Watch Dolly Dearest
- 1 hr 34 min
Dolly Dearest is a horror film from 1991 that tells the story of the Wade family, who move from Los Angeles to Mexico to take over a doll factory located in a small town. The dolls are made to resemble young girls, and they are immensely popular with children everywhere. However, the dolls come with a sinister secret behind them, which the Wades find out while they are trying to get their footing in their new home.
Denise Crosby (Pet Sematary, Star Trek: The Next Generation) stars as Marilyn Wade, a mother of two who has moved to Mexico with her husband Elliot (Sam Bottoms, Apocalypse Now) and their children Jessica (Candace Hutson) and Jimmy (Chris Demetral). Elliot has bought the doll factory from a local family, and he is eager to turn it into a profitable business. While the rest of the family is settling into their new surroundings, Jessica comes across a doll that had been left behind by the previous owners. She falls in love with it and decides to keep it.
As soon as the family starts living in the factory, strange things begin to happen. The family dog starts behaving erratically, and the dolls seem to be moving on their own. Jessica's doll, in particular, seems to have a life of its own, and it is revealed that the dolls have been imbued with the spirits of two ancient Aztec priests who were executed for practicing human sacrifice on young girls. Determined to reclaim their bodies, the priests use the dolls to wreak havoc on the town and its residents.
The main antagonist of the film is the factory's former owner, Karl Resnick (Rip Torn, Men in Black), who is willing to go to any lengths to get his factory back. Resnick is obsessed with the dolls and wants to use them to take over the world. He becomes a puppet master of sorts, controlling the dolls through his own sinister intentions, just like the Aztec priests before him.
Dolly Dearest takes inspiration from the likes of Child's Play and other killer-doll horror movies, but the film has more to offer than just that. Over the course of the movie, the Wades have to confront not only the dolls but their own family dynamics as well. Marilyn is struggling with her husband's obsession with work, which is causing a rift between them. Meanwhile, Jessica and Jimmy are adjusting to a new life in a foreign country and trying to make friends.
At times, the movie feels like it is trying to do too much at once, with multiple plot threads and characters to follow. Nevertheless, the performances are solid, especially from Crosby, who portrays a strong-willed mother trying to protect her family. The dolls themselves have an eerie and unsettling presence onscreen, thanks to their lifelike appearance and the excellent practical effects used to bring them to life.
Overall, Dolly Dearest is a fun and creepy horror film that will appeal to fans of killer-doll movies from the late 80s and early 90s. While it may not offer anything drastically new to the genre, it does enough to differentiate itself and deliver a few unexpected twists along the way.