie definitely succeeds in that department.